My name’s Mike Hendrix. I’m from Austin, Texas.
As a young child, we moved to Singapore. I was around seven years of age. My parents became Baptist ministers and missionaries. Around the age of seven years of age, I was sitting in the kitchen and it was one of my dad and my rituals to let me sip on the coffee out of his camouflage coffee mug.
This particular time, I asked my dad for some of his coffee and he said, “No faggot son of mine is he ever going to drink after me again.” I had told my parents that I was being sexually molested by a Baptist minister. My parents didn’t believe me and instead they felt that I was possessed by a homosexual spirit.
My parents put pictures of emaciated gay men who were dying of AIDS all over my room. So eventually they decided that they were going to put me into conversion therapy. I went to conversion therapy… therapy, coun… counseling, conversion therapy camps.
The conversion therapy that we were put through was, in the camps, was pure tor- torture. We were molested over and over by the same individual and therapist that claimed that I was possessed by a homosexual spirit.
I finally was able to get out of that situation once my parents realized around the age of 13 that other kids were coming out and had been also abused.
As a teenager and high schooler. It was very difficult for me because I wasn’t attracted to girls. The other thing that I struggled with was that maybe I was haunted by a homosexual spirit. I made a pact with myself and God that no matter what happened, I would take my life if I ever realized that it was true, that I was a gay man.
And I dove into Republican politics and grassroots work with Focus on the Family and Christian Coalition, trying to hide who I really was trying to fight who I really was.
So I found myself during 9/11 in Houston at the Galleria mall. The twin towers had just fallen. I was engaged to be married to a woman, who I loved very dearly and had been with for four years. I found myself stranded in Houston and wandering the mall.
I ran into an individual who was gay. We had a great conversation. We clicked, we hit it off. We had dinner. And then one thing led to another and he ended up back at my hotel room. This was the first time I’d had a consensual, healthy sexual relationship with another man about my age, who was also gay.
It woke up inside of me this desire to explore and to live life. It also presented me with two challenges: did I follow through with my pack with God and take my own life? Or did I embrace this new feeling that was inside of me, this new wokeness?
When I finally got back to Austin, my fiancée found me in a bathtub with a razor blade. Her coming home that day was an answer to prayer because I had prayed to God that he would somehow show me that I could make it as a gay man. I went on to do the right thing and let her know what I was struggling with and that I was coming out. When I told my parents that I was coming out and that I was no longer going to fight being a gay man, my parents disowned me. And that’s okay.
The moment that I felt like everything changed for me and everything was going to be okay, I was at Barnes & Nobles, and I had found 11 different books on coming out. As I was walking up to the front to back out, there was a line and all of those books came flying out on my arms. And here I am scurrying to try to pick them up and people are helping me pick them up. And it’s – there’s 11 books. So there’s multiple people helping me in this process. I was very embarrassed, but then there was also something very liberating about it.
And then of course, two of the books, that I read out of the 11 really kind of helped me on this path to acceptance. One was. Mel White’s book, “Stranger at the Gate,” which was on spirituality. And then another one that was really fun that also saved my sex life was the cruising book, which I then took on to JR’s to practice and it worked out really well.
And I kind of just dove into the deep end of the pool, changed my politics, changed what I was fighting for, but this whole time I wasn’t comfortable with who I was completely. And it’s taken years of therapy. I also turned to alcohol and drugs in my younger years, spent about 10 years.
I suffered from PTSD from the experiences that I went through as a child. I’m not ashamed of it. I also have social anxiety issues as a result. I’m not ashamed of that either. Because I’m alive and the experiences I went through as a child have made me a stronger person.
And I am really happy to say today I’ve conquered my addiction issues and I’m able to help others in a similar situation.
And simply the reason that I am – I look at myself as a survivor and not a victim is I’m here today to talk about my story. It’s important that people hear the story, but at the same time, more importantly, that people understand these types of things are still happening to children all over the world. And it’s important for us to get the story out so that we can change public policy, make laws that prevent child abuse in the form of conversion therapy.
So also extremely important that if there are victims out there who have experienced conversion therapy or are thinking of taking their life or maybe are a victim of child abuse or sexual abuse that they hear the story and they know there is hope. Or for the addict that may be self-medicating to deal with trauma similar to mine, but they also know there is hope. You can deal with this head on and you can live a freer life.