My first childhood memories are of Nana, my mother’s mother, a large bosomed woman in flower print dresses. Nana was so loving and would shower me with attention. My family spent the summers at her cottage on Lake Simcoe with numerous cousins, aunts and uncles.

But when I was six Nana died and so did something in my mother. There was some problem with the will which affected a family business and a nasty break occurred with my mother’s relatives.

After that my mom seemed troubled and angry a lot. She had many unresolved issues of her own to deal with, but I assumed that I was her problem. She didn’t seem to know how to nurture me. When I came home from school I never knew if she would be the nice mom or the witch. I was a bit scared of her. We all were. Even my father counselled us to just do what she said.

Mom was the boss and dad just kept the peace. My father was a very private person with tremendous integrity. As a professor, he would work in his study for hours on end. I admired him but neither my brother nor I could really reach him.

Dave (not his real name) was two years older than I. Both of us felt emotionally abandoned by our parents. We weren’t connecting with them, which perhaps explains why we were particularly close to each other. When I was about eleven, Dave began to pressure me sexually. He assured me that I wouldn’t get pregnant because I hadn’t had my period. I felt I couldn’t say no or I’d loose him.

I was a tom boy and pretty good at hockey. Getting my period at twelve was like a death sentence. Other girls my age were wearing dresses and make-up and carrying purses. I felt totally inadequate. I thought to myself, I can’t pull this off. I’m different, freakish. Compared to my elegant mother, I felt like a clumsy, big-footed oaf. Nor did my father affirm me as a young woman.

I was always introverted and never had many friends. In high school I dropped team sports because they were no longer any fun. My team mates were really serious about the games and could be pretty mean. I didn’t fit in anywhere.

I played piano and acoustic guitar and fantasized about becoming a rock star. Miraculously I didn’t get involved in drugs or even smoking. Nor was I a heavy drinker. Instead, my rebellion took other forms.

Not having bonded adequately with mom, I yearned for female love. When I started having sexual feelings they were for women. I was not attracted to guys at all.

Since I was eight I had gone to an all-girls camp. When I was a counsellor of 18, a 16-year-old counsellor who had been with another woman before me, came on to me. As soon as she kissed me I knew, This is it. This is what I want. I knew I was gay. I wrote in my journal that she was my savior. I realized later that she used sex to control people.

For six months we had a relationship and then she left me. I was devastated. I was in first year university with no friends. Even my parents were away on sabbatical so I was totally isolated. I became anorexic and carried only a hundred pounds on my 5 foot 7 inch frame. The one thing I could control was my diet. My hormones shut down so I had no sexual feelings. I think I was crying out for attention, but no one heard.

That summer I worked in New Brunswick. The camaraderie of working and living with other young people helped me to shift my focus from food and dieting and gradually I recovered from my eating disorder.

In second year I enrolled in women’s studies and became a raging feminist. I thought I was surely going to fit in now. One therapist at the university counselling service advised me to just accept my lesbianism.

That same year I came out to my parents by showing them a personal term paper about my lesbianism. My father simply said it was well written. My mother was not thrilled but neither of them made a scene. In the scheme of things they were very accepting.

I worked in several restaurant kitchens and made a number of lesbian friends. With buzzed hair, multiple earrings, a motorcycle jacket, men’s cologne and no make-up I appeared to be a dyke of dykes. Because I wasn’t a very good dancer, I wasn’t much into the bar scene, but I would go to the International Women’s Day parades and the pro-choice marches. I read Xtra and shopped at the Toronto Women’s Book Store (TWB).

In the late 1980’s a girlfriend at the TWB got me a job at Henry Morgentaler’s clinic as a receptionist. Staff were invited to see an abortion if they wished and the patient agreed. I watched one. It was weird seeing the tiny arms and legs that had been vacuumed out. But I didn’t dwell on it. We averaged a hundred abortions a week and around 5,000 a year. Morgentaler was making about $450 on each one. After a year I was fired because I had wanted to unionize.

Between the ages of 21 and 33 I lived in serially monogamous relationships with six different women. Each affair began euphorically. Oh, this is the one. This person is different. She’ll fill the emptiness in me. Trouble is, if you feel like a bag of dirt, as I did, no one can adequately affirm you. I had so many insecurities that I never felt lovable. The honeymoon would last about six months after which I began to see the faults of the other person.

As I look back now, it seems all the women I was involved with were manipulators. A number of them had come from backgrounds where they had been sexually abused and they now used sex to control others. I was yearning for my mother’s love and would surrender my boundaries to get it.

Each affair lasted anywhere from six months to three years. I was the one to break it off, but only when I knew there was another prospect available.

I had no religious upbringing whatsoever. Yet I had a yearning for God. One Sunday as I was walking past St. Paul’s United on Bloor St., I decided to slip into the church. I didn’t realize it was Easter. The experience was so overwhelming I just sat and quietly wept through the whole service.

When I turned 32 I enrolled in a dental hygiene school. There I met Janet (not her real name), who was rebelling against her evangelical background. She had been heterosexually promiscuous and had just finished dating a married man. Now she, who was only 25, pursued me. I was the first woman she had been with.

I had tried a year before to read the Gospels but they had made no sense. The parables only confused me. Even though Janet was not walking with the Lord, something inside her still shone through to me. She didn’t think Christianity was a big joke like almost everyone else I knew.

She would have been mortified if her family had found out about us. When she went home to see them, I would look through her copy of the Living Bible.

There were parts of me I really wanted to change, especially my feelings of jealously. But I had the sense I couldn’t change on my own. When I looked up the references to homosexuality in Romans, I got very, very angry. Yet I kept reading the rest of Romans and realized for the first time, this was talking to me. Somehow the Bible came alive in a way it hadn’t two years earlier.

I was torn. I liked so much of what was in the Bible but everything it said about homosexual behavior seemed negative. Whom could I talk with? Janet didn’t want to discuss the faith she was trying to run away from.

I had one friend from my early twenties, Colleen, whom I had met in a rock band. She had phoned once to tell me she was “born again.” I actually replied, “That’s really neat.” I’d never known of this happening to real person. But we hadn’t kept in touch.

I phoned Colleen and we met over a number of months. She was so non-judgmental, I was able to confide in her. I knew she cared about me. Yet Colleen didn’t compromise on biblical truth. She gave me C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity which really spoke to me.

About this time I tried out the gay Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). I never felt I fit in there either. They never preached anything about sin.

I took Janet to a class at MCC on pro-gay theology. I wanted God and I wanted to be a lesbian. This should have been the perfect fit. Yet I couldn’t buy it. I knew something was wrong. These people were talking as thought they had it all figured out. I wanted to say, ‘Don’t you have any doubts?’ And Janet, even though she wasn’t a mature believer, couldn’t quite buy it either. God really had his hand on us. I left MCC after a couple of months.

In October of 1995, shortly after leaving MCC, I decided to make a commitment to Christ. No one was with me. No one pressured me. I just prayed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” After that I would ask God all the time about what I was reading. I didn’t know this was praying. I bought some Christian music tapes and started writing love songs to Jesus.

It was still hard to hear from Colleen that even while God loved me, yet in His eyes my homosexual behavior was sinful. My lesbianism seemed to be my whole identity. Was she telling me that who I am is wrong? Who am I without my lesbianism? I felt I couldn’t let go of it.

Even though Janet was living with me, she wasn’t familiar with the lesbian scene. She told me I was pretty. Why didn’t I grow my hair longer? She thought I’d look nice in skirts. So I did try a softer hairstyle and wore skirts occasionally. I was being transformed on both the outside and the inside. There was a softening; the hardness was melting away.

Colleen suggested I see a Reverend John Niles. She had been impressed by an article he had written on homosexuality. I visited his church and stayed after the service to talk with him. Whenever I attended he invited me to stay and talk. Even Janet spoke occasionally with him privately.

About early January of 1996 I told Janet we had to break up. This was her worst nightmare. She had been running away from her Bible-believing mother and now I was turning into another Bible-believing woman.

I knew we had to break up but I didn’t know how. Janet had applied for several jobs. When she accepted one out of town at the end of August, I knew this was it. It was a real grieving process. I was willing to let go of being a lesbian, yet I was emotionally bonded with the woman I had to leave.

John was very patient. He just seemed to know the Holy Spirit was working in me. In December, 1996, with my parents and my brother Dave present, John baptized me – full immersion. When I had invited Dave over the phone, he told me I sounded really happy. I really was.

John recommended I attend a program with New Direction for Life called Living Waters. The commitment was enormous: a full evening once a week for eight months. Twenty men and women attended who had struggled with various sexual sins – not all of them homosexual.

I see more of my family now. I love my mother and I know she has always loved me, even though she has not always known how to show her love. I realize now that there were times when she tried to reach out to me but I rejected her.

Today my sense of gender inadequacy – my sense of not being fully a woman – has changed. For over two decades I had not worn a skirt (except once for my brother’s wedding). Now I enjoy wearing dresses and skirts, make-up and perfume.

All my life my sexual desires had only been for women. It was never a lust but more an emotional need. I would never consider dating a woman now. My desires have changed and how I look at women has changed too. I want what God wants for me.

Miraculously I am now attracted to men. I am beginning to enjoy healthier friendships with both men and women. I want to get married and have children as the Lord leads.

God has done a tremendous work in my life.