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.
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.
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.
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.
"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