Non-sexual friendships are vitally important to everyone, especially to guys like me who deal with same-sex attraction (SSA). God has used my friends again and again to help me in my fight against sexual sin. In my next few posts, I will be telling the stories of male friendships that have had the most impact on my life.

When my gay brother, Brad, who shared a dorm room with me, received his “booty call” from some guy one night, I decided I had to move out. It was then that a guy named Brandon invited me to come live with him.

I met Brandon at the church I attended in college. He was thin with blonde hair, but what stood out to me most was the intensity of emotion behind his words and actions.

Brandon was a “sensitive guy” who also happened to be very straight. We became friends because we shared in common the most important thing to each of us: our relationship with God.

Brandon lived in a low rent house crowded with other Christian college students. The place was located behind a bar called The Guzzling Gator, and it was common to have drunk guys urinating outside my bedroom window or passing out in the backyard.

But I didn’t care how bad the house’s location was; I was just happy to have moved out and be living with my friend, Brandon!

One hot summer night with no air-conditioning, Brandon and I had an argument over what speed we should set the ceiling fan. Things very quickly degenerated to the point where every conversation would turn into an argument.

We were both Christians living in a house full of Christians, so we soon realized that we needed to change.We asked each other’s forgiveness for our behavior that was so lacking in Christian love.

What we did next is what turned everything around: We agreed to pray together whenever an argument started; needless to say, we prayed together a lot over the next few months, and that brought us incredibly close as friends.

We hugged often, and yes, we discussed my battle with SSA, too.

When Brandon left school and joined the military, I was the only one with him at the bus station saying goodbye. When he later finished his military commitment, I had already moved to a large city hundreds of miles away, but he called me and asked if he could move in with me and some other guys there.

Brandon valued our friendship so much that he decided to leave his friends and family in his hometown and start over where I lived!

To be continued . . .

Do you currently or have you ever lived with other guy(s)? What’s been great, and what’s been challenging about these male living situations? Are you open about SSA with your roommates?

* Photo courtesy mharvey.nyc, Creative Commons.

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    37 Comments
    • Reply bluzhawk

      2 June 2016, 10:09 am

      Hey Marshall, just want to give you props. I only know you thru reading your posts but what comes thru is a genuineness and peace and someone really solid. You seem like the real deal.
      I lived in a frat house for 2 years in college before I started to figure things out. It was fun and confusing and helped. Following Jesus now, I wouldn’t do it again, or it would be tough to do. After college, I rented a house with Christian guys, one a pastor, and it was just better. No regrets tho, I think everything we go thru, good and bad, in sometimes unexplainable ways, helps us now.

      • Reply Marshall R

        3 June 2016, 4:44 am

        Thanks so much for your compliments! I seek to be an older brother to many, and I hope they also see me as trustworthy. BTW people who know me well will laugh when you call me “real deal”.

    • Reply mistaken identity

      2 June 2016, 12:59 pm

      Hey Marshall, you and Brandon came up with an answer to arguments quicker than many Christian married couples. What a privilege to be with him at that bus station. I just noticed that you are in pharmaceuticals. I considered that profession many years ago. My first degree was in biochem, and I was too clumsy to go into medicine. I just know I would have left a pair of scissors in someone’s duodenum. I did live with a Christian brother when I was an undergraduate. He is now my son’s godfather. I was open with him for about 3 and a half minutes. I couldn’t answer any of the follow up questions he asked, and I just left him more confused. I did open up to my soon-to-be wife several months later though.

      • Reply Marshall R

        4 June 2016, 8:23 am

        That answer to arguments was suggested by a pastor who had been married to his wife for around 40 years. It worked for them!
        Yes, talking about sensitive subjects with a new roommate can be difficult. You have to build trust before you can talk in depth.
        I work for a company that manufactures prescription drugs, and yes, I need to be cautious and thorough. The wrong mistake could contaminate our product and kill a patient.

    • Reply Karl Jacob

      2 June 2016, 2:05 pm

      I recently went Starbucks with my future roommate and we talked for an hour or two. We talked a bit about accountability, and I’m sure he’ll take my being open with him well. It hasn’t happened yet, though, so we’ll see how things go. I’m really looking forward to living with him. He’s a great brother in Christ!

      • Reply Marshall R

        3 June 2016, 4:40 am

        That kind of friendship is something to look forward to! Never be in a hurry to share about SSA. I always waited until I knew I could trust someone before I talked about SSA. Eventually I felt comfortable telling a wider audience, but that took years and I had to be convince it would help others.

      • Reply Bryon

        20 June 2016, 2:52 am

        I decided at one time it would be better to have female roommates. While that roommate and I were friends and are no longer, there aren’t many Christian women who want to live with a man. There is a Facebook group here in Denver for Christians looking for a roommate and they are almost all women looking and specify only women. What do you think about that? It is frowned upon by the churches I went to in the past for obvious reasons, but does the same bode true for SSA people?
        I’m not asking this because I think you shouldn’t get your roommate, but I was struck with asking you the question for some unknown reason, so please don’t read into it.

        • Reply Karl Jacob

          20 June 2016, 10:02 am

          I definitely have noticed that trend in one of the groups I’m in where people post roommate requests as well. I really don’t know why that is. Maybe guys are more independent and less likely to want a roommate? In terms of being frowned upon, I really don’t know outside of my small circle. From my perspective, many people’s disapproval comes from non-married guys and girls living together supposedly looking bad and not so much that it is wrong in and of itself. I don’t like how this attitude carries over into a lot of areas of life. Some people would likely say that SSA guys shouldn’t live with other guys either. The reality, though, is that different things are going to cause different people to stumble, and not all straight or SSA guys are going to fit into the same mold in terms of what roommates will work.

          • Reply Bryon

            21 June 2016, 12:35 am

            Good point about not everyone having the same triggers. I had not thought of that. I tend to become attracted to a guy after spending a lot of time and talking intimately. I don’t think it is really about attraction, at least not at first. I tend to be co-dependent too so that messes everything up. Thanks for your insights.

    • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

      3 June 2016, 7:00 pm

      I currently live with one of our YOB authors! We’ve lived together before years ago, and it’s refreshing to join forces again all these years later with some added years of maturity, wisdom, and perspective. We’re establishing a culture of communication right from the start, and I’m hopeful and confident of a fruitful community despite all my past male roommate failings. You live and you learn! It’s how God works in us.

      • Reply Marshall R

        4 June 2016, 7:57 am

        Tom, of course I know both of you well enough to say that I am also very confident you will succeed as roommates! You both are solidly Christian and already communicate well with each other.
        Um, …. I would have chosen a different word besides “fruitful” to describe your community. In the distant past the word “fruit” was often used as an anti-gay slur…

          • Reply Marshall R

            5 June 2016, 11:43 pm

            Haha, Tom, you know me well enough to know I am not offended at all, but believe it or not you just inadvertently referred to a horrible anti-gay joke. Back when it used to be ok to make anti-gay jokes in public, this one went around:
            What makes HIV an unusual disease? It turns fruits into vegetables…

      • Reply Eddie

        5 June 2016, 5:48 pm

        Once again you are not alone Tom… “past male roommate failings.” I’m sure we could swap “war stories” in that area. Anyway, I’m relieved to find YOB and now I’m not alone either. Just bought your book today and now at Chapter 4. Hope to finish it soon. Peace from the Q.C.!

        • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

          5 June 2016, 8:37 pm

          Thanks for the support, Eddie! I’d love your thoughts on the book when you finish. Feel free to reach out and email me anytime. Hope my story blesses you in your own journey. Much love!

      • Reply Bryon

        20 June 2016, 2:47 am

        From what i know about you, I would gather you agonized over those conflicts as I did. I don’t take loss well and I certainly don’t like losing a friend. My current roommate and I aren’t going along wonderfully, but we aren’t really close either. I too have some bad experiences and one friend barely survives as a friend after that experience, while another did not. Still, I learned a lot from those situations, especially about communication, my attitude about conflict and how to develop courage to face it. I hope you have had some positive growth from it as well.

    • Reply Bryon

      20 June 2016, 2:44 am

      Well, straight roommates; could I tell stories. I will have to say, the most satisfying sin I have ever experienced was the times when I saw a straight friend or roommate I was attracted to naked. I learned quickly that having a male roommate was NOT a good idea, and I told people when they suggested it. My current roommate, who is my first male roommate in about 9 years, is thankfully not attractive to me. I have had good relationships with these guys I was attracted to though and we bonded a great deal. It was just torture for me to keep the secret I was attracted to them, and sometimes I told them. Two of the three cases it was still good after I disclosed. I have never really had a gay friend though. I think your story Marshall shows how redemptive those straight relationships can be though, especially when we invest ourselves in Christ THROUGH the relationship. That was what I did with my closest friends, and that was why we could be so close. I’ve lost touch with all but one, and the one I still talk to was the person who I fought with the most. We prayed sometimes, but not as often as you did, and I’m very disappointed in how that worked out. I think if we had, it would have been better and helped us not to almost stop being friends twice. Thanks for reminding me of the power of prayer.

      • Reply Marshall R

        21 June 2016, 11:02 am

        Byron,
        In the last 10 years I can’t remember even one time I saw a male roommate naked. Most guys I know are careful not to be seen that way. I did live in a house once with 4 other guys and only one bathroom. Some of the guys used to wait to take a shower wearing just boxers. One day one of their girlfriends showed up and saw a guy in his boxers who was NOT her boyfriend. That put an end to it.

    • Reply Brandon Parrish

      11 July 2017, 6:16 pm

      Brandon sure sounds like a swell guy! Good name (kind of) haha! I’m about to move out for the first time, I know… I’m a young’in. I’m going to be moving in with 3 guys from my church. I hope it goes well, but Im sure there are going to be a lot of opportunities for “growth”

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