Elliott’s Story: Chapter Thirteen
Those next four years were some of the most formative years of my life — relationally, spiritually, and personally. I went from few friends to many friends; from no one knowing of my struggles to handfuls of people knowing all my secrets; from knowing no other same-sex attracted guys to seeing them every day.
It was the season of best friends and brotherhood, and it was extremely healing.
I wish I could go through the entire list and tell you about each and every man I met and how each one changed me. I wish I could tell of each and every long conversation we had, and of the kind looks in their eyes and the warm embraces we shared.
The silly moments like running in the rain or the simple things like brushing our teeth together.
The times when we cried for hours and got upset and threw things across the room.
All the moments that make up living life together.
Yet I can’t translate all of those memories to you in a few hundred words. I will however highlight some of the most poignant people and moments that affected me most with regard to my SSA journey. Those moments that will never fade from my memory.
I wrote recently about my best friend Nathan, and he truly was my best friend. We often joked of having two halves of the same brain because we would not even need to use words to communicate with each other; we were that in sync.
I felt more myself and more comfortable with him than with any other person I have ever met to date. There was such an openness and understanding between us, and I had no fear in that relationship.
There was no fear of ever losing Nathan or ever being alone again, for God had answered my years of prayer for a best friend. Nathan taught me how to let go and enjoy life, even if it is difficult; that there is always a reason to laugh and what it really means to be creative.
A fellow blogger from our old Xanga community suggested I get in touch with another blogger who lived near me. So, I contacted Jesse, and we met. I shared my story with him, and he shared his with me. He was a few years older than me and had been journeying for much longer than I. His eyes told the depths of his story, and they just overflowed with love.
Our relationship grew, and he became to me like the big brother I had always wanted.
One night, while sitting in his car, I began to unload more of my story and past hurt. I told him about my suicide attempt and Google search that ended up leading me to that Xanga community — in essence, that Google search saved my life.
His eyes misted over, and he looked at me. I asked what he was thinking, and he said: “I started that blogging community.”
Whoooosh! The dots connected right before my eyes, and I felt that deep sense of what was traditionally called Providence. God did this.
I became friends with this man who saved me from suicide and unknowingly changed the course of my life — and not just any friends, but very close ones.
We traveled the country together and eventually became roommates. He single-handedly taught me the importance of healthy, non-sexual, physical affection. We would hug a lot and also cuddle and even sleep in the same bed some nights. There was never anything sexual between us, and it really helped to make me desexualize my relationships with other men (like Kevin mentioned in his post).
There was another man I befriended by happenstance. In a groggy, post-nap stupor, I stumbled into my college cafeteria and sat down at a table of strangers. Little did I know that two of those people at the table would become two of the most influential people in my life.
One was named Cody. He was a loud attention-seeker, but inside he had a heart of gold. We connected quickly. His compassion and confidence were what drew me to him.
I opened up to Cody about my same-sex attraction, and he received me with open arms; in fact, one night while sitting on my couch, he wrapped his arms around me — well past the “normal” hug length, and he would not let go.
It was a bit awkward at first, but it felt so good.
Then something within me broke, and it broke hard.
I started weeping uncontrollably — as if there was a secret well of un-shed tears that had been locked for 20 years, deep inside my soul, and the combination to the lock was the security of an unrelenting embrace. That moment sealed our fate as friends and bonded us together in a deep and powerful way. He would hug me like no one else ever had or ever would.
Cody remains one of the most influential men in my life, even to this day. I do not see him nearly as much as I would like.
There was another man who I met with the most mystical of origins. I knew nothing about him but would see him around campus here and there. It’s hard to describe, but I felt like he was highlighted by God to me. For whatever reason, I needed to speak with him — to be his friend, even though I knew nothing about him. Not even his name.
I discovered through a mutual friend that his name was James and that we were in the same major. At a picnic, I introduced myself to him and we instantly found many things in common to “geek out” over. We then planned a continuation conversation at a local restaurant for lunch.
We talked about everything from families and fears to hopes and dreams. By the time we “finished,” it was well past the dinner hour. To this day, that was one of the greatest conversations I have ever engaged in.
The bond we share is probably the most mystical of any I’ve ever had. We often talked about our friendship as being that of David and Jonathan’s, for it seems there was a spiritual tie connecting us together even before we met.
I truly care for this man unlike any other, because it feels the most pure to me. There is absolutely nothing sexual in my love for him. It was deeper than that, just as David and Jonathan’s love was greater than that of women — mysterious. Whenever James and I would depart from each other, it would be mingled with the deepest grief and the largest tears of any other parting to date.
I want nothing but health, wholeness, and love for this dear brother of mine.
Finally, I found a life-long brother in a man who, up to that point, I had only known digitally through our Xanga blogging community. We commented on each other’s blogs and chatted here and there. It wasn’t until a summer conference in the Midwest that we met in person for the very first time. I ambushed him in the parking lot with a hug, and our online relationship soon turned to flesh and blood.
We would meet in snowy Pennsylvania during the holidays to reconnect over coffee and conversation. It wasn’t until a year or so later that we were talking on the Internet that this guy wanted to make a big life-change, and I suggested he come out from the East Coast to live with me and my friends in California.
To my surprise and great joy, he accepted my offer and made the courageous move — though upon his initial arrival, I was bedridden with poison oak and sadly couldn’t hug him for days.
This man and I would live together for two years and share many of life’s toughest moments together. Though I found brotherhood in many men at this time in my life, this guy was probably the one who was in the trenches with me the most. The one who shared my deepest pains and fears, and the one with whom I’d have the hardest conversations and shed the most vulnerable tears.
This brother of mine is also one of your other brothers here — none other than Tom himself. Our brotherhood would endure many trials and span many miles, and I still feel like it has only just begun.
During these times when I was surrounded by such a large family of confidants and brothers, my struggles with homosexuality were so far on the back-burner.
I learned that in community — honest, intentional community — my needs would often be met in healthy ways and the struggles were not nearly as intense.
Something I will talk about more in my next post.
Who are some of your most valued brotherly relationships? What are some pivotal experiences you’ve shared in healthy brotherhood, and how have these friendships intersected in your struggles with homosexuality and lust at large?
* Photo courtesy jenny-pics, Creative Commons.