Nathan Strang

Masturbation, Sin, and Showers: the fundamental guilt of growing up gay

Filed By Nathan Strang | August 01, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: coming out later in life, religious based bigotry

I would masturbate in my bed at night... my mother would often knock on my door:

"Nathan, I know what you are doing. Is that right in the eyes of the Lord?"

Ashamed, I'd fight a raging teenage erection...addicted to this feeling... I had to get off. But Mother was right, it was wrong! Why couldn't I be righteous? Why couldn't I follow His Way and be the man He wanted me to be? I couldn't help it though... I had to finish. Now even more cautious, I'd bury myself into the sheets, slowly massaging myself... I promise this will be the last time Lord! As I finish, I roll over, exhausted.

The bathroom was across the hall from my room. The walls were thin and I could hear her every night crying in the shower:

"Oh Lord, I don't know what to do anymore! My children have forsaken Your Word and reject me at every passing! I live in a house where no one respects me and my children deceive me!"

As my mother sobbed, continuing her watery flagellation, I prayed. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for peace for my Mother. I prayed to be a better son. I prayed to be a better man in the eyes of the Lord. I prayed for him to remove these despicable thoughts and to replace them with good things. I didn't know I was gay back then. I just knew I was full of sin and deceit.

I masturbated every night. I prayed for forgiveness every night. My Mother cried every night.

Everybody does it. I knew how to do it; it's programmed into every red-blooded American boy. I knew what to do. It started with the National Geographics. We had a bit of a collection in the past, and I would tear through every one, looking for a glimpse of human anatomy. There was no Internet, and Daddy never had any smut (that I could find). Mother was the spiritual post in the family, and she did a very good job of protecting my sister and me from the "evils" of the world. We were home-schooled, secular music and television both prohibited. Left with the one uncensored glimpse into the world, those pictures of burly bearded men in Russian saunas were the most erotic thing to me. Even to this day, it gets me off.

I was born gay, but I didn't know this at 13. All I knew was what I was told: it was my Sin Nature...


I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at an early age. I was 8, at a day camp at the local YMCA. Across the slippery floor I ran to my Mother and shouted:

"I have Jesus in my heart!"

Just like that, JC and I were tight.

bible-drill.jpgI participated in every church function imaginable, and -- I thought at least -- soon was growing up to be a righteous young man in the eyes of The Lord. I was growing up physically as well, and it wasn't long before I realized what felt good. It wasn't long before my Mother found out as well.

Impure thoughts.

I didn't know I was gay, but I knew I had impure thoughts. What was making me be so bad? I was taught that because of my Sin Nature we were predisposed to let our minds wander; left unchecked we could become rapists, sodomites, and could never reap the benefits of being God's Children. I didn't know I was gay, but I knew I was attracted to men. Sexually, I was confused, but I listened to my Mother. All of these deviant thoughts were keeping me from the "Kingdom of Heaven." I tried my hardest to stay away, but it was all around me! I tried to be repentant, and Mother was fervent in her efforts to bring me from the gutter.

As a homeschooler, I was both educated and reformed. Once, I was caught with a few slips of male pornography, remnants from one of my first and few times allowed online. Mother said my deviant behavior was destructive and painful to her (for subjecting her to the imagery), and destructive of my relationship with God. I was assigned a paper to write. The topic: sexual deviancy. I wanted so dearly to be a good Southern Baptist boy, and began the research into biblical interpretations; they would serve as the tools to repress me. I did not know I was gay, but I knew I was a deviant.

Masturbation in itself was a triple sin. The act, coupled with homosexual thoughts and an apparently unrepentant heart, tormented me. It tormented my Mother as well. I wanted to make her happy. I wanted to make God happy. Some of the other boys from church "suffered" from masturbation, but they only had to turn off one thing: lust. I could try to stop the lust, but the unwanted thoughts kept coming back.

I didn't know I was a homosexual, but I thought I was broken. I would cry at night:

"Why Lord!? Why me? Why do I have to be the one to suffer like this? Why can't I stop these thoughts, why do I continue to hurt those around me? Take this from me Oh Lord! Make me right in your eyes, show me Your Path, and let me shine Your Light through me..."

The Lord did not take this away from me. I was left with an impossible quest to rid myself of something that would not go away. The depression left from tossing and turning all night, searching my soul for that radical "switch," it exhausted me.

My relationship with my Mother strained, as my Sin Nature made it hard for her to trust me. I could not have male friends for she feared I would molest them, and drag them down into sin with me. My parents were separated, and I was not allowed to spend time with my dad; she was afraid I would be corrupted by his secular ways. Despite my struggle as an apparent deviant, I continued to focus on the Bible. I became a summer missionary, went to revival camps, and filled my time with His Work. There was nothing else to do, there was no one else I could be.

I was 14, Mother had gotten a job, my sister turned 18 and moved out, and there was no one to supervise my homeschooling. I could no longer be trusted at home; I had to go to public school. My first day at High School, a friend from church brought me to the clique that would be my family for four years... the outcasts. Goth kids, trench coats, and shitty attitude aside, they took me in and started the work of unraveling this tangled little boy. I excelled in school, but got an F in social skills.

Liberated from my Mother's daily stricture, I slowly began to see the light. It was a secular light, but a light that warmed a part of me that was cold, scarred, and lonesome. I fractured into two people: this worldly young man who loved his new friends and felt respected, and a worried Christian, aware he was backsliding and feared the flames of hell and the wrath of God. The prayers for forgiveness appended with tormenting thoughts of the future. If I continue to backslide I would never be happy, I would hurt everyone I knew, and God would turn his back on me. To this day I fear one thing above all: eternity.

I did not know I was gay, but I knew I was of the world. Yearly, at some Christian revival or conference, I would rededicate myself to Christ. No more masturbation, no more impure thoughts! It would last about a week.


I was 16, fully integrated into school, trying desperately to be normal. I even found myself a girlfriend! Thank God for promise rings; we never had sex, and so my ability to even perform such an act with a woman was never questioned. I did love her though. My academic success allowed me to attend Governor's School, a startlingly liberal summer camp for the brightest students in North Carolina. It was held in beautiful historic Salem College, in Winston-Salem, NC.

I was in a completely different world. There was no parental control: only staff guidance in the form of suggestions. We were left to organize ourselves into intellectual sects. I was there for Natural Science, but I tended to stick with the "eccentrics." I was comfortable with them, and I felt included. A few of them had told me they were gay. I had never met a gay person before. These boys and girls were nice, soulful and seemingly set on a solid path. No deviants here.

Tucked away in a musty corner in the basement of the college library, I found a computer connected to the Internet. My research for "gay" turned up a number of things. Who knew there was a community for them all called! Quickly and discreetly, I lapped up all the information I could, like a parched puppy after a long walk. I soon found my desired habitat in the form of furry bulky men they called bears. I became overloaded with content and imagery, and ducked away... there was something I had to do. This time, I did not ask for forgiveness, I did not question my motives... I knew I was gay.

Those six weeks at Governors' School were a cleansing period. I rarely called my mother, but I told my girlfriend I had attraction to men. She laughed and said it was ok, that she was bisexual herself. I told her I loved her and went and told my new friends that I was gay. Apparently, others had this same epiphany, and the group of eccentrics, now became a group of fledgling gays, nurtured by the few LGBT counselors at the camp.

thecrew.jpegThose six weeks were a rush for me. I had my first crush (a straight guy) and told a man I loved him for the first time (the straight guy). I did meet this furry little ginger gay, and with him I had my first intentionally homosexual experience. Coming out, against a historic Salem backdrop, it felt ethereal how happy I was. Mother had noticed a change, and as she rattled over the phone about how my thinking was getting too liberal, I knew I couldn't tell her I was gay. I opened the closet, went inside, and locked the door.

It felt like a lie.

I was told growing up, that living in deceit is poison to the soul; sin and lies will eat you alive. As a young adolescent boy, I though my impure thoughts and the homosexual feelings were the sins and the lies. Trying to squelch my homosexuality never took away the gnawing feeling.... I had no idea I was trying to rip my soul out, the very soul God gave me.

The last few years before adulthood were spent biding time. At 17, I moved out from my mother's and saw the world with my own eyes again. My father, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, the man I had rejected in my youth, said horrible things to and spied on for my mother, took me in as a man. He told me I was free to grow on my own, that my mother had done enough to me to last a lifetime. He showed me trust, he showed me respect, and he showed me love. I came out to him when I was 19. He knew, and he didn't care. He loved me as his son. I am a daddy's boy because my daddy saved my life.


NateandRandallBlue.jpgI had escaped the fires of my youth. Each turbulent storm, each tear was exquisitely placed in God's plan to bring me to this point.

For the past four years I have been on "Religious Sabbatical." My relationship with God was strained, and I fell from any sort of path I knew to be on. I was hurt by His people. I was hurt by my mother. I was hurt by myself.

I could not longer claim to be a Southern Baptist... but it was all I knew. Growing up Christian, there is no other doctrine like your own. Baptists are especially exclusionary, we believed that our interpretation is the right one. I believed our interpretation was the right one.

However, I no longer believed homosexuality was a sin. And as for masturbation... the Bible is silent. Christianity is based on interpretation, custom, and family values passed down from congregation to congregation. You can't change the religion (nor can you change God), but you can change the congregation. Just think, shaving is a sin, but growing up all my pastors were beardless. Beard or no beard, I am a homosexual... and God loves me, even though I masturbate. A lot.

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Wow, Nathan. Thank you so much for this. It really moved me, and I know many people who can relate. I grew up in a Christian home too, but my path down fundamentalism was my own decision.

The part of your reunion with your father was especially touching. I truly loved this story. It made me happy and sad at the same time. Thank you!

I grew up among Christians and I even was on staff at a Christian church for a couple of years I was never really able to take the religion seriously after around 7 or 8 years old.
I'm glad that you are getting past the problems caused for you by adherence to that practice.

Your story is one of strength and endurance, and I am at once sorrowful for your experience and grateful for the outcome. You are an amazing young man.

When I was burned by my family's faith, I turned from God and was an atheist for twelve years. I had no use for the pain that religion caused. It was when I realized that the pain came from people and not from God that I began my search in earnest. I realized that I did not have to surrender my intellect or any part of my self in giving myself to God. That you could come to a similar conclusion under such dire circumstances says a great deal about your spiritual strength. I hope you continue to write about your journey in the same honest introspection you have shown us here.

Now, if we could just end that traditional Christian belief.

Thanks Betty! I still haven't overcome all of my hurdles, and my "religious sabbatical" has gone on longer than it should have. Its hard to go back into the mess and find all the truths, when previously they only did me harm and put me into a bubble... I'll get there.

Will this be made into a movie?

Thank-you for sharing your enlightenment. Baptists will never change, I'm glad you did. You're "born again" and you did it.

Young people should know your story. It is helpful.

Very nice words.
Thanks for sharing your heart n souil and feelings in this.



MIKE in Texas


Thank you for sharing your story. The parallels between your parents and mine are uncanny. I suspect that many of us went throught the prayer, repent and confusion phases like you. I know I certainly did.

Like you, I'm now a reborn person and finally happy with the sexual orientation God (or whoever)gave me. Fortunately, my parents accepted me as gay and have embraced my partner. Having my Dad finally accept me as I was gave me much needed closure before he died back in 2006.

Again, thanks for sharing. It is important that young LGBT people realize that they are normal no matter what others may say.

It takes forever to seek a away out of that trap. I've been out of fundamentalism since 1981 or 82... my Methodist Church in Rock Hill, NY, was Moral Majority territory. I've been in both more- liberal traditions and more-conservative traditions for nearly 30 years that totally disagree with my fundie past. And it's hard to shake that anger and hurt, even outside the church.

I prayed that prayer too. Thank GOd the answer was "No!"

It's great to see the healing journey starting for you. I hope sharing the story like this makes others' time easier.

I am a homosexual... and God loves me! Amen.

Erotic pleasure in all its forms is a gift from god. Anyone who dares to suggest otherwise rejects god's love and thus chooses death.

Far too long humanity has confused the experience of reproduction with erotic pleasure.

God loves all queers and is setting us free to teach humanity how to be happy and sane through all forms of physical love.

We pray that God will:

Free all people from fear, enabling them to learn to love,
Enable us how to carry out his will on earth, and
Help us lead humanity into a new age of love.

Jesus had several very close male friendships, his cousin John (called the Baptist), John Zebedee (the "Apostle Jesus loved best"), Lazarus (childhood friend), and John Mark (author of the gospel and bearer of lost teachings of Jesus to Alexandria).

Jesus was just as queer as any of us. And so are all the scared straight people who are ignoring their god-given potential.

Funny you mention that Dan. The one part that brought peace to my mind was when I started to unravel Jesus' relationship with his disciples. I learned about the deep fellowship, and the strong words used to describe their relationships. I used to be ashamed of why I could be so emotionally attracted to men, and why I couldn't find the same in women.

Then, I discovered that Jesus had some really close male friends. I'm not talking sexually, but emotionally Jesus was dearly close and in love with his disciples. If i can strive to love my men like Jesus did, then I have nothing to be ashamed for. in fact, I'm proud of my love for men partly for this reason.

Rick Elliott | August 2, 2010 2:21 AM

I am a Presbyterian minister and a late bloomer. Living a bifurcated life has broken my health. But as I grew in faith and understanding of my own sexuality,I have even "outed" in a church gathering during the debate over GLBT ordination. Now--I know that I cause discomfort to many because my ministerial career points out the inherent contradiction of their absurd notion that only heterosexuals and celibate folks can be chosen as leaders in the church. Though feeling estranged from the denomination that I've served, I am secure in my relationship with God.
Nathan, my earliest job in the Presbyterian church was working with Southern Baptists whose seminary study revealed the incongruity of Southern Baptist stances with Jesus' life. I think you'll enjoy some of their statements:
--"The only mistakes the Baptists made was to show me there's a library."
--"I'm an alcoholic and a Baptist. With God's help I'll be healed of both.
--"Baptists historically proclaim that they don's have creeds. However, their hidebound rules are more creed-like than any Protestants I know. They'd even give the Pharisees a run for it with their silly, picky, legalistic religiosity."
I had to work through the religious background of East Texas I grew up in. I'd enjoy sharing with you my faith journey and learn about yours.

May God bless you and keep you and nurture you in faith the rest of your life.

Thanks Rick.

Looking back, I always questioned why we had these emotionally wrenching, world hunger nights at church.. summer missionaries, slide shows, and sad stories..

Then we'd go to a huge ass Potluck Dinner afterwards and nothing was to come of it.

Wow. Your experience, Nathan, is utterly foreign to me. I can't even imagine that you endured that in this country in this day and age. Sharing this story is an important reminder that we haven't come as far as we think.

Are you familiar with the book The Preacher's Son by Marc Adams? You might want to check it out.

Aside from all of the legislative goals we already have, I think we should consider adding the prohibition of home schooling. We can't protect kids from their whacko parents, but if we can at least require they get an external point of view and socialization that provides some counter balance, perhaps it will limit the damage.

Rory, I can't agree with your statement about homeschooling, it helped me become a scholar, and I had a few extra opportunities that public schooled kids don't get.. although I also missed out on a few in turn.

Homeschooling from a family who's fundamentalist is a different thing. While I can't say we have to force protections from this, a tighter observation on Homeschooling families could help to separate the two

SkepticalCidada | August 2, 2010 5:27 AM

Congratulations on your successful journey thus far.
May I suggest, however, that it is still incomplete?

Instead of searching for a Christian congregation that merely accommodates your own particular difference, you should reconsider the entire religion itself. Rather than agonize over a handful of biblical verses and straining to find gay-positive interpretations of them, consider why it even matters what a bunch of strikingly ignorant and superstitious men wrote millennia ago or what later dogmatic men thought when they chose and rejected books for the Bible based on their own prejudices.

In my opinion, Christianity is a crutch for the weak--like your mother--and you sound strong enough to eventually toss it away entirely.

Thank god you're gay, Nathan. Think of what kind of person you would have turned into if you were on the other side of this:

Masturbation in itself was a triple sin. The act, coupled with homosexual thoughts and an apparent unrepentant heart tormented me. It tormented my Mother as well. I wanted to make her happy. I wanted to make God happy. Some of the other boys from church "suffered" from masturbation, but they only had to turn off one thing: lust. I could try to stop the lust, but the unwanted thoughts kept coming back.

Aren't all sins equally bad before the Lord? And yet some sins make people question who they are, and others just make people keep quiet and keep on forcing others to follow their interpretation of the Bible.

What a great read! Having grown up in a Southern Baptist atmosphere myself (thankfully, not nearly as radical as your own), I can relate to so much of your story. It's difficult when you think you're the only one. Learning you're not alone is a wonderful feeling. I stumbled upon a book called "The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay" by Rev. Troy Perry. It really helped me deal with all the bad stuff I had heard about myself. Funny how the Baptists never talk about David and Jonathan's or Ruth and Naomi's relationships. Sounds pretty gay to me, now that I think about it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

So powerful! GIGANTIC hug, and big kiss on the lips from scissorspoon Phil!

I too was deeply moved by your story and can relate to so much of it myself, having spent hours and hours on my knees and having made countless trips to the alter to be "delivered" from myself. Then came the ephipany that God in His divine love and wisdom created me as I am. And in this I learned two things: God is bigger than they ever told me He is and that the Church does not speak for God.


I think this is one of the best personal essays we've ever published on TBP, Nathan. I'm so honored you asked me to help proof it before you published it.

I know what a journey you've been on and how deeply challenging it was for you to write this. I bow before you.

Thank you for sharing. I went through a very prolonged bout of that (up until age 35 actually) as a mormon. I am glad you found yourself. I wish I were able to think outside the "box" back then. I was not monitored so much by my parents but was reminded of the horrors in general. I tried to come out and my father made it impossible for me. Fornication and adultery were sins next to murder I was often reminded...even though I saw double standards all around me, I tried to be "good" and "pure" like I thought a few others were. Of course, these "pure" friends, come to find out were not so pure after getting to know them better. I thought it was a fluke at first but then I saw it more and more and as recluse as I was, I was aching to be set free but was holding onto the conveniences of straight marriage. There was some comfort in losing virginity on the honeymoon at age 26. I was quite anxious and thrilled about it (even with a woman at the time)...although, I didn't suspect I'd opened up a floodgate subconsciously that led me to experiment (and adulterate after 26 years of virginity) after only 3 months of marriage. I'm glad I didn't off myself at that time.. I've since divorced and have tried long term relationships on for size instead of the down low life and I'm no longer miserable in this way anymore. Hellfire / "telestial kingdom" still haunts me and part of me wonders if I'd ever turn back into some zealot deep down but I really have hopes for the best in my new and much more realistic world.

Thanks for sharing this, Nate. I hope we have a chance to talk about some of this in person sometime. The impact religion has on so many people's lives is something I've never fully understood. Your story is another glimpse at an utterly alien world to me. I appreciate your willingness to share it with everyone.

My dearest Nate ~

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, in a Southern Baptist fundamentalist family, and I greatly relate to so many of the aspects you touched on regarding your own life.

Perhaps when you feel ready to emerge from your religious sabbatical you might give yourself the permission to simply explore...other traditions, other paths, other belief systems...and you may find that, at their essence, all paths and all traditions are based in the same source and seek the same thing...and that there may be other approaches that can fulfil your spiritual longings and your connection to the spiritual and divine that is evident even still.

Ankh, wedja, seneb...and may your path be filled with blessings more innumerable than the stars.

I was in the 10th grade when I first committed the mortal sin of masturbation. I remember the Rector, in the 9th grade, at the Catholic seminary I was attending, studying to become a priest, telling us at assembly to look around because some sitting here would spend eternity in hell for masturbating. Damn, was I scared because I had not done it yet, but the temptation was strong. In the tenth grade I fell into temptation which also happened to be my last year in seminary. I remember going back in the 10th grade and was disappointed that a student I had a crush on was not there.
I could not accept myself as gay-how could I be as Christianity and homosexuality were an impossible combination in my mind. So I honestly convinced myself I was straight with gay feelings.
Then about 10 years into my Air Force career, still masturbating, I accepted Jesus and became a Baptist.
I now made a vow to not masturbate or think unholy thoughts [I had crushes on some GI's but was always afraid to act on my desires]. I was successful for about 4 years when I gave in again and masturbated. I felt such guilt each time.
I reached the point where I was beginning to hate God for giving me gay desires. It was not until I accepted myself as God made me that for the first time in my life I felt free, honest, and genuine with God. God knew me, loved me, and accepted me as a gay man before I was a thought in my parents mind.
My wife has remained by my side and I love her more that I ever had. I have prevented gay Christians, mostly youth, some as young as 12, from committing suicide because of the guilt trip fundamental religion puts on us.
I am a gay Christian, loved by God, out of the closet, with a brand new love and appreciation for life and all peoples.
My biggest regret? Not accepting myself as a gay youth and being able to grow up like any other kid with the freedom to love, date, hold hands, and go to the Prom with those I loved. That was over 50 years ago; but still today many of our gay youth are denied the freedom of growing up in a loving and accepting school environment where they can socialize as natural and normal as any straight kid.

I will never forget my freshman year at Baylor University (the largest Southern Baptist U in the world), walking into a quiet discussion by some dorm friends in which the first thing I heard was one say " At Glorieta (Baptist encampment) this summer they said it was OK to masturbate." The use of that word pierced the years of guilt and shame so strongly that I literally lost my breath, was speechless, and had to turn around and walk away without saying anything.

That was one of the best examples of growing up gay and religious that I have ever read. Thank you.

Kudos to you Nathan! I consider your account a well written look into a diary with introspection you chose with careful consideration of just about every possible ramafication to those choices. You have a flair for writing and might consider a book of your life, just as you shared with us. As your journey continues, another book taking us along with you, in installments, as you age gracefully.
IMHO, you're quite normal which most of us identify with, which again makes your account so palatable and entertaining. I saw myself in one of your situations and I think others will as well. Being raised in a staunch RC family in which my sister became a nun, my struggles w/religion were an ever-present consideration just like you. I have no doubt you will follow your heart and become a success in whatever you choose in life. Thanks for sharing.

Gary Hartman | August 8, 2010 11:02 AM

Hi! Thanks so much Nathan. You have maintained
a good heart, a real loving Christian heart through it all. I am a pastor who happens to be gay. I fought the fight against my personal Creator and also with my own mind by allowing the leaders of modern Christianity to think for me. I realize now that
the leaders of Christianity that young pastors tend to model (and even parrot) are actually the vocal and visible guys because of their media ministries. For instance, Jim Dobson, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson,et al. Or those who have big organizations associated with their name like George R. who was recently found with a "rent boy" for two weeks in Europe and alas,Ted Haggert, past pres. of the National Association of Evangelicals. I was one hiding and
and also fighting against myself. I was my own enemy and I was keeping myself from a real love
relationship with our Lord and others in honesty,
reality and the goodness of the Spirit. You mention all the interpretations, and so many of them stem from a selective and defective righteousness rather than the righteousness of God found in Jesus Christ alone. Fundamantalists make themselves right by making others wrong. You bear the fruit so evidently . You warm my heart young man. I am definitely a bear as per your description and also
I am a retired Baptist pastor one, although still active
in service in another glorious part of the Body of Christ. Hey, the Baptists don't have any monopoly on God my young, beautiful hearted friend. HUGS Gary and John, my partner
PS: We would sure like to meet you one day and
I know we will through the grace of Lord Jesus Christ.

Any idea when a Christian denomination is going to formally renounce the belief/teaching that "homosexuality is wrong, sinful and deviant?"

It would be helpful if some Christians would take that stand and deny that traditional Christian teaching. We can just call them "New Christians."

Reading the comments made me realise how religion can affect you in such a negative way.

And for the record... I have NEVER felt guilty.

Gary Mitchener | August 17, 2010 6:15 AM

In St.John's Gospel, after Jesus called Lazarus out from the tomb, He commanded those standing by to release Lazarus from his constricting grave clothes and allow him to be completely free and fully alive. I see "those standing by" as representing the Church. How right Jesus was to hold the Church responsible for removing the bindings: the Church had done the binding in the first place, with its narrow manmade regulations that sadly restrict the love of a gracious God! As a pastor, I see my own vocation as one of helping empower "recovering Christians" to break free of those stinking grave clothes in order to dance nakedly in the sunlight of the God who loves them "just as [they are] without one plea"!

Lol masturbation saves my life daily so I need not go out and sin with a woman that will commit atrocity against man


Thanks a lot! I seldom have heard such a personal story so well told! Say hi to Huw for me!


Great and inspiring story.
You should make a recording for "It Gets Better".

I could have written much of this myself. Thanks for giving voice to the feelings I felt as a boy.