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young adults
young adults

Genes, Lifestyle, Attitude Influence Longevity, Cognitive Health

Arline Kaplan

Researchers dedicated to discovering risk factors for Alzheimer disease & other dementias are broadening their focus to identify genes & lifestyle factors involved in the protection & enhancement of longevity & cognitive health in older adults.

Three of these scientists - George Zubenko, MD, PhD, Gary Small, MD & Dilip V. Jeste, MD - reported on their research at a recent meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).

Genetic links to cognitive longevity

At the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Zubenko, who is a professor of psychiatry & his colleagues have been conducting a systematic genome survey to identify the locations of particular genes that affect the likelihood of reaching age 90 with preserved cognitive abilities.

"I would say & I think most people would agree, that reaching age 90 with intact mental processes is a reasonable definition of successful aging. We're looking for biologic & lifestyle pathways that would lead us there," he told Psychiatric Times.

The study, funded by the NIH, is among the first to identify genetic links to cognitive longevity. Each step in reaching that goal has necessitated overcoming substantive hurdles, according to Zubenko.

"The recruitment of men & women who reach 90 years of age with preserved cognition is a major undertaking because few people reach that age [0.5% of the population] & for those who do, cognitive impairment is common.

The effort on the 'front end,' including the establishment of libraries of cell lines & DNA samples & an electronic database to store the resulting clinical & laboratory information, was a monumental task," said Zubenko, who is also an adjunct professor of biologic sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

The research team recruited & characterized 100 older adults (94 nonagenarians & 6 centenarians) who were cognitively normal, as reflected by clinical evaluations & psychometric assessments such as the Mini-Mental State Examination & the Dementia Rating Scale.

They were matched to 100 cognitively normal young adults (ages 18 to 25 years) with regard to sex (50 men & 50 women in each group), race (white), ethnicity & geographic location (southwestern Pennsylvania).

The genome survey was conducted at 10 cM resolution for simple sequence tandem repeat polymorphisms (SSTRPs) that identify genes for successful aging by virtue of linkage disequilibrium. Equal amounts of genomic DNA from the 100 older adults & 100 younger adults were combined to create 2 individual "pools" of DNA representing each group.

The frequency distribution of alleles at each SSTRP of interest was determined for the 2 groups by typing the 2 pools & comparing the relative abundance of each allele-specific band. This approach, according to Zubenko & his colleagues,1 is considerably more efficient than typing 200 people individually for each of nearly 400 marker loci.

Some preliminary results of the study, which involved validation of the experimental method & results for the Y chromosome, were reported by Zubenko & coworkers1 in 2002.

"That paper set the stage for our subsequent genome survey, which is now complete. The results are interesting," Zubenko told Psychiatric Times.

Both the preliminary & additional results from the completed survey were reported at the ACNP meeting.2 The genome survey method detected the expected elevation of the apolipoprotein-E gene (APOE) "ε2 allele frequency & reciprocal reduction in the ε4 frequency in the older adults as compared with the young adults.

This pattern has been associated with exceptional longevity among American, European & Asian populations. Conversely, elevation of the frequency of the APOE ε4 allele & the reciprocal reduction in the frequency of the ε2 allele has been widely linked to Alzheimer disease.1

The genome study also detected significant differences in the Y-linked SSTRPs, DYS389 & DYS390. The distributions of alleles at both DYS389 & DYS390 differed significantly between the older & younger men.

Evidence for additional genetic loci that selectively influence the development of successful aging in men or women was also observed, according to Zubenko & will be reported in an upcoming journal article.

"Historically, women have lived longer than men on average," Zubenko said in a news release.3

"The prevalence of numerous serious diseases differs in men & women & there are important differences in age-related physiological changes that occur between the sexes over the lifespan. It wouldn't be surprising if the collection of genes that influences the capacity to reach old age with normal mental capacity differs somewhat for men & women."

Disease & lifestyle factors

In the same genome study, Zubenko & colleagues evaluated disease & lifestyle factors such as smoking & alcohol consumption, with the goal of eventually exploring the interactive effects of genes & lifestyle on successful aging.

The older adults suffered from an average of 8.5 medical conditions, most frequently heart problems, hypertension, vision & hearing problems & diseases of the digestive system.

Only 1 older adult had no identified medical conditions, while 27 young adults reported no medical conditions. Despite the number of medical problems among the older adults, assessments of activities of daily living revealed only modest functional impairment on average.

None of the older adults had a history of mental disorders in early or middle adulthood. The prevalence of mental disorders in older adults was 4% & all of the mental disorders in this group had developed when the patients were 81 years or older.

Major depressive disorder was the most common mental disorder identified in both groups. While about 40% of individuals in both age groups had a history of cigarette smoking, only 1 of the older adults was currently smoking, compared with 34 young adults.

Similarly, the older adults drank alcoholic beverages much less frequently than the younger adults. 80% of the older adults consumed alcohol less than once a month, compared with 15% of the young adults.

These findings, according to Zubenko, support previous reports of the negative consequences of mental disorders, cigarette smoking & excessive alcohol consumption on successful aging.

In summing up the impact of the study, Zubenko3 said in the news release, "The finding that genetics, lifestyle decision making & their interactions may influence the ability to reach old age with preserved cognition is exciting. Identifying such genetic & behavioral factors may hold promise for better understanding the aging process & perhaps one day enriching or extending the lives of other individuals."

young adults

Lifestyle changes to improve memory

A team led by Dr Gary Small, director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Memory & Aging Research Center & assistant professor of psychiatry & biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, found that adults could improve their memory by making simple lifestyle changes.4,5

In the 14-day study, 17 persons between 35 & 70 years of age (mean age, 53) with normal baseline memory performance scores were randomly assigned to an intervention group (n = 8) or a control group (n = 9).

"We put them [intervention group] on a healthy lifestyle program that had 4 components: memory training, physical conditioning, healthy diet & stress reduction," Small told Psychiatric Times.

Memory training involved the daily use of brainteasers, crossword puzzles & memory techniques emphasizing verbal skills; the healthy diet involved eating 5 meals per day that were rich in omega-3 fats, low-glycemic index carbohydrates & antioxidant foods & the physical conditioning involved brisk daily walks & stretching exercises. Breathing & relaxation techniques were added to reduce stress, since stress causes the body to release cortisol & chronically high levels of cortisol can impair memory & shrink memory centers in the brain, Small said in a news release.4

Participants in the intervention group agreed to follow the memory improvement plan & were minimally monitored, said Small.

The participants were given a prepublication copy of Chapter 3 of Small's The Memory Prescription,6 which contains specific daily recommendations on what to do & when & how to do it. Small explained, "For example, Monday morning instructs the volunteer to do a stretching exercise before a suggested healthy breakfast. Later in the morning, a memory technique is described. The exercises & meal menus are detailed each day of the week for 14 days." A research nurse reviewed the 14-day plan with the intervention group participants & answered their questions.

"We called them midway to make sure they were doing the program. We had them keep notes to make sure they understood & followed the program. . . . Our monitoring suggests that they made a reasonable effort," Small added.

Immediately before & after the 2- week program, brain function was assessed, using flurodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (PET) scanning during mental rest, which measures regional rates of cortical glucose metabolism. Statistical parametric mapping analysis was used to determine the differences between the 2 groups.5

The short-term healthy lifestyle intervention program "had significant effects on brain function as measured by PET scans," Small told Psychiatric Times. Compared with controls, individuals in the intervention group experienced a "5% change in brain metabolism, not randomly throughout the brain, but in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain that controls everyday working memory." The region of change involved a stretch of cortex in Brodmann areas 8, 9 & 10. In contrast, the control group showed no change in brain metabolism.

Small explained that the reduced glucose metabolic rates in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex suggest greater cognitive efficiency in that region of the brain & that the significant change observed in the left hemisphere is consistent with the verbal emphasis in the program's memory training exercises.

He added that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has been linked to anxiety symptoms, so stress reduction techniques might show some effect in that same brain region.

Future studies will involve determining specific effects of individual components of the program & testing the intervention program in different settings.

In the pilot study, Small said, "We threw in the kitchen sink, to see if we could see any kind of an effect. We don't know what part of that recipe changed the brain."

Future direction

For the next study, Small said the investigators plan to focus on stress reduction & memory training. There would be a control group & 2 intervention groups - one in which participants receive memory training alone & another in which they receive both memory training & tai chi instruction. Why tai chi?

Small explained that psychiatrist Michael Irwin, affiliated with UCLA's Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, has conducted some studies on tai chi & found that it improves measures of immune function & is enjoyable for many older adults. Small added that the study will include a longer follow-up period to explore whether the effects, as measured by brain scans, are sustained.

The pilot study was funded by the Fran & Ray Stark Foundation Fund for Alzheimer's Disease Research, the Judith Olenick Elgart Fund for Research on Brain Aging & the Parlow- Solomon Professorship on Aging; Small said he intends to seek government grants for the next study.

Existing programs

Small is also chief scientific & medical advisor for the Memory Fitness Institute, a for-profit company that helps people of all ages optimize their memory function & brain health,using state-of-the-art diagnostic, intervention & prevention strategies. He explained that the Memory Fitness Institute has adapted the 14-day lifestyle intervention program for use in assisted living facilities & retirement communities & is testing the model in a realworld environment, a retirement community facility in Maryland.

"It'll be a 6-week program, 2 days a week, taught by trainers there," Small said.

The program will screen participants in advance to ensure that they can perform the physical conditioning portion (walking) without hurting themselves; provide some education about a healthy diet & introduce them to memory training exercises & stress reduction techniques.

Although brain scanning will not be part of the study, Small said, measures will be taken to systematically assess changes.

The Memory Fitness Institute has been developing some memory training programs based on Small's books, The Memory Prescription6 & The Memory Bible.7

"They've done some educational meetings & they're testing out some of these programs at different sites to see what works & what doesn't," he explained.

On the nonprofit front, UCLA's Center on Aging, which Small directs, has just received a grant from the Archstone Foundation to support memory training. The Center has created a 5-week memory training program based on The Memory Bible. Volunteers teach the program & so far about 1500 people have taken the course, Small said. It also has been licensed to the University of Texas & to a senior center in Chicago. Small also uses several memory & lifestyle approaches to help his own patients who complain of memory problems.

"I ask what their diet is like. . . . Are they exercising every day? What kind of stress are they under? I try to individualize a memory & brain health program for each of them," Small said. "These are things that'll not only help their brain health but also their general health & their heart health." He also tries to live the lifestyle himself.

"I write these books with my wife, who is a professional writer & we check things out in advance, so we try the recipes ourselves. We just finished a new book called the Longevity Bible, which will be out in June, that includes the 4 areas [diet, physical exercise, memory training & stress reduction], but others as well, including relationships, positive outlook, the environment, medications & supplements. So we try to live a healthy lifestyle as best we can."

In a related area, Small discussed his UCLA research team's use of a PET scan approach, in which "we can see the physical evidence of Alzheimer disease in a living patient." It uses a chemical marker injected into the vein to determine the localization & load of neurofibrillary tangles & amyloid senile plaques in the brains of living patients.

"We can see a pattern of plaque & tangle deposition that's very consistent with what you see in autopsy studies. Our latest data are very promising that plaque & tangle PET scanning will be a useful approach to diagnosis & treatment monitoring. We published a study8 a few years ago with 16 subjects [9 with Alzheimer's disease], & now we have 60 subjects in followup, so we can be much more confident in the findings."

Eventually, Small hopes to place individuals whose PET scans show evidence of abnormal protein buildup on a healthy lifestyle regimen & to investigate how the intervention might modify the disease process.

Attitudes & aging

While researchers define successful aging in various ways, few investigators have explored older adults' self perceptions of successful aging.

At the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego, researchers led by Dilip V. Jeste, MD, professor of psychiatry & neurosciences & Estelle & Edgar Levi Chair in Aging, found that perceptions of the aging process depend not on disease or physical disability but rather on attitude & coping style.9

The researchers conducted a study involving self-rating of successful aging in more than 1200 community-dwelling residents between the ages of 60 & 99 years.

The participants completed a detailed survey questionnaire on their medical history, health behaviors, quality of life, resilience & cognitive performance & rated themselves on successful aging. Nearly 3/4 of the respondents felt they were aging well, often despite their having physical illnesses & some disability.10

"What's most interesting about this study is that people who think they're aging well aren't necessarily the most healthy individuals," Jeste noted in a news release.9 "In fact, optimism & effective coping styles were found to be more important to aging successfully than traditional measures of health & wellness. These findings suggest that physical health isn't the best indicator of successful aging - attitude is."

Another strong indicator of successful aging was the level of social & community involvement. Participants who spent time each day on hobbies, such as reading & writing, or socializing with other members of the community consistently gave themselves high scores, as did participants who had a paid job outside of the home.

source: Psychiatric Times  references: click here

young adults
young adults

Ahhhhh! to be young again!

Stressors in young adults' lives today are reaching dangerous levels. Let's take a look at what young adults are getting so stressed, anxious & depressed about. What causes the young adults to experience panic attacks in record numbers?


Simple daily activities become stumbling blocks when college students are feeling:

  • rushed or like time was being wasted - going to & from campus

  • thoughtful over upcoming events - being rushed to get things done - esp. if the task wasn't challenging enough

  • not up to the day’s demands - attending a boring class

Students felt:

  • time wasn't being used productively

  • they didn't allocate sufficient time for the tasks

Students felt:

  • stressed thinking of upcoming demands - gauging in discomfort ranges of different intensities depending as to where they were & what they were doing at the time

  • most didn't like being home alone & thinking of these stressful situations; having physical discomfort

  • self care, household chores & walking to where ever they needed to be were other times students felt particularly stressed, anxious & needy

Students found themselves:

  • worrying about upcoming events

  • rushing to class

  • feeling fatigued because of lack of sufficient sleep

  • having difficulty staying in the moment & engaged in their studies & responsibilities

  • bored

Women students had more difficulty:

  • keeping their eyes open

  • wanting to participate

  • staying focused

when they found themselves alone.

Other problems include:

  • unmanageable impatience

  • eagerness to finish work, but fatigued with length of assignments

  • distress with feeling lethargic & not physically well

Higher level stressors include:

  • problem solving - not being interested enough in the topic causing frustration

  • an intense desire to complete assignments & tasks

  • progress - feeling obstructed - pressure to move on to more work that needs to be completed as well

These feelings emerged when college students try to combine regular daily activities with school time & work. Another factor in feelings extremely stressed seems to deal with how much time students find themselves being alone.

Feeling of high stress emerged when students tried to cope with certain social interactions:

  • “Listening to a roommate’s dilemma”

  • feeling “stifled” during a class discussion

In contrast, nearly 1/3 of the time, students described being productive, engaged, or positively anticipating completing the task. In these positively cast experiences, students also reported thoughtful contemplations such as puzzling out a client’s needs or thinking deeply about their paper topic or what to write in a letter.

Problems causing distress emerged when students felt that:

  • Time dragged while completing school tasks

  • Socially challenging situations: i.e., talking to professors about an issue, having an anxious discussion with a boyfriend, or traveling to a funeral

Students were more likely to be alone (57.1%) than with others. They were most often in their own home or a boyfriend’s apartment (42.9% total) or school (50.0%).

Women students felt pressured to:

  • complete activities (performance/time pressure 28.5%, bored/tired of task 21.4%)


  •  “Sooooo much to do”

  • “Paper going slowly” 

  • “Rushed”

These women were anxious about performing in important social & evaluative situations (performance anxiety 7.1%, anxious anticipation 28.5%).

This was evident in a meeting (“I felt anxious because a lot of important people were there”) or in the case of starting clinical training (“Trying to take in the new environment”). In this type, performance challenges were sometimes layered on top of problem-solving ones.

Academic stressors often in social  settings in school & communication activities with other people present (70.1%):

  • academic tasks - striving to meet academic standards/demands

The rest of this information is taken word for word directly from the study:

Stress in the Lives of College Women: "Lots to Do & Not Much Time" by Elizabeth A. Larson

which you can find by clicking here!

Despite low-level stress, many students reported being engaged (29.4%) and productive (11.8%), described as “better class than usual” and “studying hard.”

Others reported time and performance pressures (17.6%): “Trying to keep up on my studies,” “I really need to study,” and “overwhelmed” by class content.

It appeared that these were activities they could do but had to work hard to keep up. In addition, there was anxious anticipation of upcoming exams, interviews, or clinical work. Social stresses were also evident in deciding whether to share a personal story in class.

In Type 18, students felt high stress in situations that were extremely important to their relationships or school success; this type could be described as striving to meet critical demands/pressing deadlines. Students were often home (56.3%). They were as likely to be alone, with classmates, or with other people.

This type emphasized exam and social interaction stressors (25% each). Students were stressed working on a project with classmates, had a “heated discussion” with a boyfriend, were “rejected for an interview,” and anxiously “[discussed] moving away.” Integrated codes for this type included performance anxiety (25.0%), social stress (18.8%), anxious anticipation (12.5%), progress stymied, bored/tired of task, and discomfort (6.3% each).

This type included the crunch of keeping up in studies; social negotiating with peers, authorities, and intimates; and performing in key academic situations such as exams.

Type 22 was the largest stress type, including 112 events. This stress type closely resembled flow, yet rather than experiencing the expected ease of participation, students described low-level stress. It appeared that this type largely could be described as testing capabilities, working at the edge of their capacity.

Students were nearly equally likely to be at home (42.0%) or school (38.4%). Although often alone (47.3%), students’ activity partners included classmates (18.8%) and others. The bulk of activities were more novel or challenging school-related activities (65.2%): working in a clinic, presenting, interviewing for a job, planning a wedding, driving in a rainstorm, or learning a new exercise routine.

Socially challenging activities included eating with family and talking about family problems, getting advice about a problem, dealing with a rude family member, and avoiding a difficult situation.

Given the activity features similar to flow, it is not surprising that at least one third of the time students experienced engagement (19.6%), or productivity (15.2%). Students described “deeply concentrating,” or having work or a project “going well.” Mild stress did not seem to diminish the positive valence of the experience for some. However, around 60% of the time the women’s experiences were threaded with some anxiety or concern reflecting the challenge of the task.

In the integrated codes, it was evident that women felt pressed to perform (17.0%), worried about their performance capabilities (9.8%), and anxiously anticipated upcoming exams, interviews, and presentations.

Narratives described: “Deadline fast approaching,” “lots to do, don’t want to,” “need to prepare for final exam,” and “trying to keep up.” Likewise, performance anxiety was noted by students being “anxious” before a speech, unsure of their answers to the clinical supervisor, and “trying to manage several things at once” while teaching. Anxious anticipation of events was also described: “Hope all goes well” or “little nervous about [upcoming] exam.”

Stress was also experienced because of relationship problems (10.5%). So although they rated task complexity and skill use equally high, participants did not feel fully competent, nor did they experience positive participation.

The final type reflected the most challenging events for students: cramming, exams, and disagreements. It could be described as taxing capabilities.

Students were equally likely to be with classmates, with others, or alone. Students were typically at school (50.0%) or home (36.1%). These women were studying (25.0%), taking an exam or writing papers (16.7% each), having intense discussions (11.2%), doing a class project (11.1%), and teaching (5.6%).

Activities taxed students’ capacities. Experiential codes reflected performance/ time pressures (38.9%), performance anxiety (22.2%), and anxious anticipation (11.1%). This type captured cramming for an exam (“So much to do and learn before my neuro exam” and “my exam is in 4 hours so I am in a hurry”) and test anxiety (“Trying to remember info,” “hurried to finish and don’t know a lot”).

In the social arena, interactions included arguments and a “deep and important discussion.” In this type with a high-productive load, time flew by, but challenges appeared exceed the students’ comfort zones, shifting experiences from positive flow-like ones to distress.

Establishing Identity....
Sexual Identity

Searching For Myself

Today, teenagers embracing their homosexual feelings finally find a sense of belonging & acceptance in circles of friends who have shared their same struggle. Not only are gay people clinging together these days, but also straight teenagers who sympathize with homosexual teens.

With the advent of Gay-Straight Alliances & the rise of other pro-gay organizations, it's easy to find a “Welcome” sign with our feelings in-tow. What most teenagers today don’t hear is that there's another option besides homosexuality.

The thought seems futile - crazy, almost. You’re telling me that, even with these attractions, I don’t have to pursue homosexuality?

That’s right. More teens are finding their way out of homosexuality today than ever before. While teens who choose to be gay follow those who desire to lead them into a homosexual life, there are many young men & women who have chosen to follow God to find freedom from homosexuality & peace in their lives.

This option is available to all of us.

In Time magazine (October 10, 2005 issue), Bryan Olsen, an actively gay young man, said that, “It probably sounds antigay, but I think there are very few age-appropriate gay activities for a 14-15-year-old. There’s no roller skating, bowling or any of that kind of thing…It’s Internet, gay porn, gay chats.” The editor-in-chief of YGA (Young Gay America) Magazine also contributed that, “I don’t think the gay movement understands the extent to which the next generation just wants to be normal kids. The people who are getting that are the Christian right.”

The gay agenda is ultimately turning today’s youth with same-sex attractions into sexual addicts - not liberated & unique individuals with tremendous potential. The gay culture today has chosen to sexualize our potential & prostitute us for its cause. We don’t have to submit.

Finding out who we truly are apart from our homosexual attractions is a difficult route, but perhaps no less difficult than choosing to live as a gay person. The roots of homosexuality are real in each struggling person’s life, but they can absolutely be addressed, faced & healed.

There are men & women living lives today free from homosexual bondage & gender confusion. You can be one of those, too.

Provided are several articles to address this issue in the lives of young people, along with questions that you can use to better understand who you are & where your life is going. There are also stories of two young people who are currently walking out their freedom from homosexuality today.

Also, know that God loves you. Even in our youth, our lives can hurt. Our lives can be confusing. But, God understands everything about us. He made us. He already knows it all. We hope you'll find this material interesting & that some of these ideas may be of benefit to your life.

The Making of a Man by Will Sears

In 1986 in a small town in KY, I was born to a coal miner & schoolteacher. My father, being dedicated to providing for our family, was preoccupied with his work much of the time, leaving my mother, sister & grandmother to set the example for my life. Because of my father’s time spent at work, I perceived that he didn’t care about me - that I wasn’t worth his time, nor worthy of his love. Thus began an early childhood of loneliness, confusion & disappointment that I'd carry for the next several years.

Because I had never been around my dad or any other young men very much, being around my male peers was always awkward. I just didn’t know how to relate to other guys, even after trying for years.

In middle school, most of the other guys played on the football team. I didn’t know the first thing about football & was too ashamed to admit this, so I chose to isolate myself from them. It was during this time that I really acknowledged that I was attracted to guys, as well.

I made several other final attempts to “fit in” with my male peers: I tried out for the middle school basketball team, but didn’t make it; I planned a pool party, but only 5 people showed up; I even dated several girls in middle school at the beginning of high school to win the approval & praise of my male peers, but I was never able to find myself physically attracted to girls - or even comfortable enough to function in a dating role with them.

I tried everything I knew to do, but everything eventually seemed to crumble. I found that being friends with girls was much easier, anyhow.

So, I gave up on guy friends. Not knowing how to make sense of this, I ignored the confusion. In high school, I decided to really focus on becoming an excellent musician and student. These were the only things I had ever been any good at. I scored distinguished scores at vocal/piano solo festivals & scored among the top of the rosters for many of the choirs I auditioned for.

I maintained my 4.0 GPA, and was on my way to being valedictorian of my high school class.

Finally, I had found my significance & purpose - or so I thought. A double life only started here, though. I began looking at same-sex pornography, chatting in gay chat rooms & initiating relationships with other guys my age or older on the phone & internet.

knew this interaction validated the feelings I was having, but I didn’t know what to do with these relationships. I knew that everyone said that being gay was wrong & I didn’t want to give up my perfect image to “come out” in my small Kentucky town.

In the middle part of high school, I finally decided to act upon the fantasies about other men that had filled my mind for years & initiated my first same-sex relationship with another young man in my town.

My interaction with him was intensely unpredictable. I was totally living “in the closet” & he'd been “outed” nearly a year before.

So, there were very few times for us to get together in our small town without someone possibly seeing us. When in his car, I would duck when we passed someone I knew. Also, I began to manipulate & lie to my parents to maintain the relationship, but after a very short time, it inevitably crashed. I was devastated & confused.

Over the course of the next summer, I took part in an academic program. My sexual desires led me no where in my first relationship, so I decided to build on my academic life. The desires didn’t go away, though. And, I met people who affirmed my gay choices. I thought this was the best time of my life.

When I returned home for my senior year of high school, I sought out my first partner in my town one last time; I wanted to prove to myself that I was worthy of his attention & that I was brave & unashamed enough to pursue him.

For the first time, I engaged sexually with another guy. The relationship never took off again, but the experience laid the ground for a dark road ahead. I was confused & disappointed about the relationship’s end, but still extremely curious about what other encounters might bring to my life.

During my senior year, I was voted class president, “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Best All-Around” & was racking up scholarships right & left. Not to mention, I was going to be one of the valedictorians of my senior class. So, while my private life was in turmoil, everything of my visible life was going to plan.

One day during my accounting class, a friend approached me about a rumor she'd heard, that I was gay. I was shocked that someone would ask me this in such a point-blank manner, but I immediately responded that such a claim was absurd. I totally denied what she said & tried to bask in my academic glory.

Everything seemed to go right back to normal until a Saturday night later that fall. All parts of my life were about to become visible for all to see.

On a floodwall in my town, a sheet was spray-painted with my name & the name of my past inappropriate partner. I never saw the sign, but several people confirmed that it was there. Another sign was hung at my house the same night in our lower yard on the fence with an inappropriate picture & name on it.

In those few moments when the signs were hung, my investment in my perfect image came crashing down. For the rest of my senior year, I was called, “fag,” “queer” & other much worse names everyday.

As a result, I further detached from my peers & only allowed my  thoughts to center around my future beyond high school, because I knew the rest of my year would be miserable.

Being a chronic manipulator of my parents at the time, I deceived  them into believing that all the rumors weren’t true. I pulled this off extremely well for the rest of the year. They acted on my behalf several times to defend me against some of the students who had taken part in harassing me for my choices.

They seriously didn’t have a clue, or were in extreme denial.

After graduating as valedictorian & escaping the ruthless  harassment of many of my peers, I landed a summer job with the academic program I participated in the summer before. I longed to get out of my town & be free to pursue what I wanted.

That summer, I had my own dorm room, a brand new car & was accountable to no one for anything I was doing. Combined with a hunger to explore my intensifying homosexual desires, this was the most reckless time of my life. I began seeking out sexual encounters with many men & developed unhealthy emotional & sexual relationships with a couple of them.

I also participated in a pro-gay function, sharing my pursuit of homosexuality with others. My parents still didn’t know anything for sure.

When I finally returned home to pack for college, my mother confronted me immediately, because she had investigated my cell phone bill.

She had already called one of the numbers to which I had made many long calls. I confirmed her suspicion & came out to her. She told my father two nights later. This was two weeks before my freshman year of college would begin.

These two weeks were intensely awkward & even more uncertain. I didn’t know if my parents would kick me out, take all my things, or tell me to never come back. I literally expected all of those to happen, but none of them did. My parents delivered me to college with a brand new car & laptop & told me I'd be free to come home until they could think through things a bit more.

They didn’t really know how to respond to such a crisis, but expressed that they wanted the best for me, that this move was a new start for me.

I acted out with another guy the first day I was dropped off at college & yet another one the second day I was at college. I paid no attention to what my parents had advised. The next several weeks were filled with rampant pursuits of homosexual encounters & relationships.

After being involved with one particular guy, I was scared about what other people were starting to tell me about his promiscuous pattern of acting out. I went for an HIV test, but tested negative. I remember thinking thru the whole time, “This is not the way I want to live my life.”

But, I didn’t really believe there were any other options for a way to live. I continued my relationship with him. Because my partner & I were both musically inclined & appreciated the arts, we decided to go to the very musical First Baptist Church of Bowling Green, KY.

During the service, I immediately knew something was wrong with our being there together. I was sitting in the sanctuary, hearing a choir sing beautiful choruses. The pastor delivered a  compassionate, rich sermon filled with God’s word. I was convicted; I knew I wanted to live differently.

After that service, I distanced myself from my inappropriate partner and ended the relationship. Over the next few weeks, I was bitter & miserable. I eventually decided to end all the relationships I had in the homosexual community on campus & was basically a loner.

Apart from attending classes, I retreated to the top floor of the campus library & read a book my mother had sent me about coming out of homosexuality. As I read articles & other books, God guided me thru the initial process of plugging my life into the details of what had been written by people whom God had guided out of homosexuality.

Facing my reality was extremely hard, but for the first time in my life, my experiences & feelings made sense. I felt convicted to change & now had hope that change was possible. My misery & bitterness turned into hope & conviction.

I soon became involved in Campus Crusade for Christ on my campus, where I found many supportive Christian friends. During this same time, I began a painful process of letting go of the things I held to for so long for my self-worth: my clothes, hair, the pursuit of perfection, the need to be superior & many others.

I also got involved with The Sight Ministry in Nashville, TN, that provides support & counseling for men leaving homosexuality. I also eventually joined the church I had attended with my inappropriate partner & developed a close, loving relationship with a couple from church.

For the rest of the year, I continued to struggle with acting out with myself & others & developed an even stronger addiction to same-sex pornography. I needed more help than I was getting. I finally applied to Love In Action, a residential ministry for people struggling with sexual & gender-identity issues.

After several months, in June of 2005, my family drove me to Memphis, TN & I began my stay with Love In Action.

Immediately, I began to see my life with honest eyes. This process was initially very painful & humbling. I realized that there was really nobody to blame for the choices I had made; I realized that I had been wounded by my childhood & peer experiences, but I had, as a result, wounded myself far more.

It was time to face reality. Today, I'm still fighting to claim a stronger awareness of my own masculinity, a process God has begun in my life. I am finding my place in the male world & discovering that women really are more of a mystery than a best friend.

The pursuit of healthy male interaction is fiercely intimidating for me, but I have seen that God honors my efforts to become the man He created me to be. In these newly formed bonds, the mystery of men has decreased & my attractions have greatly diminished as a result.

My doubts that change is possible have been removed. God has proven to me that He cares for me & has a plan for my life that transcends anything that I could have planned for myself. With all the awards & recognition I received in high school, the perfect image I have presented most of my life & several seemingly “perfect” relationships with other men, I was still longing for something much more.

With God’s guidance & His immeasurable grace in my life, I have learned that only in Christ do I stand complete. And today, I am finally proud that I am a man.

Copyright 2005 Will Sears, Distributed by Refuge International, Inc.

My Parents Don’t Understand

“I refuse to break up with my boyfriend. My parents are being jerks about it, but it’s not my fault they don’t understand who I am. I only came out last month, but they have really been treating me like crap. I’m 17 anyway, and it doesn’t really matter because I’ll be moving out soon. So, I’m just going to play their little game until I move out.”

Seeing the Whole Picture

How many times have our parents upset us? How many times have we hidden things from them, because we know it would be just one more thing that would tick them off?

It seems that parents have a rule or a punishment for everything & we just can’t get a break. So, it only makes sense that when life decisions come our way, they want to have some input into what we decide for ourselves. But, how can parents help us make decisions if they don’t even understand us!?

But, do we even understand ourselves?

Young people struggling with homosexuality & other related issues have many conflicted thoughts about their identities, particularly in the healthy acceptance of their gender. In the early stages of puberty when hormones start raging, there's some panic involved when we first realize that our feelings aren’t directed at someone of the opposite-sex.

Heck, sometimes they seem to be directed at both sexes equally. Accepting what we perceive to be reality often takes time, but many people today are able to come out & justify living out a homosexual or bisexual identity.

What many teenagers struggling with homosexuality haven’t  considered is that several factors create the dynamic that plays into the development of homosexual feelings. According to Chad W. Thompson, author & founder of Inqueery, several common influences appear in many people struggling with homosexuality.

They include:

Rejection by one’s same-gender parents or peers (real or perceived lack of physical & emotional closeness with one’s same-sex parent, caregiver, or peers during the formative years of development)

Sexual Molestation

Temperament (a child’s natural inclination to be sensitive or artistic versus athletic or mechanical)

An abnormally close relationship with one’s opposite-sex parent

Lack of identification with one’s gender (having no sense of “belonging” to one’s gender)


Not just one of these will result in someone becoming homosexually attracted. Also, not all of these elements are present in every case. These usually occur in combination - a combination that is different for each person.

At first, what parents don’t initially understand & may not be willing to accept is that their role in your life was/is an important factor in your homosexual attractions. We learn more about this dynamic by observing the stages of the child development process, as taught by Rev. John J. Smid, Executive Director of Love In Action:

Phases Steps

I. 0-2 years old -Surveys his/her world for significance, safety, and attention

II. 2-6 years old -Seeks gender affirmation from same-sex parent

 Assesses whether or not it’s positive to be his/her gender

 If positive, child mimics behavior by those of his/her gender

III. 6-12 years old -Attempts to walk in his/her gender

 Relates to other members of same-sex

IV. Puberty to Adulthood -Identifies with relationships/activities reflecting his/her gender

In the beginning of life (0-2 years old), the child is looking around trying to decide if he/she is safe: Is he/she being protected from things that are harmful and intrusive to him/her?

The child also considers whether or not he/she is significant: Does he/she deserve someone to care for him?

Finally, the child needs to know that his/her presence makes a difference to the people in the room: Is he/she worth spending time with?

In the next four years of life (2-6 years old), the child needs to realize that he/she is a girl or a boy. The same-sex parent generally affirms this in the child. The child also assesses whether or not it’s ideal to be his or her gender.

If Daddy’s always mad & never spends time with his son, the son is more likely to conclude that being a man is unfavorable. If the primary same-sex person in the child’s life (usually the parent) does affirm the child & provide a positive image of the child’s gender, the child will begin to mimic the behavior of his/her gender.

During the stages just before puberty (6-12 years old), the child attempts to walk in his/her gender by relating to others of the same gender. During recess, a boy might throw rocks or shoot basketball while being rowdy with a group of his male friends, while a girl might pick buttercups & braid her friend’s hair, while talking about how silly boys are for throwing rocks.

From puberty to adulthood, the adolescent begins to solidly identify with relationships/activities that reflect the nature of his gender. A healthy girl might have her mother help her plan a slumber party while her mom makes cookies & breakfast for everyone.

The mother models her feminine role & the girl is affirmed of who she is by the sister-like relationships she forms with other females. For men, a healthy guy might call a group of his guy friends and play videogames with his buddies. In such a situation, he exerts a masculine trait of taking initiative, and his friends affirm this masculinity by coming and enjoying themselves.

Regardless of what the actual activity is, there is ideally a sense of camaraderie between the members of the group. The key thing to remember is that men become men in the company of men; women become women in the company of other women.

In light of these phases of development, we see that parents play an integral role in shaping our opinions about who we are as people and as our gender. Without having a positive view of what is ahead of us as men or women, we detach and stray from the healthy flow of development.

In doing so, we feel ashamed and inferior about our gender. For men, some of these conclusions might sound like, “I’m weak. I am a sissy. I am inferior to healthy men.” For women, the thoughts might be, “Being vulnerable will get me hurt. People will take advantage of me if I don’t let them know how strong and tough I am.”

These shame-rooted mindsets are typically those that can transition into homosexual attraction and acting out.

The Words, “I’m Gay:” a Parent’s Worst Nightmare

When many parents find out their child struggles with homosexuality, there are many initial thoughts that go through their minds: What could I have done differently? Why am I such a horrible parent? Why didn’t I see this sooner? What can I do now to turn my kid’s life around? I will never understand my child!

What is hard to accept is that we don’t always understand ourselves, either. A guy in the process of overcoming homosexuality remembers arguing with his parents about his decision to pursue the gay lifestyle:

I struggled with these feelings for as long as I could remember, but growing up in my small town made it impossible for me to come out at my school. After several relationships and finding acceptance in the gay community at my summer job for the first time in my life, I was ready to come out to my parents. I remember trying to argue with the articles and books my mother asked me to read, and not being able to back up what I was saying without contradicting myself.

Nevertheless, I went ahead and looked for inappropriate  relationships at college, but I finally came to terms with the fact that I was pursuing a lifestyle that I never even understood to begin with.

Of course parents can’t fully understand homosexuality as we have experienced its effects in our own lives. They probably only know of neighbors or co-workers who struggle with the issue. While the issue was everyone else’s problem but your parents’ before, it is now sleeping in their upstairs bedroom. They probably know someone or have heard of someone who has died of AIDS who was in the homosexual lifestyle, and fear that this could be your reality in the future, as well.

The fear that their child may face a life-threatening situation later on in life only prompts them to make a last attempt to change you, which may be why you were brought here. Parents desperately want  several things for their child:

To know that their child is safe.

To know their child wants to keep the door open for them to continue loving him/her.

To see the fruits of their child’s healthy choices.

To know that their role as parents has made a positive, permanent difference.

To believe that their child could live a productive life without their help.

What choices have you made that have placed a barrier between you and them as they relate to the above points?

Cutting the Parents Some Slack

Before we slam our parents anymore for not understanding who we are and what we want, we must realize who they are and what they want as well. Do we really even know? Until we can learn to respect our parents, they will have a much harder time respecting us. Parents are interested in seeing their children become the very best they can be in whatever circumstance, and are willing to bend over backwards to make that happen.


1. Describe how your father influenced your early childhood, and determine 3 conclusions you have made about your gender based on his role in your life.

2. Describe how your mother influenced your early childhood, and determine 3 conclusions you have made about your gender based on her role in your life.

3. Describe a time when you successfully interacted with a group of same-sex peers during your childhood.

4. Reflecting on the list of desires parents have for their children’s lives, describe a time when your parents made you do something you didn’t want to do. Which of these desires were your parents communicating by asking you to do what you didn’t want to do?

5. Make a list of ten positive experiences you have had with each of your parents during your lifetime:













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A Misdirected Love: Same-Sex Relationships

“Troy was very charming when we were together. He bought me a stuffed animal and cologne, and was always excited when I would call him on the phone. Not to mention, I thought he was very attractive.

Every time we would have an argument, though, he would start blaming me for everything and threaten to leave me. I was so desperate to keep the relationship that I eventually was willing to do whatever he even hinted at wanting, so I wouldn’t lose his affection. When he finally decided to move on, I was devastated about how much I had invested in the relationship.”

At some point, the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend is something most teenagers eventually desire. We survey those around us to find someone who is stylish, fun, interesting, exciting, adventurous, and likes many of the same things we do. When we finally find someone with most of the qualities we find attractive, it’s only natural that we put much of our hope in the relationship. We think things like, “With this person, my needs will be met,” or, “As long as I have this person in my life, everything will be OK.” But, what happens when there’s a bump in the road, or the relationship ends?

As teenagers growing up in a country of pop culture and extremely sexual messages transmitted through the media, it is important to know where sexually promiscuous and immoral relationships can lead.

Sexual immorality is biblically addressed in the following passages:

I Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NIV) “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.”

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Romans 1:24-27 (NIV) “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

I Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV) “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Quick Check-In:

1. How do you feel about having to give up a same-sex relationship or the hope of ever having one?

Sexual immorality not only has spiritual consequences, but physical, as well. In Youth and HIV/AIDS 2000: A New American Agenda, it is reported that, “Young Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 are still contracting HIV at the rate of 2 per hour,” and also that, “Half of all new infections are thought to occur in people under 25.”

Not only is HIV a threat to people who engage in sexually immoral, promiscuous behavior, but also other STDs. The American Social Health Association has found that, “Every year 3 million teens - about 1 in 4 sexually active teens - get a sexually transmitted disease (STD).”

Many sexually transmitted diseases are treatable/curable, but others provide more desperate circumstances when seeking treatment. Currently, there is still no cure for AIDS, and very few effective means of treating the disease. Furthermore, there are around 9 million new cases of STDs among youth every year, according to the American Social Health Association.

The consequences of promiscuous sex outside of marriage are real and evident in every statistical gathering available.

People seeking true love in same-sex and other immoral relationships are determined to find a partner

who is committed to them emotionally and physically. A natural hope of every relationship is that it will be

lasting and fulfilling. Marriage between a man and a woman is the only love-relationship in the Bible that

God promises will receive his blessing and be fruitful. Frank Worthen, in Helping People Step Out of

Homosexuality, discusses three Biblical requirements for marriage:

�� Marriage is between a man and a woman (Genesis 1:27, MSG)

God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God's nature. He created them

male and female.

�� Marriage involves a sexual relationship (Genesis 1:28a)

And God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.”

�� Marriage requires a lifetime commitment (Matthew 19:3-8, MSG)

One day the Pharisees were badgering him: "Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any

reason?" He answered, "Haven't you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and

woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother

and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh--no longer two bodies but one. Because God

created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them

apart. "They shot back in rebuttal, "If that's so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers

and divorce procedures?" Jesus said, "Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your

hardheartedness, but it is not part of God's original plan. I'm holding you to the original plan, and

holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I

make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery."

Worthen continues by saying, “If only one or two of these elements are present, there is a distortion of

God’s plan.” He provides some examples:

�� Two men in a sexual relationship with a lifetime commitment

�� A man and a woman in a sexual relationship without a commitment (outside of marriage)

�� A man and a woman in a lifetime commitment without a sexual relationship. (If the situation exists

due to events beyond the couple’s control, there should be no guilt. However, if both parties are

healthy, Scripture instructs a couple not to abstain from a sexual relationship for any extended


1 3

Therefore, we see that there is not biblical support for same-sex relationships or relationships where a loyal

lifetime commitment or an appropriate sexual relationship is not present. All three of these are ultimately

missing in same-sex relationships.

Rewind <<

1. Have you ever engaged in a same-sex relationship? If so, what were the pros of the relationship?

What were the cons of the relationship?

2. What are some of the consequences you have faced as a result of sexual relationships outside of


3. Do you believe marriage should be strictly between a man and a woman? Why or why not?

4. What is the longest-lasting homosexual relationship you know of? Describe the relationship. How

do you feel about this?

5. What is the longest-lasting heterosexual relationship you know of? Describe the relationship. How

do you feel about this?

6. Has your conviction about sexually immoral relationships changed? Why or why not?

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An Eyeful: Pornography

“At 17, I discovered a way to access pornography easily, secretly, and for free. The images I began to

view seemed to fill a void in my life, particularly the images of men. I felt intrigued, excited, and fulfilled as

I looked at the images. As time passed and stresses grew in my life, my use of pornography became

much more frequent. For about three years I fed my mind with such inappropriate material, masturbation,

and fantasy.”

What does looking at pornography really accomplish?

Pornography is often thought of as an adult venture—something many young boys find in their dad’s

closet or dresser drawer. Pornography is also thought of as a man’s problem, which is not the case.

Women struggle with pornography, too. As a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, the

pornography business has made the selling of this sexual medium as easy as selling cigarettes for the bigtobacco

industry—probably easier, actually.

The pornography industry is only becoming more popular, providing free, easy access to the images it

produces. Combined with sexually curious, computer-savvy teenagers, the industry has immeasurable

power to groom a new generation of subscribers: your generation.

Quick Check-In:

1. Have you ever looked at pornography? Of the same sex? Of the opposite sex? How did you

feel before, during, and after looking at pornography?

A clever observation about men and women is that “men build buildings; women build relationships,”

according to Rev. John J. Smid, executive director of Love In Action, International. Men naturally enjoy

being valued for what they do, while women enjoy being valued for who they are. This plays out

interestingly in each gender’s pursuit of pornography: “Men tend to give intimacy in order to get sex,”

says psychologist Dr. James Dobson, “and women tend to give sex in order to get intimacy.”

Pornography among youth is particularly dangerous, as young adults are shaping their opinions of

themselves and their world. When looking at pornography, the temporary fantasy is created as such that

the viewer imagines that he/she is actually participating in what he or she is seeing. For a brief span of

time, the viewer is entirely consumed by what he or she is seeing to the point of forgetting about reality.

Therefore, men with homosexual attraction will subconsciously reinforce their masculine insecurities that

all other men are superior to them— that other men are in control, their physique is ideal, and they are doing whatever they please. For women struggling with homosexuality, the experience yields to hopelessness and a warped sense of intimacy that the woman is convinced she can’t and won’t find in real life.

The female pornography viewer will conclude that real-life intimacy is unattainable and not worth the effort. For both male and female, the illusions of power, control, and intimacy are shattered at the moment the sexual high is over.

Viewers are shocked back to reality: the details of their own lives have all but changed. 

Quick Check-In:

1. What are your three most prominent feelings while viewing pornographic material? Explain each, using, “I feel…about…because.”

I Think I’m Addicted

Not all people who have looked at pornography in their lives have become addicted; for many, it’s something to medicate the hurts of life away when nothing else will seem to work. For others, viewing pornography is something to which several hours are devoted during a single sitting. There are several indicators that determine whether or not you might be addicted to viewing pornography.

You may be addicted to internet pornography if…

1. You have a special folder on your computer in which you store inappropriate sexual images.

2. You don’t feel fulfilled unless you look at something sexually inappropriate once a day.

3. You have looked at pornography for hours at a time in one sitting.

4. You prolong orgasm during masturbation to continue looking for something “better.”

5. You feel as though you can’t stop looking at pornography while viewing it.

6. You decline to take part in other activities in your life so you can view pornography.

Quick Check-In:

1. Which of the above indicators of pornography addiction can you relate to?

2. Have you ever considered that you might be addicted to pornography? Explain.

One Last Look

In Coming Out Of Homosexuality, Bob Davies and Lori Rentzel say that, “An important step in gaining victory [over pornography], as with masturbation and other sex-related habits, is to identify your triggers and develop prevention strategies.” As drastic as it may sound, these are some effective tactics to prevent viewing pornography:

�� Move any computers to a public area of the home, to provide parental accountability.

�� With accountability, cancel subscriptions you may have to pornographic websites or other

providers of inappropriate material. You may want to even cancel the e-mail account.

�� Use the password function on your computer, so someone else must sign you on before you can

get use the computer.

�� Limit your time so you have just enough to check your e-mail. Do any other research at school,

and call your friends instead of using instant messaging applications.


Refuge The Perfect Life?

International By Brooke Iverson ● ● ●

I had the perfect family. I had the

perfect life. I had everything I wanted. So,

how and why did I become involved in the

homosexual lifestyle?

Both of my parents were very loving and

good Christian people. We were jokingly

referred to as the “Beaver Cleaver family”. I

grew up spending most of my time with my

father and brother, where I developed a love

of the outdoors and physical activities.

Instead of playing with dolls and

dress-up, I played with G.I. Joe and

wrestled. I was also always shy and

timid, leaving plenty of room for

many kids to tease and make fun

of me. I never could seem to find a

place to fit in and always felt

different and awkward.

As I began to grow older,

adolescence was a nightmare for

me. I struggled with sexual sin

during this time while fantasizing

and acting out with myself. This only added

fuel to the fire of feeling different and not

fitting in. All the girls my age were beginning

to wear makeup and talk about boys when

all I wanted to do was ride four-wheelers and

go hunting with my dad. I was terrified to

meet new people and struggled everyday

with fear and anxiety. On top of my peer

struggles, my parents didn’t know how to

deal with my depression, so our conversations

often ended with anger from both sides. With

the intense confusion at school and at home,

I learned to shut down emotionally and

hoped these feelings would just go away.

During my 8th grade year, I decided to

take a chance and try out for the high school

softball team. I had always been interested in

sports, but because of my lack of self esteem

I never felt capable of succeeding at

anything. To my surprise I was chosen. My

involvement with the team had both a

positive and negative effect on my life. Most

of the girls on the team were involved in

drinking, drugs, and promiscuous sex, but

being good at something helped me open

up and feel more worthwhile. I was the

youngest on the team and looked up to

them very much. They all very quickly liked

and accepted me. Desiring their approval, I

began to act and behave the way they did. I

was very curious about what it was like to

lead that kind of lifestyle. So, I began to

experiment with alcohol and found

acceptance in the party scene. This choice

started me down a long path of addictions.

I had a difficult time finding my place as a

woman and never had any kind of

romantic involvement with guys.

The opposite was true—I had

plenty of guy friends and felt much

more comfortable trying to be like

them instead of being like my

female friends. In addition, guys

never showed an interest in me, so

I began to fantasize about women.

The beginning of my senior year

I became attracted towards a

teammate of mine. She was wild,

crazy, popular, attractive, and everything

else I thought I lacked. I began to secretly

fantasize about her and wanted to spend

every free second I had with her. During our

relationship I hid my desire to be sexually

close to her because I was afraid she would

reject me. I thought that fantasizing about

the relationship was okay, however. As long

as no one knew about my fantasizing, I

thought there was no harm in it. Although our

relationship never became physical, we were

still extremely enmeshed. I would do

whatever she asked me to do. I was getting

drunk almost every weekend and slowly

began to experiment with drugs. Soon

enough, the relationship turned bad because

she didn’t give me all the attention I desired,

so I began to look for it in other places.

My freshman year in college brought me

freedom from the control of my parents, and I

began to explore the world. While in college,

I spent most of my time outside of class and

work abusing alcohol and drugs. Once

again, I found a sense of acceptance. When

I was intoxicated, I had no fear, no anxiety,

and no trouble making friends. Even more, I


noticed that my attraction to women began

to increase. I was fascinated—but still afraid—

of the lesbians I knew on campus. I became

very interested in female musicians and

obsessed about

their lives. Most of

them were openly

involved some way

in the homosexual

lifestyle. I was very

interested, but was

too ashamed and scared of what people

would think. So once again, I decided to

keep my feelings to myself.

For my sophomore year in college I

transferred to Mississippi State University and

found even more freedom. I began to drink

every night and heavily abuse marijuana,

ecstasy, LSD, prescription drugs, cocaine and

opiates. I found it much more exciting to

cope within a fantasy, rather than deal with

my ever-present feelings of insignificance and


I found a bar that became my home

away from home. There, I met people from all

different backgrounds and beliefs. I met a

group of women in the homosexual lifestyle

and immediately became a part of their

group. We would take off and leave town for

days to attend concerts and shows. I was

able to see the female musicians who I had

been so obsessed with perform live. It was so

exciting to me! I had a “family” who would let

me be whoever I wanted to be and not

question whether it was right or wrong.

My relationship with my real family

became increasingly distant. I had to lie more

to cover up my sin and keep their financial

support. They soon found out about my drug

and alcohol abuse because I had flunked an

entire semester of classes. But, they weren’t

aware at the time of my same sex struggles.

They cut me off financially, so I cut them off

emotionally, and I didn’t care what people

thought anymore. I had found my place in

the world. I knew who I was.

Up to this point I had not been physically

involved with a woman, but was soon

approached by the partner of a close friend

of mine. I was thrilled to be wanted by

someone so talented, attractive, and

popular. We soon became involved

emotionally and physically. I became

consumed with her and we were “in love”

after the first few days of being together.

Instead of feeling

different and weird, I

felt unique and

interesting. The

people I hung out

with were all

thrilled—and not

surprised at all—about my coming out. Their

acceptance affirmed and encouraged me

to pursue it even more. My fairy tale soon

ended when my partner decided to move to

another part of the country. My heart was

broken and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

Not only did I have to grieve the loss of her, I

also had to face the reality of all the bad

choices I had been making in my life. It was

overwhelming, so I chose to ignore it. I

became even more involved with drugs and

alcohol. I spent all my money on my

addictions and soon had to steal from my

employer to survive. I lived for my next high

and my next sexual encounter. Again, I

desperately wanted someone to go home to

every night.

Over the next couple of years I settled for whatever kind of relationship I could find. During this time I had two very emotional and physically abusive partners. I was completely miserable and continued to cover those feelings with drugs and alcohol. I wanted something better but couldn’t let go because of my extreme fear of being alone.

I was finally convinced that if I found “the one” everything would change and I would spend my life living happily ever after. I thought all of my problems had come to an end when I met my final partner. She was funny, smart, beautiful, and she liked me! I had no problem leaving my other partner of 8 months to be with the woman that I thought could be “the one.” Our story started out as a fairy tale. We were obsessed with each other, and our personalities clicked. I hadn’t experienced this with anyone in a very long time.

We began to make plans for the future. We wanted a home, children, and for our families to accept us. Even though I I thought all of my problems had come to an end when I met my final partner. desperately wanted these things, I knew deep down inside it could never happen. This conflict I had inside drove me to my old patterns of drinking and drugs. My partner also fell into old patterns and began to be unfaithful to me. I was crushed that the one person I poured my heart and soul into could repeatedly wound me so deeply. But, I could not walk away from her. I was often the one begging for her forgiveness after being told of encounters she had with someone else.

This led to a horrible and confusing cycle of lying, jealousy, rage, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and the list could go on. During one of our many breakups I was on my way to my apartment from a bar when I was pulled over and charged with a DUI, reckless driving, and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. I came to a wall in my life and had no where else to go except home.

My parents graciously opened up their lives to me again and I saw this as a positive thing, even though I was far from being ready to give up my sin. I had a chance to get sober and back on my feet. I soon felt I was ready to be back in the world and was now able to be the kind of person I needed to be.

I moved in with my partner yet again and we had the home we had so often talked of. I had a good job, a nice car, a loving relationship, and I was even back in school.

So, why was I hurting so much inside? I soon began to fall back into my old habits of drinking and drugs. This once again started the same old pattern of me getting drunk and stoned every night, giving my partner an excuse to cheat on me every opportunity she could.

Finally, I was so hurt and humiliated when she began to bring people to our house that I moved out of our “perfect home.” I was ready to move on in my life, but couldn’t because I was so emotionally  dependent on her. There was nothing she could do to drive me away…I was determined to be with her still.

On February 15th of 2005, God finally opened my eyes and allowed me to see how horrible my life had been. My partner and I had been making one last attempt to salvage our relationship when she told me of her sexual involvement with her former partner. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take the lies, deceit, anger, and pain that I had been trying to push down for years. There was too much of it and I couldn’t make it go away anymore.

Alcohol, drugs, sex, people, my nice home, my new car, my good job, my good grades, my parents…It was time to admit that all these things still didn’t complete me. I fell on my face in my apartment and cried out to God to forgive me and help me with all of my addictions.

I didn’t know how to begin to change and deal with all my problems but God had a plan. On the advice of a counselor and good friend of mine, I decided to come to Love In Action. Through the program I learned so  much about myself. In my years of pursuing sin, I had lost who I am and had no idea what I even thought or felt. I didn’t know how to get all the junk that had built up inside of me out.

I have learned that it is so important to express how I feel and that what I think really matters. I also know now how amazing it is to be a woman. God created me to be strong and used by Him, not to be weak and beneath everyone else. I have an incredible purpose as the daughter of the King of the Universe! The most important thing I’ve learned at Love In Action is that God has such a powerful and unconditional love for me. His hand has been on my life even in my darkest of moments. I’ll never be perfect and He doesn’t expect me to be. He wants me just like I am.

It’s exciting to see the changes I have made and how it’s evident inside and out. For the first time in my life I have hope for a better future. I take more pride in being feminine than I ever have and hope that God will allow me to be a wife and a mother someday. I know that He sent His Son to give me abundant life, and I trust His  promises that He’ll always provide for me. Giving up my past is an everyday sacrifice, and is not always easy, but I am striving to live a life pleasing to my heavenly Father. I want to hear His words “well done my good and faithful servant” on the day I see Him face to face.

Copyright 2005 Brooke Iverson, Distributed

by Love In Action, International.

The Choice Is Yours

Regardless of what anyone tells you (including some Christians today), the choice to pursue your homosexual attractions is yours - & yours alone.

In America, young men & women are free to choose whatever kind of life they desire for themselves. Because many studies have concluded that no gay gene exists, you weren't born gay.

In addition, God didn't create people to be homosexual - this is stated nowhere in the Bible. Unfortunately, the dynamics in your family & peer relationships have caused you to develop these attractions.

Hopefully, you've seen how interconnected your life & the lives of others around you have been. There's hope, however, that God can guide you thru healing from those relational wounds. You don’t have to be gay - regardless of how “stuck” you think you are in this identity. Too many people have proven otherwise in their lives.

Some underlying questions to think about while you're considering this very important time in your life are:

Are those involved with homosexuality happy; are they truly happy with their lives & the decisions they have made?

When I think of words to describe myself, is the first one I use to talk about myself, “gay?”

Do I really want a long-term same-sex partner, or do I just want to have sex?

Am I convinced that I was born this way - was I born gay?

Have I ever had an attraction to someone of the opposite sex at all? Am I really incapable of being attracted to someone of the opposite sex?

Do I want to raise a family?

Am I willing to let go of my relationships with my mother, father & other family members to pursue my homosexuality?

Do I trust my gay friends enough to believe that they really love me, care about me & want the best for me?

Is God really not there?

You have a voice. You have a purpose. You're significant. You're unique. Don’t let anything get in the way of what you're able to do.

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