My early life is history and I prefer not to dwell on the events that helped form my personality. Like a lot of gay men, I had an emotionally distant, physically abusive father, who did not want to take the time to get to know me as a person. He expected me to conform to his image of who and what a man is. The internal combustion engine, hunting, and fishing which were his passions, were mysteries to me. I was an emotional child who found it easy to cry and the adult males in my family thought it was fun to tease me to the point of tears and then punish me for crying. I heard "real men don't cry" so often I began to doubt my masculinity. I was also a big child. When I graduated from high school I weighed 285 pounds. I was constantly being teased about my size and the amount of food I ate. To put my child hood in psychological terms, I guess you could say I was dealing with issues of rejection, emotional abandonment and lack of self-esteem.

In my second year of college, I lost 110 pounds and discovered I had a physique that caught other men's eyes. I had my first real gay experience with an older man in a park near my home. The experience was both exhilarating and nauseating. But, the emotional impact of the sexual experience and the feeling of love soon outweighed the nausea and I started to live my life as a gay man. At first in the closet, sneaking around seeking the emotional support that usually led to a sexual contact, then openly to the whole world when I became tired of living a double life.

My thoughts return to June 28, 1983, my 40th birthday. I was sitting in my favorite gay bar celebrating (for the last time) with my gay friends. At the end of the evening I announced that I was going straight and would not return. Many laughed and told me I would be back in less than a month. That was 18 years ago. I did not go back. The first 5 years were absolute hell on earth. I contemplated suicide a couple of times. I had enough prescription drugs in my apartment to just go to sleep and not have to struggle any more. I remembered the search for a church that would come along side and help me find true freedom in the Lord, again to no avail. I remembered joining HA (Homosexuals Anonymous) with the hope and prayer that other strugglers could help me on this journey. I remembered the formation of deep and strong friendships in the group that in many cases led to lover relationships that ended the journey for those involved. They took the easy way out. They gave up, overcoming sin was not what they wanted. They wanted a secular feeling of good will and happiness. As I look back I pity them. They are the losers, and although I have AIDS and my health is failing, I praise God that He brought me through and I became an overcomer.

So, how did I do it? How do I share with others that you can overcome this sin? My advice to those who contact me is that the only way to overcome is to commit to a total dependence on the Lord and wait on Him. My main struggle in the early years of my journey was the desire for companionship. I left my toe in the door to gay life by keeping a couple gay friends. My last lover, Robin, and his latest lover, Robert, were a constant reminder that I was living a life of loneliness and frustration. It was only after Robins lover died from AIDS and Robin moved to Dallas that I was free of that influence and I was able to look to the Lord to fulfill my needs -- not my wants, my needs. When I at last took my toe out of the door to gay life and totally severed all relationships with the past, I moved forward. But, I kept my toe in the door long enough to contract HIV. That is why I am not bitter about having AIDS, it was my fault, I fought the Lord and His Spirit by looking back, not forward.

I would sit at home and beg the Lord to change my desires, and then I would call gay friends and chat, spend weekends at their homes, fantasize about the perfect relationship with another man. A relationship that eluded me for over 2 decades, but with the hope it could and would happen soon. When I took my toe out of that door and realized that I was fighting the Lord by staying in the "I want" mind set and not the "Your will be done, no matter what the cost" mind set, life started to change. I dug out the roots of my desires and let God handle those unmet needs. My emotions and desires have not changed, my goals have. My emotions and desires are God given, sin is what corrupted them.

In May, 2001, I quit my job under pressure. My employers decided they did not want to deal with a man with AIDS. I could not file for unemployment and my health took a real nosedive. I sold what assets I could to survive and when I had $9.55 in my checking account, I called my sister, borrowed enough money to come to Colorado and fled the past. On my bus trip to Delta I started meditating on some Scriptures. 

One was Romans 8:28:  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (NAS)

And Philipians 4:6ff:  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. [NAS]

I have been asking the Lord in prayer "What is my purpose?" Why am I now destitute and rejected by people I sacrificed for over the last 23 years? I think I got my answer last night. I am attending a Calvary Chapel church. The pastor shared with me last night that I am an answer to prayer. In addition to his pastoral duties, he in involved with prison ministry at the Delta Correctional complex. He asked me to train him and 3 other men in ministering to gay men in prison and also to help with an AIDS prison ministry at the Canyon City prison complex. It seems that about a month ago he was contacted and asked if he would consider ministering in the terminal ward of the Colorado State Prison. The prison chaplain will not enter the ward out of fear of AIDS. I know now what the last 18 years were leading to. My purpose is being revealed to me.

To those who struggle I have this to share. God cannot work with a mindset of "I want". It has to be a mindset of "thy will be done, no matter what the cost."

Do I regret the last 18 years? No!!!

I praise God that all the tears, all the pain, and all the prayers are at last bearing fruit. I have a purpose and that purpose will be revealed to a fuller extent in the months to come. I will be getting SSI soon, and this will give me the finances and the time I need to be a true minister to the will of God. There is a promise in the Old Testament that God will redeem the time the locust have eaten, my time in now.

For those who struggle, God has plans for you! However, you must be in agreement with Him. You must commit to trust Him totally!

Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up {with} wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (NAS)

I know this is easier said than done. I am in no way denigrating your pain, sorrow, tears, and frustration. But, the pain is worth the effort. The peace that surpasses all understanding is available to those who thank Him for everything (including the tears, pain, and frustration) and worship Him with a true heartfelt desire to be totally within His will. There is another promise all Christians should stand on daily and that is:

John 16:33"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (NAS)

It took 18 years for me to really understand this verse. I have overcome, but not by my own strength. I have overcome, and will continue to overcome in Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, not by force of my will or desires.

To the strugglers who visit this page, I pray you also will focus on His purpose for you, not the immediate satisfaction of emotional needs, no matter how strong they are.

I am not going to debate the inerrancy of Scripture on this page. That is a personal decision we all have to make for ourselves. For me, the Bible is the inerrant word of God, revealed over the years according to His perfect will to accomplish His perfect purpose. "My word will not return unto me void" is a true statement that can change your life if you will give it a chance.

Even though I was diagnosed HIV+ in February, 1996 and with Pneumocytis carinii pneumonia in May, 2000 the Lord has given me the strength to look to the future, and live a very productive life. I can truly say Romans 8:28 applies to me.

Feel free to email Bob Stephenson or visit his ministry website, You don't have to be gay, you can choose to change.