Once upon a time, a Google search changed the direction of my life.
A dramatic claim, perhaps, but it’s true. If I had to slice my life in two, the line would go through October 2008 — pre-Google search and post-Google search.
Alone in my bedroom at my parents’ house, I fired up my laptop and instead of searching for gay porn like all those other times, I Googled those four now pivotal words: christians struggling with homosexuality.
I hit enter, and the resulting page infused me with goosebumps and heart palpitations. Of all the places on the Internet, this 4-word Google search led me to . . . Xanga. The ancient blogging platform for angsty teens and tweens; the MySpace of the blogosphere.
What Xanga lacked in blogging authority, however, it more than made up for in community. Thanks to that Google search, I discovered a Xanga “blogring” full of Christians struggling with homosexuality.
In fact, that was the exact name of the group: “Christians Struggling With Homosexuality.” I scrolled down, and my eyes hovered over all the bloggers’ profile pictures — dozens of them.
So simple. So obvious. How had I missed this for 21 years? How had I never even considered it?
Why wouldn’t there exist other Christians struggling with homosexuality — just like me?
I clicked onto a profile, and my eyes couldn’t slow down fast enough. I read post after post, story after story I’d never before seen yet inexplicably knew in my soul.
These stories. These guys’ stories were my story, too; their deepest darkest thoughts and feelings, my own; their sacred secrets, mine also for the last two decades.
I stayed up all night reading these anonymous stories; the next day, I created my own Xanga blog. “TwoBeckonings,” I christened myself: someone torn between my homosexuality and my faith, torn between isolation and openness. Up until this point only my parents knew about my homosexuality, but now everything was about to change.
I joined that “Christians Struggling With Homosexuality” Xanga blogring and penned my first post as TwoBeckonings. I officially connected my story with the other bloggers’, and I started receiving comments from them within minutes.
Just like that, I wasn’t alone anymore. And my life hasn’t been the same since.
The Google search that led me to an online community would then lead me to a conference where I met many of these mysterious bloggers in person. They weren’t so anonymous anymore, and they became some of my dearest friends around the country, continent, and world. My new brothers.
It was all so strange, yet so very natural — as if our winding, isolating roads were meant to intersect at just the right moment.
An online community became an offline community, and from there I gained the courage to start a public blog. I started sharing my story with my church and loved ones, and in 2013 I even authored a book about my Christian struggles with homosexuality — among all my other struggles, too.
And to think, all of it started with that single Google search in 2008.
Isn’t it something how one innocuous moment can vastly alter the direction of a story?
Prior to that Google search, I was certain of my solitary struggle with homosexuality and faith; today, I have no doubts. That 4-word Google search of 2008 has produced an emphatic 4-word answer all these years later, over and over and over again:
I am not alone.
And you are not alone either, fellow struggler.
Xanga has since perished from the Internet, but our stories still have heartbeats. Together with some help from my friends, we bring you a new iteration of our old Xanga community: Your Other Brothers.
We are many, and yet we are one. We believe where two or three gather in Jesus’ name, online or otherwise, He stands with us.
This Jesus — He is the One to whom we’ve surrendered our pens. We are no longer our own, and His life is breathing new life into our stories.
We don’t have all the answers, and we’re very much still figuring stuff out. We have good days, and we have hard days, just like everyone else.
But we will have our good days and our bad days together.
We are not here to preach at you, and we are not here to prove you of anything. All we know is the inexplicable arc of our stories, and that’s why we’re here — to share them.
Yes, we are Christians struggling with homosexuality. But more than “gay” or “SSA” or any other label you could slap on us, we are brothers.
We have not chosen this struggle. We have not chosen this journey. We have not necessarily even chosen each other or this blog. But we cling to what C.S. Lewis said of spiritual friendship in The Four Loves:
Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.”
My name is Tom, and many of you might already know me from my other blog or my book. But many of you probably don’t know these fellow writers I’ve called friends — brothers — for years now.
I can’t wait for you to meet them; soon you will know them as your other brothers, too. Visit our contributors page to learn more about each brother and our about page for the complete story of our wild, winding road.
Once upon a time a Google search changed my story — all of our stories — forever.
Perhaps this is the page where yours takes a similar turn?
Leave a comment below and introduce yourself! Welcome aboard.