Written by Danny Blackwell and published by New Hope Outreach. Quoted verbatim. See Information on Re-publishing.

Finding true love and acceptance in God's Grace

No more dresses and rollers

It was a Sunday night and I was preaching at St. Jamestown Community Church where Pastor Mike Grady had invited Alice and I to speak. Mike shared that this storefront church had been a beauty salon and was now dedicated to the glory of God. The realization that I was preaching in a former beauty salon, spoke powerfully to me because of where He had brought me. The Lord impressed upon my mind Jeremiah 30: 17 But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast…’ So much of my past life included fantasizing about the activities that went on in a beauty salon, from which the Lord has set me free. I was about twenty-three when I entered my pastor's office and let him know my deepest secret, my desire to put on women's clothes. As a Christian I had a desperate desire to have peace that would last, and yet I had a secret lifestyle. All the books said I was a transvestite and there was no known cure. Even though I felt trapped, I thought there had to be an answer.

This desire to put on women's clothes grew from small thoughts as a child to a daily battle in my teens and early twenties. The habit began innocently enough when I was about eight years old: I put on my grandmother's girdle and it felt good. It wasn't the first time I had been attracted to female clothes and hairstyles though. Even as a baby, I would cry when men picked me up.

My mother and grandmother and us three boys lived in a small village until I was ten. My father worked one hundred miles away and came to visit four times a year. Yet God provided a wonderful father figure in the form of a neighboring farmer, and the three of us boys had great times with him.

Sometimes boyhood friends go beyond boyhood fun, and in this way my best friend caused me to experience sexual things that two boys were never meant to experience. Because of this abuse, I carried shame for years that turned me off from being hugged by men. I began to spend time fantasizing that someone would come and turn me into a girl. We attended church as a family during that period of time, and yet I kept these feelings all inside.
As my teen years began, we moved to Toronto to be with my father, and that was great. However, at thirteen, while other boys were looking at girls, I secretly started setting my hair in rollers and putting on scarves. This, mixed with youthful urges, propelled me sexually. For me, sexuality was dressing like a girl and fulfilling the developing fantasies that flooded my mind.

Why did I do these things and have these urges? My growing up with no father, the sexual abuse I experienced, and being surrounded by women adults all contributed to the development of my urges. Then my addiction to fantasize about women as well as other things fed my lifestyle. Quitting school at fifteen only made me more mixed up, and even though I had a close friend who was always there, I never told him. Family financial pressure and loneliness during my teenage years led me to escape into my own fantasy world where I would experiment with my secret.

I spent hours in libraries looking for pictures of women with their hair in rollers so I could experience sexual pleasure; it was a real turn-on for me. I viewed women as perfect and beautiful, and I longed to be one. Those who knew me at the time didn't know the struggle I lived with. I would walk from store to store looking to buy something a woman would wear. I always followed the same pattern: I would buy an item of clothing, put it on, get excited, throw it out, and then feel guilt and shame for days. What I thought would fulfill me made me very empty inside.

When I was twenty-one, my father went home to be with Jesus. Thus when my mother was away and I was alone, I had freedom to dress up as a girl. I would plan for days what to buy: wigs, dresses, hair rollers, and pantyhose.If ever a picture demonstrated what I was like in those days this was it.

I would put everything on and feel sexual gratification, and then throw them away and experience guilt and shame. Though I had become a Christian at the age of eight years, the guilt I now felt drove me to rededicate my life to God. But I struggled to the point that I would walk the streets all night, afraid to be alone at home, because I knew I would do something I would regret later.

It was hard, to say the least, to share my background with my pastor. Yet when I went to him, he never laughed or was shocked or ashamed. He listened and prayed for me, and time after time he said to me, "One day you will be free." Little did I know that going to my pastor was the first step in becoming free! The Lord also used other people who would say, "You are the way God made you (a male), so go from there," and "The Lord wants you to get into the Word as it will make you a man again."

God moved greatly at times, but I was stubborn and would yield again and again to temptation. I would find myself thinking about women's clothes or hairstyles when I went to sleep and they would be the first thoughts on my mind in the morning. I would go for a week or two, but then I would sin and feel great fear and guilt. These thoughts and conflicting feelings made me think of suicide. It was as if the enemy was telling me, "You will never be free." However, God was there and encouraged me. At 100 Huntley Street, He spoke to me saying, "I love you the way you are." My response was, "Lord, I hate me, how can you love me?"

My pastor recommended Christian counseling, but when the first one said to me, "I've been counseling someone with your problem for seven years," I said goodbye. I later found another counselor who talked, listened, cried and learned about some of the roots. I also looked to Christian music and authors who offered hope, and began to date in my twenties. I fell from time to time, but God was there and never gave up on me. Years of confusion never go away overnight, and so it took years and years to be free.

On January 25, 1980, I met Alice and we were married two years later. I had shared all with her and felt I would be okay from then on. I wish I could say I was okay. I regret the fact that I yielded to temptation and hurt Alice many times. I lied and hid things from her, but God was there to heal. Eventually, we went to Eastern Pentecostal Bible College, and then felt led to return to Toronto to minister. Even after three years of Bible College and ten years of marriage, I still yielded to temptation sometimes, although less often, when I saw a woman in a great dress or hair in rollers.

Yet the Lord was continuing to heal and change me. Yet the Lord was continuing to heal and change me. I found a ministry through Exodus North America, Rev. Jerry Leach of Crossover Ministries, who helped me to see that I was not alone in these struggles and freedom was real. Oh how I wished I had known about Exodus ministries sooner. Also, through accountability and reading the Word as well as other good material, I grew on the inside and further strengthened my masculine image. Alice, my wife, is so great and I am still learning to be a good husband.

In 1992, the Lord led us to ministry in the gay community. This happened through a progression of events beginning with seeing the need, and feeling called. We did not rush into this ministry but by being involved in Pentecostal churches, this led me to be ordained providing the basis for this ministry. Due to my background and despite the fact that I was never gay, I still had to deal with the fear of going into the gay community, an unfamiliar place. Around this time I learned more about Exodus and a friend named Al joined me and together we began what would become New Hope Outreach. The Lord confirmed that this is what He wanted us to do after Alice and myself sought Him in pray. One of the motivations that drives me, is the feeling of helplessness that I went through; granted not everyone feels the same way but everybody needs to hear about the Jesus that can set them free.

Today in 2004, New Hope Outreach with its mission statement “Reaching people in alternate lifestyles with the Gospel” is affiliated with The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Exodus North America and we continue to reach people in gay or transgendered lifestyles with the Gospel. Our ministry is built on respecting and loving people into the Kingdom.

I have much to thank God for in 2004: freedom from the transvestite lifestyle, by His grace, His never-ending love and correction, the gift of a beautiful wife, and my restored masculinity. I'm also thankful for godly pastors, elders, counselors and friends who listened and cared, and for authors who addressed gender issues. Also, I thank the Lord for: The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Exodus. I sometimes wonder where I would be today, if my pastor had turned me away or laughed. So am I all God wants me to be? No! By His grace, He is still working on me.

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Danny

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