By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"So when was the last time you were with a woman?"
"I've never been with a woman."
"Oh, so you're still converting," says the other host. "You're like mid-change or something. You're like pre-op."
Thomas' voice goes flat. "I don't know about pre-op. But I'm in change, yes."
"But how do you know if you're heterosexual yet if you haven't been with a woman?"
"Because I'm attracted to them?" Thomas offers tentatively.
"Yeah, but have you ever had any yet?"
"At some time, rubber meets the road."
"Yeah," says the other DJ, chiming in, "push comes to shove."
"And you're going to have to perform," Wachs says, "and you won't know if you're truly heterosexual until you can perform."
"Well," says Thomas, "I guess I'll have to wait till I'm married."
"Oh," says one of the hosts in a mocking, gosh-shucks tone. "Well, that's tough."
"Boy," says the other, "don't you think you oughta give it one practice run before you, uh..."
"I'll pass," says Thomas, sounding disgusted. "Some of us can live according to our spiritual convictions instead of our sex drives."
The hosts turn their scrutiny to Thomas' sex drive, discovering he hasn't had sex since he was 24.
"I mean..." One of the hosts coughs. "You've handled yourself, right? I mean, since there are no women around to take care of you, there are...you know...you've...solo, right?"
"Li...listen, guys," Thomas says, "I thought this was going to be about ex-gays and how change is possible."
"I really don't want to get into talking about masturbation," Thomas says, spitting out the last word.
"No, this is a good question," says the DJ, not backing down. "When you think about things like that, who do you think about? Do you think about men or women?"
"That is a ridiculous question, and I'm not sharing that information with you."
"Ah, you're still gay, that's why."
"Have a good day," Thomas says.
"Come on, be honest."
Thomas hangs up.
They laugh. "Don't come on my show talking like Truman Capote telling me how heterosexual you are," says one, laughing. "Just be honest. Be who you are."
"That's why he likes the Bible," says the other. "It allows him to lisp...'The Lord sayeth...'"
"Oh, my God," the host says, catching his breath between laughs. "Oh, me. That man is confused. He's having a real hard time.
"You are what you are. That's it. If you're gay, you're gay. If you're not, you're not. Live with it."
There was a time when the 39-year-old Rose, a Baptist by upbringing, thought that being a real Christian meant renouncing his own homosexuality.
In 1986, Rose joined a now-defunct ex-gay ministry in Dallas called Alternative Identification Ministries. Every week, the handful of men and women met. To avoid any temptations of the flesh, no one could wear shorts. Biblical passages were memorized for encouragement. For Rose, however, nothing helped.
Months into his involvement with the ministry, he and another man in the group began seeing each other.
"We both had horrible guilt about secretly having sex and coming to the group," says Rose, a cartoon animator. And after that year, he left the group for good. About three months later, he stopped seeing the man, who had moved away. For the next seven years, in his attempt to be a "good Christian," Rose abstained from sex. Looking back, he says he realizes it was a time of "acting a role."
"Here's the nutty next-door neighbor," says Rose, an amiable short man with dirty-blond hair, "who's the effeminate heterosexual who's really a homosexual trying to please everyone around him."
Years before, when he was 18, his family learned that he was gay. By then, his parents had divorced, and for a while Rose lived in his father's home. The elder Rose was away one night, spending the entire night, his son thought, with a girlfriend. So Rose brought home a date of his own. But with only a twin bed in his room, he decided to take his male friend to his dad's king-size bed.
That is where his father found him.
In the days ahead, his parents made him see a therapist, a crass, heavy man in his 50s whose white suit, string tie, and cigar made him look like Boss Hogg from Hazzard County. The solution, the man told Rose, was to find a woman who could sexually arouse him.
"I just thought, 'You idiot.' If I had his name, I'd give it to you," he says. "I never had sex with women. I would barely hold hands. I could never do that without having a cold sweat. It felt like I was dating my mother--the same creepy feeling."
Rose says that seven years ago, he finally came to terms with his homosexuality. As for ex-gay ministries, "They're designed by some people who can't stand the idea that homosexuality is designed by God.