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Debbie sheds light on why: "That was not a choice for that child. It was a birth defect."
"I believe their hormones will tell them as they grow," Carol guesses. "I'm not a doctor so I don't know for certain. We have a mighty, merciful God, and we've got to trust what God does.
"God looks to the reason why."
It turns out that dark, dark days are upon us, and prayer is the only hope for homosexuals.
"I believe that our children are being held captive by the enemy. I believe Satan has taken people captive. I believe God has a special calling for us. Because who's going to care for the homosexuals? Who's going to care? Who's going to pray for them?" Debbie says. "A homosexual has to carry that guilt their whole life. Being a Christian, it's just a calling, and we pray for one another to carry each other's burden."
"I think now we have access to the Internet, to television, to movies. Now they have banded together to say, 'Hey, we are a force,'" Carol says with feeling. "I hate to say this, but the homosexuals do look for kids that maybe don't have a father figure in their life. They look for kids who are susceptible. That fact that you're in your son's life, you're going to guide him ... God will focus you and help guide you."
"OK," I say.
"The three of us wish we would have known, back then," Carol says, noting, for about the thousandth time, the bravery the Gaymores are showing in confronting their 7-year-old son's problem so early. "After 27 years I believe that God needs people who are homosexuals so we Christians can pray for them. I see homosexuals and my heart breaks. I think about what's going to happen to them and their families. I think of men who are already married and have kids."
"Carol will close us in prayer?" Debbie suggests.
"I want to ask, what's your son's name?"
"Tobias," I say.
"Oh, I love that name."
As my fake wife and I clasp hands and lower our heads, Carol brings us home with some prayer.
"God, thank you for bringing Carl and Isabella here tonight. God, look after their son, Tobias. Lift him up, God, and surround him with your angels. Reclaim this young boy for your kingdom. We say that Satan shall not have this young boy. Show him that he is created to be the boy that YOU want him to be, God. And you are molding him into that young man," Carol prays. "We thank you, God, that you have a special plan for Tobias."
If Carol says "Tobias" one more time I'm going to lose it.
"Father, keep Tobias as secure as he was when he was in Isabella's womb," Carol says. "Father, help Tobias to grow into his masculinity ...."
"You got to pray for him every day," Debbie adds as the prayer appears to conclude and the large crying woman hands us the box of Kleenex.
But there's more.
"God, we believe that you are going to redeem them from the land of sin," Debbie prays. "Father, we know that once they become Christians, they won't stay gay. Because they will be lifted by your spirit.
"Father, we thank you and praise you, and you will bring our children through this dark valley we are walking through."
"Amen!" I proclaim, wanting to get the hell out of there. Churches are recommended to the Gaymores, particularly one led by a "recovered homosexual" named Pastor Brian. Advice is also given on what churches to avoid, and how to behave in the presence of gays.
"When you encounter a homosexual when you are walking on the streets, try to see them through the eyes of Jesus, and be prayerful," Debbie says, neatly wrapping up the double standard of Christian tolerance: Do not judge, but banish people to hell, nonetheless. "Just try to be open, because there might be nobody praying for them."
"And we'll be praying," expresses Carol. "Tobias is now on our prayer list!"
"Cool!" I say.
"And you're invited back any time to share all your learnings."
"Now's when the work really begins," I announce with a nervous chuckle. "You know what? For Christmas I'm going to get little Tobias a baseball mitt, boxing gloves, a football, a hockey stick ...."
Carol bursts my bubble. "Well, even sports athletes can be homosexuals," she notes.
"You're kidding!" I exclaim, shocked. "Who? Don't tell me Shaquille O'Neal."
"My son dated a cop, a Marine, a construction worker," Debbie proclaims, almost proudly.
My face drops.
"What do we tell the kids?!"
Persona: A gay man who needs a hearty dose of the Jesus.
Pretext: I seek an initial consultation about becoming ex-gay.
Approximate distance from San Francisco: 58 minutes.
Here's the irony: As far as homoerotic images go, Jesus on the cross is probably one of the most alluring known to humanity. Think about it: an almost-naked guy, draped in a skimpy cloth, with long hair and ripped washboard abs, apparently into blood sports.
On the other hand, what Christian anti-gay groups stress as the reason for falling into a gay lifestyle is a lack of Jesus in one's life.
But what if Jesus was the source of the problem? Let the phone consultation begin!
"Are you professional counselors?" I ask a man named Jose.
To my surprise, Jose acknowledges his lack of credentials. "No, we are not professional counselors. We're people who have dealt with same-sex attractions ourselves. Or we are people who have a desire to help people that do."
I tell Jose that I started in the gay lifestyle when I was in the military. "It happened with my commanding officer during the Gulf War," I explain. "That was the first time, when I was in the U.S. Army!"