My heart pounded as the Sunday-school teacher asked us to break into small groups and discuss how we might reach the homosexual community for Jesus Christ.
I had often wondered if everyone knew my secret. Now I would find out for sure. In my group of four, Rachel spoke first: "I don't have any compassion for homosexuals."
My heart sank.
Mark chimed in, "I don't have any compassion for homosexuals either, and I think AIDS is God's judgment against homosexuals."
These two seemed so smug, so arrogant. Anger burned inside me, and I vowed not to speak. But my friend Robert, who knew I had been a homosexual, spoke next: "Christine, what do you think?"
I shot him a look that could have killed. Then I took a deep breath and told Rachel and Mark my secret. The looks on their faces told me that they were sorry and felt embarrassed.
What they didn't understand was that I, like many other homosexuals, hadn't wanted to be gay. It just happened.
I had grown up in a home where women were either objects of a man's lust or victims of his abuse. My father was addicted to pornography, and he was verbally and physically abusive to my mother.
Once I saw him hit her with a tennis racket. I vowed in my heart that I would never let any man hurt me like that. I resolved to be tougher and stronger than any man.
I hated being a girl because I didn't want to be a victim like my mom. I mistakenly believed that to be feminine was to be weak, so I gravitated toward showing masculine behaviors.
I knew that I wanted God more than my homosexuality
My older brother was my childhood hero. I wanted to be just like him. I hung out with him whenever he would let me, and I wore his hand-me-down clothes. I even copied his handwriting style. I wanted to be anything but a girl.
A natural athlete, I excelled in every sport I attempted, from tennis to little league baseball to sandlot football. I was accepted as one of the guys and often mistaken for a boy. I refused to go by my full name "Christine" because it was obviously a girl's name. Instead I went by "Chris."
When I was 12, my parents divorced and sent me to live with relatives, where an older cousin molested me. Growing up, I had other experiences in which men took advantage of me. I never felt safe with men, so relationships with women seemed to be the only safe option.
My first lesbian relationship began in high school. It was exhilarating and met a need in my life. For the first time I really felt loved.
I was a lesbian for six years and believed I would never change. But while in college at The University of Tampa, in Tampa, Florida, I met some Christians who told me of a better love--the love that God had for me.
Although I was in a homosexual relationship, I played on a church softball team. One teammate, Kelly, knew that I was a lesbian, but she never preached to me. She just cared for me and prayed for me.
In time I was drawn by the love my fellow teammates had for each other and for me. It seemed so pure and so right. I became interested in spiritual things and asked Kelly to help me study the Bible. She agreed, and we met weekly to study the book of John.
One Sunday night in October, 1989, Kelly led me in a prayer of salvation as I knelt beside my bed in my dorm room.
When I stood up, I knew that deep down something had changed. I knew that I wanted God more than my homosexuality. But becoming a Christian was only the beginning of my journey. It didn't instantly resolve my homosexual orientation. I broke up with my lover, but I continued to struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions.
Fortunately, I found out about a ministry that helps people overcome their homosexuality, and I began to attend a local support group in Tampa.
That is where I discovered the root causes of my homosexual desires--causes like sexual abuse, gender confusion, breakdown in the relationship with the same-sex parent, an abusive father and peer rejection.
I met godly, strong women in church who helped me to see that to be feminine was not to be weak. I met men who treated me with dignity and respect. This freed me to embrace my gender and to stop rejecting God's design. I even started using my full name, Christine, because I no longer wanted to hide being a girl.
Becoming a Christian was only the beginning of my journey
My ideas about men and women were changed. I learned that being female is not a liability. And I began to identify outwardly with women, experimenting with wearing makeup and different clothes and using purses. I became different from the inside out.
Others noticed my progress and encouraged me. I'll never forget when Robert approached me in church and said, smiling, "Christine, this is the first time you don't look like a boy in a dress." Though his statement hadn't come out right, I knew that he had meant well, and it let me know I was making progress.
The key to my healing was developing healthy same-sex friendships. As I did this, my sexual attractions for women naturally diminished because I found what I was looking for all along--real love and connections with others.
With God's help and the support of caring people, I have been walking in freedom from homosexuality for more than 10 years. I know that a changed life is possible because I am a changed person.