I’m going to focus on men with same-sex attractions here; that is kind of what this whole website is about.
Many SSA men, including myself some years ago, find it very easy to go back to porn in a moment of weakness. It’s a constant temptation. But why is it a temptation? Most of us are not tempted to watch videos of animals mating. We don’t typically think a three-year-old child running around naked, playing with his backyard sprinkler is anything to get aroused by. Why would we? Those things are not sexual. They were never meant to elicit erotic responses. And neither are grown men. Men were never designed to be sexual to other men. They should be as nonsexual to us as a barnyard animal.
This is the way it was meant to be, but not always the way it is.
What needs to happen, then, is a desexualization of what is improperly sexual to us. Most of my own sexualization of men was based on a need to be loved and accepted by them, to be one of them; it was a need for intimacy and connection and to see that I was indeed completely man myself. Porn showed me what all of that could look like, but it never gave me what it advertised.
In 2006, I slept with my friend Sam for the first time in his parents’ guest bedroom. We didn’t have sex. I mean, we actually slept — together — in the same bed. I was distraught and heartbroken at the time over an unrelated incident and asked Sam if I could sleep over his house. He ushered me into the guest room where there was a full-size bed and let me crash there.
I lay on top of the covers and cried. He sat down on the bed and put his arm around me. Before I knew it, I was asleep. I awoke sometime in the night to find Sam curled up next to me, asleep, his hand still on my arm. I left it there and went back to sleep.
Early in 2007, I drove out to visit Sam at his university in Raleigh, North Carolina. He introduced me to his roommate and friend Paul whom he had told me much about. We hit it off right away and the three of us spent the day together.
Paul was a passionate Christian and an extremely affectionate, loving guy. People were drawn to him like kids to a candy store. It seemed everyone knew Paul and, unless he was directly told not to, he greeted everyone with a hug and a warm smile. He was not afraid to let his arm linger on his friend’s shoulder.
The second night I spent visiting the university, Paul was getting ready for bed and, sitting on his futon, he asked me with a cheeky grin, “Do you want to snuggle?”
Sure … Sam was right there with us, so he joined in too.
What started out as a simple cuddle turned into all three of us sleeping together all night on that little futon with me in the middle. And that wouldn’t be the last time, either. I made many trips after that back to the university to visit, and whenever Sam and Paul made trips to Charlotte, we made our time together a priority.
We were all affectionate with each other with no qualms about touching, but it wasn’t the basis of our friendship. We liked each other just as friends, and then the physical affection came naturally as we weren’t afraid to show that with each other.
Sam and I were already close, but Paul and I quickly developed a love and friendship that was just as strong.
When I was with these brothers of mine, I was a man among men. I was never attracted to them sexually; in fact, I wasn’t attracted to any man sexually. When Sam and Paul were away at school, that was when I was tempted most to watch porn. I began to realize then that my homosexual urges were fickle.
People had tried to make me believe that homosexuality is set in stone, that it was just the way it was. But I saw first-hand that that simply wasn’t true.
My friends weren’t the only ones, though, who helped desexualize men for me. There are things that people can do, but there are some things that only God can do.
Have you ever experienced desexualization of men via nonsexual, intimate friendships with other men? When are you most prone to sexualizing other men?
* Photo courtesy Dori Rigby, Creative Commons.