• Sarah Sedgwick

Let's talk about Dave

Last week I had the incredible privilege of hearing Dave’s testimony. Actually it was heart breaking and brought me to tears. To hear this man talk of the bullying he endured at an all-boys school because he didn’t conform to the world’s standards of masculinity was humbling. He was called many names that crushed him, he didn’t even understand the connotations of what being called a “poof” or “queer” were to start with, but was soon ostracised from his peer group and sank into depression. His parents took him to a psychiatrist, his response amounted to, “you are suppressing your sexuality, you are clearly gay, go and find yourself.”

But Dave was beside himself, he wasn’t gay, he didn’t want to become homosexual, he just wanted peace. After more depression he decided to follow the advice of the psychiatrist, because he knew no other answer. He found himself in the homosexual community where he suffered abuse, rejection, ridicule and shame. He, like many other gay men, started to act in a feminine, camp way as he rejected his masculinity (and we see the same with some gay women who act in a masculine way, rejecting their femininity), it’s as if he was rejecting the very thing that he craved.

Lost and hurting, he responded to the love of a Christian woman who invited him to church, and there he discovered true love and acceptance. He has been a Christian now for over 30 years, he loves the Lord passionately and he is a beacon of hope for many.

But look more closely at what happened to him. In the 1980’s, a psychiatrist recommended that he pursue a life of homosexuality rather than taking the time to listen to Dave’s story and maintain a neutral, professional stance. This is what we are faced with today if the conversion therapy ban goes through as proposed by the government (even though they themselves don’t actually see a need for legislation as shown by the leaked report last week).

When our young people struggle with mental health issues, we don’t want therapists pushing them down the root of self destruction or assuming that they must be gay. One look at Dave’s story, the absent Father through long working hours resulting in the lack of a male role model, being brought up by his Mother and two sisters making him less able to relate to the boys at school, and being someone of a sensitive nature who actually didn’t like sport (as if that’s a pre-requisite to being masculine), he simply was shy and unused to relating to male peers. All that resulted in his being bullied which led to fear, shame and depression. Had the bullying aspect been addressed, the impact of the name calling acknowledged, and had he received encouragement to understand that masculinity comes in many different forms, perhaps the psychiatrist would have been much more helpful in shaping his future.

I am so grateful for the love of that Christian lady who invited Dave to church and that he has now discovered the real man that life tried to kick down. His story is one that needs to be heard, and we should be eager to protect our children from one sided counselling that propels them onto a path of destruction.

Dave himself says - "Once we realise we don't have to find our gender in other people and that we already have it, and then we are affirmed in it, that's when true healing begins."

Transformed International is a safe space for those who have left their LGBTQ+ identity to follow Jesus. For more information on our peer support group please visit our website www.transformedbygodslove.com

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