Same-Sex Attraction and Me

I used to lie in bed at night and pray to not wake up. I wanted to be gone, I wanted it to be gone. I struggled, prayed and did the right things. I still do the right things and put in the work, but I am still, for as long as I can remember, a woman who is attracted to other women. Call it bisexuality or same-sex attraction or fluid sexuality or an abomination or a natural affection, it doesn’t change the fact that it is unwanted.

I never wanted to be this way. I had enough problems already. Born to an alcoholic mother, abandoned by my father before I was born, placed in foster care at 4 to spend the rest of my childhood in homes that never felt like my own. I was already set apart in the loneliest of ways.

But it’s all I’ve ever known. I would fantasize about my mom coming to rescue me, taking me home and promising to never leave, loving me the way a little girl is supposed to be loved by her mother. It never happened.

To add to the avalanche of shitty circumstances, I was sexually abused by a foster father, kissed by a youth pastor, experimented on by a female family member―the list goes on and on of sexual brokenness finding me and owning me.

The fantasies of my mom morphed into fantasies of any woman coming to rescue me, and since much of the affection I received was overly sexualized, these fantasies became sexually charged, too. 

Feeling loved, accepted, approved of, and wanted by a woman became the defining pursuit of my life. Since I was abandoned by a woman who didn’t value me or cherish me, in my mind, the only way I would have worth or value was to be loved by a woman. My troubled heart translated friendship into sex, fueled by an intense jealousy.

Amid all this confusion and shame was a deep-seated self-hatred that completely blinded me. I saw nothing in myself worth pursuing. It magnified the worth I placed on other people, especially other girls. I worshipped these peers who were beautiful and loved. I wanted to be with them. I wanted to be them, consume their best traits, I wanted them to worship me in return, and the closest I could get to being them was to engage in a physical relationship with them.

All this time I longed to know Jesus as personally as I could, but I was never enough, never felt whole.I looked for comfort in porn, masturbation, drinking, cutting, and adolescent sexual encounters in alley ways, behind garages, in basements, dark stairwells, with both girls and guys.

I believed this particular struggle was the worst one you could possibly have. The constant crushes on my girl friends, the fear of exposure and rejection, the aching need for connection that was never quite fulfilled brought me to a place where I felt like I had no hope and I sunk into a heavy depression. The shame surrounding this temptation forced me into isolation and despair and a loneliness so deep and dark it made me want to kill myself.

I felt cursed and punished by God, like I was tainted from conception and at one point was convinced that Satan owned me and God was not powerful enough to get me back. I wanted to be a “good Christian girl,” but felt like that would never be me, unless God healed and delivered me. I prayed after I flirted with friends, I prayed after spending the night with a girl, I prayed as I pined away from unrequited love. I prayed alone in bed when the crushing weight of my brokenness could only be alleviated by a blade across my skin.

I begged for healing, but there was no deliverance.  There was no miraculous removal of these desires from my heart and body. There was only me, wanting to love God with the entirety of my being, even if it meant refusing to act on my feelings, denying rmyself and putting on Christ every minute of the day. There was only me, burrowing into God’s heart and begging him to be enough for me, to fill the cavernous emptiness inside me, to comfort me with his love so completely that I wouldn’t settle for a love that feels good but draws me further from his heart with every flutter in my stomach, every furtive kiss, every secret touch.

When I was 19, homeless and hopeless, I was faced with the choice to pursue God or pursue a woman I was in a relationship with. I had an opportunity to move to Chicago to serve in a ministry I could make my home, where I could be discipled and known. God spoke to me, telling me my sexuality was expressed out of brokenness, loss, and grief. I knew, even in the darkest, dirtiest corner of my heart, that if I acted on my desires, I would be choosing to live from my fear, my deficit, my huge, gaping mother-wound.

I made a deal with God. I told him I would go. I promised that I would stop living a double life and be painfully honest about what I was wrestling with, that I would answer any question with absolute truth. I also told him that if He didn’t meet me in Chicago I would never go back to him. I kept my end and he did too. I was taught the transforming energy of transparency and confession, the desperate need for accountability, and the expulsive power of a new affection.

A few years ago a woman I knew was writing a piece about faith and homosexuality, and I offered her my story. She let me down easy, telling me that she wasn’t in the market for any “ex-gay” stories. I wish ex-gay referred to me. I wish I could be summed up that easily. But nobody can be reduced to so few syllables.

For myself, I don’t find it helpful to allow myself to identify as gay. My sexuality does not define my identity. It’s a small part of it but not enough for me to choose to identify by it. I am so many other things than same-sex attracted. I identify more accurately as a sci-fi geek girl than a girl-who-likes-girls.

I prefer women in a larger sense, but I prefer my husband in the most important sense. Nobody told me I would be healed if I married a man. I didn’t think that I would become heterosexual if I married. We both knew what I struggled with before we married. I chose him. I chose to live a life of monogamous heterosexuality because it was best for me. I’m not bisexual. I’m not attracted to men, I’m attracted to one man. I don’t know how to explain it apart from God’s grace and his plan for my continued healing. Had I decided to pursue relationships with women I knew I would be in danger of constantly attempting to find my worth and validation in another woman. I am hardwired to make women into idols. That is the default mode of my brokenness.

Pursuing wholeness, for me, doesn’t look like becoming fully heterosexual. It looks like honoring God through obedience in mind and body. Putting on Christ, dwelling in him, suffering with him, and experiencing transformational change that draws me closer and deeper, as I live out and live in the God-breathed Word that saves and heals.

I love God. I want to live a whole life. I may not be able to choose being same-sex attracted, but I can choose what I do with it. Nobody chose it for me. I chose a life of drawing near to God as best I could every day. I chose to say no to myself in a hundred different ways, not just when I wanted to hook up with the cute girl I just met, or look up that high school crush that almost was. The other hundred ways I say no to myself are the ones that might not be as flashy and dramatic, but they matter just as much, if not more.

I’m 44 years old. I’ve been married to a man I love for almost 20 years. I have a beautiful daughter who I smother with love and attention so she knows, in her deepest places, that she is loved, valued, wanted, and cherished. I am still attracted to women, I still feel the pull sometimes, I still struggle with crushes and fantasies. But it doesn’t control me anymore. I am not overpowered by it. I am not without hope. Even though it doesn’t look or feel the way I want it to, my prayers have been heard and answered, and God’s promises of faithfulness and a future have defined my life and identity more than my attractions.

I no longer daydream about being rescued by my mother or a lover or a friend, I am already rescued by Jesus who loves me like a father and a mother. When I left my first foster home, the mom put a little prayer card in my hand. It had that classic image of a child leaning into God’s hand with the verse from Isaiah: Behold, I will not forget you, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” I can still picture it. I still lean into that truth.

It’s taken years of counseling, group therapy, prayer, hard choices, vulnerability, excruciating confessions, and brutal honesty. It’s taken a strong community-now-family, good friends and a great husband, but I am more convinced every day that I am delighted in, rejoiced over, comforted, forgiven, and deeply, truly loved.

Healing has a different meaning now. I always assumed that its significance was only in its past tense, but I’ve learned the power of healing is in its ongoing nature. It’s not a point in time, but a living, breathing Thing with seasons of lying fallow and flowering flush, of flooding the plain and feeding from beneath the surface. Deliverance has also showed me a new facet of its many sides. I was so obsessed with being delivered from same-sex attraction that I forgot that I was being delivered to something, or rather, Someone. And that was the more needful thing.

RESOURCES:

Organizations:

Harvest USA: Caring for Sexually-Hurting People in Jesus’ Name

Hole in My Heart Ministries with Laurie Krieg

Whole Women Ministries

Walking in Freedom: Amy Riordan

Living Waters

Books:

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian by Wesley Hill

The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction by Janelle Hallman

Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Emotional Brokenness by Ellen Dykas

Loves God, Likes Girls: A Memoir by Sally Gray

 
 

No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction by Marnie Ferree

A Christian Woman’s Guide to Breaking Free from Pornography: It’s Not Just a Guy’s Problem by Shelley Hitz

Tammy Perlmutter
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Tammy Perlmutter

Writer at Raggle-Taggle
Tammy Perlmutter writes about unabridged life, fragmented faith, and investing in the mess at her blog. She founded The Mudroom to make room in the mess and create a space for people to be heard. Tammy guest posts a bit, writes flash memoir, personal essay, and poetry, leads writing groups, and preaches on occasion. She will has an essay included in the book Soul Bare: Raw Reflections on Human Redemption, by Inter Varsity Press.
Tammy Perlmutter
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Latest posts by Tammy Perlmutter (see all)

  • Tammy, I barely have the words and so many are tumbling in my head. My heart broke reading of the pain and anguish you’ve been through….you started life with. And I can only imagine the hard choices you’ve made, still make. Your story is so important, not because of your same-sex attraction, but because of your desire to be more, to risk all to allow yourself to be shaped by the only one who can love us in its completeness. You’ve strengthened my faith today.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Debby, thank you so much. It can be difficult to believe the worth of your story at times.

  • Sarah Bourque

    Beautiful words and a beautiful story. Thanks for opening up and being vulnerable Tammy.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      You’re welcome, Sarah, thank you for reading.

  • Karen Gonzalez

    Thank you for your vulnerability, Tammy. Your story is powerful and inspiring in so many ways. This part really spoke to me: “I no longer daydream about being rescued
    by my mother or a lover or a friend, I am already rescued by Jesus who
    loves me like a father and a mother.” I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through and also in awe of our God that has woven your story into something so redemptive and beautiful.

    • The hardest part is believing, and living like I’m believing, that God is ENOUGH. So often I’m convinced that he’s not and that I need to “supplement” my need with all these other people and things.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      The hardest part is believing, and living like I’m believing, that God is ENOUGH. So often I’m convinced that he’s not and that I need to “supplement” my need with all these other people and things.

  • Linda MacKillop

    Oh Tammy, you are so brave and my heart is deeply moved by your story. God is so very good to us.

    • Thank you, Linda! It was lovely to meet you at the retreat.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Linda! It was lovely to meet you at the retreat.

  • Tammy, this: “There was only me, burrowing into God’s heart and begging him to be enough for me, to fill the cavernous emptiness inside me…” The deepest, hardest, painful struggle–seeking God’s face, begging for a will to lean into the only One who can and will satisfy our souls. We all face it in the middle of the night, if we’re honest, for the brokenness we carry day to day. Thanks, my friend.

    • Thank you, Amy!! Those nights. The worst. So very many of them.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Amy!! Those nights. The worst. So very many of them.

  • This is incredible: thanks for sharing so bravely. We so desperately need these truthful stories of real life and real deliverance. So grateful that God meets us exactly where we are.

    • Thank you, Jeannie!! Brave is hard. The night before I posted, I texted a friend and asked if I was brave or stupid to be doing this:)

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Jeannie!! Brave is hard. The night before I posted, I texted a friend and asked if I was brave or stupid to be doing this:)

  • Rea

    Thank you for the vulnerability it takes to share your story with us, in all its pain and beauty.

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      You’re welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

  • Margaret

    Incredibly proud of you! Praying for you today that the Lord will be so near to you filling you with his nurturing mother and father love! Henri Noun’s Life of the Beloved would be a great book for you to read at this juncture. xo!

    • Thank you, Margaret!! I will indeed check that out.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Margaret!! I will indeed check that out.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      I get it:)

  • I remember talking about this with you over thai food, and later again over waffles at Elly’s. I’m so glad you’ve found the words and strength to write about this part of your life. I pray you continue to feel God’s love and grace for your whole self.

    • Good times. I miss those talks.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Good times. I miss those talks.

  • Tasha

    I am so moved by your courage, bravery, eloquence and devotion to Jesus. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story, Tammy.

    • Tasha, thank you. That means the world.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Tasha, thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

  • Laurie Krieg

    Way to be, girl.

    • Thanks for letting me in.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thanks for letting me in.

  • You took us so deep to the roots of our story. Not your story. No, more God’s story. You’re writing a book, yes?? May God use you to his glory for all eternity. Hugs friend.

    • A book? Maybe. Thank you for that blessing!

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      A book? Maybe. Thank you for that blessing!

  • Gina

    Tammy-there aren’t words for how much I love this. Thank you so much for sharing your story! This is so, so beautiful.

    • Awww, Gina, thank you!!

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Awww, Gina, thank you!!

  • Fiona Lloyd

    Wow, Tammy, thank you for your courage in sharing your journey! I find your determination to prioritise God’s plan for your life both humbling and deeply inspiring. It’s so good to be reminded of how God can bring light and healing to the bleakest of places. Bless you. xx

    • Thank you, Fiona!! Sometimes that light can feel like it burns more than it brightens:)

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Fiona!! Sometimes that light can feel like it burns more than it brightens:)

  • What I celebrate here, Tammy, is that you are in communion with God to continue finding who you are, beyond labels and easy definitions. We all have to work out our theology and identity with fear and trembling–so glad you’ve found a place of wholeness that works for -you-.

    • Heather, God never lets me be content with easy definitions:)

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Heather, God never lets me be content with easy definitions:) Thank you for your continued support and friendship, and for being a safe place.

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Why, oh why, oh why do we focus on routing out the sin instead of pursuing our Jesus? His presence is the only thing that washes out our hell bent desires day after day after day.
    This is the best piece on the subject of Christians and same-sex attraction I have ever read. Sharing.

    • Wow. Thank you, Jody!! That’s incredibly high praise. Like I wrote to Leslie, I was starving for stories like this. Too many that I read were so FINAL with their healing and I just couldn’t relate. It just made me feel unloved and worthless since God didn’t do that for me. I’m praying for even one woman to feel more hopeful by reading this.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Wow. Thank you, Jody!! That’s incredibly high praise. Like I wrote to Leslie, I was starving for stories like this. Too many that I read were so FINAL with their healing and I just couldn’t relate. It just made me feel unloved and worthless since God didn’t do that for me. I’m praying for even one woman to feel more hopeful by reading this.

  • Beautiful. These are the stories that unlock chains and lift loads for women who are living secret lives. Thank you for sharing your story, Tammy. Thank you for trusting that God can use it to bring freedom to others.

    • I was desperate for stories like this for so long. I was dying to feel less alone and set apart. Jesus hasn’t showed me many, but I know he’ll use mine to reach someone and bring them some peace.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      I was desperate for stories like this for so long. I was dying to feel less alone and set apart. Jesus hasn’t showed me many, but I know he’ll use mine to reach someone and bring them some peace.

  • Tammy, I do not even have words to describe how impressed and thankful I am with your willingness to be so vulnerable. You will help many with your story.

    I am so glad you found Jesus and have the faith you do. Yes, life is still a struggle with God but he will strengthen you.

    Thank you for being brave and courageous!

    Maree Dee

    • Thank you, Maree!! I think a lot about the “gift of going first” and how I wished someone had done that for me, whether it was a pastor from the stage or a woman I could trust. It didn’t happen but, for some reason, the Lord made me the one to be going first now.

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Maree!! I think a lot about the “gift of going first” and how I wished someone had done that for me, whether it was a pastor from the stage or a woman I could trust. It didn’t happen but, for some reason, the Lord made me the one to be going first now.

      • I am so glad you chose to b brave.

  • Tammy, thank you for sharing. Your perspective is valuable and it’s clear how much work you’ve put in to define wholeness and health for yourself, and walk in that truth. I’m glad God is honoring that work and bringing you peace. <3

    • Tammy Perlmutter

      Thank you, Brenda!! That is so encouraging.

  • I loved this Tammy. Beautiful, authentic, pointing others to God in the brokenness, and lessening the load of shame for so many who share in some of these hidden secrets. You are so lovely and loved and I’m proud to call you my friend.

    • If I bring community wherever I go, you bring encouragement. I think it’s your super power.

  • Sarah Sullivan

    Tammy I love the honesty and strength of your words, the beauty and vulnerability of your heart, and the authenticity and tenacity of your faith. One day we will walk through those gates, and finally be set free from those aches that are within all of our souls. Until then I am grateful to walk along side of you.

  • Joanne Peterson

    Thank you for writing out your struggle, your story. Profoundly hit me with your words “I was looking to be delivered from…that I forgot I was being delivered to something, rather to Someone. That was the more needful thing. This applies to any struggle, and applies to my situation now. So grateful! I so needed to be reminded Jesus IS enough. And community to keep accountable, and vulnerability, honesty, confession. Thank you, thank you…Blessings.

  • HMKB

    Thank you SO much for sharing your story! It is life-giving to me, who struggles with many aspects of letting myself be loved, but also with how do I love my homosexual friend well?

  • Thank you for sharing your story and your struggle. Thank you for being authentic when I am sure it would be easier not to. I hope that this reaches and speaks to many people!!

  • So. Tammy. I met you at the Redbud retreat, and meeting you was such a blessing for me. I felt so awkward, so out of place. Then I saw you in your “Stranger Things” T-shirt and I thought, “Oh, thank God. Someone I can talk to.” I heard a little of your story, and to be honest I imagined there was probably a deep well behind those beautiful eyes of yours. But wow. So much depth. THANK YOU for writing this. Such courage it must have taken to hit “publish” on this story, but I know that your sharing your struggle will be an answered prayer for someone–and perhaps, Lord willing, for many someones. I thank God for your his faithfulness and also for your faithfulness. You are living proof of the goodness and love of God, and I am glad I know you.

  • I’m late here, but I wanted to mark this, with enormous respect, because it is a story of great grace and authenticity. There are so many stories about sexuality around now, and the church really needs to hear about gay people who have felt excluded from the church and who long to be in a gay relationship and still welcomed as a full member of church if they do. And I’m glad that we are seeing a lot of those stories and breaking the shame and secrecy.

    But I am also profoundly grateful for stories like yours – because there is always the danger of the single narrative and it disappoints me that that site dismissed your story as an ‘ex-gay’ story (and therefore one not to be included.) We need all the voices in this, and all the love for everyone’s experiences. People forget that there is also a huge risk in expressing a non-100%-heterosexual sexuality, no matter what situation you’re in now, (ie in a heterosexual marriage) – because there is still shame from certain quarters of the church whatever you say, whichever direction and theology you have. That’s what is so frustrating to me about the current heightened ‘debate’ – that as an LGBTQI/same-sex attracted person you’re guaranteed to get flack from somewhere. I’m really glad you wrote this, and I pray you’re protected from any ‘friendly fire’ (which is the worst kind.)

    My respect for you and your journey just grows every time you share more of your story. You are one of my heroes, for sure. Sending applause for this post – and for the person you are. You are awesome

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  • Janel A

    Tammy,
    I am so thankful for you. I am so thankful that this space exists. I am without words to truly describe the impact this sharing of a part of your journey has had on me. Thank you for your willingness to go first. For calling out truth even when its often messy and broken. But most of all for the sparks of grace that show up as people share, reflect and dialogue. You ARE loved

    • Thank you for that beautiful comment and for your faithful support and encouragement!

  • Emily Gruver

    Thank you so much for your vulnerability

  • Emily Gruver

    Beautiful post