Tears ran down his face as the words of his son, Sean, bounced around his brain until they finally settled and he could process what they meant: Bob Fife’s son loved him unconditionally, despite Bob’s deep involvement in his gay community.
Holding fast to Sean’s words of earnest love, Bob surprised himself by telling Sean he would finally do it—he would find a way to get out of the LGBT lifestyle. While he didn’t think it entirely possible, he knew it was time to at least try.
An Identity Formed
The youngest of six children, Bob grew up in a small Ontario town, knowing firsthand what abuse was. With a mother he wasn’t sure loved him, a father who hit whether he was drunk or not—which he often was—and a brother who dominated him physically and verbally, Bob’s home life was far from loving.
“I never had a healthy male role model and didn’t want to be like any of the males in my family,” Bob said in an interview provided by his publicist, regarding his book, “Out: One Christian’s Experience of Leaving the Gay Community.”
“I didn’t respect them for a variety of reasons,” Bob continued.
As a 13-year-old with little-to-no understanding of what a healthy relationship with a male looked like, an older boy he trusted molested him one night, leaving Bob with even more questions. He began to wonder if a sexual relationship was what made up a true friendship. And so he pursued a secret, physical relationship with Roger, the boy who molested him.
“At this time in my life, I was forming my identity, values and worldview,” Bob explained in his book interview. “Subconsciously I concluded sex was the way men expressed regard for each other. Perhaps because I had never sensed healthy love and respect from my father and brothers, I perceived Roger’s attention as love. In that highly moldable period of my life, I decided love means sex and sex means love.”
Searching for Answers
Throughout his adolescent years, Bob searched for acceptance in male relationships by seeking out other teenagers who would experiment sexually with him. But he wasn’t satisfied. The secret relationships he formed were not giving him the fulfillment he desired, so he decided to focus on work and new friendships he found through a small Bible study.
Bob knew the Bible cover to cover. Growing up in church, he had heard sermons on just about everything. But his excitement for a deeper understanding of God and the themes of the Bible grew as he engaged more in his Bible study.
It was there he met his future wife, Audrey.
But a loving wife and newborn son, Sean, did not keep the past secret memories from inching to the forefront of his mind. While he believes God protected him from reliving those memories early on in his marriage, he soon became sexually frustrated as he and Audrey spent less and less time together. His long car rides for work gave him too much time to reminisce and wonder if what he had with Audrey was true happiness.
“I had never faced and dealt properly with my childhood experiences and attractions,” Bob explained. “They were a secret part of me, and secrets have a way of festering in the dark, neglected parts of our minds. My memories turned into imaginings, and my imaginings became fantasies.”
It wasn’t long before Bob found himself smack in the middle of what he describes as the Toronto gay scene. In his search for physical and emotional fulfillment, he eventually allowed his relationships with God and his family to dissolve. He gave himself fully to the gay lifestyle he craved and left his family behind him.
“I was a very selfish individual,” Bob said in an interview with Herman Bailey on Christian Television Network (CTN). “To think that I could give up my wife and give up my young son to pursue my own thing because I wanted to be fulfilled sexually and (in my masculinity). So I selfishly sacrificed my relationship with God and my relationship with my wife. … I wasn’t doing my part. I was turning my back on God, and I was willing and wanting to pursue this with a selfish intent.”
There and Back Again
This new lifestyle brought major changes in Bob’s life. Over the course of nearly 20 years, he traveled the world, lived with multiple partners and spent countless hours playing the Toronto gay scene. While it wasn’t everything he wanted, he no longer had to hide his same-sex desires.
And that felt good.
Life wasn’t perfect, however, and he watched friends die from AIDS and relationships from his past fade, including his relationship with his son.
Which was why he was surprised, curious and slightly nervous when Sean asked to come visit him.
It was this visit from Sean that jumpstarted Bob’s desire to leave the gay lifestyle. When he heard Sean’s words of unconditional love and belief that he could find freedom in God, it gave Bob motivation and hope. Bob decided to take the first step. He knew he needed to confront the consequences of his lifestyle choices, so he went back to church and explained his desire for change to the elders.
“After I shared my story with the elders at my church, I was amazed by their acceptance and willingness to support me,” Bob said. “It was more than I had dreamed could be possible. Church became a spiritual hospital for me. I began to appreciate God’s love for me in a new way, and I fell in love with my Savior anew. The spiritual intimacy I developed with the Lord and His people filled up the emotional spaces in me that I had tried to fill with sex-based relationships.”
Despite the acceptance of his church elders, Bob’s exit from the gay lifestyle was anything but easy. He lost most of his friends. He was not accepted by a few church members. He was tormented in his dreams about what he left behind to once again follow Jesus.
But with a loving church leadership, a Christian support group, lots of prayer and healthy, non-sexual friendships, Bob said God began to fill his life with “everything I had been craving all along.”
Victory Over Sin
Now, 25 years later, Bob attributes his successful life change to the power of God. While the temptations remain, his Christian community, accountability and renewed faith in Jesus keep him on track. He now mentors young men and women who desire to leave the gay lifestyle behind them, believing there is hope for anyone desiring to make a change.
“I think sexual addiction is one of the strongest—if not the strongest—addictions out there because it never leaves you,” Bob said in his interview with Herman Bailey. “That’s why the gay community at large wants to claim the fact that we’re born that way, because it’s so instilled in you. (But) it’s only the grace of God (that can change you).”
With a strong belief that his first sexual encounter shaped his identity, Bob says he doesn’t believe for a moment he was born gay. He knows his environmental influences shaped how he wanted to feel accepted and how he saw himself. And he believes all who desire to turn back to God can leave their gay lifestyle behind them, despite the confusing voices of culture.
“You’ll hear a lot of voices these days tell you sexuality is fluid and can be changed,” Bob said. “Other voices tell you sexuality is fixed and cannot be changed. Still other voices will say you can only change in one direction but not the other. It certainly is confusing. My experience is that meaningful change can be experienced.”
Bob never claims he successfully changed his life—again—through his own will power. He gives God all the glory and honor, knowing Christ gave him this victory over his sin.
Bob’s full story can be read in his book, “Out: One Christian’s Experience of Leaving the Gay Community.”