copyright 1997, Rex Ballard
When I started 9th grade, I was in the choir, on the journalism team, taking photographs, and writing editorials, I was also in a show choir, and in all-city choir. While I was at all city choir, I met a bunch of kids from the inner city school. They liked me, didn't seem to mind that I was a bit "femme", and just though I was pretty cool. We ended up going out together and they came to my church. Eventually, I had my first kiss, a wonderful girl named Kathy Stark, and we started dating and having "kissing parties". We drank a little and kissed alot. I also seemed to be a good matchmaker, especially after a few drinks.
By this time my mother had told me about her rape, appearantly by the son of a Nebraska Senator or something like that, my father had warned me about child support, and I had learned to appreciate "safe sex" even before it was fashionable. I didn't even want to acknowledge my masculinity by letting a woman touch me "down there", let alone have intercourse with her. I ended up learning to satisfy women with my hands and my mouth. In fact, when a woman did try to please me sexually, I would begin shaking and convulsing or shivering, like I was cold or in extreme fear. They were actually quite happy to just enjoy my generousity.
Eventually, when they realized I was "safe" and wasn't going to get them pregnant, several of the girls decided to "share" me. I'd ride my bike as much as 20 miles in a day to meet up with 3 or 4 of them during different parts of the day. I was suddenly "one of the girls" again, but with the twist of being a "lesbian lover". It was only when I joined the "sisters" to support a woman who had just broken up with her boyfriend (he dumped her), that the guys suddenly got very posessive and jealous.
Just before I was ready to get my driver's license, I had a "siezure". I fell down and mom had the doctor check me out. The doctor told me he wanted to run an EEG the following monday and not to drink after friday night. That night, I drank heavily, smoked pot, and took an antihistimine (pot made my nose stuffy). Needless to say, by the time they took the EEG, I hadn't finished detoxing and registered as epileptic. They put me on various medications, finally settling on Tegretol and Valium. I couldn't drive for the next 2 years.
Suddenly, I went from being the first kid to be able to drive, to being the last. I suddenly wasn't datable. I would go to parties to meet a girl and fall in love, instead I would match up all my friends, end up alone in a corner, and drink a pint of brandy, smoke 3 or 4 bowls, and take 2 or 3 of the valium I'd saved up during the day. In my blackout personality, my "feminine" side would come out and start seducing some girl. I'd end up eating all night long, but not what was in the icebox. The sad thing is, I rarely remembered any of it.
I had also started taking ground school to learn how to fly a plane and was in the aviation club. I ended up creating a remote control airplane simulator. It was then that my aviation club teacher showed me a film of some "toys" which the military had developed out of notes taken from my locker. Things like drone missles, personnel detectors, and terrain following missles. He got this information from the Quakers. He was almost fired for telling me this. It was only when Martin Marietta offered me full tuition, room, and board to engineering school in exchange for 4 years of bomb design that I realized he might actually be telling the truth. With my "toys", I had created the means to kill thousands of people, including refugees, women, and children, with surgical precision. I asked God to forgive me for this sin and to help me do work that was more in keeping with his way.
I became a real rebel in school. I wore a military uniform with peace slogans all over it. I'd wear a fedora hat, and I wore a chain around my neck that my brother had soldered closed so that it could never be removed. Gay men started coming on to me, assuming I was gay because I was still a virgin (hadn't had intercourse with a woman), I'd introduce them to each other and eventually became the social director for the gay community in my high school. I had no sexual interest in men, but because I was "femme", I was good "bait", and was drawing out gay men from everywhere, including the Choir, the Football Team, and the "Bikers" (mostly just wanna-be's). Since everyone thought I was gay, streight men would "bird dog" me and "rescue" women who were foolish enough to flirt with me.
Another cousin, Mark Woodworth, killed himself with an overdose of librium. This time I knew exactly what the problem was. Mark had come on to me several times. He realized he was a homosexual and decided to kill himself to go to heaven rather than submit to his sexuality and be condemned as a sinner. I asked God to help me resolve this one. One of my gay friends, Larry Knott, was also a Christian. We spent many hours talking and I realized that Larry couldn't change his sexual preference any more than I could change my sexual identity. As I listened to more gay men telling stories their first sexual fantasies/experiences, I realized that the real sinners were often the perptrators who had incested, molested, abused, or sexually humiliated them, sometimes men, sometimes women, usually by the time they were 4-5 years old. In most cases, they had already formed nearlly all of their sexual preferences and identities by the time they were 4-5 years old.
I didn't know what my sexuality was. When someone explained that your sexuality is based on your sexual fantasies as a child. I thought I was a lesbian. I didn't know what that meant, or how to even tell anyone about my feminine identity. I asked God to simply show me how I was supposed to use this for his good. I actually found myself surrounded by Gay christians. I also got involved in theater, particularly musicals. I was in the chorus and was presumed to be gay. It was only when I brought a girl from another high school to see the show on opening night, that anyone realized that I might actually be dating girls. Of course, since I wasn't having sexual intercourse with any of them, they assumed I might be gay. At thaat time "Safe Sex" wasn't terribly popular.
That summer, I did summer theater, including some fencing in Camelot. I also became a bit of a lesbian. I was actually giving cunnilingus without being in a blackout. I was dating this very short, heavy set latina girl who was as agressive as any gay man I've ever known. She couldn't understand why I didn't want to have intercourse, but she was happy that I didn't. I was 16 at the time, and wouldn't actually have an orgasm in the presence of another person for another 5 years. For that 5 years, I was, a virgin, from the waist down anayway. I was saving myself for Marriage.
I was still a Christian, and by this time had been ordained a deacon in the church. In addition to that, I was working as the church janitor. I was riding my bike 30 miles every day, dancing all morning, and buffing floors all afternoon into the evening. I was eventually ordained as an elder as well. I also started planning the worship services with my mother and even preaching short sermons. We shared the building with a Catholic Community and when we had joint services I was the only unmarried leader, therfore I was made an honorary Priest. In addition, we celbrated Passover. I also had several friends in the Jewish community (about 60% of my high school was Jewish and most of the fundamentalist christians still considered me anathama), and spent many hours learning the Jewish interpretations of the originall Hebrew version of the Torah and even sections of the Talmud. It was in this inquiry that I realized that both of my cousins had died because an ignorant preacher had been operating from faulty translations of the scriptures.
I asked God to show me how to reach those who had been driven away from God, even to the brink of death. God had given me the message that these were my sheep. My job was to round up the strays before they were devoured by the wolves or wandered off the edge of a cliff. What I didn't know at that time was that to reach these people, I had to learn to traverse the paths that led these people to the brink. I was also willing and able to realise that the Leaders who were caring for the righteous had their gifts to offer the righteous.
My grandfather never intented to drive Mark or David to the point of killing themselves. He was trying to share a way of life that had given him peace, joy, and happiness. He didn't realize that his assessments were having exactly the opposite effect of what he intended. When he told David that lusting after a beautiful woman that was not his wife was as bad as committing adultry, he realized he couldn't make it to 25 or 30 when he would be able to marry (his father was a vet and his brother was a doctor). I didn't realize that he had signed Marks death warrant when he told him how much God hates homosexuality. He didn't realize that he had nearly killed me when he told me that the woman walking down the street in a pair of short shorts was going to hell. If she was going to hell, I knew I was going to the darkest, hottest, most horrible corner of eternal damnation.
It was only in the understanding of the love of God that I realized that God forgives these sins. In addition, I realized that if he wasn't going to remove these desires, he could use them to his purpose anyway. I wasn't supposed to lead righteous people into accepting homosexuality or becoming homosexuals, I was supposed to lead homosexuals into accepting the love of Jesus. Perhaps there was even a way they could share God's love and forgiveness without castrating themselves. The mission was clear, but how to do it?
The following year was like Jeckyl and Hyde. I drank and drugged on the weekends, went to church on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as an elder in the church and singing in the choir, went out with my Gay friends after school, and walked the double yellow lines of a 4 lane highway on lonely nights. I knew I was living a hundred lies. I was "one of the girls", but I wasn't a girl. I was "one of the Gays", but I wasn't gay, I was "a church leader", but wondered why God couldn't just let me be happy with being a man. I was writing articles that were altering the school system, the rights of students, and the thinking of people from all over the world. Before I picked up the pen, I would ask God to guide my hand.
The valium I was taking for Epilepsy, the alchohol, and the drugs I was taking recreationally were having an impact. I would go to a party, have a few drinks, and start matching single people up. Then I would end up in the corner, alone, with a glass of booze, a pipe full of pot or even antihistimine (smoking clortrematon) and 20 milligrams of valium. I wrote what could have been a suicide note and fell asleep with the note sitting out where my mother could find it. Eventually, I was given a special new kind of EEG (which I was completely clean for a week in advance), and was told that I could go ahead and get my learner's permit. I was also taken off the valium and quit drinking and drugging. By the time I was a senior, I purchased my father's car for $25 (the engine had seized), fixed it up, and was driving to school in a '61 Rambler American.
I talked with my parents about going to college and majoring in theater. My father had originally hoped that I would continue in engineering. I was even offered a comprehensive scolarship by Martin Marietta, but I didn't want to build any more bombs and missles. My dad said that I could major in theater as long as I took a minor in business.
I wanted to do some acting as well as directing, so I auditioned to several theater programs in Colorado. Loretto Height College was an all-girls school that only had men in the theater program. This would assure me a chance of getting some time on stage as well as some time directing. I applied and was accepted to begin in September of 1974.
I had a very busy summer. In addition to making enough money to pay my share of my tuition, I was also working as an entertainer at Kit's Caberet Theater doing 6 shows a week including 2 on saturday. The show included a pre-show, a Full Length musical - "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and a 30 minute after-show. After that, we entertained the patrons, often until 2:00 in the morning.
I would work days at Burstein Applebee selling CB radios and electronic parts. I promised the manager that I would sell a CB radio that summer. About two weeks after I started, a customer asked me about one of the trancievers, and I asked him what he used it for. He told me that he was a trucker and that since the 55 MPH speed limit, truckers were using CB radios to beat speed traps. Within weeks, I was selling out the inventory as fast as I could reorder. I quickly created a boom that was creating a shortage of CB Radios throughout Colorado, Kansas, and most of the West and Great Plains states.