When I Moved in with a Guy

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Non-sexual friendships are vitally important to everyone, especially to guys like me who deal with same-sex attraction (SSA). God has used my friends again and again to help me in my fight against sexual sin. In my next few posts, I will be telling the stories of male friendships that have had the most impact on my life.

When my gay brother, Brad, who shared a dorm room with me, received his “booty call” from some guy one night, I decided I had to move out. It was then that a guy named Brandon invited me to come live with him.

I met Brandon at the church I attended in college. He was thin with blonde hair, but what stood out to me most was the intensity of emotion behind his words and actions.

Brandon was a “sensitive guy” who also happened to be very straight. We became friends because we shared in common the most important thing to each of us: our relationship with God.

Brandon lived in a low rent house crowded with other Christian college students. The place was located behind a bar called The Guzzling Gator, and it was common to have drunk guys urinating outside my bedroom window or passing out in the backyard.

But I didn’t care how bad the house’s location was; I was just happy to have moved out and be living with my friend, Brandon!

One hot summer night with no air-conditioning, Brandon and I had an argument over what speed we should set the ceiling fan. Things very quickly degenerated to the point where every conversation would turn into an argument.

We were both Christians living in a house full of Christians, so we soon realized that we needed to change. We asked each other’s forgiveness for our behavior that was so lacking in Christian love.

What we did next is what turned everything around: We agreed to pray together whenever an argument started; needless to say, we prayed together a lot over the next few months, and that brought us incredibly close as friends.

We hugged often, and yes, we discussed my battle with SSA, too.

When Brandon left school and joined the military, I was the only one with him at the bus station saying goodbye. When he later finished his military commitment, I had already moved to a large city hundreds of miles away, but he called me and asked if he could move in with me and some other guys there.

Brandon valued our friendship so much that he decided to leave his friends and family in his hometown and start over where I lived!

To be continued . . .

Do you currently or have you ever lived with other guy(s)? What’s been great, and what’s been challenging about these male living situations? Are you open about SSA with your roommates?

* Photo courtesy mharvey.nyc, Creative Commons.

  • bluzhawk

    Hey Marshall, just want to give you props. I only know you thru reading your posts but what comes thru is a genuineness and peace and someone really solid. You seem like the real deal.
    I lived in a frat house for 2 years in college before I started to figure things out. It was fun and confusing and helped. Following Jesus now, I wouldn’t do it again, or it would be tough to do. After college, I rented a house with Christian guys, one a pastor, and it was just better. No regrets tho, I think everything we go thru, good and bad, in sometimes unexplainable ways, helps us now.

    • Thanks so much for your compliments! I seek to be an older brother to many, and I hope they also see me as trustworthy. BTW people who know me well will laugh when you call me “real deal”.

  • mike

    As a kid I was always alone and lonely. I vowed to end that when I grew up. Room mates always was me until I got married. Some knew of my SSA others did not. Those who knew came later after I became a Christian and God used them in my healing journey. It was all a very positive experience for me without arguments etc. that you mention. For a while I lived alone and hated it! I’m convinced of the truth of Scripture that “it is not good for the man to be alone”. Aloneness for me meant return to narcissistic me: isolation, boredom, more opportunity for masturbation and the like to combat loneliness. Not good for me. Always tried to avoid living alone. Now am married and love it. Can men with SSA marry a girl? Yes. There is no such prohibition in Scripture.

    • Yes, many Christian men who deal with SSA do find happiness in marriage to a woman, and I know several myself. I do believe that we all should talk about our SSA with any woman we want to marry, BEFORE we ask her to marry. She should be fully informed about the issues and willing to make whatever sacrifices are needed to support a SSA husband.

      I also agree it is better to have roommates than to be alone!

      • mike

        Hi Marshall. Yes, I agree. Authenticity must be there before marriage. No man is without weakness no matter what the issues. You make it sound like SSA is somehow worse than issues of porn., tendency to be dishonest, weaknesses with money, OSA lust, etc. I believe all fleshly weaknesses are the same and must be under Holy Spirit control prior to marriage and after.
        Now sexual sins are worse than money issues because whether SSA or OGA lust they each constitute adultery, unfaithfulness and grounds for divorce. Any man entering marriage must understand that. I’m not sure what specific sacrifices you have in mind?

        • mistaken identity

          Hey Mike, if you like my wife could give you a much longer list, but here is a short one for a start: feeling inadequate because she is a woman (lacking a 6 pack, etc), dealing with the accompanying depression (of course many OSA wives have the same burden but are able to talk more freely about its source, especially to church ladies), the next 6 issues on the list all have to do with communication difficulties in the church (it is much safer to talk to your small group about drugs or heterosexual porn), fear of a bad end to the marriage (of course this is also ridiculously true of OSA but at least a woman feels she has what it takes to fight another woman). Hope that is helpful.

          • mike

            I see it differently. Marriage is the most difficult of human relationships. Two imperfect humans become one flesh joined by God. They each have their issues. Not just one. Each is responsible to workout their own issues walking in the Spirit. There is no room for codependency which leads to depression and such. The only thing worthwhile that they have to give to each other is what God gives them. Therefore, it is incumbent that each desperately seek God at every moment. I believe a marriage can only blossom if both receive from God and then give to each other what they have received from Him. My marriage only works when both of us ask God to make it work. I know that if one of us falls away from God my marriage will fail. I also know this: God invented marriage and He is so jealous to make it work. Only God can make marriage blossom and make it beautiful. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have never entered into it given the high divorce rate even in Christian marriages!

          • mistaken identity

            I’m not sure what you see differently. God makes my marriage blossom and very beautiful. And each of us is responsibly working out our issues through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Ah, this may be the difference. I don’t think any of us seek God desperately at every moment. I know I do not, and I praise God for the grace that covers my lapses. Are we to understand from your interactions here that you are desperately seeking God every moment? My wife has not engaged in codependency in decades and finds your summary seriously lacking in wisdom and compassion.

          • mike

            Not sure why you take it personally. Sorry, I wasn’t talking about you. With your list(s) you appear quite negative regarding SSA’d entering into a heterosexual marriage. In my opinion, this is a distorted picture unless you have valid statistics to show that these marriages are indeed outliers requiring unique sacrifices for spouses compared to marriages where SSA is not a feature. I really don’t like that bias. Marriage is difficult and the divorce rates prove it. But marriage doesn’t have to be that way: negative!
            I’m glad God makes your marriage blossom. Let’s agree that no matter what issues exist for marriage partners only God can make marriage beautiful :).

          • mistaken identity

            Hey Mike, we do agree on that certainly. And we certainly agree that SSA men should not feel themselves less than other men, though that is a common struggle. But as you said yourself, the church has a different stigma. There is the center of the problem. A marriage is ideally supported by a strong church community. That support can be seriously compromised by the stigma you referenced. But God… He can overcome every human mess and all harm brought about by ignorance, selfishness and sin. I am not negative about SSAs entering into heterosexual marriage if that is God’s plan for the man. It has been my route to salvation, to understanding Christ and his sacrifice/love for me. I was simply agreeing with Marshall’s point that we need to clearly communicate our issue prior to marriage. You may need statistics to accept the validity of that, but you have probably noticed that the church is not so keen on science so those statistics are not coming anytime soon. My wife hasn’t seen such statistics but she is very clear on the special challenges the wife of an SSA faces.

          • Bryon

            I spoke with two wives about their challenges being married to an SSA, and they both felt there were different (in their eyes) than the challenges other wives face. I see them as basically the same, although the lack of interest in sex was a big one for them. There are OSA men who lack interest, or have a wandering eye, or unfaithful. I think it is the isolation you talk about that makes it “different” for these women. They don’t feel as able to talk about it with other women, sometimes because their husband doesn’t want anyone else in the Church to know about their SSA. Both of the couples I met though did not have that problem though and they were open about their struggle with other trusted men and women in the church they attended. I do see how this perception happens, and I agree that it can feel much more difficult for those couples. I wish there were better outlets all over the world for people in mixed marriages to talk about their issues more openly.

          • mistaken identity

            I share your wish, Bryon, and I elevate it to a prayer. This place is a good start.

        • Mike, the sacrifices I was thinking about were things like: recurring doubts about whether my love is authentic, suspicions of other men, and of course dealing with the inevitable constant gossip even among other Christians.

          • mike

            Marshall, those are all valid concerns for a wife to have. But why is that different for a wife with a man who just has OGA and might play the field because of his strong lust? While the church might have a different stigma for SSA’d men, God doesn’t see any difference: adultery whether with a man or another women is the same! Lust is lust and consequently I don’t believe SSA’d men should feel themselves less than other men nor believe their wives have to make special sacrifices that other wives don’t. The onus is on the man to put an end to any doubts whether his love is authentic and erasing any suspicions that other men would be a threat. The “inevitable constant gossip” I have not experienced. That would be a sick church to engage in that kind of thing!

          • I agree that SSA is no different than OGA lust for other women. Both can destroy a marriage and men in both situations should have frank discussions with a potential wife BEFORE engagement.

            Unfortunately, in my experience those who deal with SSA are definitely subjected to more gossip than those who don’t. It does indicate a sick church, it shouldn’t be true, but unfortunately it is. Hopefully we can help change that.

          • mike

            I live Vancouver Canada where the culture Is very merciful toward gays and has been for a long time. In fact society here has put the church to shame regarding gay people. For a long time there has been more mercy in society here toward gays than found in the churches. That has changed now and there is virtually little stigma toward gay people in the churches. The liberal churches welcome same sex marriage while the conservative ones welcome them in celibate or heterosexual marriage.
            My own church is very sin oriented. Meaning that everyone sees themselves on equal footing: sinners saved by grace. There are two heterosexual married couples with SSA’d men and the church has been most loving and affirming.
            I’m sorry to hear of a different situation where you live Marshall. May you find a church that disciplines gossipers and learns how to love everyone equally.

      • Bryon

        I also agree it can be better to not be alone, especially for temptation to look at porn or masturbate, but I have always like living alone. I’m 50% introvert, so I think it depends on your orientation (pun intended). I do like to be with people, but if I were married, I would need alone time in order to be happy. I have always needed about 50/50, and i realize that is not realistic in a marriage.

        • Byron,
          I definitely face less sexual temptation when I live with Christian roommates, but also I am usually happier. I tend to find common ground and develop friendships.

          I have never had attraction issues with SSA roommates but sometimes there is tension because they are often afraid I will out them. In several situations I was the only one in the house that knew.

  • mistaken identity

    Hey Marshall, you and Brandon came up with an answer to arguments quicker than many Christian married couples. What a privilege to be with him at that bus station. I just noticed that you are in pharmaceuticals. I considered that profession many years ago. My first degree was in biochem, and I was too clumsy to go into medicine. I just know I would have left a pair of scissors in someone’s duodenum. I did live with a Christian brother when I was an undergraduate. He is now my son’s godfather. I was open with him for about 3 and a half minutes. I couldn’t answer any of the follow up questions he asked, and I just left him more confused. I did open up to my soon-to-be wife several months later though.

    • That answer to arguments was suggested by a pastor who had been married to his wife for around 40 years. It worked for them!

      Yes, talking about sensitive subjects with a new roommate can be difficult. You have to build trust before you can talk in depth.

      I work for a company that manufactures prescription drugs, and yes, I need to be cautious and thorough. The wrong mistake could contaminate our product and kill a patient.

  • Karl Jacob

    I recently went Starbucks with my future roommate and we talked for an hour or two. We talked a bit about accountability, and I’m sure he’ll take my being open with him well. It hasn’t happened yet, though, so we’ll see how things go. I’m really looking forward to living with him. He’s a great brother in Christ!

    • That kind of friendship is something to look forward to! Never be in a hurry to share about SSA. I always waited until I knew I could trust someone before I talked about SSA. Eventually I felt comfortable telling a wider audience, but that took years and I had to be convince it would help others.

    • Bryon

      I decided at one time it would be better to have female roommates. While that roommate and I were friends and are no longer, there aren’t many Christian women who want to live with a man. There is a Facebook group here in Denver for Christians looking for a roommate and they are almost all women looking and specify only women. What do you think about that? It is frowned upon by the churches I went to in the past for obvious reasons, but does the same bode true for SSA people?
      I’m not asking this because I think you shouldn’t get your roommate, but I was struck with asking you the question for some unknown reason, so please don’t read into it.

      • Karl Jacob

        I definitely have noticed that trend in one of the groups I’m in where people post roommate requests as well. I really don’t know why that is. Maybe guys are more independent and less likely to want a roommate? In terms of being frowned upon, I really don’t know outside of my small circle. From my perspective, many people’s disapproval comes from non-married guys and girls living together supposedly looking bad and not so much that it is wrong in and of itself. I don’t like how this attitude carries over into a lot of areas of life. Some people would likely say that SSA guys shouldn’t live with other guys either. The reality, though, is that different things are going to cause different people to stumble, and not all straight or SSA guys are going to fit into the same mold in terms of what roommates will work.

        • Bryon

          Good point about not everyone having the same triggers. I had not thought of that. I tend to become attracted to a guy after spending a lot of time and talking intimately. I don’t think it is really about attraction, at least not at first. I tend to be co-dependent too so that messes everything up. Thanks for your insights.

  • I currently live with one of our YOB authors! We’ve lived together before years ago, and it’s refreshing to join forces again all these years later with some added years of maturity, wisdom, and perspective. We’re establishing a culture of communication right from the start, and I’m hopeful and confident of a fruitful community despite all my past male roommate failings. You live and you learn! It’s how God works in us.

    • Tom, of course I know both of you well enough to say that I am also very confident you will succeed as roommates! You both are solidly Christian and already communicate well with each other.

      Um, …. I would have chosen a different word besides “fruitful” to describe your community. In the distant past the word “fruit” was often used as an anti-gay slur…

      • mike

        I’m thinking it’s a good word, quite biblical indicating a community God empowered growing into the fruit of the Spirit :)!

        • Mike, yes “fruitful” is a very Biblical and appropriate word that communicates to Christians what Tom wants to say. People who are not familiar with the Bible or “Christianese” might misunderstand it. That is my only concern.

      • How about vegetable-ful?

        • Haha, Tom, you know me well enough to know I am not offended at all, but believe it or not you just inadvertently referred to a horrible anti-gay joke. Back when it used to be ok to make anti-gay jokes in public, this one went around:

          What makes HIV an unusual disease? It turns fruits into vegetables…

    • mike

      I lived with a SSA’d guy for a number of years. I had led him to Christ and I thought it would be good for him to join my other straight roommate to share a house. We could all grow in Christ in community. It was a horrible experience for me. I became attracted to him and maintaining emotional boundaries was a nightmare for me. By God’s Grace nothing sexual happened and it helped that he wasn’t attracted to me. I’m not sure I would ever do that again. I did live and learn. But it was very painful learning. May God give you strength and protection.

    • Eddie

      Once again you are not alone Tom… “past male roommate failings.” I’m sure we could swap “war stories” in that area. Anyway, I’m relieved to find YOB and now I’m not alone either. Just bought your book today and now at Chapter 4. Hope to finish it soon. Peace from the Q.C.!

      • Thanks for the support, Eddie! I’d love your thoughts on the book when you finish. Feel free to reach out and email me anytime. Hope my story blesses you in your own journey. Much love!

    • Bryon

      From what i know about you, I would gather you agonized over those conflicts as I did. I don’t take loss well and I certainly don’t like losing a friend. My current roommate and I aren’t going along wonderfully, but we aren’t really close either. I too have some bad experiences and one friend barely survives as a friend after that experience, while another did not. Still, I learned a lot from those situations, especially about communication, my attitude about conflict and how to develop courage to face it. I hope you have had some positive growth from it as well.

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  • Bryon

    Well, straight roommates; could I tell stories. I will have to say, the most satisfying sin I have ever experienced was the times when I saw a straight friend or roommate I was attracted to naked. I learned quickly that having a male roommate was NOT a good idea, and I told people when they suggested it. My current roommate, who is my first male roommate in about 9 years, is thankfully not attractive to me. I have had good relationships with these guys I was attracted to though and we bonded a great deal. It was just torture for me to keep the secret I was attracted to them, and sometimes I told them. Two of the three cases it was still good after I disclosed. I have never really had a gay friend though. I think your story Marshall shows how redemptive those straight relationships can be though, especially when we invest ourselves in Christ THROUGH the relationship. That was what I did with my closest friends, and that was why we could be so close. I’ve lost touch with all but one, and the one I still talk to was the person who I fought with the most. We prayed sometimes, but not as often as you did, and I’m very disappointed in how that worked out. I think if we had, it would have been better and helped us not to almost stop being friends twice. Thanks for reminding me of the power of prayer.

    • Byron,

      In the last 10 years I can’t remember even one time I saw a male roommate naked. Most guys I know are careful not to be seen that way. I did live in a house once with 4 other guys and only one bathroom. Some of the guys used to wait to take a shower wearing just boxers. One day one of their girlfriends showed up and saw a guy in his boxers who was NOT her boyfriend. That put an end to it.

      • Bryon

        I wish I could say it was their choice all the time. 🙁

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  • Brandon Parrish

    Brandon sure sounds like a swell guy! Good name (kind of) haha! I’m about to move out for the first time, I know… I’m a young’in. I’m going to be moving in with 3 guys from my church. I hope it goes well, but Im sure there are going to be a lot of opportunities for “growth”