Viktor was born in 1996 in Moldova, where being gay is still controversial, taboo, and unacceptable. Moldova is an ex-communist country with traditional views about family, sexuality, and gender. Being gay is something to be ashamed of, and gay people often fear repercussions if they come out. Trans people are not even mentioned because very few ‘exist’, and the healthcare system denies them any type of treatment. Viktor is the eldest of three children and has many happy childhood memories of growing up in a town in Moldova and spending holidays with his cousins. One such memory was his aunt and cousin visiting from Belgium for his grandfather’s birthday; he had been the only family member to know they were coming. When they arrived, Viktor shouted, ‘I knew it, I knew they were coming!’ – such was his excitement after successfully keeping the secret from his grandfather and family.
From a young age, Viktor felt uncomfortable around other boys and preferred playing with girls. At seven years old, he remembers looking at the men in his environment and considering them aggressive people who drank a lot and did rough, manual jobs. At that point, he decided he didn’t want to be a man if it meant being like them. He was a sensitive, creative, and imaginative boy who had bigger dreams for his life. At home, he dressed up in his mother’s clothes. His parents and siblings thought it was amusing when he imitated his mother in her dresses, high heels, and make-up, but at no point did his parents suspect he was gay or trans. Instead, they treated it as innocent fun.
Around the age of nine, Viktor had his appendix removed, but the surgery was flawed and left him with numerous complications, which required several corrective surgeries over several years. This caused Viktor’s weight to plummet, rendering him borderline anorexic. He required constant medical supervision and, as a consequence, his schooling was majorly interrupted. It also resulted in him being bullied about his poor health and fragility. Having severe acne exacerbated the abuse, which often included other young people telling Viktor he was ugly. Alone in his bedroom, he used to cry. He felt anti-social, had no friends, and struggled to connect with people. This was the start of his depression, which continued throughout secondary school and beyond.
When Viktor was 14, he became interested in gay porn, which developed into an addiction. His only friends were a few classmates, but he felt unable to talk to them about sex. During this time, he became acquainted with two older men who abused him in different ways. He got to know one of the men, who was 19 years old. Viktor used to webcam him from time-to-time and was persuaded by the man to masturbate for him. He convinced Viktor that this was normal behaviour between friends. Viktor also became friends on social media with a local gay man who was aged around 25. They used to meet in person, with the man telling Viktor all about his sexual experiences. Nothing physical occurred between them but one day when Viktor was leaving to go home, the man clung on to Viktor’s hand and was reluctant to let it go. This made Viktor feel very uncomfortable and he decided not to see him again.
Viktor became a very successful YouTuber at secondary school and developed a large social following in Moldova and Romania, reporting on music and entertainment events. Aged 18, he emigrated to Bucharest to study advertising. Although Viktor was raised in an Orthodox Christian family, they were non-practising, and it was only when he left Moldova that he became interested in religion and his faith intensified. He remembers walking into a church one Sunday and being overcome by the grace of the Holy Spirit, which prompted him to stand in front of the congregation and tell them about his sexuality struggles.
Ironically, it was also around this time that Viktor had become friends with Adam at university. Despite trying to block out his feelings, the temptation became too strong and, one day, he could not stop himself from going to bed with Adam. It was his first-time having sex and, although it gave him some pleasure, it was short lived. Shortly after Viktor had started penetrating Adam, he began feeling uncomfortable and became so consumed with guilt of what he was doing that he stopped. After this, his friendship with Adam deteriorated, and they never slept together again. They eventually stopped seeing each other. A couple of months later, Adam telephoned Viktor to tell him he was depressed, suicidal, and fed up with being gay. At this stage, Viktor had become immersed in his religious conversion and had decided to stop practising homosexuality completely. Over the phone, he prayed for Adam, comforted him, and encouraged him to have hope.
Viktor overcame his gender confusion in 2020 at the age of 24 when, during a period of deep depression, he spent a full week in prayer. He reached out to God in a way he had never done before and stated that God had heard his pleas. Firstly, the depression and anxiety he had battled for six years went entirely. He no longer had gender identity issues and felt far less attracted to men, although he always considered gender confusion the most prominent issue of the two for him. Since then, Viktor believes he has received inner healing from God, who told him he was no longer gay. Viktor states he isn’t bothered about becoming heterosexual because to him it is more important to be a holy person. He feels a person’s main goal should be to become intimate with their creator because when a person becomes whole, they are complete in the image that God intended.
In 2021, Viktor became the co-director of the international Ex-Out-Loud group – a subsidiary project of the Core Issues Trust, which is a fundamentalist Christian charity based in Belfast. The group has over 60 members worldwide, but most live in the UK and Europe and consist of ‘ex-gay men, ex-lesbians and ex-transgender people’. When Viktor became a public figure for Ex-Out-Loud, he was met with a wall of silence after his family read about it in the media. He had never discussed his personal life with them and knew they would feel terribly uncomfortable having conversations about LGBT+ people. However, some family members have softened a little and now click approval to some of his social media posts. Most of the Ex-Out-Loud group have not undergone gay conversion therapy in its most conventional sense, i.e., religious counselling. However, nearly all of them have had some personal type of religious conversion. Everyone in the group considers themselves fundamentalist Christians who believe that same-sex attraction and/or gender confusion is healed by the power of Jesus through prayer and repentance.
Viktor firmly believes that gay people can leave homosexuality if they want to and that the love of Jesus will change them. Viktor believes that a person is never born gay; instead, it is an identity he/she takes on because of something that has occurred in their life. This might be an environmental factor like growing up in a family with cold, unloving, and distant parents. This results in unmet emotional needs, which affects how a person relates to people of the opposite sex. He also considers sexual abuse to be a major determining factor, along with porn addiction. Viktor attributes his previous homosexual feelings to his youth and believes that if he had better male affirming role models while growing up, he would never have been in the predicament of confused gender identity and sexuality. Instead, he believes he developed a distorted view of the same sex.
Viktor also holds strong views about transgender people. He feels transitioning is harmful to the person’s body and soul, and considers it sinful. Gender confusion gets resolved once a person comes into wholeness with God. Like same-sex attraction, it is not something a person has to live with for their entire live. He believes the more you come into wholeness with God, the weaker the temptations to change gender become until they eventually disappear. Viktor believes people should be encouraged to remain in their biological gender in order to prevent harmful treatments and irreversible surgeries by accepting the gender they were assigned at birth. He said God created men and women as they are and did not make any mistakes in determining a person’s gender. Viktor added that people need to take care of their bodies and not to mutilate themselves, because their bodies belong to God.
Those in Ex-Out-Loud celebrate their new identity, but Viktor adds that they are not looking for people to join them. They do not coerce people into joining the group – that is done of the person’s own free will. He states they are a safe space and do not force anyone to become straight. Viktor reads the Bible almost every day and hopes to continue delivering pastoral care to people who are going through gender identity issues or are confused or troubled by same-sex attraction. He wants to emulate the pastoral heart – the model of Jesus being the good shepherd to his flock. Viktor wants to expand the Ex-Out-Loud membership over the next five years and is willing to help anyone who feels upset about same-sex attractions or has gender confusion issues by introducing them to the power of Jesus and explaining how this transformed his own life. Viktor said the goal of pastoral counselling is not to reverse someone’s sexuality. Its aim instead is to help the person deal with their sexual or gender issues by loving and caring for them, by instructing and teaching them according to the Bible, and by having compassion for them like Jesus did.
Due to his faith, Viktor no longer masturbates. The last time he did was over a year ago in a moment of temptation while he fantasised about men and his past. He has never fantasised about having sex with females as he has never felt attracted to them. He was, though, in a romantic friendship with a woman when he lived in Bucharest. However, the friendship did not survive after he moved abroad. Viktor said he never masturbated or fantasised about having sex with her because to do so would have meant defiling her. Although he says he could imagine having sex with a woman if he wanted, he would prefer not to think about anything that is unholy. However, Viktor does hope to get married one day and have children. God has told him that he will get married and Viktor believes it will happen when the time is right and once his healing is complete. But for now, he is happy and feels in control of his life, knowing that Jesus is by his side, taking every step of the journey with him.
The author would like to make it known that while he believes in the rights of free speech, he does not concur with any of the views expressed in this article which favour gay conversion therapy and/or conversion practices. Declan Henry is firmly against any form of conversion therapy and believes it is an abhorrent practice that should be banned in every country of the world.