YOBcast Episode 005: Wanting to be Known

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Why do we want to be known? Is being well-known the same as being known well?

In this episode, Tom and Elliott discuss coming home from the YOB retreat, podcast reactions and reviews from our first four episodes, our first listener meetup in an apple orchard, and the concept of being known as Christian guys publicly sharing their stories of faith and homosexuality. Being known both on the Internet and off.

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Enjoy the show! And don’t forget to chime in with our listener question of the week: how open are you with your story of faith and homosexuality? Do you ever envision telling your story to a larger audience — or not so much? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

Show notes for Episode 005:

Elliott’s YouTube channel

Tom’s book, Struggle Centralon Amazon

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  • Dan Myers

    Hey Tom and Elliott! Been lurking on the site for a while so this is my first comment! Also the first YOBcast I’ve gotten to listen to. Thank you so much for expressing your desire to be known well. I can definitely relate. When it comes to my struggles with SSA, my mom and a few close friends are the only people that know. Outside of these close friends, I can’t really say there are many people I would call friends that are local and I interact with. Being a PhD student is a pretty isolating experience and most of the friends I made through my program have graduated and moved on. So, I’m definitely at a time in my life where the YOB community is very valuable. It’s great to have people to open up to and who understand. For me, it seems easier and easier to open up about SSA after you tell the first couple people. My mom was a big one…. but the support I received and the open dialogue that followed between us will always be one of my favorite memories. I’m almost moved to tears writing about it. The enemy wants us isolated and disconnected. Now my mom is able to encourage me. She said that now she can pray for me more specifically. I have another ally in my war against the flesh! That’s amazing guys! These are some of the many benefits to sharing your story, and I’d love to expand on this story and any others that I may share. Any brother should feel free to reach out 🙂

    I also wanted to point out the value in having different personalities in our community. We can already see that here in this YOBcast. The different desires and experiences of Tom and Elliott. It makes it so that all of us have something or someone to relate to. Had a smile on my face when Elliott brought up speaking softly and constantly getting asked to repeat himself. This happens to me all the time, and unfortunately on top of that I’m an introvert, unlike Elliott. As we hear more and more stories from more and more brothers, we are all going to have pieces that we can relate to, and it’s going to give us that sense of community. We are not alone! Love you guys!

    Dan

    • mistaken identity

      another introvert here who is constantly being asked to repeat

      • Dan Myers

        Glad that we’re not alone. I definitely struggle to find my voice especially in larger groups. It’s just easier to stay quiet and listen. Except then I start to worry about how long it’s been since I’ve said something and if others notice and are judging me for being quiet. I just feel like no one cares what I have to say, which is a lie.

        • mistaken identity

          I’m glad too. And yes, that is a lie. Fight it! It took me almost 50 years to begin to find my voice. What field is the PhD?

          • Dan Myers

            Biomedical engineering. My research focuses on improving HIV medication.

          • mistaken identity

            That’s great! My son just entered a graduate biomedical program at Stanford. My first degree was biochem.

    • Eddie

      Welcome aboard Dan. The YOB blog and YOBcast certainly make up what I like to call the “cake and icing” to our online community. Enjoy all that it has to offer. Peace and love brother.

    • Elliott Gladwin

      So glad to have you here Dan!

      Love your points about different personalities and how it makes us more relatable as a community!

      • Dan Myers

        So thankful for you, Tom, and every personality that was, is, and will be taking part in YOB!

    • So glad you found us here, Dan. And so glad to see you introduce yourself for the first time! It’s great to have you with us. I’m glad you have someone like your mom in your court to help you feel less alone. That’s a huge deal, indeed. Thanks for your kind words about the podcast and our community at large. Hope to see more of you around here!

      • Dan Myers

        Thanks Tom! Don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to join a new community. For once, it’s actually about getting my life right, getting closer to God, and making Christian friends. I’ve had trouble keeping really intimate friends, and I’m realizing that it’s due to my deep desire to live for Christ which has been absent in my friends. I want to surround myself with brothers that want the same thing for me and for themselves.

    • Josh

      Welcome, Dan! So glad you’re here!

  • Eddie

    Tying in with Matt’s “Don’t call me a gay Christian” theme, I am not open with really anyone concerning my story of faith and homosexuality. I believe it is because the SSA is a part of my life, but not something I dwell on throughout out my days or define me. It also isn’t prominent as I have other mental issues I tend to deals with that sadly are more obvious like dealing with ADD and OCD. What I find more tragic is how closed off I am in being open with my faith alone. These days I am not as evangelical as I used to be or like to be. I have given testimony and been sent out to witness for Jesus. SSA just hovers below the surface. I could fashion my story of faith and carefully omit the SSA altogether, yet this sounds so deceitful going against the grain of being honest and vulnerable. Fear of rejection and gambling with the risk of losing relationships are just frightening to me. I don’t want to be thrown away like garbage because people fail to see beyond their own self-righteous bigotry. What’s sad is whatever new perception they have of me could be completely misconstrued. Of course, this is not what the Heavenly Father expects of me. #GreatCommision

    • Brian

      I’m sort of the same way. I don’t really feel compelled to share my story with people other than fellow side B types. I haven’t told any of my friends or my parents about it and I don’t feel a burning desire to do so. Its weird because I wish to have real intimacy yet I’m keeping something hidden. But what I’ve been searching so hard for is brotherhood with other straight men. Real intimacy, both non-sexually physical and emotional. If I tell other guys about it, I’m scared they’re not going to want to share that intimacy. They’ll assume that I’m just in it for a sexual high or something when that couldn’t be further for the truth. This is something that my heart longs for, not my loins.

      • Alan Gingery

        Be safe in who you choose Brian, but let yourself tell others about your need for male community, regardless of telling them about your SSA or not. You might be surprised how many confident men can be that loving friend w hen they know you are honest and vulnerable with your needs.

        • Brian

          Any advice on how to do this? Its kind of hard to walk up to a guy friend and be like “can I be vulnerable with you?”

          • Alan Gingery

            Tis a good question. Begin by being an interested listener yourself. Try to spot some guy(s) who seem open and honest, probably by listening and asking some open ended questions to him/them. Gauge his/their responsiveness.

            You are looking for someone/some guys with some maturity who is/are both confident, but not hiding faults behind a mask(s) of “having their life/lives all together”. Genuine and real guys admit their weaknesses as well as their strengths. You can volunteer to pray for someone who has a problem or two…

            Thank whoever you find that is open and ask them if you could have coffee with them sometime. Again, gauge the response. Open and receptive? Closed or too busy? Focus on receptive guys, and don’t give up if you get turned down more than once. Persist.

            At coffee or a walk, share a small part of your story…like some childhood struggle you had fitting in with the other kids (or) how you never felt close to your dad (or) how you felt insecure because you were not very athletic…whatever is True for you. Check for a sympathetic and understanding response…explain how this made it tough to relate to friends (or) whatever…and that is why you seek some Christian friends to belong with now…

            If you are getting positive vibes, thank your new friend and ask how you can pray for him. Spend sometime praying for one another…

            Ask if you can meet again sometime… Next time share a bit more of your story. It is like peeling back layers of an onion, one layer at a time. Keep going as long as you feel safe and your friend is responsive and supportive. Some men will go so far and then stop. Usually that is because of their own insecurities! You are looking for a vulnerable and seeking guy who loves Jesus a lot and is willing to go the extra mile… After you are really safe, you can tie all the stories you have told together and explain how this relates to unwanted SSA.

            All men need affirmation, attention and affection from their male community. Straight guys and SSA guys. Probably SSA guys have higher need for male community and often lower need fulfillment. Your need for healthy community is high, so here is your chance to do something proactive to build community starting with one or two safe Christian men…

            Hope this is helpful. Alan

          • mistaken identity

            That’s good, Alan.

      • Josh

        Totally, Brian. I’ve felt that way so often- wanting real intimacy- to be known well- but hiding something so core about who I am. You can’t really see what God is doing in my life, unless you know the whole story.

        Longing, and fear. Seems like the constant set of feelings. The only time I have felt differently about it, is when i was talking to someone who actually *loved* me- no strings attached. I was able to share my heart, and God stepped into that place, and did amazing things in both our lives.

    • You’re a blessing, Eddie. Thanks for being here and sharing more of your story with us!

    • Dan Myers

      I can relate to this for sure, Eddie. Before I told my mom about my SSA, I would think that its not like I’ll ever be dating guys or seeking out a homosexual relationship, so why does my family or friends even need to know? I think mike made a great point about this below. If you are not struggling with your SSA and have it under control, then maybe there aren’t many circumstances where it needs to be shared. In my case though, I have struggled with it my whole life, mostly online but also in person. Add to that my addiction to self-pleasure, and I am in a very dark place. For me, I need that support and even accountability that comes along with being open about it. It’s just so rare to find other guys who know this struggle, who have SSA but choose not to let it run their lives. That’s why I’m so, so grateful to have found YOB. Thanks for welcoming me, Eddie!

  • mike

    Cool podcast :). You guys are starting to share more personal things like you Elliot wanting a ‘husband’! But then you are in ministry and people need to see how you are working these things out.
    Me, not. I feel no need to disclose my personal stuff. Unless it might benefit someone struggling who might be leaning toward side B but feeling hopeless. I would share then that side A is what is hopeless like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole! But with osa guys what’s the benefit? They would not understand. How could they? It’s like me trying to understand their obsession with hockey!
    If one is struggling or into addiction then yes one must share. Meaningful connection is life saving. One must do it and so would I if things fell apart for me.

  • Tom, unlike you I do have a “round table” of straight guys who know me and regularly talk with me about my and their inner thoughts, feelings, dreams, whatever. It actually is one of the greatest blessings God has given me. I would rather have these friends than money, fame, or whatever earthly blessings I can think of.

  • Alan Gingery

    I would not be ashamed to share my public testimony about my faith and my journey with my unwanted SSA. I don’t at this time because it would be hard on my wife to deal with this. I have told 29 of my friends (or family members) in personal conversations to date, including three of my pastors. So I guess I’m pretty open about sharing my struggles with faith, homosexuality and masculinity.

    The first time I told my story to my long-time best friend was really difficult. I expected to feel ashamed afterward, but found that in confession to another man, that I felt free of the shame and guilt I had carried all my adult life. (James 5:15-16) was the verse that I felt I needed to be obedient to and this was a freeing experience for me.

    I do feel that I am “known well” by a number of my male friends. And that is a true blessing to someone who felt “outside” the male community as a child and teenager. I understand the importance of male community and belonging to heal those wounds that SSA men have. The LORD has blessed me with both “online” and “offline” friends. And I do my best to be a friend to other my brothers who need that same healing love I have experienced.

  • Josh

    Just joining the conversation- but I thought I would chime in!

    It’s hard for me to be open with people I care about. I have this voice in my head, that tells me to stop talking. It says, “You keep saying the same things. Your friends will get tired of hearing the same things over and over again. If you don’t shut up you will lose these friendships.”

    The voice says that if I’m really honest, and talk about what I’m struggling with, I will drive my friendships away. So eventually I stop talking. I stop talking so that I can save the friendship. Because it’s less painful to have a friend who is distant, than it is to have a close friend reject you- right??

    So I redirect the conversation to them, and keep asking them to talk, over and over again- because everyone loves to be listened to. Meanwhile, I’m avoiding any topic that is about me.

    Something similar happens with my family- I don’t open up because I’m afraid they will reject me. We have very surface level, but pleasant, relationships. After all, isn’t it better to enjoy a superficial dinner with them? Rather than opening up, risking disappointing them- and the aftermath of them trampling on my heart, as their stubborn beliefs stomp all over the place.

    I suppose that is where my messed up view of friendship came from- the belief that my experience isn’t really valid- “gay people are choosing to sin”, and “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Both messages were planted deep within me at a young age. I have spent so much time trying to change my attractions- which I couldn’t do. The whole thing made me feel like it’s not ok to struggle, and more than that, it’s not ok to be me. That in order to be moral, to be saved, I would have to destroy a part of myself so central, that I would destroy myself.

    So. I have a hard time with being transparent- I fear the rejection that comes from people criticizing my struggles, misunderstanding me, thinking they know who I am- when they really don’t.

    Strangely I have had the opportunity to tell many people about my struggles with being gay- accepting vs. hating myself. Grieving my past- and giving God the hurt and pain that goes for miles. A few times, God has used my pain to comfort others. More than anything else, it has given me compassion for the people that are broken. People that are lonely, misunderstood, rejected.

    So in that way, God has used my story.

    Ugh! Sorry for such a downer post! Apparently I’ve been feeling negative lately?! As evidenced from this post. I was all jazzed and excited when I started the post- what happened to that?!

  • I have experienced the power of becoming a man without secrets. I told my story in a church small group setting about a dozen years ago. I was accepted and included as a member of the family. This church community also had a very demonstrative culture- everyone demonstrated love for each other with great big hugs and words of affirmation. This was very healing for me. I moved away from there, but have kept in touch with several of those brothers and sisters.

    I’ve told the people I’m closest to; one family member, my pastors, my very closest friends, and I share it with others sometimes if I feel they would benefit from hearing that part of my story. But other than that, I don’t bring it up. Some guys with SSA feel it is very core to their identity. In my experience it is less so. Someone can get to know me quite well without knowing that part of my history, and still know the real me (to a large extent). I have a reputation for being open and honest, even among those who don’t know about my sexual history. There is so much more that I can be real about.

    I really can’t see me changing my facebook profile to say I’m interested in men, partly because I feel it’s irrelevant, and partly because i was only ever bi anyway, and never bought into a gay identity.

    By the way, I’m new around here, and this was my first time listening to your podcast. I’ll be back, and I’m proud to call you guys my brothers. Hugs all around.

    • Welcome, Mateo! Love your name. So glad to have you here with us. Thanks for being so bold to share some of your story. It’s so incredibly healing when you find your people, those who accept you, all of you. I’ve caught glimpses of that reality. Hopefully I’ll catch more of it soon.

      Look forward to hearing more from you, brother! Much love.

    • Eddie

      Welcome aboard Mateo! Appreciate you sharing from your own experience. I tend to think as you do that my SSA is a part of me as well but I present myself where people still get to know as you put it: “the real me (to a large extent).” Peace and love brother.

  • Ernest

    Thanks for this episode of the podcast – it has been really great to get to know you both better as you share your stories and views!

    As I’ve previously shared in another comment, I’ve only told 3 people (with the possibility of a 4th being informed by her husband, one of the 3, if he decides he needs/wants to tell her). As such, I’m very not open about this side of my life. At the moment, I can’t imagine telling my story to a larger audience. Reasons include not knowing what people’s reactions would be, not wanting to deal with any negative repercussions, and not fully knowing who to entrust with this private and powerful information. There’s still that tension between wanting to be deeper friends with some people, and holding this part very close to myself.

    I used to think that another significant reason to never disclose this to others (or to a wider audience) is that I could not see any good in doing so. However, one of the people who knows questioned my view on that. He asked me to picture how I would have felt/would feel if I knew someone else in the church (wider church generally, not necessarily my specific one) who was going through what I was, who knew what I felt, who could have been someone I could have talked to, and a visible sign that I’m not the only one. [SIde note: That’s like what you guys are – a recognition that I am/we are not alone and that we can share and learn from each other!]. In thinking how I would have felt, he challenged me to wonder whether it was possible God still had a plan and purpose for this part of my life, whether shorter or longer term, even for just one person. That certainly was and still is food for thought…

    Fully looking forward to more of all your stories, both authors and those who comment!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Ernest! Good to have you journeying with us. Means a lot to have you listening.

  • Steve Boyer

    Great podcast guys. I know it’s been out a while but I just listened to it today. Thanks for being open and vulnerable, especially Elliot and your comment about wanting a husband. Probably all of us feel that way at least part of the time. But, the reality is a husband wouldn’t and couldn’t know us like we think or hope he would. I’ve been on this journey out of SSA for many years and I’ve finally being to see that no man or earthly thing for that matter, will be able to fill that spot that we long to have filled. Only God and our relationship with Him can do that. I can’t say that I have figured out the how of all that but I am firmly convinced that He is the answer. Keep up the good work men!

    • It’s never too late to listen to one of our episodes! Glad you found it, Steve.

  • Brandon Parrish

    A few years ago I wrote a little article about homosexuality and the church’s response to it. In that I included a little bit about my struggle. I don’t remember exactly what all I shared, but I think I said I don’t struggle with it anymore, which of course is a lie. But I was scared that people would treat me differently. If I were to rewrite it today there is a lot that I would change. There are a few close people that know I still deal with SSA. I struggle with knowing whether or not I should share it will people and be honest with everyone about it. Part of me thinks that not everyone needs to know because unfortunately there are people who won’t understand and use that knowledge to hurt me in some way. But I also want to live an authentic life and be able to be honest about who I am. I don’t want to live in fear or shame of having SSA. I want to be able to be honest about my testimony because I know God can use it for His glory, but I also don’t want people to make assumptions about me that aren’t true and treat me differently. Before I share my story with everyone though, I think I would need to talk with my parents about it. They know I had struggled with it before, but I think they think I don’t anymore. I don’t think they realize the effects their parenting had on me. So, I would need to be honest with them, especially my dad, that I don’t blame him and I do forgive him, if that makes sense, but I don’t want to make him feel like a failure or that I don’t like him or anything. I know I am rambling and going all over the place so I don’t know if what I said makes any sense or not, but yeah I would like to eventually be at a place where I can share my story without fear, and be honest about who I am and the struggles I have had and still have.