My Deepest Desire
By Darryl L. Foster

My father’s absence left me longing for a man to hold me in his arms and tell me he loved me.

When I looked at myself as a young boy in the mirror, all I could see was a weak sissy, full of fear, self-loathing and pain. I couldn’t relate to other boys my age except in one way. And that was a deep dark secret. I hoped no one would ever discover.

I was born into a church family. In the African American religious tradition, the generations of family involved in the church was a badge of honor. Church was a place where, in spite of the hardships faced by outside pressures – especially racism – blacks could feel special.

Unfortunately, I did not meet my father until I was seven years old. He gave me and my brother a few dollars and left again; I did not see him again for another six years. By this time, I was full of anger and hatred at his uncaring abandonment.

"Do we call him Daddy?” my little brother asked.

"No, we’ll just call him sir,” I replied. Even the word "sir” sounded distant to me. When we saw him this time, he rubbed our heads and offered us a few dollars. This time, I refused his money; I hated him so much that I couldn’t have cared if he had offered us a thousand dollars.

The lack of having a father around or even a father figure took a heavy toll on me; I developed a deep longing for a man to hold me in his arms and tell me he loved me. Most of all, I wanted to hear someone say that the names people called me – like "sissy” and "girl” were not true; I needed to know that I was a regular boy just like everyone else.

Instead, I received a barrage of rejection from other boys. My brothers were all super athletes; on Saturdays, all the neighborhood boys would gather to play basketball. But I got left out.

"I want to play!” I cried one day.

One other boy shot back, "You big sissy. Only men can play this game!”

Then I heard my brother’s voice: "We don’t want no girls playing with us. Why don’t you go home and play with the other girls?” They all burst out laughing as I retreated, crying bitterly. How I longed for a father to gather me in his arms and reassure me that I was his big strong boy! But I limped back to an empty cold house, knowing that I would never be like the other boys.

Church was my only refuge. In church I could feel just like everyone else. No one called me names; in fact, my good singing voice even gained me some recognition.

But I struggled constantly with homosexual thoughts. Amid the exultant worship, I was suffering. Our church believed strongly in deliverance; whatever your problem, someone could lay hands on you and pray – and the problem would be solved. Maybe the homosexual desires will just leave me one day, I thought.

I was confused. While they said God could do anything, it didn’t apply to homosexuality. Homosexuality in the black church could only be whispered about in private.

At this point in my life, I didn’t consider myself homosexual; I just knew there was this attraction toward other men. What was I supposed to do? Who could I talk to?

Then came a traumatic experience with Ray (not his real name), a quiet man who attended my church. By this time, I was a freshman in high school; he was three years older than me. My mother cleaned the church every week, and I went along to help. One Saturday after we were done, she left me there with instructions to check all doors to make sure they were locked.

I was surprised to discover Ray in the back of the church near a bedroom used to house visiting evangelists. "Darryl, can you come back here?” he said. When I did, he grabbed me, pushed me onto the bed and attempted to have intercourse with me. It seemed like hours, but it was over in a few minutes. I waited until night, then snuck home and threw all my clothes away so no one would find out what had happened. That night I knew all the past rumors about me were true: I was a homosexual.

Over the next three years, I was forced to bear Ray’s relentless obsession with me. Thankfully, we never had sex. When I finally left the church in disgust, I left home and plunged headlong into the gay lifestyle. The sight of men dancing with each other and publicly kissing made me feel so good. I felt like I was finally in a place where I belonged.

I was new on the gay scene; soon everyone was asking who I was and who I was dating. I went to house parties, orgies, got hooked on "poppers” and started drinking. I was like a kid in a candy store with no parents around!

In 1982, I hid my homosexuality so I could join the Army. I traveled all over the world; everywhere I could always find another man to sleep with. I went through periods of great depression, when I felt so lonely I wanted to die. When I came out of my depression, sex was the order of the day. I developed a hard attitude toward others, even my lovers. People existed to give me pleasure; when I was finished, I discarded them.

No one could stop me, not even God. "I don’t care if I go to hell!” I told him. But I still was not happy. Thoughts tormented me that I new believe came from Satan: You can find sex partners anytime you want, but none of them love you. It was tragic, but true. After years of gay sex, I still felt unloved and worthless.

During Holy Week 1990, I began to despair of life itself. I couldn’t shake my suicidal thoughts that had now passed into the planning stand. I slumped down in front of the TV and flipped it on. When the screen came into focus, I saw an amazing sight: a badly beaten man dragging a heavy wooden cross through the streets of a city. Suddenly the man stopped, and looked up at me as blood trickled down his face. Then he said, "I did all this just for you.” I began to weep uncontrollably as I realized Jesus had spoken to me.

"Lord,” I prayed, "how could you love me after all the horrible things I’ve done?” And I started to tell him, but he stopped me and insisted, "But I love you.” As I surrendered my life to him, the glory of the Lord fell upon me. From that moment, I knew the power of sin – including the hold of homosexuality – was broken in my life.

That was seven years ago. Of course, there were many issues to confront as I started down the road to total healing. God directed me to a church, where I stayed for five years, rising to become second assistant pastor.

My anger, hatred, and improper sexual passions were gone. Yet I still had many fears: Would I be accepted in a church? Would the men sense my homosexual past? Was I really free?

Over the next few years, God proved his faithfulness by allowing me to build friendships with godly men who loved me without prejudice. They didn’t realize it but God was using them to heal me of feelings of self-worthlessness.

I met a woman at church and we became friends. Over the next year, God confirmed in many ways that we belonged together. I knew God had created me to love a woman; I had a deep desire for a lifelong companion. Before I proposed to Dee, I told her about my past. "Honey,” she responded, "It doesn’t matter, because I love you for who you are right now.” Our wedding occurred on October 24, 1992.

God has greatly used my wife to work miracles in my healing process. She was instrumental in hearing his voice for me to take my testimony public so that others could hear and be set free.

Most of all, Jesus assured me that he would "never leave me nor forsake me” (Heb. 13:5). It hasn’t been an easy journey but, because of God’s love, power and faithfulness, I am and will continue to be a whole man. My deepest desires for love and belonging have been met, through Jesus Christ and his family, the Church.