John Bradshaw - Conversation with Michael Carducci
From a young age, he battled same-sex attraction and transgenderism. But today he shares his testimony telling people everywhere about what Jesus has done in his life. He's Michael Carducci, I'm John Bradshaw, and this is our conversation.
John Bradshaw: Michael Carducci, thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it.
Michael Carducci: It's great to be here. Yeah.
John Bradshaw: Now, listen, you've got quite a story, but before we start telling that story, let's go back to the beginning and find out who Michael Carducci is. Where'd you grow up? Where you from?
Michael Carducci: Well, my dad was in the navy, so, we moved a lot of places. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but we lived in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, yeah, so we've been around, I went to 10 schools in my 12 years of early education.
John Bradshaw: Oh, yeah. Okay, you did get around, sure. So, when you were a kid, what were you gonna be when you grew up?
Michael Carducci: I don't know. I think everything was such a blur. I ended up going to school when I was 5 years old to first grade. I think I was probably trouble at home, and my mom was probably anxious to get me out. But, yeah, that was elusive to me, you know, even even when I went to college, I wasn't even sure what my major was gonna be.
John Bradshaw: Today you're involved in ministry dealing with or talking about homosexuality, transgenderism, and those kinds of issues. Talk to me about your journey into a gay lifestyle and your... I don't wanna call it "your battle," but I'll call it that... your battle with transgenderism.
Michael Carducci: Sure.
John Bradshaw: Where did this come from?
Michael Carducci: I would like to know, too.
John Bradshaw: So what was your home life like? Was it any reflection on your home life?
Michael Carducci: Yes, and at 40 years old when I was baptized the second time coming into the Adventist church, I had two questions for Jesus; that was it. It wasn't about the Sabbath or the state of the dead. The questions that I had for Jesus is I wanted to know why at my very first conscious thought, probably about 4 years old, I wanted to know why I was a girl trapped in a boy's body.
John Bradshaw: That's interesting.
Michael Carducci: And that followed me until I was 20 years old. And then at 13, when puberty came, my attractions ended up going towards the same sex. So at 40 years old, coming back into a relationship with Jesus Christ after living 20 years in the gay culture, those were my two questions: I wanna know why I was trans at 4, and I wanna know why I was gay at 13.
John Bradshaw: Did you ever get answers to those questions, satisfactory?
Michael Carducci: Well, not from the church, and unfortunately there wasn't any resources that I could really glean, you know, from the church or the denomination. But you know what, Jesus was faithful to me.
John Bradshaw: Sure.
Michael Carducci: And it was in a process of about seven years that He took me on a journey of understanding that there was science involved; there was relationships involved. The Bible also helped me, as well as "The Spirit of Prophecy," on that journey, because it wasn't just homosexuality and transgenderism that I dealt with. After going into the gay culture, I also struggled with sexual addiction and pornography addiction. So, as a new babe in the church, there was a lot of struggles that I had for a period of time before I found those victories.
John Bradshaw: Some interesting questions arise out of what you're talking about. You were gay, yes?
Michael Carducci: Yes.
John Bradshaw: You're not gay now?
Michael Carducci: No.
John Bradshaw: But that flies in the face of everything that we hear...
Michael Carducci: Yeah.
John Bradshaw: ...in the media: "That kind can never change, born gay, once gay, always gay". Evidently, your life testifies to the fact that's not true.
Michael Carducci: Well, it's interesting because... I would like to clarify. God didn't take away my history or my memory, and the fact that I lived in that culture for 20 years, and I was in, you know, five significant relationships while I was in that culture, so I still have those memories and those thoughts.
John Bradshaw: Sure.
Michael Carducci: And so, God doesn't take away, I think, our memory, but what He does is He gives us new thoughts, new feelings, new tastes...
John Bradshaw: Right.
Michael Carducci: ...and new tendencies. So that's been the process.
John Bradshaw: I would say, like most things that somebody leaves behind that they wanna hang on to, you know, there's something gonna cling to you like a limpet or a barnacle clings to the hull of a ship.
— So, I'm really interested to talk to you about how... I don't wanna start at the end, but at some stage here I'd like you to talk about how difficult it was extricating yourself from that lifestyle with the temptation...
— ...and the habit patterns and so on and so on and so on. But let's talk about getting into it. You identified, you thought you were... or you were... trans at a very young age. You're a boy believing that he wanted to be a girl.
— So, John, I didn't know the terminology. You know, This was back in the 1960s.
— You know, I didn't even have the freedom to talk to my parents or people that I trusted about it. It was kind of like this secretive thing because I knew that I got punished every time that I would dress up in my mother's or my sister's clothing. I would get punished if I got caught playing with dolls. I was the only boy in a family of six. So, you know, my dad was a musician in the navy, so he was gone sometimes three to six months at a time, so I was surrounded by femininity. And I remember, it wasn't until I was in my 40s, and as I was searching, I believe that the Lord started to show me that there was a defensive detachment that happened between my father and me. And basically, you know, between the ages of 1 and 3, a child starts to realize that they're either male or female. So, again, being surrounded by females, my dad being gone a lot, you know, my dad wasn't available to show me what, you know, masculinity was really about.
— Sure. Yeah.
— But then when my dad was home, he was abusive and loud and aggressive. So in my subconscious mind, even before I was conscious, which I think was about the ages of 3 or 4, that I must have known that that was my same-sex parent, but because of his aggressive and abusive, you know, example to me, I rejected that. So it was kind of like this defensive detachment, meaning that, if that's my identity, no, thank you. So again, the only example left for me was my mom. So by the time I was 4 years old, I was already effeminate, I was already wanting to dress up in, you know, women's clothing and to play with dolls. And I didn't know how that started because all of that, you know, happened even before I was conscious. But it became conscious at 4 years old. I didn't know what the term was for it, I didn't know what the resolution was for it, but I knew that in my mind, I couldn't change my mind, so I thought that my body had to change. And I didn't even understand that probably until much later, like in my teen years. When same-sex attraction started to happen for me about the age of 13, I knew that God was real, I knew that He existed, but I think that I transferred my relationship with my father to God, meaning that I didn't obey my father because I loved him; I obeyed him because I feared him.
— So, the same thing for God, you know, and I always thought that God was just waiting to basically pull the rug out from under me or, you know, to thump me in the head, or that He was basically indifferent. So I remember thinking to myself, "Well, if I already feel like I'm trapped in a, you know, boy's body and that I should be female, and then homosexuality isn't according to His Word", then even in my teen years until I was 20 years old, the thought in my mind was that, "Well, if I have a sex change, then everything will be okay with God, and He'll be all right with me".
— Can you imagine the confusion, John, of dealing with that from the time you're 4 years old until you're 20 years old? Even as a Christian, you know, trying to resolve this issue, and yet what was really sad was for all of that time, I can't remember a time when I didn't ever feel alone. Like, to me, I even had this strange kind of fantasy in my mind, that I had this fantasy that if I was a twin, that I could actually look at my twin brother to know who I was. So you can see how disconnected I was with my own biology. I couldn't even look at myself naked in a mirror because I rejected everything that I saw.
— Which I think is really interesting. This was, this struggle, this battle, this experience you had was very real.
— Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the reason I wanna point that out is because it's relatively common now, relatively common now, yet it's real. So, young people who struggle with this, they're struggling.
— I mean, someone's gonna say, "Well, there's one kid who's not, and it's all a game". But, let's be gracious about this.
— The struggle's real, isn't it? And it's a real battle.
— And it's gotta be very confusing. Must be hard for a lot of young people today to be dealing with this.
— Absolutely. You know, I, as a matter of fact, I think to myself, if I was living in this day and age, if those laws were available for me when I was 6 or 7 years old, I would've been standing first in line for those hormone blockers, and then by 14 or 15 to have, you know, the surgeries that weren't going to give me the sex of a female, but they would maybe give me the appearance of that. They're really nothing more than a mutilation.
— But I would've been completely open to that and would've pursued that until I was 20 years old.
— Which is really interesting because later on in life, you decided you clearly did not want that.
— What's so... yeah.
— What would've happened if early in life you'd done something irrevocable...
— ...and later in life regretted that, man, where would that leave you?
— Well, that's what's happening now. There's a lot of people... and the term is detransition.
— That's right.
— So, for a person that transitions to the opposite sex or the sex that they prefer, now there are people that are finding that in their mid-20s that after, you know... males end up maturing in their late 20s; for women, it's usually mid-20s... and that there's a lot of women and men that are saying, "Wait a minute, what have I done"? And these medical communities, these doctors have actually allowed these children to take puberty blockers, which actually block the puberty process, where little boys end up growing natural female breasts, and their voice doesn't change, and then all of a sudden, at 14 or 15, they have these, you know, sex change surgeries. Then all of a sudden, in their early 20s they realize, "Wait a minute, I'm not, you know, the sex that I was pursuing, that I'm completely comfortable in the biology that I was born into". But now they're sterile. They can never reproduce. They're never even able to function sexually. And there's a lot of problems that that creates when we allow children to determine what their sex is. It's interesting, at 20 years old, this change that happened for me was I basically turned my back on Christianity. I said, "I'm done".
— "I can't get my religion and my sexuality to come together". I went to church honestly seeking that maybe there'd be somebody that I could talk to. I waited for weeks and weeks. I would go to church, and I would look at the men that were in my church, and I would think to myself, "Who am I gonna share my secret with"? Because I really wanted to know, you know. "God, I've been doing this for 20 years, and nothing's really working". So I handpicked this one guy, and we sat down, and he said, "Well, Mike, what's up"? And I said, "Well, it has to do with women". And before I could say another word, John, he interrupted me, and he said something so degrading about women. I knew I wasn't safe to share my secret. And so, you know, I thanked him for his time. I walked out of church that night, and I said to God, "If that's the best You've got, I'm outta here".
— Hey, listen, this raises a really serious question, right? I believe that we have to be really careful how we discuss the LGBTQ issue within the Christian church.
— I'm so glad you said that.
— Listen, to stand up and say, "It's wrong," I mean, a trained monkey can do that.
— Standing up and saying it's wrong doesn't really help the 14-year-old or the 18-year-old or the 22-year-old...
— ...who is experiencing a crisis and is looking for some... let's just call it advice; let's just say they're looking for advice. If we stand up and say, "It's wrong; they're all going to hell," what we succeed... the only thing we succeed in doing is driving people away.
— That's right.
— So how in the world, then, do we portray the idea of God having certain standards, yet we are here for you, we love you, we wanna support you, we wanna help you... how do you convey that message? Because this is the message that must be conveyed.
— It's such a simple little thing that I think that we overlook it so much. I've been talking to many individuals that are also struggling with their identity or sexuality. And something that they brought up, someone brought up to me just a few weeks ago, is he said, "I really believe that what's missing in the church is just somebody to listen".
— And I think that we think that as Christians, that we have to have the answers, and that if somebody's struggling with identity or sexuality, you know, we tell them what the Bible says, and that should be the end of the discussion. But I think a lot of times we misrepresent the Holy Spirit when we negate the process of relating to the individual from where they're coming from, rather than relating to that individual from a church perspective.
— Sure. Yeah.
— And I think that we lose a lot when we use words like "abomination" and "sin" and things like that, especially for individuals that have turned their back on God and have gone into that culture or that lifestyle. They've already been wounded, even by a simple statement. I remember the pastor said, just in casual conversation, and he said, "Well, at least I'm not gay". And just that simple phrase, not knowing the audience that he was speaking to, to me, I automatically felt rejected.
— So it was very easy to walk away from the church culture because even from a simple statement like that, when I wasn't getting any resources or support for somebody that was seeking help, and all I got was condemnation and rejection, you know, it makes it very easy for people to walk out of the church. The other thing that you brought up, which I think is really valuable, is a lot of people will say this thing, like, "LGBT ABCDEFG," and even that is dismissive and disrespectful. And as Christians, I think that it's really important that we need to be "harmless as doves" and "wise as serpents" in the way that we even, you know, speak in generalities. Because if I were to say something like that and somebody would hear that, it would automatically dismiss me...
— ...as a source of information, of objectivity...
— ...of somebody that was loving or even kind. And the thing that this person said to me that I thought was really valuable... and the answer to your question... was listening. Are we willing to at least sit down and listen? Because even if I sit down and listen to you, I'm not affirming you. But I think it's important to understand where somebody is coming from and even just to have an open ear and an open heart to understand what they're dealing with. And what I find beautiful is that God didn't ask me to convert you. He just asked me to create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can do the converting.
— That's right, that's right.
Michael Carducci: And so, if I'm doing my part right, I don't have to tell you, you know, that how you're living is wrong or not according to the Bible. But if I create that atmosphere where you respect me and that I respect you and that you can share with me the things that are going on in your life or the things that are important to you, then I create a relationship. And if I create a relationship, then I can win your confidence. And then when I win your confidence, then I believe that when you ask me, "Hey, Mike, you know, what do you think about this? You know, what does the church believe about this"? Then I believe that I've created that relationship, and now I have an open door to share that when the Holy Spirit opens up that opportunity.
John Bradshaw: When you dived headlong into a gay lifestyle at the age of 20 what was the emotion? Relief, excitement? Fantastic? Or did you kind of just, were you conceding that this is just how you're wired and not necessarily excited, but you just accepted it? What was in your mind? "Great, I'm free; this is the real me"?
Michael Carducci: It was like wearing a shiny bottom pair of shoes. And it was like I was standing right at that precipice. I knew it was wrong. I knew that this wasn't, you know, what God wanted. It was everything that I was fighting against, you know, for the 20 years before that. Even at 17 years, I prayed that God would just take me. I knew what was coming. I knew that gay rights were actually being promoted even back in the early 1980s. And as a circumstance actually presented itself, I actually found a gay bar as I was driving home one night from rollerskating, and... the next week, I remember going there, and I was trembling. My whole body was trembling like I was shivering.
John Bradshaw: So why'd you go?
Michael Carducci: Because the curiosity, because of the loneliness, because of the frustration, because of everything that I had not been receiving, I believe, from the church, and this emptiness. It's interesting... there's a phrase... oh, and it's in Proverbs 27, verse 7... and it says that if you've had a full meal, you don't need dessert, but to somebody who's starving, even something bitter will satisfy. And so, if I can't get the love that I need from my father or the love that I needed from the boys in school that called me "sissy," "queer," "little girl," and all of that, the rejection that I experienced, then doesn't it make sense that any kind of acceptance would be more valuable than the loneliness that I was getting?
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Michael Carducci: And I believe that's the reason that I went that night. What I found is as I went into that gay bar, again, as I was shivering and trembling, knowing that I was going somewhere that I knew that I didn't think that I would have the ability to ever return. And it was all of that. There was guilt; there was condemnation. There was excitement; there was freedom. There was this amazing feeling, like, I could now finally demonstrate or experience all of the things that I've been repressing for all those years.
John Bradshaw: Was there an aspect of, "Okay, this is who I really am; here's a little relief; this is who I really am; these are my people"?
Michael Carducci: I don't know that it was that conscious for me at that point.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Michael Carducci: And it's interesting... and I'm not even sure that you would understand this, but I was actually raped by my first boyfriend. And I didn't even realize that until years later because even the rape was more attention than being ignored for all those years. And that might be even an odd thing to consider. But there was a lot of tenaciousness, thinking that, you know, "No, no, I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't do this". And I remember that I had some anxiety when I moved in with the first guy that I was in a relationship with. And when I moved in, I would have these panic attacks every night at sunset, every night at sunset. And that lasted for almost a year. And then because I ignored that for so long, eventually it just went away.
John Bradshaw: Interesting. Okay. There's so many more questions I wanna ask you. And I believe that your testimony will be an encouragement and an enlightenment to many people who hear of this issue, don't really ever get an opportunity to understand it. My guest is Michael Carducci. We will be back in a moment with more of our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Michael Carducci. A moment ago, we were talking about your easing into a gay lifestyle at the age of 20 years of age. You were in that lifestyle for two decades. How many of those years were, "Great! I'm just so happy I've made this decision; this is where I belong; this is the real me" versus inner turmoil? Give me a percentage. Of that 20 years, what was the feeling in your mind was, "Thank", well, okay, you were done with God, but, "Thank whoever that I'm in this" versus, "Ah, this just isn't sitting well"?
Michael Carducci: You know, there were moments of exhilaration.
John Bradshaw: Of course.
Michael Carducci: There were moments of ecstasy.
John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.
Michael Carducci: As long as the party was going on, everything was okay. And that meant alcohol, drugs, sex, you know, whatever the addiction was. But on that night, when I didn't connect with somebody, when I wasn't able to connect sexually with someone, and I would go home, and that was when the reality would hit, of the loneliness, the despair, and the feelings of inadequacy. And in gay culture, you know, it's not all love and acceptance.
John Bradshaw: Right.
Michael Carducci: There's basically a hierarchy in the gay culture.
John Bradshaw: Explain that to me.
Michael Carducci: Yeah, yeah. Young, if you're young and you have a lot of money, you're like a millionaire in the gay culture.
— But if you're over 30, you know, that's getting towards the end. By the time you're 40, you're washed up.
— No kidding?
— Absolutely, unless you're rich and extremely good looking.
— And so everything is a very superficial world. And you know what, I rode up in the ranks, not because I was good looking or rich. I was a hairdresser and an aerobics instructor, and that's as gay as you can get...
— I was gonna say...
— ...in my understanding.
— ...you checked some boxes there, man.
— Yes, yes.
— And I had a boyfriend that was a millionaire, good looking. We both had convertible Mercedes. I was doing hair for television people at NBC and CBS. I had created this world that I thought was... you know, I always knew that it was going to be fleeting and quick.
— Oh yeah?
— Because I'd rejected God, and I knew that there was no way that God would ever take me back, nor did I want Him back. And so I thought to myself, "You know what, I better have as good a time as I can in this life," because I knew that, you know, eventually it was gonna come to a screeching halt. As a matter of fact, I came out the very same year that AIDS came out.
— And, you know, I had unprotected sex with men that would be dead three months later. And yet that wasn't enough to stop my addictive drive.
— Yeah, I wanna ask you about that...
— ...because... gay men were dropping like flies during the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic.
— Right. They didn't even have a word for it.
— No, that's absolutely right.
— And so you were immersed in the gay community as the gay community was wrestling with this.
— So, you lost friends.
— Undoubtedly, I expect everybody...
— ...everybody did.
— There was so much death going on with AIDs. What did that do to the gay community? It didn't shake people, or maybe it shook some, but it didn't shake you...
— ...out of the lifestyle. Or did you make any significant change to the way you were living, or what?
— Not at all.
— As a matter of fact, I would say that in my first relationship, I was introduced to sexual things that I'd never even thought of before. And that was when the sexual addiction really became strongest, probably, for me.
— And then, you know, from that point on, the acting out was, you know, the promiscuity in the gay community is huge.
— I wanna ask you about that because, you know, we talk about gay marriages. It's just two nice guys living together happily ever after...
— ...holding hands as they walk along the beach in the evening and so forth.
— It's not the same.
— The gay culture... and someone, maybe with good reason, will take exception to what I'm about to ask you. But it appears that there's a really heavy emphasis on sex...
— Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
— ...on the physical side of being gay, I don't wanna say "more than the emotional". Someone's gonna say, "Hey, that's true for heterosexuals as well". But it does seem, from what some of the literature says, that homosexuals can be famously promiscuous. So what's that all about?
— Well, according to the statistics, it is different than heterosexual culture. The lesbian culture tends to be less sexually active but still more than the heterosexual community. I know that in the gay community, that promiscuity is extremely rampant, and that's the expectation. But I do believe that there are, you know, some people that don't identify with the bar scene...
— Sure, sure, no doubt.
— ...that they might be in a committed relationship. But for the most part, I think the statistics are very clear that promiscuity and STDs, as well as drug and alcohol addiction, are highest among the gay community.
— You have any insight as to why that might be? 'Cause it's a sad thing, right?
— Well, you know something... like, I was always trying to create life as this big party, and I would say that I was probably mildly alcoholic, but again, my addiction was really sex. So the alcohol had to play a minimal part because of my other addiction, which was the strongest. But there is a lot of drugs and alcohol that was in that culture. But I was just kind of swept up in all of that as well. Yeah, I think that, I think that there is some truth to the fact that, you know, people that end up in sexual addiction or end up in that culture where you're not able to express that openly or freely, I think that there might be a sliver of a percentage of, you know, rejection of culture or not acceptance in that culture. I remember that I was working in a hospital one time. And one of the doctors came in, and there was a gentleman, he was probably 18 years old, and I was already 23 and definitely sexually addicted. And we were standing there in gowns, and we were all, like, covered up, and our shoes were covered, and we're wearing a mask, and we had goggles on because at that point, they thought that AIDS was airborne.
— Uh-huh, sure.
— And I remember this doctor, and it was on a psych unit, and I remember this doctor just berating this depressed, suicidal 18-year-old young man because he was HIV positive. And he said, "You're not gonna spread your disease around my hospital".
— As I'm standing there, as, you know, as a staff member, thinking to myself, "If that doctor only knew, you know, what my behavior was like".
— Yeah. Yeah, sure.
— And yet, even though this disease was taking out, you know, men at an alarming rate...
— Alarming rate.
— ...it was never enough to stop my addictive behavior.
— And that's the power of addiction, I suppose.
— Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
— Yeah, yeah. So there you were, 20 years, a practicing homosexual.
— Somehow, though, some lights came on...
— ...and you decided you wanted out.
— No, no, not at all.
— Were you dragged, you were dragged out kicking and screaming? How'd this happen?
— Somewhere in between, somewhere in between, and honestly, I was at the top of my game. I had, like, I said, television... my best friends were in television. My boyfriend was rich. We, you know, driving these expensive cars, I had a condo on a lake, I had a house with a pool, I had everything that the world said was valuable, but I had three sisters that were praying for me in the sidelines.
— There you go.
— And in my salon, my boyfriend and I had a shop together, we had nine hairdressers, and my sister was my assistant. And my sister was the closest to a Christlike example for me. You know what, my sister loved me.
— And she would always invite my lovers and I over for holidays. She never stopped me from interacting with her son, you know, my nephew. And she was as loving and kind to all of the other homosexual hairdressers in my salon as much as she was to me. I just thought that she was okay with it. I just assumed that she was all right with it. But secretly with my other sister, she was praying for me. And through a series of events, she just... there was something that was happening, and I had gone to my other sister's wedding, where she remarried her ex-husband, and I was really upset by that. But the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through this man that I hated. So my brother-in-law had come back; my sister and him had reunited. I thought she was an idiot. I thought that Christianity was really a place for fools to hide, you know, people that were weak. And so as I was sitting there, he made this open confession about how he had been unfaithful to his wife, how he had been, you know, this... you know, he didn't pay any child support or... he thanked the church for taking care of his family. And as he made this full confession before he was baptized, I remember these tears coming down my face and thinking to myself, "That is not that man that I hate". Like, I saw a transformation...
— ...that the Holy Spirit was doing through him. And after that, when I went back to Florida... my sister in Florida, the Lord said, "Invite your brother to an evangelistic series". And in my sister's mind, she thought, "He'll never go". But she obeyed, and she said, "Hey, there's an evangelistic series going on in a tent, dirt floor, folding chairs. Do you wanna go"? And of course I didn't wanna go. I was, you know, too highbrow for that. But the Lord was working on my heart, and I agreed to go. And within two months, I was sitting there in the chair, it was the last night of the evangelistic series, I'd just gotten back from a 10-day vacation with my boyfriend, and as I'm sitting there, the preacher made this altar call, and he said, "For some of you tonight, this will be it. You'll never hear the Holy Spirit again, and your probation will close, and you'll never have another opportunity to accept Jesus into your heart". And as I was sitting there, I was under such conviction. You know, here I had this boyfriend who I loved, and I have the sexual addiction that he didn't even know about, and I said to God, I said, "Lord, I give You my heart, but I can't go up there". I knew that there was no way that I deserved to go up there. And honestly, John, my next conscious thought... I was standing in front...
— ...and my sister was weeping beside me, and I believe that an angel got on either side of me once I said, "I give You my heart, Lord," and next thing I knew, I was up there. Now, my sister in the parking lot that night, she said, "So what are you gonna do about your boyfriend"? And I said, "Nothing, I'm gay". And I was being sincere. And literally I said to her, I said, "I prayed that God would change me; that never happened". And I said, "All I know is that Jesus loves me for who I am". And that was the only truth that I had. The truth that I knew was that Jesus did love me for who I was. And my sister never said another word. And the next morning I was baptized with a boyfriend and a sexual addiction. And I didn't come up out of that water, you know, ready to date women and to get married. I was still struggling with all the things that I struggled with before I went into that water. But God was beginning a very messy journey with me. And as I was walking with Jesus Christ, He was revealing Himself to me in ways that I had never experienced ever before. And, you know, my boyfriend, when he found out that I was a baptized member of the church, he was like, "Are you kidding"? And I was kind of, you know, surprised myself. And in my mind I thought to myself, "Well, if God would just baptize my boyfriend, we could be this mighty team for God". And I know that God winked at that. And eventually, as I was, you know, walking this out with Jesus... and honestly, those two questions were first and foremost in my mind: Why was I transgender at four? Why was I gay at 13?
— And I thought that there was no way that God would change me, and I didn't want to change. But I was hopeful that God was going to show me that this was okay... because I was experiencing His love, John, in a way that I'd never experienced anyone's love before. And what was amazing is about three months later, I was really frustrated, and I was really angry, and because I was reading that, you know, God does not approve of same-sex couples, you know, and I got really angry, and I said, "If You want me out of that relationship, You're gonna have to do it Yourself". And within a couple of weeks, my boyfriend broke up with me.
— And this peace came over me, and I knew that God had spoken, and I knew that God was taking me out of that relationship, but I still wasn't straight.
— Yeah, I'm gonna ask you. So the Lord orchestrated circumstances so you were no longer in that relationship.
— But you're still homosexual...
— ...with all the attractions and the addiction...
— ...and all that sort of a thing. So...
— ...so, you may not have a boyfriend, but, I mean, that doesn't necessarily stop you from doing much.
— So it wasn't so much as an event as I think of it as a process.
— Sure, it was a process.
— And when I think of... you know, Mary Magdalene had to be healed of demons seven times.
— You know, Naaman had to dip into the river seven times to be healed. So I think that we do a disservice to some people when we tell them that, "Oh, when you get baptized, that everything is wiped away, and you're finished". I think the realization that when you're beginning that journey with Jesus Christ, He really started to address the emptiness, the loneliness, the pain, the suffering. And this is interesting, John, 'cause I don't know that I would ever share this before or, you know, in public or whatever, but remember that little boy at 4 years old, every relationship that I was in, I was always trying to re-create, that they would know everything that I felt, like that 4-year-old boy; when I was six years old, being taunted by the boys; when I was teased, when I was going to this inner city school, and I was the only, you know, white kid there, and I'd get beat up. If I didn't get beat up at home by my sister, I got beat up on the bus. And I was always trying to make every boyfriend or every relationship to know exactly everything that I went through. And it wasn't until years after I'd been walking with Jesus Christ, that one day He said to me, He said, "Mike, I'm the One that knows everything that happened to you".
— "I know what happened to that little boy. I know the rejection that you experienced from your dad. I know the rejection you got from school. I know every illicit situation that you've encountered in the last 20 years in that lifestyle". He said, "I'm the One you've been seeking for because I know what you've been through".
— Mm. Going straight...
— ...had to have been hard, difficult.
— I don't know that it was ever a pursuit as much as it was an experience.
— It was a process.
— But that experience, I mean, look... okay, some people, God takes alcohol away, He takes cigarettes away, He takes anger away, but many people, you know...
— ...that's a... you've gotta claw through that, leaning on Jesus bit by bit. How difficult was that to emerge from that lifestyle as, you know, you're a Christian, and you're struggling...
— ...and you're a Christian, and you're... that process, what was that like?
— It was a huge struggle. I started to meet other individuals that were like me. You know, we were in the church, and we had one foot in, one foot out. You know, is this really something we're gonna commit to? Can God really change us? Does God have a magic wand that He can just, you know, hit us with this magic wand, and everything is gone for our convenience? And as I was meeting with these men, I saw a testimony of a man that was also transgender and gay. He was molested as a little boy. And he ended up giving his heart to the Lord after he was living as a woman for a year and a half. And he was still very effeminate, John, and as I looked at his testimony, at first, I was really disgusted. And yet, as I listened to his testimony and he started to talk about the power of Jesus Christ in his life again, I was weeping by the end of his testimony. And he's married now and has children, and a grandparent. And I remember looking at him and thinking to myself, "Well, if God can do that for him, then He can do that for me".
— And that was fairly early on still in my walk, and, you know, it's been 23 years. I'm not married, I'm not dating, but what I've found is that, is that my relationship with Jesus Christ has satisfied more than any relationship I've ever experienced before.
— Sure. Yeah.
— And how is it that a God that I can't see or that I can't touch, or I can't feel His touch, how is it that He's more valuable and satisfies me more than the relationship that I did experience, that I could touch, that I could feel? And you know what, I don't have an explanation for that. But you know what, that's what keeps me in the game. And I still have same-sex attraction. But yet about 14, 15 years ago, I had a first situation where I had my first attraction to the opposite sex. So, you know...
— ...imagine going through puberty in your 40s and 50s, but, you know, I'm not necessarily where I want to be, but I'm also not where I used to be. And I...
— That's very honest.
— Yeah, yeah, and I wouldn't identify in that culture or in that life because my direction now, my focus, my orientation is really to be like Christ.
— Now, I'm interested... I've gotta ask you about this.
— The convertible Mercedes and the lake house and all of that when you came out of the gay lifestyle, did, I mean, did you lose some of that?
— Oh yeah.
— The high-profile job dealing with celebrities left and right, what happened to that guy?
— Yeah, yeah, that's interesting. What's interesting, because, like I said, you know, my boyfriend and I broke up, and then through some other convictions, I really felt like I needed to end the business relationship. And this is interesting because at one point... you know, the salon had my name on it. My boyfriend ran radio stations, and he was my business partner. And so this was my career; this was my dream to have my salon with my shop. And it took about six months of pleading with my ex, and finally he bought me out for a very small amount of my investment in the shop. But you know what, it's interesting because we actually hired his boyfriend, his new boyfriend, in the shop that was mine, and after he bought me out of my shop, here I was working for a year and a half for my ex-lover's new boyfriend in my salon.
John Bradshaw: Oh wow. Oh, that's gotta be, that's gotta be tough, man.
Michael Carducci: I needed it. I needed it.
John Bradshaw: Oh yeah?
Michael Carducci: Yeah, every single day, you know, when I would run into the bathroom and drop to my knees and pray, you know, it was another opportunity to really humble myself and to realize, you know, what it was that I wanted. And when I saw my ex and his boyfriend living the life that we were living...
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Michael Carducci: ...there were times when it really pulled, you know, on my emotions. And Jesus would always say, "Mike, if you want that, you can have that".
John Bradshaw: Interesting.
Michael Carducci: The Bible says that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
John Bradshaw: Right.
Michael Carducci: And as tempting as that was, and the friends and the life that, you know, went with that, it was still amazing that I had to make a decision. Did I want the life, or did I want my Savior? And I praise God that each and every time that He proved to me that He was not only enough but more; He was more satisfying.
John Bradshaw: In a moment, I wanna ask you about prayer.
Michael Carducci: Mm-hmm.
John Bradshaw: I wanna ask you about science, because if all this is your opinion... I mean, everyone's opinion's worth about just as much... but I know that you base a lot of, all of what you talk about, on science, and I'll ask you about ministry. We'll do that in a moment. With Michael Carducci, I am John Bradshaw, more of our conversation in just a moment, brought to you by It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Michael Carducci. Michael, I wanna touch on something I think is really important when you're talking about transgender issues, gay issues...
Michael Carducci: Sure.
John Bradshaw: ...the entire LGBTQ movement, and people's experience. We, I think, must relate to that with respect. Their experience is real, man. You know, people are doing stuff. These aren't people acting and playing a game.
— It's real stuff. Now, you've spoken about A and B and C and D and E as we've talked. You do a lot of this. You speak to individuals and audiences all around the world.
— How scientific are you? Are you... it's one thing for a man to stand up and say, "This is my experience," and you've gotta respect that.
— But where's the science? And where does the science come into what you talk about?
— The science was real important to me also in my own journey. And what I found is I, you know, my presentations are based on statistics that are, you know, that have been done and, you know, also life experience. And what I've found, as far as the transgender issue goes, is that, you know, there's a movement now. We have, like, over 80% of young people that are really struggling. I know it's like 60-some percent of girls and 30-some percent of boys are now struggling with gender identity issues, so, how is it that all of a sudden we have these huge numbers?
— And where did that come from? And I believe that that's from the media.
— So... and you just answered the question. You think media?
— Yeah, without a doubt. There's a lot of popular musicians and actors that are now transitioning from the sex that they were biologically born into. And because it's being so promoted and accepted in culture, that now our young people are growing up with this, and they're exploring it, or it's putting ideas in their mindset that otherwise wouldn't have been there. I believe that what's happening is that as those boundaries between, you know, the sexes are coming down...
— ...that there's a mixing of that, if you will.
— Wouldn't gay folks or transgender people say, "Well, that's as it should be"? Because, you know, when I was a kid, this was taboo.
— Now that I'm not a kid, it's not taboo. Take the taboo away. Does that drive someone to where they ordinarily wouldn't be? Or does it give them permission to go where they otherwise would be?
— Absolutely. And there was a situation where they found that in Afghanistan, that there were boys that were being kidnapped, and they were prepubescent, or they were pubescent boys. And these boys were repeatedly sexualized, or sodomized, and then they were trained to be prostitutes. They were male prostitutes. And so they did an interview with these young men, and they asked them, they said, "Were you gay"? And many of the men said, "No, I was never gay. I even had a girlfriend..." at the time that they were, you know, that they were kidnapped or, you know, and brought into that profession. But they said that, "you know what, after repeated sexualization, that the behavior was no big deal". So I think that what's happening is we're seeing that as those boundaries are coming down, that there's a lot of experimentation. And people in school or, you know, in their homes that never would've experimented before, now they're starting to experiment. And when you experience it, it starts to awaken a sexuality or an identity that otherwise wouldn't have been there necessarily.
— What do you think the role of pornography might be in that?
— Huge, absolutely huge. I know that when I was 17 years old, I was cleaning my father's offices, and I found my father's pornography. And I was using my father's pornography. And I knew that he was. And it's interesting, Ted Bundy was interviewed the night before he was put to death. And Ted Bundy was a serial killer.
— And they asked him, they said, "What was it that made you such an animal"? And his answer was pornography was the beginning of that. And he said that the pornography eventually wasn't enough, and he needed more and more stimulation. And he said, and eventually it led to where he was, you know, a serial killer and also a necrophiliac. And he said this, which I believe has definitely, you know, relevance to our world today, is he said, "If pornography becomes more and more relevant," he said, "You'll see more people like me".
— Interesting, isn't it?
— Yeah, absolutely. So there was a video I was watching, and it was called "Raised on Porn". And in this video, it was a 16-year-old couple, male and female. And this young boy, or this young man, was so experienced with violent pornography from the time that he was a young boy, that in a situation with his girlfriend, he said to her, he said, "You know, one time while we're making love," he said, "I'm just gonna punch you in the nose 'cause I wanna see what it's like for your nose to bleed, you know, while we're making love". And she said, "No, you're not". And he said, "No, no, you won't even see it coming". And what was so sad, or what was so, I think, obvious about that situation is he had been so anesthetized to violent porn for so long that he really, even though he loved, you know, his partner, that he saw her as something to be used for his sexual gratification...
— ...and that it was so distorted that he thought that even violence in the middle of sex would be acceptable to her.
— Yeah, yeah, yeah. It... "distorted," I think, is the word.
— And unfortunately, precious few people really appreciate the distortions that pornography brings along.
— You transitioned into ministry somewhere along the way.
— How in the world? Did you ever imagine that would happen? Did you see it coming? How did you... So, you're gay... you're straight, now ministry.
— Tell us how that came about.
— So, in retrospect, I can see how God was guiding me along that way. I moved to Tennessee from Florida. I spent 10 years in the country, and it was amazing the opportunities and the things that I was experiencing from God on an intimate level. And here's what I think is a really valuable thing for a lot of people because it's not a gay or straight thing. But I believe that anyone that is sexually compromised, that what it does is it destroys intimacy. And, you know, because of my sexual addiction, I had looked at people as objects for my own fulfillment. And so I didn't care about how they felt or who they were or that they had any value, you know, other than how they can satisfy me. And what I believe is that in the 23 years that I've been walking with the Lord now, He's restoring that intimacy that was broken between Him and me so that I can also see that intimacy or that ability in other people or value in other people.
— Yeah, yeah.
— And so it took a while. I was, you know, probably in my desert experience for about 10 years, and I got an invitation to give a 10-minute testimony at a university, and I wrote it down, and I read it. And from that moment on, the Lord started to give me more and more opportunities to speak.
— I wanna come back to that, but you said something that I wanna pick up on. You said it took a while.
— So you've got an 18-year-old kid really struggling with same-sex attraction...
— ...or it might be a 30-year-old woman...
— ...she's struggling with same-sex attraction. You can't just snap your figures and have this gone. So what do you say to that person who even has turned to God...
— ...and they're wrestling with this thing, and they want it gone? Because so often, you know, "I'm 19 years old, I've been praying for five years that this would go away". Well, yeah, you know...
— ...it takes a while, doesn't it? Is it fair to say that?
— Maybe sometimes God delivers somebody instantaneously, but with addiction it frequently doesn't work like that. With same-sex attraction where you're dealing with a deep, deep, deep wiring way back there...
— ...is it wise or appropriate or fair or whatever to advise someone to be patient as you allow God to work this out? What would you say about that?
— I think so. I think Matthew 6:33 is a perfect example. And it's not a gay thing or a straight thing.
— That's right.
— It's really a sin thing. And it says, "Seek [ye] first the kingdom of God and His righteousness". And I was just in a conversation with a transgender female, is someone who's biologically male, and then this lesbian woman that kept saying, you know, "I'm a lesbian. I'm a lesbian". I said, "Okay, you're a lesbian. I get it". I said, "But Matthew 6:33 says, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.' You do those two things, and everything will fall right into place". And for the transgender person, they were saying, you know, "If I could just have a sex change, if I could just, you know, have this, my life would be perfect". And so, you know what, the focus, if we put it back in its proper perspective... and it has an application for all of us, John. It's not a, like I said, it isn't just the answer or the protocol for somebody gay or the protocol for a drug addict or the protocol for, you know, somebody that's addicted to porn, but if you put the focus on Christ and His righteousness, then everything falls right into place.
— Yeah, yeah.
— It's a beautiful thing.
— And I think it's fair to say... right?... things don't always fall into place immediately. Maybe your relationship with God will...
— ...but in your experience, it took you some time even to extricate yourself from that lifestyle. Your eyes were on Jesus; you were growing, growing, growing, growing.
— It's really important, I think, to encourage people by saying, "Don't expect your same-sex attraction to disappear in a nanosecond".
— "It just may not, but keep on looking to Jesus". Right?
— Right. And somebody gave me this object lesson, and they were talking about as it is with the physical, so it is with the spiritual. And they gave the demonstration that, you know, if somebody had, you know, a huge wound, and then, you know, there was an infection in it, but it healed on the outside, but the infection was still on the inside.
— Yeah, sure.
— And there was a lot of things that happened to me as that little child that rejected my father, even before I was conscious, and, you know, the wounds that I've experienced, you know, from the boys in school and even the illicit lovers that I had for those 20 years. So, when I began that journey again at 40 with Jesus Christ, I believe that what He did is He had to go back in and He had to cut open this wound that had healed shut because there was an infection in there, and the infection hadn't gone away. And as He was cleaning out the infection, He had to watch it carefully and to allow it to heal from the inside to the out...
— ...so that I would never struggle with that again, and I believe that that's the process that I've been in for the last 20 years. What I love about Jesus is that He never takes me further than I can go. And of course, He could take it all away magically for my convenience, but I wouldn't learn to depend on Him. And, John, I have to depend on Him like I breathe air.
— That's right.
— You know, the thoughts and the feelings, the history and the memory that many of us that deal with...
— You're no different than anybody else in that respect.
— No, I'm not.
— Maybe it's just that your experiences have really made that vivid for you. So many other people don't take it quite that seriously; they don't have to look to Jesus for every breath and every thought and every beat of our heart.
— You represent 'Coming Out' Ministries. What's 'Coming Out' Ministries all about?
— 'Coming Out' Ministries, I believe, is really talking about sexual integrity. We realized early on in our ministry that while all of us came out of the LGBT life, people come up to us, and they say, "I was never gay, but everything that you've said really relates to my own personal experience".
— And what was beautiful is that we thought, "Oh, okay, we're not so unique, and we're not so different". But what it also did is it let me know that we are all struggling, and that our ministry is not an ex-gay ministry. It's really about connecting people back to the power of Jesus Christ to transform their life.
— You know, when I think about 1 Corinthians, chapter 6 and verses 9 and 10, it talks about all the abominations that won't be in heaven. And, yes, homosexual practice is one of those, and it's also included with the fornicator, the adulterer, the licentious, the liar, you know, the murderer, and the gossiper. So, we're all in this together. And so, we don't wanna make anyone exclusive. If we make one group of people exclusive from that, then we cut them off from verse 11; it says, "Such were some of you".
— "And such were some of you". What a beautiful verse.
— But you've been washed; you've been justified; you've been sanctified by "the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God". Verse 11, none of us can do, John. That's the power of...
— That's right.
— ...what Jesus did on the cross. And when He rose from the dead, He now has the ability to justify me immediately, and that work of sanctification... and we don't wanna cut off anyone. So if we make homosexuality exclusive out of that group...
— ...which we did 50 years ago when we said that God hates 'em and gays can't change, and now what's happening in the church is like, now we still made that group exclusive, saying they still can't change and that God loves them, and if you tell them they can change, that that's hate speech. When really what you've done is you've made this group of people exclusive, and you've cut them off from the transforming power of what Jesus did on the cross. And in 2 Timothy 3, verse 5, it says there's a group of people that have "a form of godliness".
— "Denying the power thereof".
— But they deny the power, and that power is what Jesus did on the cross. And if you deny that Jesus can't change you or Jesus can't help you from all the things that are written in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, then we have cut people off from the power and the intimate connection of Jesus Christ that He wants with each one of us.
— It's sort of understandable why. It's sort of understandable why. But isn't it a little bit unfortunate, or maybe grossly unfortunate...
— ...that the church... and I mean that in a very general sense... has taken homosexuality and elevated that like that is the gold medal sin...
— ...and everything else after that is merely a certificate of participation. That's the one... that and abortion and child sexual abuse.
— [Michael] Yep.
— Those are the three that are way up there. Everything else, you know, we can be reasonable about.
— Are we... is that gonna change?
— I think that the church's attitude about those specific issues has been the reason why the gay community has done so well. Because we have cut them off, we said that they can't change, and I think that was the gay community that said, "Okay, well, if you say we can't change, we want marriage; we want our own rights; we want to be acknowledged". And so I think that the Christian community has done a lot for the message of the gay community.
— But I believe that the problem is that when we make groups of people exclusive from that group, again, we're denying them access to an intimate relationship with Christ, and that's what's been the difference for me. You know, in this process... and I wish that somebody would've let me know that, you know, God doesn't necessarily take away our history and our memory.
— But what I've also found is I've found community with other people, that they didn't struggle with homosexuality or maybe even, you know, sex addiction or whatever. I have friends that are married, and they say, "Just because I got married doesn't mean that I don't see beautiful women," you know, and that they struggle also with thoughts and these, you know, things that are in their mind, too. And so, we're all in this together. And I believe that the process isn't this magical disappearing of the history, but I think that it's really, it's the power of Jesus Christ to take those thoughts and to give us new thoughts and new feelings...
— ...and new tastes and new tendencies.
— And that's what the gospel does, right?
— The gospel "contemplates our complete recovery from the power of sin"...
— That's right.
— ...whatever your sin.
— That's right.
— We've only got about 90 seconds...
— ...so I wanna ask you a question that we could have done a whole program on.
— You mentioned you had a sister who was praying for you.
— The power of prayer, yeah?
— Mmm, mmm.
— What about that?
— Absolutely. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for their prayers. And when I give my testimony, I ask the audience, "If you hear nothing more, just remember that if my sisters believed in this new ideology in the church that 'God's okay with gay,' they would've stopped praying for me, and there would've been no hope for me". But I praise God that they didn't buy in to that and that they held on to the principle that God can save us from anything. And because of their prayers, I believe that that's why God gave me another chance.
— Yeah, so we just oughta be... whatever someone's wrestling with, whatever their life looks like...
— ...gotta pray, right? Just gotta pray. You gotta keep on praying.
— Because the God who was able then is still able today.
— That's right.
— And there's power in the gospel, power in His Word, and great power in prayer. Hey, thanks, this has been fun. I've really enjoyed speaking with you.
— Yeah, me too.
— Wish you all the very best.
— Thank you.
— I wish for you much busyness and great activity... not to breaking point... but in ministry so that you can share the power of Jesus with people wherever you go. Thank you.
— Great fun.
— Thank you for this opportunity.
— Yeah, yeah, yeah. And thank you. It's been a real joy having you with us. And I hope that you've been encouraged or blessed. I hope that you take away from this an idea, the idea and understanding that God is able. There are times, and I think both of us know this, don't we, that you might know somebody who's stuck somewhere in their experience, and you say, "Put that one in the too-hard basket". No one, no person is too hard, unreachable, owing to the power of the Holy Spirit. With Michael Carducci, I'm John Bradshaw. This has been our conversation.