I originate from Tasmania and am a male in my late twenties.

During my time in the womb, my father got seriously sick and still struggles today. His illness meant that I have always had an emotionally absent father, which left me leaning emotionally into my mother, older sisters, and women in general.

I only ever recall feeling confusion within myself along with a constant sense of self-hatred. I never found a way of entering into the world of other boys, and so girls became my closest friends and role models.

As I hit puberty, I began noticing my sexual attraction to other males and a surge within me of gender dysphoria. I felt suicidal.

In my mid-teens, I prayed to God to “take the gay away”. Nothing changed, and so I accepted the reality of my same-sex attraction, and yet the inner pain still remained.

Although raised in a Christian family, by my early twenties my anger towards God began to increase, leading me to do life my own way. This included sleeping around with other guys. The initial connection felt freeing, but gradually the more I met up with other guys, the more I felt empty and disconnected. I felt used like a piece of meat and not honoured as a person. The realisation also hit me that I too had begun to use others for my self-gratification.

A year after consistently hooking up with other guys, the emptiness hit me and I felt void of all joy.

Soon after this, I attended a youth retreat as chaperone to one of my younger sisters. I only went to appease my parents!

By this point, I believed my soul to be completely damned anyway. And yet it was here, out of desperation for more love, that I didn’t quite say “yes” to God, but I gave Him a millimetre crack through which to enter my heart – which, as God, He totally took advantage of. So began a whole new journey. For the next two years with a faith community around me, everything seemed to get better.

In my mid-20s, I moved to Victoria for work. Away from my family and faith community, and knowing no one, and due to the demands and stressful nature of my job, I fell back into sleeping around again out of a dire need for some form of vulnerable connection.

The emptiness and anxiety began to rise again, and my mental health plummeted. I started to have panic attacks, which was something new for me. I found it hard to get out of bed and the bonds of depression began to engulf me. Even though I binged on pornography and masturbation, out of desperation for human connection, I continued to act out with guys, and this led me to being raped, which I couldn’t even recognise as rape at the time.

Somehow, whilst at my lowest, I reached out for help. This required me resigning from my work, leaving Victoria and moving interstate. So began my journey of counselling and therapy, and a deepening of my relationship with God.

Therapy swiftly brought up suppressed memories of sexual abuse from my early childhood. It began showing me the root cause of my lifelong confusion and self-hatred, and it helped me to name past non-consensual sexual activity for what it was – rape. I had thought that domineering sexual activity was normal.

I have shared my rape experience with many same-sex attracted practicing and non-practicing men, many of whom told me that they have had similar experiences.

Since receiving counselling, therapy and prayer, my life has changed dramatically. I am the happiest I have ever been. I am growing in my manhood and one day hope to marry a woman and be a father. My self-worth and respect are at an all-time high. And the love and respect I have for others has never been greater. At long last, life has meaning, purpose, and direction. I experience hope, vision, and great dignity.

If I hadn’t entered into counselling and therapy, and received the ongoing healing touch of Jesus through prayer, how much longer would I have had to continue on a pathway of rape and of re-living my abuse before I could have received help? Or would I have just ended my life?

This is a fraction of my story, but it could quite easily be the story of any child today. Would we as a society not want minors and adults alike to have the freedom to be able to get the help they require to move beyond any trauma that might happen to them?

I know now that basing my identity merely around my sexual attraction left me trying to find myself in other males as broken as myself. Instead, I now find my truest and eternal identity in the Perfect Person of Jesus Christ. My experience is that with God, truly nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37, 18:27).  My trust is now in Him, as He gently restores for me personally the many years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).