Out: One Christian’s Experience Of Leaving The Gay Community, by Bob Five with Ron Hughes
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
I must admit that while I have written before for my own church’s ministry to those struggling with same-sex attraction , I must admit that I know even less about intimacy as it relates to same-sex partnerships as that between men and women, except insofar as the vast majority of my own experience with sexual intimacy, the vast majority of which occurred while I was mercifully too young to remember it, was of the same sex variety and was quite against my own will and inclination. I feel it necessary to state at the outset that I do not write as an insider to the author’s own testimonial about his years of hedonism and pleasure spent among the gay scenes of Toronto and other places but rather as an outsider to such matters who can comment with some empathy on the underlying family dynamics–namely a broken family with abuse problems and an experience as a child with sexual abuse. Those are matters I can and do speak of with a great deal more experience, but even for those who do not have such a background as my own, this book provokes a great deal of compassion and understanding, and the authors manage to follow the genre of the U-shaped testimonial experience with considerable skill, even if it is bound to be a book that makes many readers uncomfortable.
It is likely to the coauthor of this book that we can thank for the fact that this book follows the genre conventions of a testimonial so faithfully. Beginning in media res with an effort made by the author’s son to get in touch with him and the author’s own reflection that it was too late for him to come to terms with his deceased father, the author then returns to his own stressful and tense family background to deal with the context of his childhood, his early refusal to come to grips with the abuse he suffered and its results on his own identity and understanding of his sexuality, his problems with his “mean girl” sisters and their own attacks on his masculinity, his early marriage, some time spent in a double life before things fell apart, his vagabondish years spent in the flamboyant gay scene of Canada and Europe and Key West, and the call to repentance that came about as a result of his son’s desire to reconnect. The author comments about his own coming back to faith, his efforts at helping out an ex-gay ministry, his counseling efforts with others, his own building of friendships and his decision to live celibate. The book only lasts a bit more than 200 pages, but it is certainly a book that includes a great deal of detail about what sort of factors lead people to repent and struggle against their bent and inclination.
Beyond the book’s obvious value as far as it relates to the contemporary debate about homosexuality within society, in which this book offers a thoughtful insider’s perspective about the relationship of sex and identity within the gay community, something not particularly shared by everyone, there is at least one aspect of this book that is chillingly relevant on a personal level that is worthy of some discussion. Throughout the author’s narrative, he comments often about feeling that pursuing partners made him feel like a predator, and that he was especially disinterested in being pursued by either men or women at any point in his life, likely because of the trigger with his own abuse. The author’s narrative points out a common issue among many survivors of sexual abuse, and that is the way that one’s patterns relating to intimacy are greatly harmed by the long-lasting trauma of that abuse–and for those who are too shy and timid with regards to intimacy to be skilled at finding partners and who are terrified and alarmed when pursued by others, intimacy is an immensely difficult experience, especially when someone has such a deep longing for it. This book gives voice to the turmoil of those who seek to live in the Spirit and to comfort and encourage others despite their own scars and battle wounds, and as such is a worthy book for those Christians who look with compassion on the struggles of their brethren.
 See, for example: