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“The truth is I’m a man”

“When I was dressing up like a woman, I thought this was going to be the place where I could become something--that my life could matter,” says Daniel.

Daniel Delgado was five when confusion about his sexuality and identity entangled his mind. He was sexually molested by two boys in his poor, mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago.

“The feelings that I was experiencing of same-sex attraction were unwanted,” says Daniel. “Those feelings were surfacing in my life and I didn’t know what to do with them.”

Adding to the shame and confusion, his mom, while loving, was often distant as she struggled with mental illness. His father and stepfather were hard men, quick to hand out punishment. They seemed unable to show a tender-hearted Daniel the love and affection he needed.

“And, I thought that masculine strength was too scary, and I didn’t want to become like them,” says Daniel.

So, as he grew older, he became more effeminate, yet still wrestled against same-sex attraction. That is until a school counselor convinced a 14-year-old Daniel to embrace his sexuality.

“He said that my life would go better for me if I did,” says Daniel. “When I told my father that I was going to embrace the gay identity, he said, ‘Don’t bring it around me.’”

Daniel “came out” and boldly expressed his sexuality, but life didn’t go better as promised. Now living outside of Dallas, Texas, he became the target for constant ridicule and bullying.

“I thought that there was no hope for me,” says Daniel. “Life was too painful. Sometimes it just seemed like it would be better to be dead than alive.”

Then at 16, after getting off the bus to a barrage of insults, Daniel went into the bathroom and was planning his suicide for that night.

“There was a knock at the door,” says Daniel, “and I heard my neighbor Patti telling my mother that I had five minutes to get my shoes on and come to the youth group with her that evening.”

Patti, a Christian, had witnessed the abuse Daniel endured and felt led to do something.

“They were basically telling him to drop dead, go away,” says Patti. “We were leaving for church, and I heard God say, ‘Go get him.’”

With nothing to lose, Daniel put on his platform shoes and rainbow-colored poncho and joined Patti at church. There, a group of men surrounded Daniel in prayer.

“For the first time in my life, I felt so loved by other men,” says Daniel, “and I didn’t have to sleep with them in order to get it.”

“It was obvious that Daniel just needed to breathe and needed to know somebody cared about him as a human being,” says Patti.

Daniel abandoned his suicide plan and he and Patti struck up a friendship. But he still didn’t believe he could find meaning and acceptance at church. So, he stopped going, and at 18, made a big decision...

“I don’t want to live like a man,” says Daniel, “and, so, I started living like a woman because I thought that hiding in this identity would help me. I didn’t think that the church was a place for me,” says Daniel. “I thought that the LGBT community was my home.”

Daniel, now Danielle, fully embraced his new identity and even started competing in drag pageant shows. Then two years later in 2001, he realized his search for happiness and meaning had come up empty.

“Embracing this identity didn’t help me. I looked back into the mirror and I couldn’t recognize myself. And it scared me,” says Daniel. “I didn’t want to hide anymore. And I needed to reckon with the reality that I’m a man, not a woman.”

Again, calling himself Daniel, he stepped away from pageants and started going back to church. One Sunday, he asked for God’s forgiveness as he went forward to accept the pastor’s invitation to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior....

“And I wept on his shoulder and he just continued to say, ‘The Father loves you. He loves you. He loves you,’” says Daniel. “And my heart began to break. And I said, ‘Jesus, I submit. I surrender to you.’”

Soon after, Daniel cut ties with the LGBT community and burned the last remnants of his gay lifestyle.

“I knew that the Father loved me,” says Daniel. “He dropped into me this phrase, ‘You are not a homosexual.’ “I’ve never felt so at home in my skin.”

Daniel is now involved with Living Waters Ministries, helping people around the world overcome brokenness through Christ. He even led his mother to accept Jesus as her Savior. And, yes, he and Patti are still great friends!

“Do you remember that rainbow poncho?” asks Patti.

”Yeah, I burned it, Patti,” says Daniel.

“Yay!” exclaims Patti.

“The truth is I’m a man. And it’s good to be a man,” says Daniel. “I’m enough. And I’m valuable.”

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