Let’s Talk about Erections

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Is there anything used to indicate our sexual orientation more often, whether consciously or subconsciously, than our boners? A lot of guys think that if you get an erection by looking at, thinking about, feeling, or experiencing something, then that thing, whatever or whoever it might be, is the object of our sexual desires. The code of our culture seems to be that erections are not necessarily condemned, so long as we say they are the result of a proper or understandable sexual stimulant.

But we dare not admit ever to getting an erection from a person or object that we don’t want to have sex with.

But let’s face it: we get boners . . . a lot. Especially the younger we are. And over the most inane things! Sometimes they’re completely meaningless. We wake up in the morning, and we’re hard. We put on new underwear and get hard. We sit a certain way or wear certain pants or our dicks get pushed over to one side so that our thighs rub them when we walk, and we start to bulge.

We get boners, gentlemen.

The time I cuddled with my friends on their futon, I had a boner most of the night. But I was so hungry for touch, for love, for affirmation that I refused to let my penis control my life that night. I was wearing only my underwear and a t-shirt, so I had no way of hiding anything. But I trusted my friends not to shame me. And they never did.

I don’t know if they ever noticed I was hard, but I think it was pretty obvious. Yet they never said anything.

For a few years in my late teens and early twenties, whenever I even hugged another guy, my dick would start to bulge. I didn’t let it stop me, though. The Lord had told me it was time for me to start being more affectionate with people I loved, and I needed to do it regardless what my penis was doing.

I wanted to hug my friends and be affectionate, of course, because I loved them. But I was also nervous about getting a boner, freaking them out, and making them not want to be around me anymore.

Not only did I think an erection might put off my friends, but I also feared getting a boner from hugging them would say something profound and awful about me.

I used to be one of those guys who thought the uncontrollable antics of my penis indicated where my sexual drive was aimed. But the Lord taught me the truth.

I talked to guys I knew. I searched and dove into the depths of the secret corners of their hearts. I asked about their fears, the things they never openly admit. I read a lot of confessions and testimonies on internet forums where men would gather to talk about truth and reality in a safe place.

They all admitted to getting erections when there was no real cause. Many said that they, too, got erections from hugging people, even if there was no sexual attraction involved. I learned that meaningless erections are indeed real, that men both gay and straight and everything in between get them, and that erections don’t necessarily dictate our sexual orientation.

I learned that the code of our culture regarding erections was false. Getting an erection from hugging a guy didn’t mean I was gay.

I also realized two other very important points. The first was that my friends loved me. If my friends loved me, then even if I did get an erection from hugging them, they would not reject or shame me for it; in fact, nobody ever did. I loved my friends, and I knew that I would never reject or shame them, either, for something they couldn’t control.

And that made me realize the second point: my friends were guys, just like me, and they had dicks, too, just like I did. That meant that they also had to deal with unsolicited erections. They got morning wood just like I did. They got hard from affectionate touching, wrestling, cuddling, new underwear, and accidental penis shifting, too. And they tried to hide it and ignore it and hoped it would go away, just like I did.

No matter how self-conscious I felt about my problematic penis, I realized I wasn’t the only one, and it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with my struggles with SSA. I was a lot more normal than I thought.

So, I kept going. I kept hugging and cuddling and being affectionate. The more I cuddled, the more I hugged, the more time I spent in physical contact with my friends, the less frequently I got a boner. And when I did get hard, it wouldn’t last as long.

Sure, that first night of cuddling was a wood-fest for me, but by the third or fourth time we cuddled, my boner lasted only a short time. The first few months of hugging my friends more made me want to keep my pelvis a safe distance away. But after a year or so, I could do a full-frontal, belt-to-belt hug and hold it there indefinitely without any worries of my penis acting up or my friend pushing me away.

A lot of guys struggle with this fear, and they think that their dicks determine whether they’re gay. And if they don’t want to be gay, or if they are afraid of what people will think of them, they tend to avoid situations that might give them erections. Unfortunately, many of those situations and actions are normal behaviors that a lot of guys get hard from, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re all gay.

We need to live normal lives. Our dicks might not react the way we want them to at first, but more often than not, they line up in time. In the meantime, however, we can trust that other men will understand and not care because they have the same issues we do. We can trust that they are men as much as we are.

We can trust that they love us.

Has the fear of an unwanted erection prevented you from pursuing friendships or “masculine” things you wanted to do? Have you ever been rejected or shamed for getting an erection? Conversely, if you care to share, have you ever had an erection, and someone realized it, but didn’t care and treated you kindly anyway?

* Photo courtesy lulazzo, Creative Commons.

  • Richard

    I love this! I had a friend of mine that I was attracted too, and he knew I was attracted to him. He was a wrestler in high school and he would always randomly start wrestling with me and once I told him I couldn’t wrestle with him because I would get an erection and he told me he didn’t care, he just wanted to wrestle. Another time he wanted to give me a hug bye as he went on a mission trip, and I told him I had an erection and he said he didn’t care, he needed a hug before he left. He is an awesome friend!

    • Kevin Frye

      That’s wonderful! I think there are a lot of guys who actually are secure and not bothered by unwanted erections, whether their own or anyone else’s. Then there are a lot of guys who are insecure and are bothered by this phenomenon. I hope those guys can learn a thing or two from the other guys who are like your friend.

    • Sam Nic

      wow

    • Bryon

      I’ve hardly every known a guy who wasn’t homophobic, and honestly almost none that were affectionate. When I decided to start being more affectionate with other guys though, they were a lot more receptive, I think just because I was willing to initiate. Since 3 years ago, I belong to a men’s organization that it is an unspoken tradition to hug every guy that comes to the group each week. I HATED it for almost a year. Now, I look forward to it. Thanks for sharing Richard.

  • Jon Evan

    Some hard observations Kevin :). But I think a useful, courageous, and well thought out post! You give it license by saying the Lord led you to become more physically affectionate with your male friends. I buy that. Are you then inferring all ssa-men should follow your path? With Scripture as a reference point there is freedom to kiss, hug, and touch our male friends whom we love from a pure heart. But, ‘boners’ aren’t mentioned and that’s my reservation: the qualifier of the “pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22) is it present in all such situations? Motives must be examined I think. And, are the boners reflex or psychogenic because later on that boner can be a catalyst to my fantasies bringing it on again and demanding release which leads to masturbation and guilt.
    It’s true, erections occur and medically there are two types: psychogenic and reflex. The latter is a result of overlap of nerve pathways in the pelvis such that a full bladder will commonly produce an erection as occurs in the morning with men and simply emptying it cancels the erection. Psychogenic are brought on by our visual/fantasy world and are especially problematic for ssa-men because they invariably lead to some sort of release and this is the big problem. Unless you are a proponent of masturbation?
    Reparative therapists major on the necessity of fulfilling what they call latent legit needs for physical affection due to a desert childhood. The boner desensitization you experienced in your evolving male physical bonding is encouraging to hear. Does it happen for everyone? I don’t know. That pursuit can have its pitfalls as well which might lead to frustration and guilt. Not all childhood deficits can be ‘repaired’ this side of Heaven. Can they? I think unless the Lord leads in that direction and one has Him close to guide and direct one must be careful and wait before freely cuddling away!

    • Kevin Frye

      You’ve put a lot of thought into this comment, so I want to try to answer appropriately, although not all of the issues you bring up can be sufficiently addressed here.

      1. “Are you then inferring all ssa-men should follow your path?”
      I’m not inferring that with this post, no. At least, that was not my intention. However, I think men, whether SSA or not, need to live freely and not let their fears or their dicks control their decision-making, actions, or relationships.

      2. “With Scripture as a reference point there is freedom to kiss, hug, and touch our male friends whom we love from a pure heart. But, ‘boners’ aren’t mentioned and that’s my reservation: the qualifier of the “pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22) is it present in all such situations?”
      I’ve learned that a pure heart doesn’t always happen overnight. Sometimes we hug our friends and we know it’s from a pure heart, and then the next day we hug them again, thinking we have a pure heart, but then we get a boner from it and we wonder what’s going on. It’s important that we don’t let our fears of not having a pure heart prevent us from taking steps of faith, trusting that our hearts are pure. We need to realize that just because we get an erection doesn’t mean our hearts are not pure. We can be stiffer than a 2-by-4 and still have a pure heart. I believe the more we walk in faith, seeking that pure heart and doing the actions that are evidence of a pure heart, the more our bodies will respond accordingly. You’re right that motives must be examined, but even if our motives are pure, we might still get hard. And that’s okay.

      3. “Psychogenic are brought on by our visual/fantasy world and are especially problematic for ssa-men because they invariably lead to some sort of release and this is the big problem. Unless you are a proponent of masturbation?”
      Well, first of all, sexual fantasy and masturbation are not in the domain of SSA men only. Straight men do those things, too. Am I a proponent of masturbation? I’ll say that I see nothing wrong with it, but I don’t want to get into that can of worms right now. Let’s save that for a future blog post.

      4. “The boner desensitization you experienced in your evolving male physical bonding is encouraging to hear. Does it happen for everyone?”
      I think it does to some extent if that desensitization is really what’s desired and sought after.

      5. “That pursuit can have its pitfalls as well which might lead to frustration and guilt. Not all childhood deficits can be ‘repaired’ this side of Heaven. Can they?”
      Are you saying that the frustration and guilt come from not being desensitized as hoped for? I agree that not every problem we have in life will definitely be repaired or cured in this life. Can they? Yes. God can do amazing things for people who are fully submitted to him. But also God leaves things in us, like the thorn in Paul’s flesh, to keep us humble before him, reliant on his grace. Rather than hiding these weaknesses or being ashamed of them, let’s follow Paul’s lead and rejoice all the more gladly in our weaknesses, because when we are weak, God is strong.

      • Jon Evan

        Kevin, you have great faith, and the Lord has done a good work in you :). Thanks for your detailed reply. Unlike yourself I have not struggled with boners nor encountered them in my male friends. Don’t know why. Nor do I enjoy physical affection from guys. Except those I’m attracted to :(. Hugging them still undoes me and sets me off course. So I refrain. I don’t think desensitization would work for me nor do I think I need it. That’s what I meant by: “Are you saying that the frustration and guilt come from not being desensitized as hoped for?” Yes, after being involved in ministry in Exodus I saw over the decades how many men had their ssa grow instead of decrease and how hug therapy made things worse. It led to depression and more for many. I don’t generalize from that experience — others like yourself have benefited. I’m okay losing myself in Jesus — sensing His healing Presence and experiencing His love and even touch. But, I don’t believe in masturbation to which psychogenic boners can lead. Physiologically, there’s no harm but psychologically and spiritually great harm. It’s impossible to do without fantasy. Just because straights do it doesn’t make it right. If it’s done for comfort it becomes an idol and on and on. You won’t go to hell if you persist, but at some point I believe you’ll face the discipline of God and that will be painful…

        • Brian

          Jon, when you talk about a “release during the night spontaneously” are you talking about nocturnal emission?

          • Jon Evan

            Yes.

  • I feel like you’re always the perfect go-to guy to write posts about stuff like this, Kevin. I appreciate your realness, your humor, and your much needed bluntness from time-to-time. You’re one of a kind! Encouraged by your growth journey — inside the erection world and out.

    • Kevin Frye

      Thanks, Tom! The thing about the human penis is that it is itself rather blunt and hard to hide sometimes. Rather than pretending like it’s not there, we might as well deal with it head-on as men and get the elephant out of the room.

  • Benjamin

    Well this is definitely an interesting article. I like your style Kevin, you have passion and it is evident in your writing. I agree, yes, as men we do get erections and sometimes for NO good reason at all. I’ve never experienced the type of closeness and touching that you have with other guys. It sounds like it would be a great and maybe even “healing” experience. I am jealous for the opportunity you have had. But I feel that Jon Evans comment is very valid. I can get an erection from having just a personal conversation with a guy when we talk on an emotional level. For me and in my experience this has just lead me into temptation and has only hurt those relationships. I use the story of Joseph and Potiphars wife, we need to flee sexual immorality 1 Cor 6:18. I’m not saying that your experience with other men was immoral, but for others, it could lead us down a path that only causes more pain than good.

    • Kevin Frye

      You make a good point, but I think the advice about fleeing sexual immorality is being improperly applied here. Are you saying that even personal conversations and deep relationships should be avoided if we get erections during them or masturbate afterward? How then can we form the kind of love and connection with other believers that apparently we are called to in the New Testament? Am I misunderstanding you?

      • Benjamin

        Kevin, thanks for the response. The bit about “fleeing sexual immortality” applies more to me than anything. Maybe it is because in a lot of instance I lose focus of a pure heart and I allow the flesh to rule my thoughts, thus causing my erections to be more of a physical sexual response. Trust me, I would appreciate nothing more than to have that supportive embrace of a loving Christian brother. So where to go from here, how to cultivate that pure heart.

        • Kevin Frye

          Excellent questions, Benjamin. I hope to write something along those lines in the near future.

          • naturgesetz

            This series of replies brought to mind a principle I developed way back when I was in college (graduated in 1964!!!). I was very definitely struggling with ssa. It was a Catholic college, and I was going to a priest for counseling. I was very much afraid of putting myself in what we call “occasions of sin,” which roughly corresponds to temptation. If we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” then we shouldn’t be leading ourselves into temptation. But that can become problematic when you’re around a bunch of guys, some of whom you’re very attracted to. One element of a solution which I came up with is the principle that “if it’s okay for other guys it’s okay for me.” Conduct that isn’t inherently immoral doesn’t automatically become immoral for me just because I’m same sex attracted.

          • Kevin Frye

            “Conduct that isn’t inherently immoral doesn’t automatically become immoral for me just because I’m same sex attracted.”
            Amen! This is a key statement that a lot of SSA guys need to understand and accept. There are passages in the Bible that say we need to watch out for the weaknesses of our brothers and not be a stumbling block to them in their faith. But we ourselves need to allow ourselves to grow so that fewer and fewer people and things can be stumbling blocks to us over time. That includes not setting ourselves apart and sucking a milk bottle, so to speak, while all the other men are out eating meat. Good word, man!

        • Ben L

          I think that happens to all the guys that battle with SSA Benjamin. Even if I don’t want to have a boner it happens when I am close to a guy or if the hug is a little bit long as well.

        • Bryon

          I agree with you Benjamin and I think it is dangerous to base one’s behavior on what is possible for another person and not sin. I think it is important to have tough conversations with God about temptation and be honest with other’s whom you can be accountable to. I think though that Kevin is speaking to the healing capacity for how touch has helped him feel more whole and meet some legitimate needs. If Kevin reads this though, I would be interested to hear how meeting these needs has shaped his sexuality and how he is able to love himself and others more fully and effectively.

  • Paul Kinney

    this is : re-dick-u-less

    My dads and mine. Those were the only ones. Oh, and the neighbor boy that put his in and around me were it didn’t belong. Those were the only ones I ever saw growing up. Its no wonder that I was in great wonderment when i got to seventh grade and ugh, showers in gym class. There was one guy that had sprouted way before the rest of us and it was huge. I couldn’t stop staring at it. it was so much bigger than mine or my dads!
    The next one was my best friend Marcs. He had a brother and his dad was the wrestling coach. No females in the house save thier mom. They had freedom. Boy was i surprised at just how much freedom they had the first time i slept over. It was any thing sexual. They just walked around exactly they way they came into this world. Butt naked. They were of fine stock. Again much bigger than mine or my fathers.
    Then it ended. Due to financial cutbacks. you had the choice, music or gym. I took music. So i saw no others from grade 7 until i went away to college. Well no other “live” ones. With the exception of an occasional skinny dip with the guys down the street my viewing had stopped and i wasn’t sure if my growth rate had kept up with the rest of the pack. So i became obsessed. I wanted to know. Was my growth adequate? What were other packing? Was my basket as full as the next guy? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought i was going to go crazy.
    It really wasn’t until about 8 years ago that my crazy desire to see if i measured up ended. Due to weight and health reasons i joined the YMCA. I worked out diligently 6 days a week for 5 years. I still workout but now only 3-4 days a week. I have to say the locker room culture at the Y was my favorite part of the work out. The open showers, the steam and sauna rooms IN THE LOCKER ROOM and the comerodery of the guys that were regulars. Nothing sexual ever went on but i was surrounded by them. All shapes and sizes. Day in and day out i saw the same ones. At first it was HARD for me. The excitement of it all, but eventually i came to realize that mine fit in with the others quite nicely. It didn’t stand out because it was way bigger than most and i didn’t have to shy away because it was smaller than most. It was comfortably in the middle and i became comfortable with it.
    Thanks to time spent at Army basic training and my 8yrs at the Y…. I’m REALLY comrdfortable having it out….. maybe too comfortable

    • Kevin Frye

      I love this story, Paul. Thanks for sharing. I bet a lot of guys are curious about what other dudes’ dicks are like and if they qualify as “normal.”

      • Bryon

        You can be sure of that curiosity, even for straight guys. I had that conversation with a close friend two weeks ago. It has come up off and on for a decade for me with other guy friends. No one is satisfied and most want to know how they measure up. I think it comes from an association men have with size and masculinity. It is also a concern for pleasing a woman. Most men thing women are obsessed with large sizes, but they’re not. We all believe lies about our body image, men and women.

  • Robert Keary

    Kevin, A great post. If you follow the general iNet postings there are a lot of ones about athletic teammates and shared beds and intimacy. The subject of erections in these situations seldom is mentioned, but as a former HS athlete, I can attest that at least among the younger guys it is common and very scary. You never know if any of your “buddies” are judging you either in a good or a bad way. Of course I grew up a lot when I also came to the conclusion that wood between guys is no different than wood on your own. It happens, and you go with the flow (if it gets to that point) or you just accept that as a man you will have this hard problem. Men can have great intimacy with or without physical responses getting in the way of our psychological need. To deprive yourslef out of fear is so harmful. Thanks for putting this out.

    • Kevin Frye

      You’re welcome! And thank you for commenting!

  • Rich Thompson

    I don’t have any great thought provoking comments to say here, but I totally love this blog, and the following discussion. I just wanted to say that as I’d previously acted out for just over the past 3 years (SSA), despite what I know to be wrong, I’m finding out that I’ve become much more comfortable with myself as a guy who really enjoys all aspects of other guys . I grew up in a pretty conservative Christian home, still pretty conservative, but I think I’m learning to mesh my SSA with the rest of my life, helping the SSA part to be not a major focus, but integrated. I’m a hugger, and can also get teary eyed at as little as a commercial for Tide detergent, and have said recently that I’m not bothered by it, as it’s how God’s made me. I live in the Corporate America part of Chicago’s western suburbs, so hugging, etc, is not real prevalent. Getting hard is not as common as it used to be because of my growing comfortability. I enjoy time at home being naked, and even that was a process before I could just “hang out” without an erection. So much of this blog/comments would be a real benefit to the majority of my friends, though I think it’d freak them out, rather than stir a healthy discussion. Thanks for the space here to comment, and for what you initially wrote. Bless you! 🙂

    • Kevin Frye

      Thanks for commenting, Rich! I’m not quite sure what you mean by integrating your SSA into the rest of your life. I think acknowledging that we struggle with it is one thing, but accepting it as normal or good is something else. Even the definition of what SSA is can be tricky. I don’t think being emotional and sensitive has anything to do with same-sex attractions. I think, in general, society has lumped homosexuality and other peripheral issues such as emotional sensitivity, good fashion sense, even one’s tone of voice, all together into the same pot of stew, but they really have nothing in common. We can accept those peripheral things as normal, because there’s really nothing wrong with them in themselves, but accepting homosexuality, or connecting those issues to homosexuality, is where we get into trouble.

  • NoName

    Kevin, this is awesome. For all my times in church, small groups and even mens groups I’ve never heard the word erection once. God help me man, I like getting hard. I feel so grounded and in the moment. At church It’s like you’re supposed to feel guilty about it, but with all due respect, I’m thinking if Jesus was fully human he had erections and didn’t feel guilty about it.
    To be honest man, I’m still trying to find my way thru the whole Christianity and sexuality thing. It’s so hard to talk about at church, no one seems comfortable about it and the one on one private thing with the pastor is awkward, like I’m the only one with the questions. It’s easier with non-church guys. Back in my teens, was camping with my friends and we all had to piss, so in a kinda half-circle we just pulled our dicks out and we were all at least semi erect and it didn’t matter. We were all checking each other out, and we all knew we were checking each other, and it was ok. It was better than ok. It wasn’t sexual, no hookups in the tents later that nite, we were just friends. I couldn’t share this in church, but it’s still a good memory for me. It was just good being exposed with friends and not feeling ashamed.
    I can’t imagine that ever happening with my Christian buds and I’m not totally sure why. I get that erections can trigger sexual desires but the other part of me thinks they’re natural like eating. The Bible’s not a sex manual, and as far as I can tell from reading it there’s no sex after death. I’m on board with the call for monogamy between a man and woman as well as staying away from sexual hookups with guys, but I think it’s ok to enjoy erections as part of life. I’m not suggesting doing porn or fantasy, but when getting erections there’s no shame. Matter of fact, not sure how else to follow Jesus in this world without becoming a eunuch.
    Thanks Kevin, and this blog, for giving space to talk about these things. Hardons are not the most spiritual topic, but not dealing these things screws up this journey with Jesus for me more. I’m new here, so feel free to delete anything that’s inappropriate.

    • Thanks for commenting, NoName! Hopefully you’ll continue to be part of our community moving forward. I love your friendship story from teenhood. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, brother. As long as you’re not misusing profanity or mentioning specific avenues for acting out (websites, apps, etc.), your comments and feedback are solid!

      • NoName

        Hey Thomas, thanks for the feedback. After leaving my comment this morning, I had this sense, not so much guilt or regret, more like weird. Love the blog man but probably won’t comment a lot. I read some of the other posts and everyone seems to have their stuff together and thinking I can learn a lot. This journey with Jesus and SSA is so often on the edge of crashing and I pinball between human and holy so much, that things I’d write I’d probably be a hypocrite about. Reading Benjamin’s comment below, I realized that my comment, altho honest, probably had little to do with a pure heart. Even so man, it was so cool reading about erections on a Christian website.

        • Jon Evan

          NoName if you think reading about ‘erections’ is cool just wait for Kevin to write about masturbation :). But no, no one has their ‘stuff together’ except Jesus who helps us all move forward after we crash each in our own way. Love the way you describe the human/holy walk of our journey — so accurate. And don’t worry about being a hypocrite. Honest folk like you can’t be one :). Welcome!

          • NoName

            “no one has their ‘stuff together’ except Jesus who helps us all move forward”
            Amen Jon! I believe Jesus has the human/holy thing nailed down, I mean he is that and more. SSA feels like a curse, that I’m missing everything Jesus means in life. But always end up going on with him, believing I’ll get thru because of him, that someday I’m gonna view SSA as a blessing cause it keeps me crawling back to Jesus. I’m thinking if it was up to me there’s enough other screwups to keep me coming back to Jesus without SSA, but what the hell.
            Jon, read your comment above and you mention being married. If it’s to a woman, well congrats man, but assuming you’re dealing at some level with SSA since you’re here, how’s that working out for you? If you’re married to a guy, skip the SSA question, but wondering if that ever screws with your faith. Either way, you seem like a good dude.

    • Kevin Frye

      Hey NoName! I love your honesty. You seem so down-to-earth, and I like that.
      This blog and I are both works in progress, which means there are a lot of things that need to be addressed, that hopefully will be addressed here, that I simply can’t put up right now due to lack of time or other factors. I will say now, though, that you’re really onto something, looking for the real Jesus, and the life of following him that includes our bodies being and doing everything as God designed and there being no shame in it. I know Jesus got boners. He was as much man as we were, tempted in every way we were, yet was without sin. I’m so glad to read your comments and I hope you continue to keep up with us here.

      • NoName

        Kevin, I’m loving that this blog is somewhere you can be honest without feeling guilty. I say and do enough that’s wrong that keeps me humble, being in this body I’m not feeling guilty. A guy can have his heart set on God and doesn’t need to feel bad that he has a dick that works. After Easter, Jesus returned with his same body that still had its wounds but could go thru walls. How cool is that! Hey man, I don’t know what things will be like for us then, and our bods are not main thing, but we’ll still have them. Right now we’re supposed to be like Jesus to others and don’t do them any favors being ashamed when we shouldn’t be.

        • Kevin Frye

          Agreed. Shame has no place in a Christian’s life if we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus.

    • Eddie

      There was nothing sexual when some “Christian” friends (15-20 guys) and I partook in a beach retreat. I along with a handful of other guys decided to take part in an apparent yearly tradition of skinny dipping in the ocean together. Be mindful that the beach area was empty and this was happening late at night in the dark so we didn’t want to inadvertently come off as exhibitionists (we did bring our swim trunks along just in case). We viewed it as a bonding experience being naked, being guys and being together. Although, I personally had self conscious moment when I experienced a boner while wading in the water. Luckily, I chalked it up to anxiety attack and as time progressed I got comfortable being naked while in the company of my brothers. Does anyone else get erections as a sign of “naked” anxiety? Being naked can be uncomfortably vulnerable to me especially with guys around. Just read my post on this thread about high school and college. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone’s sensibilities.

  • NoName

    Happy for you brother. Guessing you’re not so much bi as say substituted? For so long I wanted to be like that. In the bios of the guys posting here, there’s 3 or 4 who are married. You should consider posting here Jon, you’ve got good things to say.
    For me man, SSA is caps. It’s a mountain I can’t ever get around or over but with Jesus can stay faithful climbing. My heart’s on the other side of the mountain.

    • Jon Evan

      No, no “bi”, “substituted”, just trying hard to be a Jesus follower. Just that focus. But yeah, the “mountain” I know… some days yeah big CAPS! Lust on those days especially when I’m weakened by being sick, not enough sleep, or my wife gets mad at me :(. Lust…..
      BUT, it’s no different for my straight friends. They lust on such days just as big! The difference is the object of their lust, but it’s still a big mountain for them. So, us men we all need Jesus who was tempted with lust but overcame and so as He said in John: “in this world you will have trouble but I have overcome the world so take heart” meaning take courage (which He gives us if we ask HIm :). Yeah, Jesus is more powerful than our lust — you can hang your hat on that! Good to chat with you Noname :). Now I’m off to church!

      • NoName

        Jon, thanks for taking time and sharing thoughts. Life’s better with conversation.

  • Alan Gingery

    Another good blog Kevin. As a young adolescent I was so embarrassed by my erections…tried to hide them. I would never have thought of hugging anyone while I was stiff for fear of being felt…

    There did come a time where they were a response to fantasy. I recognize that it was no indication of homosexuality, just sexual stimulation. I felt arousal with both men and women. It was just natural.

    Today, I just enjoy the erection. It is a sign of my masculinity. I’m glad God made me a man and gave me the gift of sexual pleasure. Sure, it can still be embarrassing to get a boner in a public place, but hey…who is going to walk up to you and say, “you are stiff! What’s wrong with you?” Ha ha! Just as embarrassing for them to acknowledge your bulge as you feel…so just have a laugh and enjoy the feelings that you feel good to be a man.

    • Kevin Frye

      That’s a great way of thinking about it, man. Thanks for sharing!

    • Bryon

      A spontaneous erection is the sign of healthy blood flow. I learned about this in high school health class. I’m surprised that all men don’t learn about this in middle school even. I didn’t think my back woods school in Michigan was that progressive in the 80’s. Your comment “I just enjoy the erection” made me think of this in conjunction with Kevin’s blog post. I rarely get erections when hugging men, perhaps only with one person I can remember. I always wondered if that was something that happened to other men, and if it was unusual for me not to have them around men.

      • Alan Gingery

        Thanks for the reply, Bryon. You are right. I really can’t think of a time when I got an erection from hugging a man, although I did get one once when I was talking to another guy…I am not sure he noticed, but it was embarrassing for me. Fortunately, they can go away as fast as they come. Ha ha! Yes, I can just enjoy my erection today. Nice to feel male and no longer feel embarrassed or that it is somehow bad.

  • Ricardo França

    Thank you for this profoundly thought-provoking article, Kevin. Really. I’m of the same opinion, but never read anything about it before. God bless you, man! You said you wrote a book. How could I get it?
    Cheers!
    Ricardo.

    • Kevin Frye

      Thank you, Ricardo! You can get my book if you go to the Resources page of this blog. You’ll see it second on the list. Enjoy!

      • Ricardo França

        I will!

  • Bryon

    So, your article reminded me of a person I knew that moved away. I maintained that I was not attracted to him, and I wasn’t initially. I think though that the more I spend time with the same male friend I develop a love for him that gets mixed up in attraction, when it probably is less attraction and more just love. Never-the-less, there was a physical response, which is intense and prolonged and happened for about a year. I felt so ashamed and even started avoiding him, despite living with him and how awful it made him feel, like I was rejecting him. I think the shame was more the problem than my reaction. If it weren’t for the shame, I wouldn’t have avoided him, he wouldn’t have been hurt and I would have been more likely to tell him, which he would likely not have freaked out. He told me some things equally as shameful anyway.

    I will add one thing though. Over the last 20 years, I have had two men tell me that I didn’t hug them appropriately because I allowed my pelvis to touch theirs. I honestly never thought about it, this seemed normal to me and I wasn’t turned on by it. Both instances made me feel ashamed because the other guy knew I was SSA, and I felt like I was being judged/rejected. Are my experiences unusual? I always assumed most SSA men had nearly all homophobic male friends. I’m beginning to think though that I was just good at finding the guys that would disapprove of me and that I really just wanted to change their minds about how they saw me. Both of those instances made me hate hugs even more though. I ALWAYS follow that rule now and wonder if you or anyone else follows that rule or has had a comment like that?

    • Kevin Frye

      It sucks that you’ve had other guys correct your hugging style like this. I think that makes them sound very insecure. They probably had their own shame and fear issues that caused them to reject your affection. I’ve never really had an experience exactly like yours, but there are guys like that out there and probably a lot of people have had some kind of awkward rejection or criticism thrown at them when they’ve tried to be affectionate. Having SSA, being a Christian, and being a man at the same time often requires some pretty thick skin. We’re not all pansies. Christian SSA guys are some of the strongest, toughest men I know.

  • The Daily Ground Hog

    My 9th grade gym class was rough…actually it was the locker room. Lot of nice looking guys my age at different levels or ‘growth and maturity’. A gang shower is no place for a young homo, or maybe it is, but I was sooooooooooo distracted. I was standing at my locker immediately down from my first crush (Randy D). I could not get my towel off and me into my pants soon enough. I was a grower not a showwer and I was growing. My buddy kind of grinned at me. He knew I was looking a bit larger than usual. It was almost like he was surprised it got that big. Never did talk about it though. He continued to be my friend and I continued to help him with earth science. Gym class was different after that. I tried to get in and out of the shower as quickly as possible. It is no place to bone up. I remember Elton Ford (NOT HIS REAL NAME). Even the girls called him Boner because it happened to him too and every body talked about it.

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  • Rasul Khasanov

    Sorry, I don’t have time for a long comment. I just want to thank you, Kevin, for what you do and to say I love you. God bless you! Greetings from Russia.

  • Eddie

    I would have to say that unwanted erections have proved to be embarrassing and socially disastrous on more than one occasion. It was on two occasions in high school while showering with my football teammates that an unwanted hard-ons caused me to abstain from using the shower facilities in the locker room during football practices. I thought that the cause was either I came to discover masturbation and was experiencing a psychosomatic reaction to being naked. Or I was simply suffering from anxiety that my teammates were going to take advantage of me in this naked and vulnerable state. It was the latter fear that I came to realize was what I was causing me to feel frightened and exposed. As you might have guessed, I was bullied as kid. Not by everyone, but I couldn’t take the chance of jeopardizing my reputation in school with homosexual gossip.

    There were also times in college when I was in the company of other guys in my dorm’s shower area that I experienced unwanted boners. One of my neighbors came to see my erection as a gay red flag where he wasn’t entirely comfortable being in my presence. He seemed he was wary if I was going to hit on him or make a pass. Needless to say we kept our relationship professional. Sadly I was ridiculed and kind of outed when someone wrote the word “Fag” on my dorm room door. I’m not convinced everyone bought into it as, even today, I’m a pretty “masculine” kind of guy.

    The hardest rejection I experienced was when my friend Frank inadvertently caught sight of another of one of my arousal moments while on a Christian group beach trip. That single incident destroyed our friendship to this very day. Beforehand, Frank would greet me with a hug when we would meet after a time being separated. Nowadays, he refuses to be a Facebook friend with me and the last time we meet in person he greeted me with a cold and distant “Hey.” No handshake or hug. He was now homophobic with me.

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  • Jerry Reiter

    Erections occasionally happen randomly, but if they happen routinely for one gender, then just accept the fact that the boners don’t lie.

  • Christian

    I just read this article for the first time… I don’t know how you do it Kevin, but you write exactly what I need to hear. I am always afraid of the boner! I think my greatest fear in life is another guy seeing me with an erection and somehow thereby deducing correctly all my deepest darkest secrets.

    I get boners all the the freaking time. The other day I was working where there were no bathrooms, so I said I was going to pee behind a nearby bush. My friend came with me…i got scared because I knew what was going to happen….we took out our penises and i started to get hard, and couldn’t pee. I stood there awkwardly and finally said ‘i guess I don’t have to pee after all’ … then we went back to work, my bladder still screaming. This happens a lot – I can’t even pee near another guy. I wasn’t sexually turned on at all. I was just nervous. about what? I was nervous about being nervous about nonsense.

    Another time, I guy I work with who I respect a lot waited on me to finish something before going to lunch… I commented that he didn’t have to wait for me, but he said he wanted my company, or something genuinely nice like that. It made me feel really valued….and I started to get hard. I was so mad at myself. I can’t receive a complement with out it going to my head? (haha…awkward joke…)

    When I was in college my roommates and I would go to the sauna at my roommate’s Finish uncle’s house. They would all get naked and swim in the pool out in the middle of the words and use the sauna. It really was fun, and good for me to be a part of healthy male bonding experiences like that. But I, of course, always dreaded the boner. my solution was that I would sneak away right before going and masturbate… i called it ‘erection protection’ , i knew that if I masturbated I would be less likely to spring a boner for the next couple hours. for the most part this worked. But i always felt guilt about it. None of the other guys had to sneak off to masturbate. Why was I different?

    Kevin, you wrote once about your experience showering at the YMCA… I’m jealous of experiences like this. I want so badly just to fit in, to be able to be naked around other guys without thinking twice about it. How do you do that and remain flaccid the whole time? or do you just not care? or is it something I need to get used to?

    It is hard to believe that erections do not necessarily indicate the focus of my sexual attraction. but i know it is true. it is just a big insecurity of mine and i don’t know how to get past it.

    the one good thing – and i joke about this with my wife – is that shell never have to worry about me struggling with erectile disfunction!

    • Brian

      Oh man, story of my life Christian. I get erections a lot too and often in places where I don’t want. If I share affectionate words between male friends I feel that wonderful warm feeling in my heart but its like that energy has no proper outlet so it just plummets down to my loins and I get erect.
      Can totally relate to your peeing experience too. There have been times when using urinals close to other guy friends with no dividers and I guess I just get nervous then I get erect and can’t pee. So frustrating. I have had a few unfortunate scenarios where I’ve used gym showers and gotten hard while using them. I hope no one noticed. I think its mostly just out of nervousness and something in your brain clicks like “oh man I’m naked where people can see me!” and my penis reacts accordingly. However, I do think masturbating beforehand does help. Of course that may be problematic for an SSA Christian who’s trying to cut down on masturbation. I think mostly its just an issue of getting used to doing it. Once the novelty of being naked with other men wears off I think it just becomes a normal thing and eventually your brain will go accordingly and probably calm down then you won’t have to masturbate.
      I definitely want to get to a point where I can be naked with other guys and have it be no big deal. Because underneath the erections and some arousals I can sense the real bonding underneath it all. To be vulnerable with other men and show that underneath all the clothes we’re not much different. It is however very difficult to find scenarios to practice this because most men now are super insecure about same sex nudity. Most men avoid it and gyms often have stalls for showers instead of gang showers now.

      • Malcolm

        I am older than most of you guys (50) and I went to school back when everyone was still required to shower after gym class in communal showers. Having an erection in front of other guys is one of the most feared things for all guys whether they have SSA or not. The arousal isn’t from seeing the other guys but just the novelty of being naked in a public space. I think on a subconscious level our bodies associate nudity with arousal and so you get aroused just by air hitting places that are normally covered. Over time, you get used to the situation, so it is no longer a problem.

        Even though I had to shower in front of other guys in school, by the time I joined a gym a couple of years ago, it had been 25+ years since I had been naked around other guys in a locker room, and this was a little bit of a problem for a while until I got used to it again. I will give you a couple of tips for dealing for it: At the first inkling of arousal, flex your major muscle groups. This will draw blood to your muscles and away from your penis. Some people also say that holding your breath will do the trick. However, you don’t want to overdo it and pass out! By the way, a lot of guys can’t pee in front of other guys even if they aren’t getting an erection. They just can’t relax enough to let it go. This is sometimes called having a “shy kidney”. This is so common that I don’t really think that it is anything to be ashamed of. If the situation comes up, just admit that you have a shy kidney and you need some privacy to pee.

    • Bryan

      Haha way to look on the upside Christian! (Pun originally unintended, but I’ll go with it.) Lucky for your wife. I totally get what you mean though. I used to go to the YMCA, and I was always afraid of shower boners… I wanted to be comfortable in the shower and not worry about what my dick was doing, but I always ended up cutting my showers short when I felt that starting. This morning I had a massage appointment with a middle-aged woman I am not attracted to, but I was still worried when she started rubbing my legs. I stayed thinking about my to-do list at work as a distraction. Fortunately it worked.

    • Kevin Frye

      I’m glad you got so much from the article, Christian. I think your inability to pee around other guys is normal for everyone, SSA or OSA, and I think most people know it. I’ve had some good laughs about this with my own friends. It’s really not a big deal.

      And yeah, I’ve tried masturbating to prevent unwanted boners before, too. Actually, I’ve tried masturbating to fix a lot of problems in my life. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t.

      I’ve never gotten hard in a public setting such as a shower or locker room before. I don’t know why; I guess something in my head just switches off and I don’t view that setting as being a remote possibility for sexual expression or arousal. However, I did get a major boner in the shower when I was staying in a hotel room in Tokyo with a friend of mine back in 2012. I hadn’t had any sexual release in at least a week before that, so my body was screaming for it. And I hadn’t taken any clothes with me into the bathroom to change into, so when I finished my shower, I stepped out of the bathroom and told my friend that I had a boner that wouldn’t give up but I had to get dressed anyway. He said he didn’t care, so I hung out naked and rock hard for a couple minutes in front of my friend and it was nothing. Neither of us made it into a problem, I got dressed, and we went out to a restaurant. It’s that simple.

      I’ve found the best way to get past insecurities and fear is to face them head-on and prove them to be groundless. That means we need to get naked with other guys sometimes, even if we get hard, and prove to ourselves and to Satan that it’s okay — there is nothing to be afraid of because we know the truth, and that is that we are loved.

  • Kevin,
    I’ve read this post a few times and just now came back to comment. Your words resonate with me and have helped me feel a lot less weird about things. Boners just happen, and they don’t determine our sexual desires. Such freeing words. I’d love to write a post some day about my experiences with this topic.

    • Kevin Frye

      And I’d love to read it! We should swap boner stories sometime, John. They’re always a lot of fun!

  • mistaken identity

    Kevin, I think we can safely say that this boner has now reached the state of priapism, since we are nine months in and it shows no signs of deflating any time soon. I seem to learn something new here every time I read it. I had never considered Malcolm’s idea of holding your breath in the shower room, but I’m sure if I did I would certainly pass out and be found naked and engorged over the drain, with a puddle building up around me and my gym brothers turning away in disgust.

    I’m thinking back about the most embarrassing erections of all time. In junior high, there was the day I wore those flimsy, polyester pants that showed all and must have had outstanding rubbing qualities. I was hard the whole day and frightfully embarrassed. At break times, I ran to the locker area and hid in the shadows until the bells rang. I don’t think I have worn polyester since. They there was the time I got back together with my college sweetheart around Christmas time. I thought we were done for good, but then we were walking down Higuera Avenue with all those decorations and carols, and my body was just exulting. I tried to hide it by leaning into her, but I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I didn’t lean in too closely. I almost threw out my young back with the weird posturing.

    And today I do not have to worry about such things. He just will not come out of slumber unless there is solid contact. Now, he wakes up frequently and can stay at a task for long periods of time, but I do miss the times when he would stand at attention whenever my wife walked into a room, especially after a shower. We now joke that it is not gentlemanly of him to stay seated when a lady walks in. I joke, but in a way I also miss those days, those days when I would be so mortified by his unruliness and uppityness..

    • Kevin Frye

      Haha! Good stories, man! I actually did pass out naked in the locker room of a public bathhouse here in Japan a few years ago. I didn’t have an erection, though. They had to call a paramedic team to come in, and I woke up with a nurse lifting my head and surrounded by a bunch of naked and half-naked Japanese guys staring at me. I was fine though. I went right home after that.

      • mistaken identity

        Do you know what caused that?

        • Kevin Frye

          Yeah, I had spent too much time in the hot baths which thinned my blood, then I got up and moved too fast. As soon as I reached my locker, I blacked out. It’s a fairly common thing here.

  • I started realizing I was SSA when I was twelve. I had gone to summer camp and our scout master insisted we take showers and suddenly I found myself with at least a dozen other naked boys. I was suddenly terrified that I would get an erection and that they would find out that I was gay. Fortunately it only lasted a week, but now I was infatuated with seeing other boys. Then junior high started and now I had to see guys undress daily. That was a real bitch, because I was suddenly seeing guys in their underwear or worse naked everywhere. I had to think of my grandmother naked just to keep from getting hard, and then go release through masturbation when I got home. I hated it.

  • Samuel M-Eshleman

    Kevin, reading these posts, I sincerely appreciate how you step up and write the awkward ones. This year, I am trying to bring more awkwardness to the church. We need more messy conversations. My next message is about the sex industry; that should be fun.

  • I must say, Kevin, I admire your straight-forwardness here. This is quite possibly the most “in touch” article on this topic that I’ve ever run across. A very affirming approach to a much avoided issue. You approached this in a way that, by far, expresses so much of how I personally feel about it as a topic, and how I wish I knew that my friends also felt about it.

    The best part is how you expressed that you don’t allow erections to get in the way of, or distract you from sharing affection with your friends. That is how I wish this world of “masculinity” we’re living in could always be. Great write! I’m going directly to the link you provided about cuddling with your friends, next. Can’t wait to read that one too.

    http://www.beyondtheshadesofgray.org