(See the newly released 2015 film, "I Am Michael," for a follow-up story on this interview subject.)
Dr. Nicolosi: Michael, thank you for giving us this time to catch up on your life since our First Interview a few years ago. How are things going today?
Michael Glatze: Well.. a lot has changed! I’ve been married a little over two months now.
Dr. N.: Great. How is it going?
Dr. N.: No such thing!
M.G.: It really is! It is perfect. Life is full of twists and turns, of course-- but it is perfect. Marriage is something that I didn’t intend to seek out. I was very hesitant at first to pursue a significant relationship because I didn’t want it to be a political thing, since my past as a gay activist was so well known. And then, there had been that article about my leaving gay life, published in the New York Times. So I didn’t want there to be any part of me that had any political motivation.
But of course, my situation has put me in the public eye. And when Rebekah and I first met, almost three years ago, fortunately she and I could flow together, and we were honest. At that time, I had already had that article done about me in the Times.
Dr. N.: So she knew about you when she first met you?
M.G.: She knew the first time we seriously talked. I said to her, “I think it might be good for us to sit down and see how God might be bringing us two together.“ We had had coffee, we talked, and we hung out with friends. But then, to sit down and finally talk about everything was terrifying, because I didn’t want to go through a bunch of drama about my life in the past. And so when we did sit down the first thing I said was “Do you know anything about my past?” She had just previously read the New York Times article with friends, and it was really a huge God thing, I believe-- something that had God’s hand in it--because they had read the article together and they had prayed and then she felt God’s peace about me.
Dr. N.: Even before meeting you?
M.G.: We had actually met when the article came out, but she had already known from the other girls that there was this guy that liked her and it was a mutual thing, and here it was that God just allowed her, through the New York Times article, to read my story and deal with it a little bit before we dated, and then to pray with her girlfriends. They had all felt this peace come upon them. So when she talked to me later, she already was feeling “I have no fear,” and it was, like-- sweet. We started officially dating in November 2011.
Dr. N.: How were you able to come out of your homosexuality to heterosexuality? How did you do it?
M.G.: Well, I think for me the first thing was to ask-- and understand-- “What is truth?” I talked about this with you in our previous interview. Once you reckon with truth, then you can start with the process of dealing with that truth. When God came into my life in 2003-2004, I started the process of trying to clean up my life for Christ, but I didn’t see homosexuality as part of that cleanup. As the cleanup process continued, though, I still felt unsettled, and it was at that point that I looked squarely at homosexuality, and eventually God drew me to the awareness that homosexual activity was a sin. It was at that point of awareness that I wrote, “Homosexuality is death, and I choose life.” That was my reckoning with God. It was around that same time that I wrote-- and I’m still shaking as I remember writing those words-- “I am straight!” When I first wrote those words, I just sat there and thought to myself: “So is this really true?” I thought: “The spirit of God is in me and this is the truth!” I thought, wow, just because I have had a gay identity, and I’ve worn that identity for more than ten years, it need not be the truth that I am gay.
Dr. N.: For ten years you were gay-identified?
M.G.: Yes. I was always a theoretical thinker, and I got into Queer Theory and I analyzed all the different facets of sexual identity, and I identified as queer.
Dr. N.: So your identity was gay, but you realized that even though that might have been your identity for ten years, that was not, in the final analysis, your truth. You encountered a contradiction between your gay identity and the truth.
M.G.: That’s correct, absolutely. When I was hit with the truth and I chose to reckon with the truth, I realized that a person could have habits, desires, all of which pertain to a gay identity, but the truth is still the truth. With this understanding, I now had a bedrock, and from that bedrock I could look at reality in a much broader and more peaceful way, so when I would encounter homosexual desires, I wouldn’t equate them with “me.” I would say “That’s just me feeling this way at this moment.” I would see them as nothing more than homosexual desires, not a reflection of who I am. Then I would ask: “Why is my heterosexual self having homosexual thoughts? There must be some sort of distortion here.”
Dr. N.: Exactly! This is –to use your term-- “the bedrock” of Reparative Therapy. The client comes to see the truth that he is a heterosexual man, and from that perspective he looks at his homosexual temptations as a perceptual distortion.
M.G.: From that perspective I was able to see those desires as a distortion leading me away from a goal. The Apostle Paul talks about “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal” of what has already been achieved for us in Christ...in other words, there was a sense in which I had a goal which I had already seen and known as my true destiny, and my task was just to continue to allow the truth of myself to win out over the distortions that had inhabited my consciousness over all these years.
Dr. N.: So when your heterosexual self looked at your homosexual behaviors, interests, thoughts, etc.. how did the heterosexual self explain the homosexual desires?
M.G.: A lot of it goes back to the sadness that lies behind it.
Let’s just say if I were to encounter a homosexual desire, if it was ten years ago, I would just assume that that meant I was a gay person because I have these desires. Then I would try to make myself feel good about those desires in every possible way. I would try to assume that since I’m a loving, kind person, then this must just be another form of love. It must be a homosexual form of love. That would be the process that I went through, and I think most other people I knew would also say “I’m not lusting, I’m not dirty, I’m loving.”
Dr. N.: “That this is just my own particular way of expressing love...”
M.G.: Right. But when we recognize the truth, we see things differently. And so now I say, “I am a whole heterosexual man; so how do I deal with these desires?” When I look a little deeper, I see behind it a longing pain in there. I see the fact that there is a craving for something that’s missing within me.
Dr. N.: So when you looked in the light of truth, what was behind it -- was it a pain, or was it sadness?
M.G.: It was pain... and I recognize the futility of the longing that comes from the pain. The longing is nothing more than an attempt to grab hold of something that I don’t actually need because I have it somewhere in myself, and I can rebuild that masculine sense of self that is somewhere inside me. But of course, anyone reading this who is in the gay mindset would say, “I don’t feel pain... I’m emotionally attracted, I feel love.”
Dr. N.: I value our interviews because even though you did not have therapy, your understanding fits so beautifully with the theory of reparative therapy. And it always goes back to the need to do grief work.
M.G.: We share the same viewpoint about how some of these manifestations of grief and trauma play out in people’s sexual development. And it seems to be a universal truth that we are both articulating, because facing the truth leads very much back to grief counseling, very much to the need for a sober recognition. It’s almost like AA, where that first important step is to acknowledge, “I am an alcoholic.” It’s only when you can take this first step -- and implied in “I am an alcoholic” is that alcoholism is a bad thing-- that you can move forward to giving it up. And so by the same process I look back at my life, led by God’s grace, where over the past several years I finally came to that point where the light shone in on the distinction between who I am and what I was doing that I wanted to separate from.
Dr. N.: You’ve had sex with men and now, you’re with a woman...what’s the difference for you?
M.G.: I want to be respectful, obviously, and not distasteful in my answer. So I’ll just describe the personal awareness of “awesome” that I feel right now. .... Coming out of homosexuality has been the most liberating thing I have ever felt. I said before, seven years ago, that it was like coming out of a cave and breathing fresh air. Today I can say, being married, that it’s entirely an inversion of homosexuality. It as though you have a rudder pointed in one direction and then you take the rudder and turn it 180 degrees; now it’s been turned around in the correct direction. It doesn’t feel as though I’ve lost any of my sexuality, it just is working in the right alignment. There’s no part of me that’s wavering from my true nature. I feel aligned with my mind, my body, my spirit, my sexuality, with creation...they are all aligned, and that alignment is evidenced through the fact that my relationship with my wife is so real, so natural.
Dr. N.: Of course there are doubts being thrown at you from a variety of sources in our culture, and you don’t have to be spiritual to see that there is venom behind them. Yet the reality that you, yourself, have seen, is so awesome and so natural.
M.G.: To those doubters I would say that there is a natural law, there is a natural order of creation, and because it’s natural there is no need to force yourself... you simply have to relax and let nature take its course. Provided you have a strong faith in God and his created order, it can happen naturally because through a relationship with God, you’re letting God realign you, correct you.
Dr. N.: You’re a model for people to either emulate or attack depending on their worldview… but the good feeling you have is that you are living out your true nature. The reason why it feels so good and so natural is because it is good and natural.
M.G.: I’m so grateful. I mean, I will lie in bed and I can’t believe how happy I am. This is awesome and I’m so grateful that at this point in my life, at 39 years of age, I am able to have this blessing of marriage and to have it be a natural marriage and to be in a relationship with an amazing woman that God brought for me. I know that we are made for each other and I know He did create her for me and we just intertwine in every possible way and in the right ways. It’s just so beautiful and so cool and I’m so grateful. So I’m really happy.
Dr. N.: You’re happy because when the fish has been out of the water and you drop the fish back into the water, he’s happy. You know?
Dr. N.: It’s true, and I feel like I’m kicking myself to a certain extent. I do feel like, really, is it possible that it could be this good? Because it really is, and yet at the same time if it really is that good, then it gives me a profound sense of command; I can say to people, “Look, this is the truth, this is really the way that it is.“ And I get into these great conversations with people that will email me out of the blue and they are sincere and they are looking for guidance or questions. I’m not a therapist but I can still give them some suggestions.
Dr. N.: From your life experience, yes... of course.
M.G.: I think the biggest obstacle people have is that identification process. They come to think of themselves as gay.
Dr. N.: So much of it is about the identification process...that’s right. So you were in a gay relationship...did you live with a man for awhile?
M.G.: Oh yeah, I did, for almost 10 years.
Dr. N.: With the same man?
M.G.: Yes. And sex with a man is - as I have told Rebekah - a fantasy-world: like a couple of guys playing games with each other. That's all they are... fantasies, playing around like those guys on Pleasure Island, in Pinocchio. They’re in the perpetual Peter-Pan Syndrome and living that way, they never grow up.
Dr. N.: Many of the early psychoanalysts equated homosexuality with a form of immaturity, because it is through our gender that we grow and mature. When there is gender brokenness, when there is a conflict in claiming our gender, we get stalled in our development.
M.G.: A poem of mine was included in the New York Times article. It’s called "The Boy Scout Pledge," and it articulated an adolescent fantasy-world in which boys play around sexually with each other, and love each other, and cling to each other; I quoted from Walt Whitman's poetry... he, too, had similar tendencies in his life. But when you leave homosexuality, there's a sense of growing up. There is a sense of leaving adolescence behind, of becoming whole. I can't explain it any further than that.
Dr. N.: I remember one Catholic client who said, “The first time I made love with a woman I felt that all the angels, saints and little cherubs were flying around over the bed, singing.” That was his imagery.
M.G.: That is beautiful, thank you for sharing that. I will share that thought with Rebekah.