First-Person Accounts

Journey Into Manhood has had a powerful, life-changing effect on hundreds of men since 2002.

Below are first-hand testimonials from past participants. These are real people, sharing real stories of the impact on their lives of this cross-roads experience.

From Rick, in Utah

At age 56, my hidden struggle with same-sex attraction caught up to me, and my life unraveled into threads of despair and hopelessness. I became so angry at God because He wouldn’t take this away that I dismissed God from my life. I suddenly fell captive to sexual addictions, and I turned briefly to a double-life of a homosexual relationship with a loving man. My life became full of more lies than I could count.

Finally in desperation, I turned with humility back to God, and asked Him to tell me what to do. I was led the very next day to the story of Rich Wyler, which then led me to the www.peoplecanchange.com website, and ultimately to the Journey into Manhood program. I felt very strongly that this was something I needed to do. I registered four months in advance of JiM, and I was packed 2 weeks before my departure. I was very anxious, as I needed hope and healing.

My Journey Into Manhood experience of July 2012 was an amazing emotional and spiritual healing adventure like nothing I had ever before experienced. I was supported by a brotherhood of wonderful men in an environment of “sacred ground” I had never felt such wholesome love from men before. It was powerful. I discovered what my deep childhood pains were about, and I addressed those pains with the support of this wonderful brotherhood. As I continued through the JiM experience, I started to sense where my masculinity and manhood resided. I eventually found “me”-a man.

Journey Into Manhood did not solve all my problems in just three days, but JiM was the catalyst to map my journey before me. With the help of many people-most especially God and my loving wife-I experienced, and continue to experience, a journey of hope, transformation and healing. JiM pulled me from my shame, despair and hopelessness.

When I arrived back home after Journey Into Manhood, I had a confident smile ear to ear, and a bounce in my step. My wife noticed immediately. Although it has taken consistent and considerable effort and “work”-that smile and bounce are still there. Instead of dreading to face yet another day, I now jump out of bed, and after getting up from my knees I look forward with excitement to a new day and adventure. Journey Into Manhood turned my life around! Words cannot adequately express my gratitude and sincere love I have for the JiM program!

From Paul, in Maryland

I experienced the Journey into Manhood this past weekend, and it was the most healing, affirming, loving experience of my life. The experiences and lessons learned during this weekend will become for me a cornerstone in the foundation of my masculinity and manhood.

From M.S., in Israel

I went through the Journey into Manhood weekend in spring of 2006 – I was 25 years old at the time. I had been doing reparative therapy for several years, during which time my therapist would repeatedly urge me to go to JiM – he said that what I had to gain from JiM would be worth five sessions of therapy. So after years of prodding, I finally decided to register.

Attending JiM turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my life. The weekend itself opened my emotional floodgates, catapulting me into a cognitive-emotional process that, within a few months, led me to breaking a pattern of emotional dependency on other men – a pattern that had existed since as far back as I can remember, and would lead me to frustration, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Today I am stronger, happier and more fulfilled; and as I continue to do “my work,” my awareness of my inherent human power of choice grows; I continue to take more and more responsibility for my life.

I am not “done” – I still have same-sex attractions, but these are more mild, less muddled emotionally, and usually gone after I come to see the man I’m attracted to as my equal and peer. Throughout this process I’ve also developed a stronger attraction towards women as well.

I recommend JiM to any man who knows deep down that living a gay life is not the best life for him.

From M.D., in Kentucky

I went to a Journey Into Manhood weekend in 2004. I was 37. JiM has given me more than just an opportunity to meet people like me, who have unwanted feelings of same sex attraction (SSA). JiM has been a very important tool in my development as a MAN. Thanks to JiM and other tools and resources, I accept my feelings in the most healthful way for me; and by doing it, these SSA feelings have been diminishing over time.

My wife of 18 years has been by my side in every step of the way. Sometimes she and Jesus Christ Himself have carried me along the way. Thanks to my wife, I have been able to realize that God loves me unconditionally, and without her, it would have been almost impossible for me to endure this journey of developing my manhood.

I strongly recommend JiM for any man who is serious about developing his own MANHOOD, no matter who this man is, a Christian or a Jew, European or Latin American, or what he thinks of himself. If he has unwanted SSA feelings and has the powerful desire to deal with them, JiM will be one of the best tools to overcome these feelings.

Today, 6 years after my own JiM weekend, I enjoy life plentifully, with my beloved wife and 5 beautiful children. I adore them, and it is for them that I have continued in this wonderful journey into my own manhood.

From B.Y., in Virginia

I went through the JiM weekend a year and a half ago. I was 25 at the time, unmarried but hoping to get married someday. I’d been conflicted with unwanted same sex attractions since puberty. I was really scared when I went to the JiM weekend, not knowing what I would be put through.

What I found at the weekend was a deep respect and care for me as a person like I had never experienced before. I have never felt so free to be truly, authentically me. I was invited to look deep inside myself and find the masculinity inside myself. I left the weekend feeling more alive, solid, masculine and free than I’d ever felt before. It was a turning point in my life. I met a beautiful girl a few months after the JiM weekend, and we are now engaged to be married in a few months. I couldn’t be a happier man.

From Greg, in England

I attended the Journey Into Manhood weekend in London in October 2008. It was a life-changing experience. The activities in the JiM were able to directly address both my inner needs and inner pain which had been buried deep inside me for years, since I was a small boy. Both the conscious and unconscious coping methods that my emotions had developed to deal with those inner feelings were faced in an atmosphere of loving acceptance and genuine concern…This acceptance and care from other men are what I have craved all my life.

I would say that the process is really more self-discovery than ‘change’. It is about learning to love; both to love others around us and to love and accept ourselves. It’s a way of seeing that our feelings are legitimate, that they certainly don’t need to be shunned or scorned, and that they are a sign of genuine inner needs that slowly transform into solid masculine feelings of love and care for others.

This weekend is not about forcing ourselves to be what we are not, but enabling ourselves to be what we truly are! Since then I have gone on in life with natural and uninhibited feelings of growing self-esteem and renewed confidence.

From Scott, in Ohio

I was 29 when I went to the Journey into Manhood retreat in February of 2010. I had been pondering for a year to go, before I finally stopped and said “I need this now”. By taking that chance, I went on the JiM weekend and opened the doors to the rest of my life.

Before the weekend, I felt like a constantly threatened victim that was filled with much resentment towards men. I felt that the only thing they showed me was that I had to be like them for a woman to like me. After years of denying myself the right to do what I felt, along with plenty other SSA characteristics, I ended up fantasizing about having sex with men. All the while, I wanted a woman. But, I was ashamed of my virginity and fearful of being identified as “gay”.

After the weekend, I learned to let go of the past and started building on who I am as a man (as me) deep inside. I finally look at the mirror and see myself with confidence. I finally have foresight for the rest of my life, knowing that I can do whatever I want in my life without the approval of anyone else but me. I have been building my life, one day at a time. I feel more compassionate and loving. I finally feel the ground on which I stand. I am a free man!

I encourage every man with unwanted same-sex attractions to attend a JiM weekend. Know that you are safe in the company of the men that will be at the weekend. I also invite you to tell other men at the weekend how you feel and welcome their support into your heart.

From Eric, in Florida

JiM was a completely life-changing experience for me – the most powerful and real weekend I’d ever spent in healing the secrets I didn’t want anybody to know. For the first time I saw that I could live as a member of a brotherhood, I belonged with a group of men. I was only 17 when I attended, and now, 6 months later my life has completely changed for the better. I am going into college with much more assurance in the identity I’ve been given, the faith I practice, and the masculinity I was born to live out of. I am extremely grateful that God reached out to me during this weekend and gave me a new purpose.

The story that I am now living out is one of hope. With JiM and its brotherhood, the gift offered to me through the Catholic Church and its healing ministry called Courage, the rallying of my parents behind me in support, and following the Church’s model of chastity, I no longer struggle with any thoughts or acting out (fantasy, pornography) of homosexuality. What I thought was a need to belong with a man was actually a need to belong among them, to be a part of the “club.”

Throughout my journey out of homosexuality, I’ve learned through many books and testimonies that many men get lost because they don’t know where they belong. At high school and college, this search can get particularly confusing when every message tells us to find our own way and be our own person. Homosexuality is “normal, intrinsic, and impossible to change.” This isn’t the truth you have to live by! If you struggle with homosexuality and feel that it’s impossible for you to ever have guy friends or the camaraderie of brothers I urge you to look into this weekend!

When I was at JiM I saw the hope of brothers that have stepped off the homosexual path and now call others to do the same — without judgment, condemnation, or mocking, but with the compassion of somebody that has been there before. For any man, of any age (and I strongly recommend it to the young adult that feels trapped by a lifestyle they’re unsure about) JiM was the experience that started my walk out of homosexuality.

From Steve, in Florida

My same-sex attraction began when I was in the 7th grade and saw boys in P.E. class who were more physically mature than I was. I remember having the desire to look and see what I thought I wasn’t and didn’t have.

Fast forward many years and I was living a dual life–on the one hand and I was dating girls and being sexual with them and on the other hand I was looking at guys and lusting. Porn and masturbation to same sex fantasy was almost an every day occurrence. This pattern continued into marriage and after the birth of two children.

Although I have never been sexual with a man, same sex lust and porn addiction had become my friend. After many years of this dual life, I decided I had to do something–I was tired of the behavior, the deception, and lying to my wife.

I was also a Christian and wanted to begin seeking God again. So, I returned to church, sought counseling, accountability, and some level of connection with men–as scary as that was.

Several years later, it was recommended by a counselor that I attend Journey Into Manhood (JiM). I attended in December 2007 and it changed my life. During the weekend, and the 2 1/2 years that have followed, I have learned how my same sex attraction started, how it has been fueled all these years, what true masculine intimacy is and how to get it on a regular basis. I now know that I am accepted by other men just as I am.

These revelations and experiences have been so healing. Since JIM, I have noticed a significant reduction in my same sex lust and desires as well as my porn addiction. I am living a more authentic life, sharing my failures with other men who understand. My relationship with my wife is better than it ever has been. I am experiencing true freedom.

From Geo, of Hungary

When I went to JiM, it was a relief to see others also struggling with addictive porn usage or homosexual fantasy. At JiM I learned that it is okay to love men as brothers – but rather than expect and depend on one particular man to meet all my needs for male bonding, I should build meaningful connections with several men (some suggest 18 or more) who are willing to help me receiving “fathering,” acceptance, and healthy touch.

All in all, I am more tolerant with those gays who believe in their homosexuality being unchangeable and genetic. I have less shame around this topic and less anger. I consider myself to belong to the subgroup of men who think their extreme touch-deprivation stems from past trauma. I do not like to consider myself homosexual, because I never had too much sex with men in my life. But I like to consider myself “homotactile” — someone who has an extra measure of male-touch need. And since JiM, I am able to ask for non-sexual, healing touch from heterosexual men (and accept it when some say “no”).

From “J” of Florida

I went through Journey Into Manhood in December 2008. At the time I was 30 and single. JiM was a life-altering experience for me.

Prior to the weekend, I knew that I had been attracted to men. However, coming back from the weekend I was able to put things into perspective, realizing that my needs were much deeper than a sexual desire. I came to understand myself, my needs, and how to get those needs properly met. I came to realize that there were issues in my life that I had not faced, that I never knew existed.

Facing my own issues head-on took courage and commitment. But doing so has yielded a life-altering way of living. I now have the tools necessary to deal with issues that arise in my life. I also have a greater understanding of myself and what it is that I am truly looking for.

Life has changed for me. I have changed for the better. My life has become more fulfilling than it ever has been before. My experiences with men continue to improve. I have gained a better understanding of my personal needs and can now verbalize those needs and get them met.

I only wish that I would have gone through this weekend 6 years prior, when I first learned about it. However, I went at the time that was right for me. My life is changed for the better, and there is no going back!

From Geno, of Pennsylvania

I struggled with same-sex attractions since my childhood and adolescence. I yearned to be like any other guy without eroticizing the attraction to other men. Through a lot of personal work and life experience, I have been able to achieve that.

A major factor was attending the Journey Into Manhood weekends: I attended two weekends two years apart, the last one last year. They have been very powerful, really life-changing experiences. They provided me with experiences in a deeper level that truly created the change I was longing for deep down in my inner being.

Freely! Liberating! Awesome!

I really am grateful that there are men like Rich and Dave who help other men like me achieve our fullness in our masculine humanity.

I have better dealing with my wife and children as a result and continue to be the man I truly am. I am a better brother and friend. Actually getting to be the best I can be. I am balanced and centered.

I am a licensed professional in the mental/behavioral health field, and know that JIM is very sound and ethical. I respect and tolerate the different. Change and growth is possible and achievable and sustainable. It happens. It’s life.

From Chuck, of Los Angeles

After many positive and self-affirming years of reorientation therapy, I have come to the whole-hearted truth about myself: that my seeking romantic and sexual relationships with other men was, for me, a repetitive compulsion to get my family of origin and emotionally absent father to love me.

As is common with many gay-identified and sexually addicted men, I grew up with severe emotional neglect from my father and mother. Not only was my father never there emotionally or physically, my mother made me into her “surrogate husband” and proceeded to have an emotionally incestuous relationship with me.

As a direct result of attending a Journey into Manhood weekend in 2006, I developed a new awareness as to the consequences of this dysfunctional triad. I had proceeded to have no interest in the opposite sex because my mother had made sure that I never detached from her and that I never formed a healthy attachment to my father or any other man. I was in a hostile dependency with my mother, where I needed her for survival even while I couldn’t stand her. At the same time, my mother shamed me over the course of my childhood into never asserting myself as a boy or man.

I discovered on the Journey into Manhood weekend that as a result of this emotionally incestuous relationship with my mother, I grew to overly identify with women, had major gender identity issues ( hence my feminized mannerisms) but also held no interest in developing intimate attachments or sexual relations with the opposite sex. I had had enough of women via my narcissistic mother.

My journey out of homosexuality, and into my real masculine heterosexual identity, was replete with many self-defeating and confusing detours. I saw a number of gay-affirming therapists, attended numerous gay-affirmative 12-step programs and support groups. I participated in several “gay pride” parades, and lived very much in a gay-affirmative world in West Hollywood, California. I read a wide variety of gay-affirmative literature and attempted living the gay lifestyle. I was told over and over again that I was born gay and I should just accept myself for “who I am.” I was also told by several gay-affirming therapists that I had “internalized homophobia.” That is, that I hated myself for being gay.

NOTHING COULD HAVE BEEN FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

Essentially, as much as I tried to make the gay identity work for me, it never did.

My sexual relations with other men had their foundations built on a total lack of affection, attention and affirmation from my father, and a repetitive compulsion to repeat my childhood sexual abuse.

I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

I am grateful every day for the life-affirming lessons that I learned at my Journey into Manhood weekend, that essentially my needs for affection, attention, and affirmation are legitimate and non-negotiable. As a direct result of this corrective emotional experience, I have finally found heterosexual men who legitimately meet these needs in my life and don’t sexualize them.

As a result of the lessons I learned at the Journey into Manhood weekend, I now am legitimately getting my same sex needs met though healthy non sexual experiences with other men. I feel totally not gay anymore and instead I feel a much stronger heterosexual attraction to the opposite sex and 100% better about me.

It is important to note that my personal work did not begin and end on one weekend. The follow up of consistent weekly corrective emotional experiences and real non-sexual emotional attachments with men over the course of several years (via other support groups like a “Soul Group” from another weekend experience called Marked Men for Christ) has been the most effective in my healing.

In my opinion, those who attack Journey into Manhood as a waste of time are ignorant of the real science behind gay-to-straight experience and are operating out of intolerance, lack for respect of diversity, and fear. Journey into Manhood has reaffirmed that my path out of homosexuality is positively real and life transforming.

Without Journey into Manhood along with my own personal therapy work, I would not have discovered how significantly my childhood sexual molestation at the hands of another male distorted my world view and other men.

Journey into Manhood has been an important part of my healing from homosexuality and my family of origin issues. It has made me a more self-loving and others-loving individual, and has helped me feel much better about myself and who I really am.

I’m so grateful that I did not listen to the gay-affirming and politically motivated society and instead, listened to my own inner truth. That is, I am not gay nor was I ever born gay.

Journey into Manhood has been a very positive and healing experience in my life.

From James, of California

Journey Into Manhood changed my life in more ways than one.

I went to JiM in May 2008 and found out more about myself what was really was going on in life instead of hiding the pain and suffering of sexual activities. What I needed in JiM was guidance, the real meaning of love and to unravel my hard childhood. JiM is about taking back what was stolen in our childhood, finding the sense of healthy connection with men, non-sexually, and not looking to compare myself to someone because they may be better looking than I am.

Going to JiM was one of the best things that I have every done. I come to realized that everyone is different but we’re all the same in so many ways.

From “M” of New York

I am writing this well into adult life and as a father of several children. Before I married, I was certain that after I got married the attraction I had to men would go away. As is so often the case, the attraction not only did not diminish, it grew stronger. There was no one in the therapy world at that time who could explain that the attraction to men was a signal from my brain and body that I needed legitimate nonsexual male companionship and friendship. After four years of marriage, I gave up the fight with my desires and started seeking men out for sexual activity.

While I never crossed the line into the type of homosexual intercourse forbidden by the Torah, suffice it to say that my behavior was a constant source of shame. Even so, I couldn’t put a stop to it. Over the years, I saw several therapists, one of whom encouraged me to simply accept who “I was” and even find a lover.

By 2005, I despaired of ever overcoming both the attraction and the behaviors associated with it. Then I found a group called JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) whose activities and guidance have given me back my life.

At first, I was resistant to the types of therapy that JONAH promotes, which are variously called reparative or reorientation or change therapy. But as I read more of the books that are suggested by JONAH, I realized that my homosexual desires were not ends in themselves, but symptoms of a man who had lost his manhood, his masculinity, and, in my case, longed for his father. The more I recognized and acknowledged what the symptoms were telling me, the more the behavior decreased.

The really pivotal powerful moments came at a Journey into Manhood weekend that I attended in early April 2006. The event is sponsored by an organization called People Can Change. What I gained from the weekend can only be described as life transforming.

I finally came face to face with the fears that drove my homosexual behavior and was able to use those fears to transform from a frightened boy into a courageous man.

I began to recognize the incredibly powerful masculinity that lay within me, the gold I possess within that makes me a unique man with a mission.

My manhood was affirmed by other men who were in attendance in a way that finally swept away the sense of low self esteem that had permitted the undesired behaviors in the first place. Lifetime, healthy friendships were formed with men who are also seeking a path of complete manhood.

I was finally able to come to grips with the loss of the father I knew and realize that, despite his absence, he loved me very much and was proud of the young man I had become before his death. I came home from the weekend as a better husband and a better father.

Above all, I learned that to touch another man can be done in a way that is healthy, holy and noble. The Torah speaks openly of such touching, as with David and Jonathan. In fact, their friendship is described in Ethics of the Fathers as a pure love, because it is not tainted with a desire for reward, sexual or otherwise. I learned how that touch can happen. As a result, I came away from the activities with a restored sense of personal sanctity and a belief that G-d was giving me strength through SSA.

From “Jack Yosef” of London, England

On Sunday evening (April 2009), I returned from a Journey Into Manhood weekend that is strongly recommended by JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) to all of its participants.

It was possibly the most powerful, thought provoking, authentic weekend of my life.

At the JiM weekend I had an opportunity, for the first time, and in a totally safe environment, to be utterly authentic with myself and with others. I allowed myself to be emotionally open, perhaps for the first time in my adult life. It was so powerful for me to tear down, piece by piece, the defensive walls I had built to protect my inner child from the core wounds I internalized in childhood.

Each of the processes at the weekend chopped away at the walls and ultimately I was able to knock down these defensive walls which I had built up over many years; it allowed me to return to my golden true self, my authentic inner core.

I realized for the first time I am completely normal, and my suffering is only because of factors in my childhood for which I was not responsible nor did I have the ability to control. I realized that I did not feel in control of my life, nor was I the man I wanted to be.

For me, the greatest thing I learned from JiM was self awareness. The lessons I internalized from the weekend allowed me to finally understand why I acted out. I needed a deep connection with men, but no amount of sex with men would ever achieve that, because in same-sex sex, I was projecting, not connecting. The only thing that brings the connection I truly crave is genuine, authentic non-sexual interaction with men.

I needed to feel like one of the boys, and needed to align how I see men with how I see myself. If my sense of self and my concept of what constitutes masculinity are in alignment, my need to seek out my sense of masculinity through others dissipates.

In many ways, I realize now that I saw men as emotionless, distant, and lacking in common sense, something I did not wish to be. I saw myself as the opposite of other men, but now, and only now, can I begin to realize that men can authentically express emotion without sex, can feel closeness to other men without sexualizing it, and can function with a sensitivity and intuitiveness that permits authentic connection.

My concepts of who I am and how I see other men are becoming more and more congruent. I am now finally able to start aligning my feelings about myself with how I feel about other men.

Another important realization I gained from the weekend is how I am attracted to the projection of what I want myself to be, and once I realize that, the sexual attraction fades. At the beginning of the weekend, I felt attracted to so many of the participants, and by the end, not even one of them. As I got to know them as real people and not as a projection of who I visualized them to be, I found myself authentically bonding with them in a healthy, non-sexual way. What a change from the mentality I found in the gay world.

Deep emotional breakthroughs are often experienced, and participants are able to affirm their inherent value as men, just as they are. JiM weekends are open to any man who experiences UNWANTED same-sex fantasies, arousals, identity, and/or behaviors. It is non-denominational. (Men of every race and religion are welcome). Orthodox Jewish practices are respected and taken into account by the originators of the weekend and may be practiced during the weekends.

 
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