Coming Out to My Fraternity Brother

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The following is Part Two in this series of posts; click here for Part One.

In an attempt to comfort myself as I prepared to share my story of same-sex attraction and addiction with my new friend and fraternity brother, I focused on one of my favorite verses from Isaiah:

So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.

Ok, I thought. God’s with me. He’s got me. Just tell your friend.

“So,” I told my fraternity brother, “I guess . . . well, sometimes . . . umm . . . So, you know how some people deal with, like — well, especially guys — like, Internet stuff?” I nervously blathered.

Without pause, he responded, “You mean, like, porn?”

I hesitantly continued, “Y-yeah . . . well, for me, it’s . . . Well, for me, I . . .”

As I desperately searched for the perfect words to explain my combined struggle with same-sex attraction and addiction to pornography, I was flooded with anxiety, shame, and fear.

What if he thinks I’m disgusting? What if I lose this new friendship?

But then what if he never truly knows me?

If I had been able to look at my fraternity brother directly, his face might have reflected understanding in that moment. But on that particular day, my eyes were fixated on the crumpled plastic in my lap that once encased my fast food meal, now decorated with crumbs and streaks of taco sauce.

Whether he was actually confident in his own intuition or simply impatient, he filled the awkward silence with a confession of his own. “I deal with it, too. It sucks.” He sighed before continuing, “Pornography is hard to get rid of. I know a lot of guys who deal with it. At least you’re not alone.”

I think I might have been satisfied — even comforted — by my fraternity brother’s response if we had only discussed our addictions. But, of course, I had to have a more complex issue. I could’ve chosen to stop at that point and accept the small step toward vulnerability as my little triumph of the day.

But much like a kid with the string already tied around his loose tooth, I was screaming inside from the anxiety and just wanted to get it all over with at once.

“Yeah. But for me, it’s . . . different,” I said.

“Different? What do you mean?” he asked.

My chest felt tense, and my lungs ached from a failure to breathe. I couldn’t give him direct eye contact. I heard the sound of my throat contracting every time I swallowed. I was hyper-aware of my physiological symptoms of fear.

I summoned every ounce of courage I could and said, “The kind of stuff I’m watching is different than yours. It’s not the same. To me, it’s worse. The worst. I feel awful about it. I am awful.”

Back then, I was still incredibly afraid to be me with all of my unsorted mess. I was a newborn to the concept of vulnerability and brave authenticity. Since I wanted to appear put-together but viewed my story of same-sex attraction and addiction as uniquely horrible, I was soaked in toxic shame.

This was the first time I opened up to a heterosexual male about my life-long wrestling match with addiction and same-sex attraction. I hadn’t any previous sharing experiences to reference yet.

I glanced over at my fraternity brother still sitting in the driver’s seat. With a confused facial expression, he inquired further. “Different . . . like, you’re into some really dark stuff? Like, what do you mean?”

I remained silent.

He continued, “Just say it. I won’t think of you any differently.”

“Yeah, you will,” I assured him.

“Everyone deals with deep stuff. What is it?”

I sighed. “It’s . . . When I’m doing, like, Internet stuff like that . . . It’s not . . . girls.”

After a short pause, he replied, “So . . . you watch stuff about other guys?”

I quickly responded, “I feel like Paul in the Bible. I do what I don’t want to do. I can’t explain it. When I was younger, I was bullied for being small and for having a high voice. So, I starting researching online to find out how I could change that and ended up finding porn. But it wasn’t the normal kind. Before I knew it, I had kept clicking and clicking. I messed up. I felt cold all over, and I was shaking, and I started crying and praying. I’ve been trying to stop ever since.”

“So, do you like other guys?” he asked.

I silently stared out of the window into the parking lot. After some time, I looked back at my fraternity brother and caught a glimpse of his eyes shifting to the side as he sat in deep thought and said:

“Well, I don’t look at you differently. In fact, have you ever heard of having an accountability partner? I hate that term, because I’ve had horrible accountability partners in the past. But we are going to do it right. I will hold you accountable, and you can hold me accountable. I know it’s going to be more difficult since we both struggle with an addiction to pornography, but I think we can make it work. And I really think you need a good male presence in your life. Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to be for you. Maybe that’s why God led you to share this with me. I think you’re looking for male intimacy, and maybe I can help you with that in a platonic way.”

I nodded, trying to hold back my tears. I looked out the passenger window of his car to hide my face. Part of me felt encouraged by his response, but a new type of anxiety awakened within another part of me, warning me about my struggle with codependency in the past. The last thing I wanted was a repeat of the relational trauma I had experienced from previous codependent friendships.

We transitioned into other topics and finally decided to get out of the car and head back toward our dorms. I had an overwhelming cocktail of emotions walking back to my room alone. For the first time, I felt some hope that I could be authentic with and still accepted by a male who didn’t share my struggle. At the same time, I felt confused by his supportive response and started to doubt his own authenticity.

Looking back, I had no idea that a single vulnerable conversation could lead me on an incredible journey toward healing shame, finding my tribe, and living authentically.

Neither also did I realize it would lead me into the darkest season of my entire life. Like shapeless steel, I had to enter into a forging and tempering process to become what the Creator intended.

And as I would eventually discover, that process wouldn’t be comfortable or easy.

Talk about the first time you came out to a heterosexual guy. What was hard about it, and what was freeing about it? If you’ve never been vulnerable with another guy, what’s held you back?

* Photo courtesy karina yeznaian, Creative Commons.

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  • Prince

    I wish my ex-friend had the same response as his but he hadn’t. Good for you because he knew you needed intimacy and he is willing to provide your intimate needs. After telling him my secret, he started shrugging off the topic every time I try to share things with him. Since then, I never had any intention of telling anyone about my struggle. I’m afraid our history will just repeat itself with other guys the moment I share them my secret. I’m not talking about just the ‘shrugging off’ thing but also about his grave dishonesty after all the trust I gave. Since then, I have this impression that all men will somehow have that tendency thus making me reluctant to share.

    • Corey

      People’s responses vary, and I think that’s what causes us so much anxiety. We can have a lot of positive experiences and then have one really bad response that tempts us to stop being vulnerable with others, understandably. And the opposite can happen, too. We can have a lot of negative reactions, and then someone comes along and has a loving response that helps us feel safe enough to take a few bricks off our wall.

  • The first time I told somebody at our church I had much dread about it. Two decades before, when I accepted who I am, it lead to two things: either sex with the guy I told or the loss of friendship. Unfortunately, I told most of the people I knew (the propaganda of the LGBT community would have you believe that is a right of passage to tell everyone and if they reject you they are a bigoted hater). So I kept tight lipped about it and never trusted any one about it. I didn’t speak about it at all and very few people knew – that is until the incident at church last year (January 2016). It was a moment that forever changed my life.
    Before then, I erroneously believed that I was the only person who was SSA and believed in God. Stupid to think, I know, but I honestly believed that no could face the same struggles with homosexuality I was. After the stroke, I just wanted to go to church anonymously, pray for strength and show my repentance and hope that God would see fit to let me into Heaven. But God had other plans.
    One day at church, just before the sermon began, one of the youth got up to the podium, encouraged by the youth pastor, and said he needed prayers because he was gay. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that someone else was going through the exact same garbage I was. He ran out of the auditorium and disappeared as I struggled to even stand up. I hobbled over to the youth pastor and told him if he needed any help I would be there because I have lived with this for more than three decades. I then told the pastor and then the boy’s father.
    The father was enraged and embarrassed of his son’s plea for help. I was able to counsel him on homosexuality and what it means and that it is a lifelong struggle, that it can not be ‘cured’. I hate it when people try to ‘cure’ me or blame a demonic influence. That line of thinking is exactly like saying ‘the devil made me do it’. The devil didn’t make me live the life I lived. I chose to. I chose to live apart from the living God, possibly by demonic influence, but in the end the decision was mine. I chose badly.

    • Steven Michael

      That’s awesome that you were willing to out yourself to help someone else.

      And I totally get feeling like you are the only one in the world walking this path.

  • Steven Michael

    Coincidentally, the first straight friend I told was also my accountability partner. I was impressed by how much support he showed in that aspect. I had hoped keeping the gay part of the secret would keep me from porn. Eventually it failed and I had to tell him before he got the report.

    I told him via email. Just writing that had me shaking with my heart racing. He thanked me for sharing with him and has since reiterated many times that we are friends, but we haven’t really talked about it much.

    I haven’t worked up the courage to tell any friends or family in person. One i told via messenger and it quickly responded like it wasn’t a big deal.

    • Corey

      You told someone. That’s a great start, Steven! Although you were understandably nervous, I’m sure you were also relieved to be able to share your struggle with someone who could attempt to hold you accountable for your porn use. I think there’s an additional challenge for those of us who experience SSA and also struggle with pornography. If we choose to admit our struggle with pornography to someone we want as an accountability partner, more than likely we are also going to have to admit we also experience SSA. I understand the difficulty!

  • James

    I haven’t told any guys about my SSA. I can think of many compelling reasons to share this part of my story with my close friends and just as many to keep it to myself. Unfortunately, once it’s out there’s no way to take it back, so before I open up about it I want to be absolutely sure it’s in the best interest of our friendship or that it’s something they need to know.

    • Chris B

      Hey James and Prince we share some very common threads,accept for Pastors and accountability partner, I have had such mixed results with sharing that I’m not sure I will again. We do all need someone share our struggle with and this helps alot, but the shrugging off, the ignoring and the wishing he would’nt talk about that stuff has been really tough.You guys are wise to be careful and sure before you share as the pain is bad enough without another layer on top.

    • WaveDave

      same for me…I am careful…extremely careful. My trust level just isn’t there, especially when I see how people seem to enjoy gossiping and criticizing others for all kinds of things. As I have seen it, there is also a real lack of study or understanding on things related to one being gay, and the only response is extreme negativity…just my experience. Compassion and kindness and a willingness to listen to another are sorely needed.

  • Daniel Steven

    Wowzers, so I relate to this so much! I am in the middle of a battle right now actually, my entire life i would open up to females and i can be completely open with them. Now i am in a chapter in my life where i think God wants me to open up to a male, my school dean to be exact. I have a good relationship with him, but how the heck do you open up to someone like that? “Hey, i am addicted to gay porn, I like one of the guys here at school, and I am so desperate for a male companion that whenever a guy smiles at me I am ready to marry him.” It is scary because i go back to school tomorrow and i have no idea what i am going to tell him. I am not hard at opening up, but if i feel like no one understands me then i crawl back into my shell. Any advice?? Please and thank you in advance because I am nervous as all get out. the things going through my mind, am i going to be kicked out, am i not going to be allowed to participate in ministry through the school. So I am kinda freaking out.

    • Steven Michael

      What are your reasons for wanting to tell him? Those are good to weigh in your decision making.

      If you’re friends with him, you should have a decent inkling of how he will react. I would leave it as a more general “I’m attracted to guys” rather than the specifics you mention tho, lol. And keep in mind that a lot of people aren’t going to understand this struggle, at least not fully. It’s hard to if you haven’t lived it. But that doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

      You’re in my prayers.

      • Daniel Steven

        He is suppose to be my accountability partner, he is older than me, so I know I’m not getting into a dumb situation where I might fall. But I know I need to be open with him. I just don’t know what to say.

        • mistaken identity

          Hey Daniel! I’ll be praying along with Steven. I like his advice of going with the more general approach. Prayers especially for all the freaking out. It is understandable. This is difficult stuff. You are trying to do the right thing, and it is not easy.

        • Steven Michael

          Sorry I don’t check up on here very often. Sounds like having him as an accountability partner is both a good reason to tell him and a good idea for you.

          I hope it went well.

    • mike

      Hi Daniel. Your struggle is with lust fueled by porn and likely fantasy with masturbation. I think God sees lust the same. Your school dean is a man who suffers from lust as well. All men do. So, you have common ground there with lust. Hopefully he is further along with his lust and learned to conquer porn and masturbation. He offers you friendship, accountability, and connection. Great! I’d start with lust and share that. Get a handle on that with him, break the addiction cycle with porn, and see how the friendship goes. As the relationship progresses you might share about the object of your lust if he’s the guy God has in mind.

      • mistaken identity

        Good words Mike! We continue to pray for you son. I was looking over some old posts and saw how you handled someone who was practicing the lifestyle and seemed intent on bringing confusion here. You were gracious yet bold and truthful. You did a great job of protecting this place while still offering an olive branch. I admire that much.

        • mike

          Thanks MI. So grateful for your prayers for my son. There are inklings of insight for him; small hints of change. God is answering prayers; He always does. I’m encouraged. I too pray for your son whenever I see your posts.
          I hope Jerry is still lurking here reading posts. I so understand his plight and I tried hard not to be judging. I did fail there. Sorry Jerry…
          I feel for those confused by this new mantra of ‘sexual orientation’ and committed loving gay relationships which they say was missed in the Bible even by Jesus. That mantra is wrong and needs to be exposed!
          But, I believe in harm reduction. Better for SSA’d guys to form committed same sex loving relationships then hate themselves for their SSAs, become depressed and suicidal, or become promiscuous and suffer from STDs. Better for them to ‘marry’ each other and live longer and maybe one day see as God sees of the abundant life Jesus gives. That same sex marriage is “life to the full” as Jesus came to give is hard for me to see. I’ve seen enough to not want that myself despite knowing how loving these relationships can be they always will be but a shadow of that “life to the full” of which Jesus speaks because they are not the ideal of what God intended at Creation.

    • Daniel, you’re in a good spot: wanting to step out in a new way but calculating the cost. I’ve been there so many times, and as terrifying and nauseating as it can be, it’s a sure sign of growth that you’re even considering it. Props! I’m always a huge proponent of writing things out and seeing what comes of it. Maybe you write him a letter and hand it to him, or maybe you write it out only for you to read and experience and process? Whatever happens, know that YOB is with you. And more importantly, God goes with you. Tell us more of the story as it occurs. Prayers for today!

      • Daniel Steven

        thanks!

  • A Friend

    I opened to a fellow Christian friend recently and instead of saying, “SSA,” I went for the BIG word–gay–in order not to be blunt. I was TERRIFIED, but felt a peace coming out. He asked if I’m “into guys” and said, “yes–all my life.” Told how when guys were watching porn, I got off watching the guy instead of the girls, and discussed other things that were a turn on (not being open here for fear of causing others to fall). He was silent, looked at me, and said, “Are you scared I’ll drop you as a friend?” Told him I was terrified, but understood if this was too much to handle, I understood.

    Amazingly, he hugged me and said, “We’re brothers no matter what–I don’t leave my friends.” We laughed when I told him I wasn’t sexually attracted to him! Now I can be open and honest–be accountable to him. The cutest guy walked by at that time and I started gawking without realizing it, and he snapped me out of it and we started off on a good foot.

    The result is I have a total peace, feel that confession has started a revival inside of me, and actually feel closer to God now that I was man enough to trust my friend. He did say he never thought he’d have a friend, but caused him to realize Christians cannot hide anymore. It was a great day.

    • WaveDave

      I appreciated your post so much…thank you! I’ve had guys tell me they were SSA and things like that…and I am honored that they trusted me with that. However, it has been very hard for me to tell others the same about myself…even to those who have told me the same. I do have a dear friend who recently told me they had dated a guy and they were not sure how I would handle it…as I had only told him I was a Christian…I finally opened up and told him I was myself the same as he…and it has led to a beautiful friendship, based on a lot of respect.

      • I recently told my best friend from the Navy (years ago) that I was gay and about my past. He told me that he didn’t care, that I was the only one he knew that kept in contact with him and that he loved me for it (he is straight). I wept, because it felt so good.

        • WaveDave

          wow – thank you for sharing that…just reading that makes me tear up as well. What a blessing to have a friend like that

  • A Friend

    I never DREAMED the day would come where I would feel at peace telling my good friend I’m gay. However, after reading scripture about confession, and this blog, I realized it was time to be open, as I felt God was leading me to be accountable to another believer. I was terrified, but the peace was unreal. I had dropped hints in the past about sexual escapades, but finally told him those were with guys–not women. He looked at me, and said, “What are you saying?” I told him I was SSA–in other words, “GAY”–and loved him enough as a brother to be genuine and honest about everything in my life. Instead of gasps and condemnation, his first words were, “I love you man.” He took a moment to let it sink in–which is good–and said, “I never will never forsake you–we’re friends–not just hanging out buds.” The relief was unreal, and the peace that washed over me was like a mental massage. “You’re not going to call me a fag or queer?” He laughed–especially when a drop-dead good looking guy walked by and I could NOT help gawking at him. “Man, you really are gay!” We had a good laugh over that and said it was good to finally have an accountability friend that I can confide in and confess. We discussed other details that I struggle with–not putting it in writing for fear of causing the reader to have a moral failing–but I finally feel more manly now than I ever have…after coming out. It makes no sense, but God is working a great thing in giving me support.

    • WaveDave

      amen

    • Thanks so much for sharing this story, Friend. What a blessing when we can be vulnerable with another and experience true love in return. Definitely inspires me.

      • A Friend

        I consider this site a literal God-send in helping me face my homosexuality head-on. Instead of fearing the gnashing of teeth at church, I feel that I’m surrounded by Godly men who can advise. Here there is grace, but Truth. The peace I have is indescribable.

        • mistaken identity

          I thank God for that peace. May it even increase and eventually spread to others.

  • WaveDave

    As I said below, I have had a hard time being open about my orientation to others. Coming from a conservative, evangelical background…I have heard nothing but negativity about this subject. My former pastor had preached on sin in most every sermon and he mentioned homosexuality on many occasions. One day he was preaching and said that there may be people in this church who are same-sex attracted…and he went on to say that being this way was not a sin in and of itself…in fact he said that those who are and deny themselves for the sake of Christ are heroes of the faith. I was shocked and wanted to cry.

    The truth of the matter is I seek to live a quiet, mind my own business life and never flaunt my orientation or push it in anyone’s face. I guess I can’t hide it as I have people I didn’t even know mock me, threaten me and call me all kinds of derogatory names. Rejection is painful and has often pushed me further into a world of hiding from others. This is why I am so thankful for YOB…it means the world to me and God has really been using it to remind me I am not alone and He has given me brothers here who will not attack or condemn…what a great place this is!

    • Aw, we’re so glad to have you with us, Dave! Never buy the lie that you’re alone, regardless the rejections you may experience. We’re right there with you.

      • WaveDave

        Thank you so much for your kind words…so glad to be a part of YOB! You are such a blessing to so many…the Lord uses you all to encourage many lives

    • I recently experienced this on my blog. One who is determined to live the homosexual lifestyle commented that I was in need of psychiatric help and that I should have married my best friend so that I could be happy. He also made comments accusing me of saying I was ex-gay and supposedly cured. This never happened, as I am upfront and honest about my past and there is no ‘cure’ for someone like me. One thing I’ve learned is to be honest with yourself and honest before God. Does a person who lies before God really think he is fooling Him?

  • Alan Gingery

    After one homosexual relationship in university, I decided that I didn’t want to pursue homosexuality, and I got married. I’ve been married almost 38 years now and I haven’t had sex with a guy in almost 40 years. Having said that, I became addicted to gay porn about 5+ years ago. As I sought God’s help to end this addiction, God showed me that porn was just medication for my still wounded spirit. I had wounds related to males and females that needed healing. Not enough male acceptance and affirmation and not the right kind of healthy female relationships.

    After confessing to my wife 3 years ago, that I was still struggling with same-sex attraction and gay pornography and asking her to forgive me! I began to seek real healing for my heart. I became convicted by James 5:15-16 that I needed to confess my same-sex attraction to another Christian and ask him to pray for my healing. God put this on my heart, so I trusted God to get me through it.

    I invited my long-time friend for a walk and over about 3 hours I shared all my secrets starting with porn addiction to my same-sex attraction. It was not easy for me, but I prayed and got through it. In the end my Christian brother hugged me and affirmed his love for me. The amazing thing for me was I expected that sharing my dark secret past would make me feel ashamed, but instead I felt my shame released. In felt Satan’s power to accuse me was broken.

    I am still friends–best friends and I have no regrets telling this heterosexual guy about my struggles. To date I have shared my testimony of God’s grace in my life concerning my SSA with 41 heterosexuals (both men and women). It has been freeing for me. I love being real, honest and authentic. I am careful who I choose to tell my story to. I do have to feel a person is safe and trustworthy. And I think the people I’ve chosen demonstrated a good level of Christian maturity. There are certainly stories about Christians grtting it all wrong when they find out about a brother or sister with SSA. But that has not been my experience. I have shared with 4 different pastors (included in the 41), and have been supported and affirmed!

  • JeremyP

    Man, I wish I had a strong friendship with a guy to do this. I’ve only mentioned it to men in a recovery group circle. Disconnected strangers who I would rarely see. Even now I yearn for male friends to fill that empty void and maybe have this opportunity one day… as strange as it sounds.

  • Norberto Paz

    The first heterosexual male that found out about me being homosexual was my brother when i was 15. His reaction was very typical of that of a 28 year old hood gangster. He was very upset, clenched his fist insinuating he wanted to punch me. I laughed it off nervously but then kept my cool and sticked to my guns. I told him I had a made bold decision that I was going to accept myself no matter who or what got in the way. Told him that it is who I am and that I didn’t choose to be this way but I did choose to accept it. Having told him that made me feel so brave and empowered.

  • george

    Most of the friends I have shared about my SSA to, don’t care. For them I am the same man and brother. They don’t care if I have a partner (I have never had one with man and don’t plan, plus I preferre relationtip with women, which unfortunately is hard, because emotionaly I am attracted mostly to my gender). Often they tell ‘may be it is better for you to find someone, because you destroy yourself.’ For they now know one of the main reasons of my lifelong anxiety disorders and depression.
    And, most of the straight friends christian or not, still have sex, or are addicted to porn and masturbation. So basically the only difference between us is attraction we SSA people have.
    Otherwise all things are the same.
    This is why I get angry when some christian bloggers and pastors like Dr. michael brown write that SSA people are more addicted to porn and masturbation and some other sexual things.
    We are all humans and all are sexually driven.
    Its up to a person what he does to his/her passions.

    • mistaken identity

      I always thought that Michael Brown was fairly compassionate and gracious, George. Do you think he is usually harsh toward homosexuals?

      • george

        He thinks that homosexuals are more perverted, by saying that they have a lots of partners. Seems he has no idea how many partners heterosexuals have. He and others like him say that homosexuals have more sexually transmitted dessies . most of the straight man around me in my country go through the treatment against those diseases… Single and married…teens and adults…about 90% have STD of various kinds.
        Dr. Brown, deliberately or not, makes homosexual people more perverted than heterosexuals. He needs to visit other contries and learn how perverted most of the heterosexuals are, but heterosexual perversion is ‘natural’ perversion to him/them.

        • mistaken identity

          I hate that double standard.