(By Joe Rossman)
It happened to me twice. The first time, I was five years old. My family and I went to visit with my grandparents. Dad was the fourth of nine children–five girls and four boys. The only one who still lived with my grandparents was my father's youngest brother. He was 23 years old and a slow learner.
My grandfather was a hardworking dairy farmer in a rural southern Georgia town. I was fascinated by the dairy farm and often went to the milking barn and the bottling plant to watch the machinery.
On one visit, on a Sunday afternoon after church, I went down to the bottling plant to watch the machinery and to get a bottle of chocolate milk. My uncle, the only one there, was working in the plant.
He called me into a little hallway that led to the back side of the bottling plant and, to my surprise, unzipped his trousers and exposed his penis. I didn't know what to say. Then he asked me to touch it. My family had always taught me to respect my elders and to do what they say. But I knew something was wrong. I was afraid.
My uncle said for me not to be afraid and began to stroke his penis. Again, he asked me to touch it and so I did, but I felt really bad about it. That was all that happened. He told me not to tell anyone what we had done and then he zipped up his pants and went back to work.
Going home that evening, we were all talking about what we had done that day. When I told my dad about what my uncle had done, I could tell he was upset. He told me that I should never do that again and that if my uncle ever tried to do anything like that again, I should tell him. I am pretty sure my dad talked to my uncle because he never tried that again. I didn't feel too bad about that encounter because nothing really bad happened.
It was the second experience that has given me the most problems. This took place when I was about 15. My family was active in the church and Dad was a deacon. A friend of the family, who was single, was one of the other deacons. He was also a radio personality and interested in electronics.
He told Dad that he would be glad to give me a tour of the radio station if I would come by. I was really excited and went by the next day. We spent several hours together. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I liked the man and I went back the next day. The radio station was located on the second floor of a local hotel and could be reached by an outside fire escape. As we were walking up the stairs with him leading the way, we came to a landing on the stairs and suddenly he reached back and gently squeezed my genitals through my trousers.
I was shocked, but not frightened. Later, the same thing happened again, and from that, he took advantage of my naïveté to begin a homosexual relationship that lasted for several years. It wasn't that I was homosexual, but rather that I admired the man for his role as a radio personality and because he was teaching me electronic theory. I don't think I actually realized what had taken place for a number of years. And I couldn't understand what could be so wrong because my parents seemed to approve of my relationship with the man.
He was an active member of our church and everyone seemed to respect him. It is hard for me to believe that people didn't know what was happening, but apparently they either didn't know or were afraid to say anything.
When I was 23 years old, after much soul searching and internal struggle, I broke off the relationship. I don't know how many other young men became involved with him, but I am sure there were several. Yet throughout it all, he kept the respect of the community and finally was ordained by the Southwest Georgia Presbytery as a Presbyterian minister. Today he is 84 years of age. I haven't seen him for more than 40 years now, but the memory of the struggles and uncertainty I endured because of his predatory action still lived with me.
Thankfully, by God's grace, I married a fine Baptist woman, and though I didn't tell her about this relationship, I have to credit her with helping me get through some of the tough times.
My only regret at this time is that I didn't expose him for the pervert that he is. But one good thing did come out of it. I am convinced that homosexuality is a matter of choice and not genetics or some predisposition. I know, because I have been there. I think the man wanted to get me to be homosexual and I could have chosen that route. But I chose not to go in that direction.
I know that most homosexuals try to claim that they had no choice. But that is a lie. The man chose to be homosexual and he became a predator victimizing young innocent men like myself. Thank God I finally realized how I was being misused and abused and thank God He led me in the right direction.