A couple weeks ago I introduced you to our new blogging community, along with my 2008 self who first started blogging anonymously about his sexuality. But as for my first real introductory post to 2015 Tom, I’ve wondered what to say.
After all, as a writer, I don’t want to sound repetitive. Many of you already know me from my TMZ blog. Many of you have also read the bulk of my life-story in my book, Struggle Central.
What else can I say about my dealings with faith and homosexuality?
I find myself returning over and over to the decision to launch this collaborative blog and further associate with other same-sex attracted Christians. You might find it hard to believe, but I actually wanted nothing to do with these guys for a time.
It wasn’t spiteful. I still called these fellows “friends,” loosely speaking.
But this whole same-sex attracted, or SSA label, or gay Christian phenomenon — whatever you wanna call it, I was over being part of it. I’d had enough of life with only these types of strong male friendships while the other types of male friendships went severely lacking.
Couldn’t I just have “normal” heterosexual guy friends?
Looking back, I suppose it’s fascinating how something that was once my saving grace, my breath of fresh air — discovering an online community of Christian brothers also struggling with homosexuality — could turn so foul and stale.
As the years passed, I started looking at my same-sex attracted brothers less like other males and more like some mutated third gender — of whom I was the most mutant of all.
I started seeing this SSA brotherhood like a twisted mirror reflecting back the lack of my other male friendships.
I’d always connected with girls, and after bonding with these other SSA guys, I reached a breaking point.
What about the straight guys? The masculine guys. The guys who play football and Fallout and watch hetero pornography. These were the ones who remained untouchable, unknowable, un-brother-able.
My same-sex attracted friends were good guys, great friends. But they no longer filled this deeper longing inside of me: to be fully known and fully loved by some guy who didn’t also wrestle with homosexual tendencies.
In recent years, I’ve noticed my longings for a romantic same-sex relationship waning into nothingness amid my mad pursuit of some same-sex friendship that “sticks closer than a brother.”
I think there’s a brotherly longing inside every man, same-sex attracted or otherwise. Some of us just have more brotherly longings than others, a theme Tim Timmerman drives home beautifully in his book, A Bigger World Yet:
We all want to connect within our gender, and this yearning is a good thing. Like food and water and shelter, we were wired from the start to require same-sex love. Some of us just need more same-sex love than others.
For me and many of my other same-sex attracted brothers, we need the constant bro-taps and bro-hugs. We need the hikes and campouts and fireside chats. We need the speaking and the doing and the sitting in absolute stillness, together.
Over the last few months, I’ve rediscovered the beauty of this same-sex attracted brotherhood. I do still struggle to equate other same-sex attracted guys with opposite-sex attracted guys. I still view the heterosexual man as my ultimate friendship above all friendships, craving his love far beyond any same-sex attracted man’s.
But this lifelong pursuit of straight male friendship smacks of idolatry, and I do not want to replace one unholy thing (gay lust) with another (straight idols). I want to pursue Christ first, and I want to pursue friendship second — all forms of friendship.
Friendships with girls who get my sensitive spirit from the git-go.
Friendships with same-sex attracted guys who resonate with my story.
And friendships with opposite-sex attracted guys who maybe don’t as easily resonate with my story but still share common interests of writing or traveling or maybe even a sport or two.
I desire friendships with men and women, believers and those still searching. I crave friendships void of labels, void of divisions.
I want to plug deeper into this brotherhood, this siblinghood. This altogether diverse Body.
Have you ever idolized a particular type of person or friendship? How have you dealt with any human idols in your life?
* Photo courtesy ophilos, Creative Commons.
Yep…to.all that you have said. I recently discovered and repented of…just how much I had made an idol out of connection and community.
As difficult as it has been I haved had to let go and be ok with a season of aloneness.
As far as ssa friends, straight friends, ect….I will take any friend regardless of identification and label.
I pray your season of aloneness isn’t a long one, Paul. We can’t make idols out of friendship, but we can’t retreat either. I hope you find that thriving medium in healthy community.
Yes, I have definitely idolized a straight male friend before. I had an unhealthy emotional dependence on him and the result was a disaster where it took years to repair the harm to both of us.
I have friends who deal with SSA and friends who don’t. There was a time when I only wanted non-SSA friends but I now see the value in both, as long as there is not unhealthy emotional dependence.
That’s the thing to look out for in any friendship — the whole matter of emotional dependence. Glad you were able to repair the harm between you and your friend!
When I was younger, I idolized individual people and became emotionally dependent on some pretty quickly. As I grew and matured, I pushed away from that habit, but I still held onto friendship itself as an idol. That has been much more difficult to give up and I still struggle with it from time to time. I think it’s hard because I feel that I have a right to have friendship in my life and that God says that community and brotherhood are important in a Christian’s life, and there are examples of it in the Bible. So I feel that God owes it to me. And that attitude puts me higher than God in that area of my life, because debtors are subject to their lenders. But I realize this is a wrong attitude, and by God’s grace and Spirit, I’m breaking free of it. It’s still a weakness for me, though.
Oh man, the number of times I’ve felt God “owes me” certain friendships as you just described. Too many to count. By God’s grace I’ll break free of that mindset as well.
When I first read this, my response was “WAT?!! WHY WOULD HE SAY……wait, wait….I remember being like that. Ok, carry on Tom!” Haha. I think we all have to deal with this issue in our lives, sooner or later, of idolizing heterosexual male friendship. I know I have, as much as everyone SSA guy here. But once it does happen, and you have that confident of befriending that straight guy, it’s not all that cracked up to be. You realize that they’re just like you and me. There’s nothing special about that person, and slowly that idol slowly fades away. Well…..that’s what happen to me, and I’m glad it did! This post man! Ahhhh!!! So good!
You know me, always keeping readers on their toes — even the ones like you guys who have known me for years and years. You’re so right, Matt: there is no difference between the SSA guy and the OSA one. We all have triumphs, we all have brokenness, and we all need Jesus. Slowly learning that, day by day.
Personally, I find that you all forget about those who are still struggling. You all have jumped on the bandwagon of, if your still in the lifestyle, your going to hell and I want nothing to do with you. The same messed up BS that fucked us up in the first place. I think you all idolize yourselves and stand on your, I’m better then thou pulpit. Good for you. Your all just over your twinke stage, hardly had any homosexual encounters and your struggle is so difficult. Cry me a river. Try being mid 50s with an entire life as gay and trying to break free but can’t. According to all you innocents, I am still an unsaved sinner. Christian bullshit run a mock.
Jeff, I do not look down on you! I am older and well past anything like a twink stage, so I get a little of what you are going through. I’m sure there are things we all don’t get, but just listen to our stories. You will find there is a lot we have been through that you will appreciate. We are not here to preach or argue theology, just to tell our stories!
Jeff, thanks for your comment. I do fear, however, that you’re reading more into our community based on your experience with the Church. For any pain caused you by so-called believers in Jesus, I am so sorry. We’re not here to stand on a platform or preach from a pulpit; we intend to be very real about the struggles we’ve faced. None of us has reached the Promised Land and achieved a struggle-free existence. Some of us have had more sexual/emotional valleys and chasms than others, and eventually we will tell those darker stories. Ultimately, we’re all here to support each other in our walks forward.
We’re friends, we’re brothers, and we’re only here to encourage each other. It makes the road easier when you have others to walk alongside you. I hope you’ll journey with us, too, Jeff. You’re welcome here.
After turning away from the only homosexual relationship I had (over 35 years ago) I only had heterosexual friends. They are precious brothers whom I love. Recently, I have had to face my SSA past and work through the history that led me into a pornographic addiction to gay porn. Now, I have found support from my OSA friends and my SSA friends. I don’t think I have idolized either, but the recent addition of SSA men in the support groups I am has been refreshing to me. I have brothers who know my shadows and accept me and no lengthy explanations are needed. I treasure both kinds of friends, treasure my friendships with my wife and other women, but nothing compares to the friendship I have with God. My struggles and prayers in the past few years have brought me closer than ever to Jesus. I know Him better now than I would have if I hadn’t faced my SSA.
Sounds like you’re finding a healthy balance of friendship with OSA guys, SSA guys, and God Himself. My theme for the year ahead is BALANCE, and I intend to take healthier relational steps forward this year. Thanks for sharing and being part of our community, Alan!
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I have had the opposite experience Tom. I didn’t know any other SSA men until 4 years ago and it just wasn’t working out. I didn’t fit in. Their struggle was strong and they ONLY associated with SSA men. They despised church and I loved it. They were afraid of straight men and I was more comfortable with them. I had all straight male friendships that were close for years, and they had none. They lived in a predominantly gay part of town and went to gay clubs weekly. They drank excessively very often; I didn’t typically drink. Until I was in college, I didn’t have any close male friends and I craved that so desperately, but I made a very close male friend in college who discipled me. He was really quite an idol for me, and my only close male friend. After college, I had only a few female friends. Now, my current best friend is a female, which is not typical for me anymore. I still yearn for a close SSA friend though. As you know, I don’t have anyone I can talk to about my SSA. I’m so glad I have this blog, which is why I comment so often. I’m sure that will fade over time, but for now, I’m taking advantage as much as possible. Ever since I found your first blog and read your book, I have looked up to you for your courage, discipline and motivation to start reaching out to others. It inspired me to do the same and shed my shame by coming out to practically everyone I know. I just hope that you realize the impact you have on so many other people and that you remember that in your despairing times.