JJ has commented on more than one occasion that something I wrote accurately expressed her own feelings on a topic, but this time I get to return the compliment.
In this post and this one she drives home the point that our sexuality, far from being mere feelings of lust and physical gratification, permeates our entire being in ways that we can only begin to unravel, and affects nearly everything that we do. As a result, we cannot suppress and deny that facet of our identity without also shutting down large segments of our personality and talents and becoming a mere shadow of what we could be.
Perhaps my primary impetus for seeking more help when I began attending the local Exodus-affiliated ministry two years ago was the realization that I was slowly dying inside as I continued to shut off more and larger chunks of myself in an attempt to kill my same-sex attractions. Of course, my journey since then has taken me in directions I never could have imagined, but the point is that it wasn't until I began to acknowledge and accept that part of myself - and in the process came to the realization that God loves me exactly the way I am - that I was able to find healing and reconnect with the rest of the world.
Granted, the healing and growth that accompany the whole "coming out" process don't, by themselves, automatically imply that God would approve of my having a sexual relationship with another man, but they do directly contradict the ex-gay notion that I need to adopt the facade of a "heterosexual identity" while actively working to eradicate my same-sex attractions.
I wonder how much of the sexual addiction that so many individuals in ex-gay circles struggle with is the result of being led to believe (however indirectly) that we're unacceptable to God as we currently are. For my part, I (like JJ) have found that I'm significantly less obsessed with sex than I was before I began coming to terms with who and what I am. Life is still far from perfect, of course, and I still need to be just as careful about what situations I put myself in, but I'm nonetheless far freer than I used to be.
Even the appeal of pornography has gradually diminished, as I increasingly find myself thinking of the people involved as living, feeling three-dimensional human beings, which in turn sabotages my efforts to use them as tools for self-gratification.
Perhaps someday the evangelical church will start viewing gay people as living, feeling three-dimensional human beings, and in the process rediscover the depth and breadth of its own humanity.