LIAM HAYDEN

My name is Liam Hayden, I am 18 years old and I was brought up between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Malta. Although my testimony is not the most shocking and although I am possibly one of the youngest in the world to open-up about ex-LGBT+ matters, I do personally believe that it can give a good insight into how same-sex attraction can develop due to environmental factors, and how a relationship with the living God can help overcome various issues including anxiety and depression throughout this journey. 

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I encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of an ex-LGBT person while you are reading this and form your opinion at the end. Also remember that many of us faced both hatred whilst inside the LGBT+ community, and possibly even more hatred now we have left it. We are still humans, and we understand you. I stand by the fact that everyone deserves respect regardless of their choices or identities. 


I grew up with my biological parents and had 2 older half-brothers who would come and go quite often. There were never any vicious arguments within our households, and everyone would say they were happy ones. My brothers were however brought up differently. My father was away a lot when he was in the army, and their parents divorced while they were adolescents.


My relationship with my mother was continuously positive. She used normal punishments to correct my behaviour, generally using time-out methods. The harshest I would get from her was a quick slap on the hand. I always had comfortable boundaries and knew exactly where those were with her throughout my life, and so we were able to form a very strong bond.


My relationship with my father could be quite turbulent. Until about age 7, it was as though I could do no wrong. If my mother would discipline me, he would correct her and ‘set me free’. He was my hero. My father however was silently struggling with the harshness he experienced in his upbringing and the horrors he went through in the army which I think influenced how he responded to certain situations later on. When it became time for me to start ‘growing into a man’ (aged 7), there was a switch in his treatment towards me, and at times he would use harsh disciplinary methods and add unstable boundaries which would change often. There was also a change in the way he spoke to me, and in the language he used. I think this was what impacted me the most. I was confused about why things had changed so much. Until recently we continuously grew colder towards each other, but he was always however such a wonderful provider. Everything I needed I received. He was also an amazing husband to my mother who he is devoted to. He is someone that I look up to in terms of how he honours his wife.

“My identity was so damaged by that point I had no idea what I wanted, nor who I was.”

At school from ages 4-7 I had a few friends, both male and female. I remember having a ‘girlfriend’ who I somehow had some level of attraction to (so no, I was not born gay) who I would hold hands with and pretend to marry every few lunchbreaks! *To be married to a woman and have kids was something I always wanted, and when I later developed same sex attraction it hurt me deeply to think that I would never be able to fulfil this dream. While the dynamic with my father started changing, the boys at school became more interested in football and sports as opposed to the fantasy games we played, and I started to become lonely. I used to wish that there were some who would continue playing those games with me, or who I could read/talk together with, but there was only one constant male friend (who grew up to have SSA also) who would want to be with me. 


I was disconnecting from masculinity. People who I used to look up to from that point on were females, like actress Lindsay Lohan who played the driver of an alive VW Beetle called Herbie. I wanted to be exactly like her, I wanted to be exactly like all the wonderful women in my life instead of the males who were either too head-strong or were talked down about for being gentle. It is at this time aged 7-8 that I discovered my first attractions to men. Aged 10 on an app called vine, I saw pornography in action, and I was confused, terrorised almost by what I was seeing, but I felt drawn to see it again. Aged 11, a 6-year addiction to pornography (I would watch for 2-3 hours daily) started and after a few months, I ended up switching to gay pornography. My peers noticed I was a bit different and would ask me questions. I was brought up a Catholic, so I used religion as a blanket to hide whatever I was not comfortable with sharing. 


I was an altar server in the Catholic church, and although I genuinely desired a relationship with God, no matter how hard I tried I could not connect with Him in the rigidity of the services. Aged 14 however, I went to Lourdes (where in Catholic tradition Mary the mother of Jesus is said to have appeared) and I acknowledged the Holy Spirit for the first time there and asked for guidance. I heard a voice say to me ‘don’t worry, I will send people your way to help, wait.’ I cried out of joy. 


A couple of years later I made some friends who were mostly girls. I came out to them as bisexual (because deep down I still desperately wanted that wife and those children), and I felt a bit more popular. To make people like me, I would change my entire personality depending on who I was with – I was fake, and if the normal Liam shone through, I would tell myself off. I had a very close friend and I think there was something spiritual operating between us at that point. Nobody could come between us and we would talk sometimes from 9pm-5am on the phone. We encouraged each other negatively I think and when I lost that friendship unexpectedly in February 2020, I was heartbroken. I wanted to want to be in a relationship with her, and other females, but I could barely think of it. Soon after, the United Kingdom went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was isolated from everything. I started getting depressed and my identity was so damaged by that point I had no idea what I wanted, nor who I was. I could not even make decisions for myself. One day the police knocked on my door and asked me for details of a fellow altar server (with severe autism) from my old church as they thought he was somehow involved with people who had had stolen money from my dad. I had reached my worst point. I started having multiple nosebleeds and I was in distress.


I had lost most of my friends, I was arguing at home daily, I could never (or so I thought) achieve my goal of marriage, God (who I began to hate) failed to protect this guy from going into a prison cell overnight, I could no longer see a future for myself, and to make matters worse, I thought that all my worth was based on education anyway. I wrote a suicide note, opened a window, and almost jumped. Something stopped me. I felt guilty for what I would put those who I knew loved me through. By God’s grace I got down, ripped up the letter and threw it away.


In June 2020 I was watching an adult film performer who was previously training to become a priest. The thought excited me. After it finished, I felt a horrid presence around me, and I was overcome by unexplained fear, shivers and nausea. I picked up prayer after what had been a few weeks and I opened my heart to God to get me out of this, remembering His promise to me in Lourdes.


The next morning, I watched a documentary about embassies on YouTube so I searched up what the Maltese Consulate in London looked like. The first video to come up was one with a banner saying ‘once gay’ on it, on Voices of the Silenced. I contacted the main guy in the video, Matthew Grech and he spoke to me, prayed with me and gave me hope. From that day I wanted to live. The way he prayed was so different to what I had been brought up with and the Holy Spirit had really touched me. 

 

A couple of days later I woke up feeling tempted at 4am and was questioning my theology. Suddenly I felt that horrid presence return and this time I was pinned to the bed – my chest was being forced down and my throat closed. I could not breathe, let alone move! I saw a figure in a white robe suddenly appear in the corner of my room (until this day I do not know who or what it was, but I knew regardless of what, it was sent by God) and a message appeared in words before it as I was calling out to it and God (as best I could) for help. The pressure released, everything went back to normal and I gasped. I did some research, and the message was an old English word meaning a ‘trial’ or ‘test’. This is when I realised the reality of quite literally the angel and the devil on each shoulder, and therefore the reality of Heaven and hell. Matthew prayed over me so that anything not from God would leave me and by God’s grace, a lot left me that day.


From that day, I began to question if God wanted me to worship Him in a different way, and environment than what I was doing. 

I started seeing more testimonies on X-Out-Loud and with each one I either made a new friend who would help me to love myself again, or I gained an extra bit of hope. The countries opened their borders, and I went to Malta. While there I met Matthew, and many awesome people from River of Love, our church there. During my first service there, I realised how strong the Holy Spirit was, and how supportive all the people around me were. The message our Pastor gave literally opened my heart and for the first time I cried everything out then and there in the presence of God, and I could feel that He was there holding me before one of my dear friends hugged me as well. I asked God if this is where He wants me to be from now on, and through an ex-Catholic I met at the restaurant afterwards, He confirmed everything to me.


I got baptised in the water on the 30th August 2020, deciding to leave my past behind me and continue my journey with God as myself. Ever since I have seen so many changes in my life, including in my attractions though this lost importance to me in this process. God has since filled me with His spirit, I joined X-Out-Loud officially, anxiety, depression have fled from me and bitterness has left my heart. I never knew I could have such love and experience it too! When I was baptised, I truly was Born Again!


So, this is my story, and there are many like me in the world who are being forced into silence. This is how God helped me, and how X-Out-Loud and Core Issues Trust supported me even mentally at times. They are crucial to have in our society. I will re-iterate again that everyone should have self-autonomy, and make their own decisions based on how they want to live. Nothing should ever be forced, either way and they have a wonderful way of making sure that it never is. If these institutions are taken away from people like me, this would be a breach of my own self autonomy. I have the right to live and love how I choose, and so do you. Let me have my choice.


We are living proof that change is possible.


Thank you and God bless you.

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LIAM'S TESTIMONY

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Liam’s transformation