“It was all a lie,” Max, a 23-year-old, said to me. He told me of the leader in his church who befriended him when he was 10 years old.
“I was the only boy who didn’t like sports, and my classmates called me ‘faggot,’ even though I didn’t know what the word meant until later.
“The youth leader encouraged me. ‘You’re a nice, sweet kid. Don’t pay attention to what they’re saying.’ He spent time with me and he was the first adult who ever listened to me. After I cried, he hugged me and whispered, ‘It’s all right to cry. Let it go.’
“After that, we started with hugs and I felt so grateful to have a friend. I didn’t like it when he taught me to masturbate him and the other things, but I loved the man so much I would have done anything for him. ‘It’s our secret,’ he said. ‘Just you and me.’
“I thought he really loved me. The church fired him, and he refused to talk with me. So it was all lies. He hurt me, and I thought he truly loved me.”
Max and I met at the 2016 annual conference of “Hope for Wholeness.” He said that occurred during his teens. “For a couple of years I became that faggot my classmates labeled me.”
When Max was 20 years old, he was a miserable drug addict, a college dropout, and isolated from his parents. He attempted to take his own life and obviously didn’t succeed. A wise therapist suggested that he attend the “Hope for Wholeness” conference.
That was three years before we met, and he said that group saved his life and he’s finding others who strengthened him.
“My classmates were wrong about me,” he said. “And for the first time in my life, I’m happy and like who I am.
“I can define myself,” Max said, “And I don’t give anyone else that privilege.”