YOBcast Episode 006: Straight Guys

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In this episode, Marshall joins Tom and Elliott for a discussion on straight guys and friendship. Featuring listener questions from our patrons!

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What are some of your highlights and lowlights (“shadows”) of friendship with straight guys? Share in the comments below!

Show notes for Episode 006:

Tim Timmerman’s A Bigger World Yethttp://www.lulu.com/shop/tim-timmerman/a-bigger-world-yet-faith-brotherhood-and-same-sex-needs/paperback/product-20469862.html

Tom’s posts: https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/author/tom/

Elliott’s posts: https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/author/elliott/

Marshall’s posts: https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/author/marshall/

  • Dan Myers

    Thank you guys for telling your stories and answering our questions! Lots of relatable stuff in there for me, personally. I love what Marshall said about having the most important thing in common with straight Christian guys (our relationship with God). But I also agree with Tom bringing up that a deep friendship is going to consist of more than bible studies and talking. I don’t know if I’m unique in this, but I have never had an actual friendship with a straight guy, outside of school friends during middle school. My high school and college years were mainly spent with girls. I always had guy acquaintances, but my closest friends were girls. Even doing activities that are not traditionally masculine, like choir and theater, I still was not connecting with the guys there. More recently I have connected with other SSA guys in a healthy way which has been amazing, but as of yet, no straight guy friends. I think my main issue is never being closely involved in a church community. It seems to me that that would be the best situation to initiate friendships. For others who may be like me and have struggled to initiate relationships with straight guys, are you closely involved in a Christian community? Have you found it easier to make straight friends there?

    • Thanks for all you shared, Dan!

      As I said in this podcast, I definitely have an easier time making straight friends at church, but things have also gone well with friends of my housemates.

    • Alan Gingery

      Hey Dan!

      I am 60 years old and after one homosexual relationship I decided that I didn’t want to live that way and it would never satisfy my need for masculine love. To this day I have high same-sex needs for connection and affirmation. (Very much like the quotation from Tim Timmerman’s book that Tom read!)

      But after my decision to pull away from homosexuality, all my friends have been straight until the past 3 years. I never had a lot of male friends at any one time, but I just found guys that were open to me (mostly from church, but also from work) and just did my part of being a friend. Those who responded to my friendship, were the ones that I focused energy on building relationships.) Never forget that “straight” men are just men with problems. Sure their problems are different problems, that men with SSA have, but nevertheless we are all basically the same. We are all sinners who need God’s grace and most of us come from some kind of dysfunctional family or have some kind of hang up. Find the guys who are honest, open and vulnerable. That is a great starting place. It also helps to develop an interest in some things that straight guys like to do: hiking, camping, fishing, sports, whatever.

    • Chris B

      Hey Dan I just got home from mens group at my church and was reading this post from a couple of ago and saw your question about Christian friends. My only intimate friends are all straight guys at church. I’ve only known of 2 guys at my church that struggled with ssa and neither one really wanted to be friends. So while I love my straight friends I have deeply longed for friendships with ssa guys. So I consider myself blessed to have these friendships but have found it is not helpful to share ssa stuff with them. I am also blessed to have a great relationship with my pastors but there again most of the time they simply don’t know how deal with ssa part. And for now I’m blessed to have that connection here.

  • James

    Hey guys! I’ve been following this blog since the start and thought I’d jump in now with my first comment.

    Growing up I struggled to make friends, and especially with other guys. When I had almost finished high school there was a leader in the youth group who really invested in me and helped me deal with a lot of the hurts and insecurities that I was carrying. He was the first guy who ever showed any interest in me. I did become emotionally dependent on him and I think that was what eventually pushed him away. Since then I’ve become good friends with more straight guys (I met most of them at church) and I haven’t developed another emotional dependency because I haven’t been focusing all my energy on one friendship. My friendships with straight guys have really helped my perception of my masculinity, increased my self-confidence and reduced the feeling of “otherness” that I always had.

    For me, the biggest problem with being friends with straight guys is that I fear that my SSA would be a deal-breaker so I’ve never felt able to share that part of my story with them (or anyone else for that matter). This means that even though I have some really great friends, I’ve never felt fully known and fully loved by any of them. I long for that. I also don’t initiate any kind physical touch (outside of a handshake) because I don’t want to cross anyone’s boundaries.

    • James, welcome! Like you I find lots of blessings in friendships with straight guys. They have increased my confidence also.

      Don’t be in a hurry to talk about your SSA. Make sure you can trust the guy before you share. When you do, you will find it can actually increase the closeness of the friendship.

    • mike

      James, I like what you said about physical touch boundaries. Depending on nationality and culture not all guys like to be touched or hugged. I have a friend who is Italian and he hugs me to death, but another who is British just likes to shake my hand though we have known each other for years!

  • mike

    When I was at university and living in residence I became friends with a guy. He was into academics like I was, he enjoyed swimming and running which gave us common interests. He asked me to be his roommate for the upcoming year and I agreed. We had a good year as roommates, enjoyed times with other guys, shared many stories, and really it was a fun time.
    He asked if we could be roommates again next year? But then he began to cry. He told me he had SGA and he was very attracted to me. I never shared with him my SGA and I wasn’t attracted to him physically. I wasn’t emotionally dependent either; we were I thought just good friends. But his startling revelation shocked me. I left the city for the summer holidays and wrote him later to say I’ve decided to apply to another residence on campus and get a single room.
    I saw him only once the autumn semester as I made new friends in the new dorm and plunged myself into my studies. I guess I wasn’t a good friend? His admission to me was a deal-breaker. I didn’t know what to do with it and wasn’t in a space myself to deal with it.
    Ironically, the same scenario happened to me a number of years later with a roommate. Except I was the one attracted to him! This time he moved out. Ouch!
    I think revealing your SGAs to another friend can be PERILOUS! There must be a good reason because the outcome can be injurious to both! The cost/benefit ratio of that action must be carefully evaluated with more than just I want my friend to fully understand me being the only motive. He may not be able to handle that, and so it’s unfair and perhaps selfish to do that? And that’s the issue: how would it benefit him to know…
    The benefit must be for both and perhaps the decision weighted to benefit HIM the most. Because, a true friend lays down his own life for another.

    • James

      I love that you mention the cost/benefit ratio. That’s totally how I think about it too! I’ve analysed the decision of whether to share about my SSA over and over in my head a thousand times and I’ve always ended up with the same result: the potential cost outweighs the potential benefit. That’s certainly not to say it’s the same for everyone or that it will always be that way for me – it’s just the way I see it in my personal situation at this moment in time.

  • Brian

    My favorite podcast so far! A whole lot of issues on here I can relate to.
    I personally would rather not tell any of my male friends about my SSA. If I did, I fear that I could kiss all hopes for intimacy and affection like hugs goodbye because they would probably have the suspicion that I’d have a sexual agenda behind it all.
    I too have had issues with over attachment to a male friend. I would pester him every weekend to hang out and when I found out he was hanging out with other people when he said he was “busy” then I became infuriated. I even lashed out a little bit (nothing too bad, just snide comments about the situation) and I think that pushed him away a little and he’s become somewhat alienated. We still hang out on occasion but he seems less enthusiastic about it as before. The thing is, I knew I was overly attached at the time but I couldn’t help myself because I had no other male friends to turn to. I was trying my hardest to make more male friends so I wouldn’t be so dependent on him but nothing worked out, so that just added to my rage.
    Physical touch is a very difficult field to initiate with male friends. One big issue is the societal taboo against men being physically intimate with each other while as Elliott noted, there’s the double standard that its okay for women to do it. Seriously, I’ve seen straight women kiss, hug, cuddle, and no one ever labels them as lesbians for some reason yet people would label men as gay if they did similar things. The thing is, there are times where I desperately want to hug or put my arm around my straight male friend but I’m scared he’ll react negatively to it. Even if they’re insecure wusses about it, I don’t like crossing people’s boundaries. And when I desire these things, I don’t have any creepy sexual agenda, its really a need to just physically connect with someone because physical touch is healthy.

    • Brian, I definitely understand your needs for non-sexual touch and emotional intimacy. I am similar.

      I find that when I unselfishly give love expecting nothing in return, that is when I find genuine friendship. Not all guys will want you as a friend, and not all friends will show affection the way you want, but some will! Definitely respect others’ boundaries and seek to show healthy love to many, not just one.

      Again, don’t rush into telling about your SSA. If you know you can trust a guy and you believe he would benefit, tell him. Never feel bad about remaining silent.

      • mike

        ” I find that when I unselfishly give love expecting nothing in return, that is when I find genuine friendship.”
        This is not only gold for the way to live but the Way Jesus lived and lives. It mirrors Romans 12:10.
        “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” NIV
        I also love how the Message paraphrase puts it:
        “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”

        I love that: practice playing second fiddle! Second fiddle is the prize guys and it is because then we really know Jesus.

  • Zeb Clay

    I used to (and still do to a degree) have a hard time connecting with other men, and their confidence and masculinity often intimidated me. Somehow, by the grace of God and a lot of time, I came out of my shell a bit and saw many of my insecurities fade in my mid-20s. I’m in my early 30s now, and aside from one close female friend, all are my friendships are with straight men. I don’t have that same feeling of alienation or intimidation anymore. Largely, these friendships have come through meeting people through my local church(es) and finding shared activities (and also just talking–if a guy has an analytical mind like me, we can talk for days). Some of my closest friendships have been with men who I had been acquainted with, who then became my roommates. In two of these situations, I have ended up telling my roommate-friend about my same sex attractions. Unlike in Marshall’s case, this didn’t lead to any kind of fall out, fortunately. I approached it more in air of confessing weaknesses and sin while seeking support. This came about after the other person had been vulnerable with me.

    Another area where I feel a little different from this episode’s hosts is the topic of physical touch. I don’t often think about it or crave it; I don’t dole it out much either. Nonetheless when a man shows physical affection when I’m not expecting it, I find it quite powerful–in the sense of “this guy really cares about me”. Things like putting a hand on my shoulder, or leaning on me, sharing a secret handshake, that kind of thing. For some reason, hugging doesn’t do that–maybe since it’s a routine greeting that people do out of social obligation? What I often find more “touching” than physical affection is when a friend shows that he’s thinking about me when we’re not around each other–for example texting a photo of something that reminded them of a shared joke or experience.

    Anyway, the thought of having a robust circle of Christian friends who share SSA sounds intriguing and also very foreign. I’ve recently moved to a new city, on the other side of the country, and starting over has been rough. I’ve made a handful of promising friendships (so far with straight males), but the “fresh start” has also got me thinking maybe it’s time to be more open about my sexual attractions. I used to want to keep my homosexual inclinations very private, only amongst a small circle of confidants. I’ve begun to change my mind on that and how to approach the wider community, so hopefully in the near future I will find myself, like you three, with some healthy friends who get my struggles.

    • Eddie

      Having a circle of Christian SSA friends does sound foreign to me as well. One plausible way to have anything remotely like that is an SSA support group which are a bit precarious because someone might be on the hunt for a hookup. I’m glad you “made a handful of promising friendships” with straight guys, but I would caution you on being “more open about my sexual attractions” and to allow the friendships to grow over time. You not lying to anyone if you first show what kind of person you are as a means to exhibit your personality and character. If friends can come to a point in their relationship where they can be open and honest with each other, it is likely then they can disclose their struggles and vulnerabilities. We all know no one is perfect in this life, but we don’t need to be so forthcoming with our own shortcomings.

      • Zeb Clay

        “but I would caution you on being “more open about my sexual attractions” and to allow the friendships to grow over time.”

        I hear you, and there’s a part of my brain that fully agrees. But there’s another part of me that sees the benefits of “coming out”, as it were. It just seems far easier, more freeing, and it may make it easier for those in the community of faith with similar struggles to not feel alone and to seek help, if they need it. And, not to applaud myself, but I think it can be a powerful testimony of perseverance to be open about this way in which celibate SSA Christians truly have to die to themselves daily and deny what seems to be our base instincts. I live in a very liberal part of the country, so I’m not really afraid of people treating me poorly out of ignorance. If anything, I’m more concerned about my Christian peers not understanding why I’ve chosen celibacy over a committed same sex relationship. On top of all of that, as the reality of celibacy continues to sink in, I’m realizing I need the community of faith to step in and be the family that I likely won’t ever have–how can I expect people to recognize those needs of mine if I keep my story a closely held secret?

        On a related note, what do you believe are the major dangers of being transparent about same sex attraction as a Christian?

        Please understand I’m playing devil’s advocate here a bit. My mind is arguing back and forth on which direction to go in, so I’m very interested in outside opinions. Nonetheless, I understand that this is not a decision to be taken lightly, and it’s something I’m processing, in part with the help of a Christian counselor. The bigger “coming out” story that I want to tell is the fact that I am (and expect to continue to be) celibate. The gay thing is secondary. Once you’re in your thirties it gets harder to explain away why you’re not dating anyone haha.

  • Steven Michael

    Emotional dependency is always hard, tho i think it was at its worst in high school (plus i had bad depression). I think that’s what drove a lot of my friends away.

    I’m still not close to many guys, and out to still fewer, but I think things are improving. I’m realizing that guys aren’t as different from me as I thought. They aren’t all about sports. They have fears and feelings (even if hard to get to sometimes).

    I struggle with whether to come out to people. I’m trying to do it for the right reasons, mainly so that they better know me. I used to think they would somehow fix me by knowing, but that’s a horrible expectation to have.

  • Brian

    I don’t have any friends. I’ve always been alone and I feel like I will always be alone. I don’t plan on marriage and I don’t have much desire to date so what other options do I have? Friendships seem to be out of the question. I will always be alone

    • Brian

      Hello fellow guy named Brian. It is indeed very very hard, and I know this all too well. But please keep up hope and keep moving forward and trying hard to find the right friends. One thing I’ve found is that reaching out to fellow SSA guys is very nice and rewarding. I’ve found a few of them on this site and its been great! That might be something you might wanna look into.

    • Alan Gingery

      Brian, it took great courage to write what you wrote here. Your feelings are very real and it is good that you are aware of them and acknowledge them. However, I am not sure that the story that you tell yourself, based on those feelings is accurate. It seems that you think that God cannot change the circumstances or relationships of your life. If he is God and he loves you, than it follows that he will do what is best for you. Friendships are not really out of the question unless you give up and push people away. You will not always be alone unless that is your choice.

      What I hear you saying is that “I have been hurt in the past and I can’t face that rejection again–so I have decided to push people out and keep away from relationships” in order not to face that pain. Yes, Brian, pain is part of life. But often it is through pain that we receive the greatest blessings.

      I don’t know how YOB can help you, but there are good people here that you can connect to. People who understand your pain and know your shadows and accept you and love you just as you are today. Don’t give up. Hang in there Brian! God loves you and so do I.

  • Ashley Lavergne

    I finally listened to this episode and it was really good. I like how it was in response to questions people asked.
    I also thought it was really cool how you guys talked about emotional dependence and such. I usually hear more of that talk when it comes to women and ssa and I was good to hear not only men talking about it, but also their perspective. I think that part was most helpful for me

    • Ashley, Yes, emotional dependence is not just an issue with Tom, Elliott, and me. I have met many guys who deal with SSA who also have been through emotionally dependent relationships.

      Many of us have faced the reality that we will never marry so we feel the desperate need for close, emotionally satisfying friendship. Sometimes that desperation pulls us into an unhealthy dependent friendship. The answer, of course, is not to avoid all friendship. It is to develop several close friendships instead of becoming obsessed with just one.

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  • Alan Gingery

    I enjoy your podcasts and this is no exception. Thanks Elliot, Marshall and Tom!

    What are some of your highlights and lowlights (“shadows”) of friendship with straight guys?

    After a disappointing homosexual relationship almost 40 years ago, I made the decision I didn’t want to live a homosexual lifestyle and walked away from that. For the next 35+ years all my friends were straight guys. I never had a lot of male friends, nor considered myself popular or the kind of guy that other guys were drawn to. (I was not the typical macho male interested in sports, hunting, etc.)

    But nevertheless, I always found guys who were spiritually open, honest and who seemed interested in reciprocal relationships. It was not easy, but worth the effort to be a friend and to focus my energy on men who were responsive to me. And I have had some great close friendships over the years. Some friends were from work, others from church.

    I do have high need for same-sex connection, affection and affirmation. At times I felt that I wanted that “special or close” friend and didn’t have what I wanted–and felt lonely. But the reality is that God never left me alone. I have always had true friends.

    I understand that being older and having had some relationships that are mature–(5+ years) has made a difference to me, but I have been able to tell a good number of my male (and some female) friends about my SSA and I have not had to deal with any lost or changed relationships. That is probably an advantage that comes with age.

    In fact, for me the benefits of sharing my testimony with heterosexuals about what God was doing in my life in relation to my SSA has so outweighed the cost, that I have never once regretted telling someone about my SSA. I am choosy about who I tell and like Elliott, I intuitively feel whether the timing is right or the person is ready for such a revelation.