Just how far will a gay man go to be straight?
For Brian Kraemer, that journey included thirteen years of celibacy, daily prayer, extensive reading, participation in an ex-gay ministry, and two exorcisms. He still hadn't reached his goal when he met a man he believed to be the therapist of his dreams-a married, Christian therapist with an innovative method of healing.
Through what he called "spiritual adoption," the therapist began a reparenting experiment in which Brian's therapy included spending time with his therapist in his home and meeting his wife and biological children, as well as other "spiritually adopted" clients. Brian and his therapist shared a bed, showered together, and spent extensive amounts of time holding, cuddling, and caressing.
In his memoir, Brian Anthony Kraemer shares the details of his developing relationship with a Christian male therapist in his attempt to change from homosexual to heterosexual. Though the goal was to go straight, this relationship ultimately led to Brian's acceptance of himself as a gay man-and the therapist's loss of his license.
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Why I Slept with My TherapistHow One Gay Man Tried to Go Straight
By Brian Anthony Kraemer
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Brian Anthony Kraemer
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Change of Plans
Just before Christmas of 1997, I flew from Southern California, where I worked in a Christian mission agency, to visit my parents five hundred miles north. I originally planned to stay for two weeks, from December 20 through January 3, but after a few days, I knew I could not stay that long. I felt anxious, nervous, and afraid. I had to get back to my own home, my gym, and my routine. I was addicted to my daily trips to swim at a local university pool, where I spent long periods of time in the men's locker room showering, hoping to see as many naked men as possible.
I watched men come and go in this group shower setting and tried to avoid being too obvious in my sexual interests. My penis, however, often revealed my thoughts, and I had to direct my erection toward the shower wall and pretend nothing unusual was happening. Most men ignored it. Some engaged in friendly conversation without mentioning it. Others revealed interest with eye contact or by moving closer, to a shower head near mine. Still others gave a scowl of disapproval and left.
With my eyes, I soaked in these masculine bodies in an effort to satiate my longing for any kind of connection with them. Occasionally, one invited me to touch him or made an effort to touch me, but I would refuse his offer and whisper that I was interested only in looking. I could not touch or be touched. I had not had sex with a man since my conversion to Christianity thirteen years before, in May 1984, at age twenty. I wasn't about to break my record of celibacy.
Now, in my parents' home, I felt terribly alone and frightened. I did not want them to see the level of my anxiety. I did not want to tell them that I craved male energy, male attention, if only a fleeting glimpse of a naked man in a public shower room. Not wanting to be rude or abrupt, I asked whether they would mind if I changed my departure date. They protested but also knew that I was determined. I called United Airlines, paid an extra hundred dollars, and changed my flight to December 29, five days earlier than originally scheduled. I felt relieved knowing it would be only a few days before I could leave.
I grew up in this home in a Northern California farming community from age ten to seventeen. I left angry and with resentment toward my mother, with whom I never seemed to get along. After moving out, I attended California State University, Chico, and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1985, a second bachelor's in health science in 1989, and an elementary teaching credential in 1992. I taught for two years in a Christian school and then moved to Southern California to work in a mission agency in September 1994. I usually visited my parents twice a year.
The day before my departure during that Christmas visit, I rose earlier than my parents and went into their living room. With a large front window facing east, and because of the cold in Northern California during the winter, it was nice to open the blinds and let in the morning sun. As I sat in front of the wood fire stove, my mother came in and asked angrily, "Who put these blinds up?" I knew that if I were to confess at that moment, I would come across like a shamed child, eyes down, embarrassed for doing something that had upset her. So I responded in a controlled manner and simply acknowledged the problem. "You didn't want them like that?"
"I bet your father did it," she said, angry and incredulous.
Because I wasn't interested in shaming him any more than myself, I repeated, "You didn't want them like that," this time without the questioning tone, but simply acknowledging the fact.
"Don't talk to me like that!" she said angrily. "When I ask you a question, just give me an answer!"
With matching ferocity, I snapped back, "Listen here. It is just as likely that if I left those blinds down, you would have come in here and said, 'Who left these blinds down?' I don't know how to please you. I can't figure you out."
She instantly broke into tears and declared, "You better watch how you talk to me. You're the Christian one." With that she marched out of the room and to her bedroom, where she likely cried and felt abused and ashamed for setting the brief argument in motion and confused about how it had happened. I felt sad for her, thinking she likely felt guilty and imagined I must hate every minute of my visit because of my defensiveness toward her.
The next day, she and my dad drove me to the airport. It was a sad way to leave, four days after Christmas and two days before New Year's Eve, when my extended family would celebrate together at the home of an uncle and aunt. There was still tension between my mother and me, but we were able to carry on pleasant conversation as we made our way to the airport.
That evening, having arrived back at my rented home in Southern California, I told a Christian friend of mine, Dennis Prince, how much I resented my mom, even to the point of tears. He suggested that perhaps God was calling me to move back in with my parents in order to bring healing to our relationship. I told him, "If I were a wolf, I would growl at you over that suggestion." In response to my quip about growling, he encouraged me to be prayed over by a spiritual warfare group because he was concerned I might have demons of hatred, resentment, and homosexuality. When I spoke to my closest friend, Wade Brooks, about it later, I explained, "This isn't the kind of problem one just casts out. Wade, I'm sorry to be so graphic, but my uncle was sucking on my penis when I was nine years old. You don't just pray and cast this kind of thing out."
Chapter TwoSet Ablaze
When I was eight or nine, my uncle Robby, my mother's brother, invited me to play with him in my grandparents' home. He was five and a half years older than I. Before these experiences, I was a happy child with a clear conscience and a ready and easy smile. I loved school with its opportunities to read, write, add, subtract, make things with clay, and draw things with crayons. I loved jumping rope with the girls and playing kickball and dodgeball for physical education. I do not remember sadness or fear or anxiety before my sexual encounters with my uncle.
While I was at his home, he invited me to his bedroom. We lay in his bed together, and he rubbed against my body until I felt wetness on my skin. He dried me off with a towel. One time, before he did it, I asked him, "Are you peeing on me?" He walked over to a cot inside his room, sat back on it, his pants and underwear down to his ankles, and began to stroke his penis until a white, gooey stuff came out. I thought it was gross.
These sexual encounters with my uncle were times of guilt-ridden pleasure, creating severe emotional conflicts. I feared getting caught, but each time there was opportunity, I wanted to be with him again. What he had started, I was anxious to continue. One time, Robby and I stood inside the front door of his home beneath a small half-moon glass window. We pulled our pants and underwear down to our ankles, and he lifted me against his erection. I was impressed with the size of his penis. I liked being held against him. He looked through the window again and again to make sure no one was coming.
Though I wasn't forced to engage in these sexual behaviors with my uncle, I also did not choose them in any meaningful sense of the word. He was older, taller, stronger, and more powerful. He had been introduced to sex by someone older, and he repeated the behavior with me. By nine years old, I had formed a powerful link between the adult male body and sexual pleasure.
During this time, my parents were unaware of what I was doing. Because of this secret, I felt terribly isolated from my parents, utterly alone, and desperately frightened, incapable of feeling safe or close to them or secure in their love. With difficulty, I tried to look them in the eyes when they asked me how I was, but I felt frightened, sad, and guilty. My hands felt dirty, and though I washed them repeatedly, I could not make them feel clean. I developed fears of being evil against my will, of losing my mind, and of dying. I had repeated nightmares.
Throughout this time, I longed to be held by my father, to feel safe and secure in his arms, but he was not a physically affectionate person, and holding or hugging was not something he initiated. I was afraid to ask to be held because I feared he might say no. It was better to believe that he might say yes than to ask and be rejected. That would destroy me. I already feared losing my mind, and I knew his rejection would do it. I also feared he might find the thought of holding me nasty or repulsive, two things I already felt at this young age.
My sexual experiences with my uncle continued for more than a year, until he and my grandparents moved to Fort Bragg in June 1973. By this time, I had acted out my sexual desires with three neighbor boys, one my age, nine; another, eleven; and the third, fourteen. No one knew that by age nine, I was obsessed with sexual pleasure and washed my hands compulsively in an effort to make them feel clean; I was a perfect boy in church and school, yet I was ever tormented with fears of death, evil, hell, and separation from my family.
At age eleven, I told my father I thought I might be gay. He told me I was too young to know and not to worry about it.
My friend's suggestion following my Christmas 1997 visit to my parents that I should consider being prayed over to exorcise demons of hatred, resentment, and homosexuality was not an odd or unfamiliar idea. I had been raised Roman Catholic and was taught that Satan and demons existed and were to be resisted. As early as age nine, the same time I was struggling with guilt over my sexual activities, I feared that demons might be trying to harm me.
One day during childhood, while alone in the house, I sat at the piano playing the song "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean." I believed there were demons around our home, and they were trying to come into the house and get me, but they hated music. I played and sang the song again and again to keep them outside. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was beginning to experience symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. If I rested my hand on my knee, the thought would come to mind that I needed to do it three times to make sure none of us three kids would die. Sometimes I repeated behaviors five times to accommodate our whole family and six times to protect some other "part" of myself that seemed evil and that was desperately afraid of being left alone.
While I was practicing piano, the thought came to my mind that the phone was about to ring, and unless I was out of the present measure of music before it rang, someone in our family would die, and it would be my fault. The thought came again and again, and no matter how many times I allowed it to frighten me and then breathed a sigh of relief when the phone didn't ring, I still couldn't stop its return. I began to suspect that perhaps demons were putting these thoughts in my mind in order to torment me. I also focused my attention on some aspect of my bodily functions, such as eye blinking, swallowing, spitting, heart beating, or breathing, or being able to see my nose, and couldn't stop thinking about it. The worst fear was that I was somehow destined for evil, even against my own will, and that eventually it would be revealed that I was a liar and a deceiver and destined for an eternity in hell.
At age eighteen, in my first year at California State University, Chico, I rejected my Roman Catholic faith and became an atheist. I felt liberated, free from a lifetime of religious fears of evil, of disappointing God, and of demons seeking to torment me. I was no longer subject to a prewritten script of how I should live my life. I had believed for years that I was gay but could never act on it because I was Roman Catholic. Now I was free to pursue my sexual desires and longings for intimacy with men.
During the next three years, I had three homosexual relationships that were sexually exciting but that couldn't meet my insatiable longing for connection. I could never feel close enough. It was as if my "love bucket" had holes in it and could not retain the love I received.
As I contemplated a universe created not by a loving, conscious being with purpose and meaning, but by evolution with its random and accidental processes, I felt alone. I longed for intimacy, and a nonthinking universe could not provide it. Other human beings couldn't either. My identity as atheist was replaced with agnostic. I took an Eastern religions class studying Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, while studying Christianity on my own. At the same time, I cried out to the universe and said, "If there is a god out there, I want to know you."
During the next two years, I read Why I Am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell; Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis; and Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell. I debated Christians and insisted on logical answers to difficult questions. I became more and more convinced that Christianity was rooted in historical facts but could not reconcile my being gay with my developing confidence in the Christian faith.
As a psychology major, I believed people created their ideas of God from the need for a father figure, yet one of the authors I was reading, psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck, had become a Christian in his early forties. The late conversion of this intelligent and well-educated man was the catalyst that led to my own conversion. In his book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, he described clients who he believed were possessed by demons and said he observed them writhe like snakes, hissing and cursing with evil voices coming out of their bodies.
Dr. Peck's description of demon possession had an impact on me. I thought, if evil existed, and I had come to believe it did, certainly good existed, and I wanted to be on the side of good. I was told by Christians that one either served God or served Satan, and serving oneself was fine with Satan. I didn't want to be evil. I prayed to give my life to Jesus in May 1984 at age twenty. I said to God, "I don't know if you want me to stop being gay, but if you do, you're going to have to do it in me because I don't really want to, and I don't know how." A little over a month later, I was convinced I could no longer be gay, and I resolved to live out a heterosexual lifestyle.
My first personal experience with exorcism was during the summer of 1989 as a missionary in Tonalá, Mexico. I worked with the pastor and missionary there named Rodolfo Diaz. After I told him about my early childhood sexual experiences and my years of fears and anxiety and having homosexual temptations, he asked if I would like to be prayed over. I said yes, and he attempted to command any demons that might be present to reveal themselves and to leave. In spite of fervent prayer, nothing happened, which I found to be a relief. I did not want to go through the horror of an exorcism.
From 1989 to 1992, I worked as a substitute teacher; I earned my teaching credential in 1992 and taught third and fourth grades in a Christian school until 1994, when I moved to Southern California to work full-time in a mission agency there. In the spring of 1997, I was still concerned that my chronic anxiety and fears might be explainable by demonic oppression or even possession. I sought the help of Larry Myer-Stevens, a counselor who specialized in identifying and casting out demons as part of his therapy. I was afraid that I might be deceiving myself and deceiving others, that I might not really be a Christian and instead might be destined for hell. I had recently accepted masturbation as a normal part of my life after years of struggling with it, but I feared that maybe I was also deceiving myself in this. I didn't feel "saved" or have the assurance that other Christians seemed to have. I talked about my fears incessantly with my Christian friends.
In my application for meeting with Larry, I wrote, "What I really want is to just be held forever by a man, nothing else, not just any man, but a fatherly type man, a masculine man who has a father's heart, a nurturing, forgiving type man, one who has strength, power, calmness, and mercy. I'm beginning to cry as I type this. This image is so powerful for me."
Excerpted from Why I Slept with My Therapist by Brian Anthony Kraemer Copyright © 2011 by Brian Anthony Kraemer. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Change of Plans....................1
Thirteen Years of Celibacy....................10
Time for a Therapist....................12
In His Arms....................17
Anxiety and Depression....................20
May I Call You Dad?....................22
Many Intimate Friends....................27
Could I Have Done It?....................38
Letters to My Parents....................40
Penis Size and Underwear Brand....................42
Going Home for the First Time....................44
I Feel Sick Inside....................48
Hooked Up to a Polygraph Machine....................51
Preparing for the Weekend with Tim....................55
Crossing the Line....................59
Why Did He Do It?....................62
James Confesses He Lied....................66
Overnight at Tim's New House and the Cabin....................70
Dissociative Alter Egos or Childish Role-Playing?....................73
More Counseling Sessions....................79
Three Men and a Boy in a Bed....................81
It's Not Working....................84
Working with a Female Therapist....................92
Time to File a Complaint....................94
Heat of Summer....................97
Nature Speaks Again....................100
A Cold Winter....................102
A New Life....................106
Marriage, Massage, and Self-Acceptance....................111
End of Therapy, Mission Work, and Tim's License....................114
Reparative Therapy in the News....................118