Michael: Rewriting the Narrative

The development of my sexual identity was greatly impacted by the way I perceived my father’s masculinity and my struggle to adequately understand my own. A sensitive boy, I was drawn to the arts and connecting with others on an emotional level, but in my private school setting, my friends began to poke fun at my creative interests. Though I realized I was different from my peers, I didn’t understand why tenderness and creativity weren’t acceptable. Coupled with the rejection I experienced from female peers in school, my self-esteem wavered under the pressure and expectations of those around me.

My parents’ relationship was challenging. Dad was physically and verbally abusive to my mother and verbally abusive to us kids. I felt inadequate in my masculinity because of my inability to protect my mother. Her passion for God and church starkly contrasted with my father’s drug use and sexual addiction. Vulnerable at home, I often stumbled across my dad’s hardcore pornography stashes and VHS cassettes, which perverted gender roles and stereotypes by degrading, devaluing, and over-sexualizing women. As a result, I developed deep-seated beliefs that to be a man meant to treat women poorly. Considering how those behaviors would impact my mom and the women around me, I began rejecting any physical connection with women for fear of perpetuating harm. My aversion to porn further widened the chasm between my male peers and me. Because porn was what the boys did, they bullied me and called me gay when I refused to participate.


Detached and distant from my father, I longed for his love and affirmation, but he didn’t know how to connect to my interests. I was left without confirmation of who I was becoming as a man, and his rejection internalized my shame. As a result, my first same-sex sexual encounter at age 12 met a need for male affection and awakened a desire to be known more intimately by another man. The pressure to embody an appropriate expression of masculinity mounted. Unable to satiate my longing for intimacy and connection, my cousins introduced me to the underground LA rave scene at age 14. There I found affirmation of my sexuality among the LGBT crowd. Drugs and alcohol helped me numb the after-effects of promiscuity, creating further emotional turmoil and a disassociated sense of self.

Comfort was the Driving Force

For 25 years, I cycled in and out of unstable male sexual relationships, which resulted in self-sabotage, self-hatred, and addiction. Comfort was the driving force for all my actions. How I saw myself and the way I perceived others was filtered through insecurity and confusion.

Thankfully, things began to change when I finally addressed my alcohol addiction. I turned back to God and the faith of my childhood upbringing, allowing God’s comfort to seep into the inner wounds I’d nursed for decades. As I opened myself up to experiencing God, I learned more about myself than I ever could have imagined. No longer filling the inner void with marijuana, alcohol, or sex, I began to see how my distorted views of men and women skewed my sense of self.

I discovered that my masculinity had been shamed and silenced instead of nurtured and empowered. Being a man is so much more than my physicality.

I began to see how my tender heart, love for people, and passion for protecting those around me are facets of my being that make me unique. God started rewriting the narrative I had seen through shame and self-rejection with vibrant colors of self-acceptance, forgiveness, and peace. No person or thing I sought in my past compares to the love and grace I’ve found in Christ. Today, my faith in Jesus has displaced my identification with LGBT, even though I still have some same-sex attraction. My once-fractured sense of self has become more and more integrated as I’ve learned to let my identity as a man find its place in God and not in what others think about me.

—By Michael Martinez

Reprinted from https://changedmovement.com/childhood-stories/michael-martinez

Images: Michael Martinez, AI-generated

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