I am NOT a “Lesser Than”
9 Scenes from my life as a gay Christian
Have you ever experienced being rejected? Below are nine short stories of being viewed as lesser than others … because of being gay.
1953 (my birth) until 1979. “Homosexual.” Growing up, I did not know what that term meant. But how people talked about homosexuals told me a lot. I discerned that homosexuals were perverts. They were a category of the human race to which degenerates belonged.
Such perverts lurked around men’s rooms, truck stops, and public parks at nighttime. They sucked people’s penises. And such an act was communicated to me as disgusting (akin to sucking a donkey’s penis). Therefore, this sexual act was always spoken of as something in which only perverts engaged. And these perverts were called homosexuals.
Mock these deviants. Inflict physical violence upon them. Rid the world of them. After all, everyone knows that homosexuals are perverts.
1966. At age 13, I was excelling in football during my eighth grade. I was respected by my teen peers, resulting in high self-confidence.
The daily, after-football-practice ritual ensued: getting undressed from your football uniform, showering in the open showers, and getting dressed in our clothes. I was undressing at my locker when I heard a fellow football player shout: “Ritchie’s got a boner!”
Suddenly all of us football players ran to the shower room — the site of the infraction. Thirty or so of us huddled around two men: the accuser and Ritchie (the accused). Ritchie covered his genitals with his hands, but his face was deeply red in embarrassment. The accuser laughed at Ritchie — pointing to his covered genitals. Everyone stared at Ritchie, wanting to see if he truly had a boner in the showers. People laughed. Some tried to pull Ritchie’s hands away to expose his crime of having an erection. Humiliated, Ritchie ran out of the shower room and went straight to his athletic locker. He sat (covering his genitals) until every classmate had exited.
His football “teammates” — his band of brothers — chuckled among each other. “So, Ritchie is a homosexual.” Suddenly, with one erection, Ritchie became an object of scorn and belittling: Ritchie is a pervert.
As for me, I cowardly said nothing. Likewise, I failed to console Ritchie or stand by him during his most dire time of need. I was worried that people might think that I, too, am a homosexual. And what could be worse than that?
But on that fateful day, an indelible commitment was sealed inside my soul: I must never, ever allow myself to be seen in the open showers with an erection.
And God knows how many times I was on the very cusp of exposing a boner in the shower. Fortunately for me, I could prevent myself from becoming erect — and thus avoid revealing that I am a homosexual. However, with one erection, I could have gone from being revered by my teammates (after all, I was one of the team leaders) to suddenly being a pervert. I would instantaneously be declared a “not one of us” and a “lesser than.”
1982. I am a young, 29-year-old fighter pilot — the absolute top of my Air Force peers. I also have this odd habit of getting aroused by seeing well-built nude men in the showers.
Our Air Force squadron commander calls a meeting for us fighter pilots. He intends to give us a motivational speech. He wants to emphasize that you can build a career upon success but commit one gross error, and that becomes your permanent reputation. Commander: “Gentlemen, you can lay a million bricks, and you are not remembered as a ‘bricklayer.’ But suck one cock, and you will always be remembered as a ‘cock sucker.’”
All of the fighter pilots roared with laughter — except one. Me.
To my peers, the commander’s pithy axiom was the absolute truth. After all, what can be the most humiliating, disgusting act that any “real man” can ever commit? Being a cock sucker.
I knew at that moment that if I ever gave in to my desire to perform fellatio on another man, I would always be remembered as a pathetic pervert. In such a case, my peers (i.e., fellow Top Guns) would always view me as “lesser than” all other men.
1984. The first eight years of my marriage were like living in Edan. It was perfect. I deeply loved my wife and demonstrated that love repeatedly with my tender acts of kindness, not to mention hearty vaginal intercourse.
But one fateful day, I acknowledged that I am indeed a homosexual. I wanted to share that truth with my wife.
“Honey, I think I’m a homosexual.”
Six words. And my Edan marriage was forever shattered when my wife heard the sixth word.
She glared at me — a piercing, condemning look that combined anger, horror, and disgust. Instantly (and for the first time in my life), I experienced shame in being myself.
Suddenly, my wife permanently believed I was a disgusting “werewolf” — capable of becoming a monster. I may be trustworthy on a thousand variables but never trustworthy as a husband. I became, with the release of that sixth word, a forever “lesser than” in my precious wife’s eyes.
1992. I was the Air Force commander of the University of Maine’s ROTC program. A cadet knocked on my office door.
Me: “Come in, Cadet Brown. How can I help you?”
Cadet Brown: “Sir, I am a homosexual, and I still want to be commissioned into the Air Force.”
Me (uneasily): “Cadet Brown, I have no malice whatsoever toward you, but homosexuals are barred from being in the Air Force. Therefore, effective immediately, I will begin the process of discharging you.”
I hated myself. I was a coward. I did not want to give up my 17 years of service — especially when I was only three years away from earning a monthly retirement paycheck. In the Air Force’s eyes, this homosexual cadet was unqualified to be employed in the Air Force — simply because he admitted to being a homosexual. He had a good record as a cadet; his only infraction was his attraction to other men.
Paradoxically, I was forced to be the person who must expel him. I, a closeted homosexual, must discharge an “out” homosexual. I chose silence over integrity.
And I now can assure you: Cadet Brown will never be a “lesser than” in my own eyes.
1995–2004. I was one of Focus on the Family’s vice presidents for nine years. My job was the executive director of their one-semester college institute. Every employee at Focus knew that their president — Dr. James Dobson — considered gays to be dangerous. He believed that gays were a threat to the family and American culture.
A “war on gay rights” ensued. And this war was bloody. Evangelicals were led to believe they must vote against all gay rights. Anyone who was “gay” was considered a “lesser than,” a pervert, and an insurrectionist. In short, gays were dangerous.
Decades of evangelical voters would continue to vote against any gay rights. Even the term “gay” became a synonym for “evil.” For more information, you can read my article “My Insider Story of the ‘Focus on the Family’ v ‘Gay Rights’ Culture War.”
2000. My wife and I are receiving marriage counseling.
Me: “Dr. Smith, I have same-sex attractions.” A simple statement of fact, but my pronouncement causes my wife to wince and frown.
Dr. Smith: “Mike, from here on out in our counseling, I would prefer you say, ‘I struggle with same-sex attraction.’ In this way, you make room for your wife by acknowledging that you oppose your homosexuality.”
Me: “But I do not struggle with my same-sex attraction. I am at peace over the existence of my attractions. It simply ‘is what it is’ — merely a different form of sexual attraction.”
In short, I refused to call myself a “lesser than.”
2008. I am the “Director of Professional Counselors” at Exodus International. Exodus was the number one international organization for ex-gays. I had a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, plus was a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). I was tasked with overseeing which applicant is qualified to be a professional counselor for Exodus. And the only selection criteria was that the applicant: 1) be an LPC; and 2) profess an alignment with Jesus.
Most of the Exodus professional counselors were using “conversion therapy” in attempts to change the client into becoming straight. I, however, hated conversion therapy (i.e., something which I had endured for two years, with absolutely no change in my same-sex attractions).
The majority of the Exodus counselors were straight. These people were convinced that a gay man could lose his homosexuality with the right therapy, effort, and persistence. One of those straight counselors once made a flippant statement to me: “the American Psychological Association (APA) should never have ruled that homosexual is not a disorder.” In other words, this professional counselor expressed that the homosexual condition is a disorder from “normal” mental health.
On this feisty day, I took a deep breath and challenged the counselor. I said I agreed with the APA’s ruling: being gay is in no way a mental illness or a disorder of any kind. And, oh my gosh, did my fellow counselor blow a gasket! He was incredulous over my belief. To him, it was indisputable: gay men are disordered.
This counselor likewise considered me to be disordered! He reeked superiority complex. To him, gays were mentally unhealthy and inferior to straights — even when they possess a Ph.D. and are the Director of Professional Counselors!
After that conversation, I knew where I stood in Exodus — an outsider who would make waves within the organization. And if you are curious about what happened to me at Exodus, you would enjoy reading my article “Fired for NOT Providing Conversion Therapy.”
2019. A body of prominent evangelicals signed a declaration stating: “WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” Soon after that, my denomination (Presbyterian Church of America) adopted that statement to define proper sexuality.
The statement meant that if someone called himself “gay,” he acted outside of God’s will — and must be expelled from the PCA.
I am gay. And I refused to believe that by calling myself gay, I am “lesser than” other Christians. Furthermore, if my denomination thought that I am a “lesser than,” then I must leave such a toxic unit. So, I left the PCA.
No gay male is a “lesser than.” And I will give Jesus the final words:
“My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you. May all of My followers be one in unity.”
In Jesus’ economy, no human is lesser than another. Amen.
Yoda is a publication to uniquely and specifically support gay Christian men. Click here to learn more.
Dr. Mike Rosebush is the founder and author of Yoda. He has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor with 45+ years of mentoring thousands of gay Christian men. Read a short synopsis of his story here.
Read Dr. Rosebush’s complete set of articles here.