Years ago, back when I’d first delved into the world of online SSA friendships, I got to talking with another SSA guy in my area. We commented on each other’s blogs, we friended each other on Facebook, and we traded phone numbers, too.

He intimidated me, this guy: attractive and charming and, most of all, interested in friendship with me. Those combinations in a man just didn’t happen upon a guy like me.

We talked about meeting up one day, a notion that both excited and unnerved me, and one day we did. We met at a pizza place, and he proved more attractive in person than his digital images showed: shaggy brown hair and bold, brown eyes.

I wondered what in the world I was doing in the same zip code as this guy, let alone across from him over pepperoni pizza.

But things got less awkward throughout the afternoon. Also, more awkward.

We went to a nearby park and shared more of our stories, walking and talking until we found a bench. We sat down side by side.

He reached for my hand and held it. It was the first time another guy had ever held my hand.

His boldness caught me off-guard, and his touch sent energy rushes all over. I’d never felt this before: holding hands with another man. In public, no less.

It was nothing, and it was everything. Harmless and devastating. Affirming and shaming.

My erection meant holding hands with another man was sinful. Right?

To complicate matters, the guy shared his increasing doubts on the Bible’s stance on homosexuality. It wasn’t “official” yet, but he was starting to lean more toward “Side A” than “Side B” — that he didn’t believe the Bible condemned same-sex monogamous relationships.

Looking back on this moment, his physical gesture felt less like masculine affirmation and more like his first dipping into romantic waters.

And yet I couldn’t help ignoring the latter for more of the former.

Later that afternoon, we drove to another park to play frisbee golf, one of his favorite activities. I’d never played, so he taught me the ropes and proper technique.

We had the whole park to ourselves, and somewhere around Hole 4 or 5, he initiated a “tradition” of hugging me before the start of the next hole. His hugs started innocently enough, a five- or ten-second hold before we launched our discs to the next hole.

He was such a good hugger.

But then the hugs turned into something else entirely. Five or ten seconds turned to thirty or sixty, and I didn’t want to let go of him.

Midway through our game, a summer drizzle turned to a torrential downpour; trapped in the middle of the woods, we held onto each other for minutes at a time, our shirts drenched and sticking together.

It felt like a scene from a film. To this day, I’ve never felt so frigid and so warm at the same time.

He looked me in the eyes after our longest embrace yet. I could tell he wanted something else. Something more.

I did too. But deep down I didn’t.

To be continued . . .

Have you ever held hands with another man or experienced a prolonged hug? Did you experience guilt or shame from such physical touch? Did this initial touch lead to more regrettable touch? Where do you draw the line between male-affirming and boundary-crossing?

  • I love holding hands. Before I started dating the woman who is now my wife, I held hands with anybody who was willing, guy or girl, SSA or OSA. It carried no sexual or romantic implications for me. I just liked the affection. I still feel that way about it, but my wife doesn’t want me holding hands with any girl, although she’s fine if I hold a guy’s hand. I’ve held hands with people for my own sake, but I’ve also done it intentionally to help some SSA guys desexualize the affection, or desexualize me if I knew they were attracted to me. I like to think it did everyone some good.
    I know, too, though, that if a guy wanted to go further with me than just a friendly hand-hold or hug, if it meant more to him than platonic affection, I would be creeped out and push away. There is definitely a line that can be crossed, and it’s more of an intuitive, almost spiritual feeling than a physical act.

    • Thanks for sharing all of that, Kevin. My intuition is pretty good, and I could tell fairly early on that my hand-holder was after something beyond the platonic. Still, I entertained the act as long as I could…

    • Hey Kevin, could you please elaborate what you mean by “it’s more of an intuitive, almost spiritual feeling than a physical act”?
      And thanks Tom for sharing this very personal story.
      I’ve never held hands but I’ve experienced a number of prolonged hugs with a former roommate. There were at least some of those times where I had an erection. On the other hand, I wasn’t in those moments thinking about doing something “below the belt” with him….that said, those moments were intense for me and losing those opportunities for prolonged physical affection as our friendship went through a transition was difficult on me and revealed some idolatrous attitudes on my part. When I look back at those moments, I have a mixture of feelings.
      This topic can be really complex given our culture’s aversion to non-sexual but intimate physical affection between men. If anyone had seen my long hugs with my former roommate, they would almost certainly have interpreted it as “gay”. Part of me isn’t comfortable with the idea of doing something in secret, but how do we deal with the fact that if we expressed intimate physical affection in the open, it would be interpreted as something sexual? And perhaps I can’t totally separate my enjoyment of this kind of affection from sexuality. Should we just accept the fact that certain forms of physical affection in our culture are closely tied with sexual relationships and therefore those forms of affection should be avoided? Or are we then denying ourselves of biblical forms of affection (Jonathan and David’s long embrace, John leaning on Jesus’s chest, instructions to greet with holy kisses, etc) and thus hurting ourselves in the process? Or should we be more focused on fleeing sexual immorality? So many questions…

      • Maybe I should be asking myself if I can do to the glory of God or not (1 Cor 10:31) and whether I can do it in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17)…and whether it is an expression of true love for God and/or neighbor….

      • Hey DM! What I meant was that a guy can hug me and hold me in a long embrace and I’ll feel nothing but warmth and pure affection from him, while another guy can hug me in the exact same way, but creep me out with it. The spirit/attitude/intention behind a person’s action affects the action a lot, even if the action itself is not bad.
        As for your other questions here, I’ll butt in and say I think you should read my blog post linked below. I’ve wrestled with a lot of those same questions.
        https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/2016/04/06/american-christian-male-identity/

        • Thank you Kevin for your reply! I enjoyed your article. I like the emphasis on Christian freedom to love other men in a chaste and yet counter-cultural way (counter to modern Western culture, that is). What this actually looks like I still feel is complex, as I know it can present temptations if done in private and can present misunderstandings if done in public. I lament the way we our modern, Western, sex-obsessed culture has neglected the art of chaste physical affection between men. May God give us both wisdom and also a sense of Christian freedom in this area.

  • I never held hands with a guy as public diplays of affecton are extremely frowned upon here in west Texas. A man loves football. A man fixes cars. A man marries his highschool sweetheart ten minutes after graduation. A man parties. A man is masculine and works out. A man never shows his emotions, and buries them down deep. If you don’t comply, then God help you.

    • I lived in Abilene, Texas back in the late 70’s. I know what your talking about. Even so, I went to a Christian college and still managed to carry on a 18 month relationship with a man two years my junior. We lived in the same dorm. It was easy. We also had the same group of friends. No one was the wiser. We just did it. Looking back, I think how dangerous that was. There were people at the school that would have killed us or worse; nevermind getting excommunicated or expelled. Those were the days.

    • I can only imagine what growing up in Texas would have been like from an SSA perspective. I got the Georgia experience, but I feel like even that can’t compare to your land.

  • Yes, I have held another man’s hand and also had an extended hug with a guy.
    Once a straight friend, who is now very happily married to a woman, showed up at my front door. In a humorous and dramatic gesture he threw his backpack on the floor, grabbed me, and pulled me into a full hug. He is muscular so he held me very tightly. We held on and talked for several minutes, then stood side by side with our arms around each other for maybe 15 more minutes! Neither one of us felt anything sexual. All I felt was intense brotherly affection. I remember the experience with great joy and no shame.
    For some reason, none of my straight friends will hold my hand because it “feels too gay” to them. I don’t view it as anything but a healthy expression of love, but I respect their boundaries and don’t try to force it. It is a different story with my SSA friends!
    One time a SSA friend was struggling with such serious anxiety and depression that he could barely function. We were good friends but not sexually attracted to each other. I stood next to his bed for maybe a half hour, just holding his hand. He was the one who reached out his hand and initiated it. Sometimes I prayed for him, but mostly I was silent. Again, I felt no lust or guilt, only Christian love and compassion.
    One time I regret was when I held hands with an SSA friend on his couch. We were both attracted to each other and my friend admitted that he had an erection. We did not cross any significant lines but we got too close to those lines! I remember that time with guilt and shame.
    Many of both my straight and SSA male friends share extended hugs with me. As long as there is no mutual sexual attraction between us, it is merely an expression of Christian love and friendship.

  • Being that girls are usually more affectionate than guys I always tended to have friends who held my hand or we’d hold each other or have long hugs or whatever when I was a teenager.
    I remember that we moved around a lot so I didn’t have a lot of friends, but when I moved back home I did reconnect with some childhood friends at my church. And being that my family wasn’t very affectionate and that I never had very close girl friends at the time (when I was a kid my best friends were usually guys and the closeness is obviously different) I wasn’t used to that female affection and it really threw me off at first. Now that I’m older and see and recognize my attractions throughout my life I see why it threw me when at the time I thought I was just weird or just very averse to affection. I guess it’s how any straight girl would feel if one of her guy friends came up to her and kissed her on the cheek to greet her or sat on top of her in a playful way. Though I was never attracted to my best friend and she’s straight and all that, her affections and the reaction they brought about in me were some of the most confusing moments of my teenage years. And at the same time she showed me what committed friendship looked like. At one point in my early 20’s I was almost angry/upset when I realized how much longing my friendship with her woke up in me, but after a while I realized that she was such a safe person and someone who loved me the right way – even though we were basically kids – better she wake it up than someone else. This is my good example lol
    Now, the first time I ever came out was to a former student of mine. I was 21 and she was 24. We were both engaged to guys at the time (I married my guy and she didn’t). I already kinda knew that she liked girls, but she confirmed it and I admitted to it out loud for the first time in my life in her living room. It wasn’t a bad moment. We connected and shared a little bit about our experiences – mine having been more mental and she had actual experience. Now she had always been affectionate, but after that day I felt she changed and became more so. At the time I just brushed it off as she felt safe with me and we never saw each other again so I never really figured it mattered and it felt good to be paid a little extra attention to and she was cute so I ignored it. A few years down the road, turns out she was attracted to me and hoped I was too and made an awkward pass at me.
    Another story where I fled from all affection out of fear. (This is kind of out of order by the way). One year I had gotten very close to falling for someone and we had a unhealthy relationship to begin with so come the next year I was sensitive and didn’t trust myself and more than that my leaders didn’t really trust me, especially with another ssa girl around and there just so happened to be one around and we hit it off and became good friends. It made me kinda paranoid because I couldn’t just be the way I am with my friends. She had spoken of her attractions in a small group setting so everyone knew about her but only a few knew about me (she figured it out on her own at the time even though I hadn’t told her). We were good friends, we had good conversations, she would ask for hugs when she needed one, she confided in me, and I felt very much myself around her, but that put my leadership on edge all the fricken time. And that made me paranoid. So a couple time things happened like she’d be tugging on my hoodie or something and we’d be goofing off and someone would walk up and I would very abruptly pull away and leaver her thinking she did something wrong. In YWAM they prefer that girls dance with girls and the guys with each other (in south america anyway) and she asked me to dance and I turned her down, because I just couldn’t deal and they definitely wouldn’t mind her dancing with a guy. Things like that, and in the end she always thought I was pulling away from her, and even though after a year or so I kind of explained my behavior and she said she understood I think it still hurt her a little that me keeping my cover or making sure people saw me a certain way was more important.
    So do I hold hands with girls? Depends on the girl. Do I think it is always inherently romantic or something? No. Be careful still? YES

  • Good writing Tom! I think I would struggle with that boundary you ask about because I am so inexperienced.

    • I definitely struggled with it at the time, MI. And I was as “inexperienced” as they come. To be honest, I probably should have stopped the hugs after three or four holes. It got to be a little…much.

  • I’ve held hands with guys before and had it be non-sexual and affirming. Honestly, I wish it were a more common practice. Also, I love prolonged hugs- but it needs to be with someone I know extremely well. There’s only a few guys that are allowed to do that if desired.

      • I learned long ago the dangers of lacking boundaries in my life. I have physical boundaries to protect myself, my wife, my ministry, and my friends. I am definitely strict- but that simply adds greater value to my platonic physical affections.

  • I’m sorry. For some reason, I thought the whole encounter was kind of hot and steamy and sweet at the same time. I just wanted to say ‘awe’, and not in a nauseating way . Erection not withstanding (oops, that was kind of funny), I think you did well in the situation. Though desire for more was present, you stood your ground. You did not kiss him. Getting through that many extended hugs with someone you saw as attractive without going for it shows a great deal of strength in my opinion. But then part two is coming…I kind of can’t wait!
    You’re still friends with this guy right? I think I know who it is. He comments here occasionally? No?
    OK, I’ll stop it, but if it’s him, good job Tom. You are a brave man..

  • Another thought…question…comment.
    Tom, if this guy were 60 years old and unattractive (like me ;^))) and you did not discover that fact until you met him in person the first time, would there have been any handholding or hugging or frisbee golf? Would you have dismissed him as an old, lonely pervert and assumed that he was stalking you? I think it’s a valid question. When we go in pursuit of affrimation from straight guys and SSA guys, are we really still looking for Mr Right? A hubby. A partner? Is that what backs up behind the emodep and brings the walls crashing down? Sublimation is a subtle and terrible thing

    • To be honest, very few people could have been able to grab my hand after only meeting me an hour before and then hold it and hug me repeatedly over the course of an afternoon. This guy was special. Anyone older or younger or of a different personality type or appearance would have probably been met with an “are you for real right now?” Admittedly, I am a very selfish and self-preserving person, and I rarely look out for the other person’s best interests, even if what he might need most is indeed a hand-hold or a long hug. Something for me to work on: getting out of myself and extending appropriate love to others.

      • Tom, I have definitely seen you being unselfish in showing love to others! I would certainly encourage you to do that even more. You will actually find yourself happier as a result!

        • ok…so when are we going to play frisbee golf….actually I would prefer fishing, but I’m flexible

          • Jeff, I just noticed that you replied to me and not Tom.
            My father actually taught me to fish in a very old fashioned way. We used to throw a 12 foot diameter circular net over the fish, rather than using a rod and reel. It worked better for catching salt water fish in the surf in Florida where I grew up.
            Even so, if I ever get to meet you it would probably start in a coffee shop, not with fishing or frisbee golf.

          • I live in a land called Iowa which, while centrally located, is close to nothing. Many pass through, but few stop by or realize what a wonderful place it is. We do have coffee shops here, Starbucks and Caribou and a few independents. So if you ever find yourself passing through the Beautiful Land, you should give me a shout. My email is [email protected] . Spring, summer or early fall is the best. Winters are brutal here, but not as bad as say, Minnesota.
            I have used a casting net, but generally for the purpose of picking up bait fish (minnows, chubs) to catch other fish. I’m not very good at it either.

  • I’ve held hands and prolonged the hugs with men whenever I’ve felt free from the fear it would be misunderstood, stigmatized as something sexual, or my affection would be rejected. In the general population of American men, it’s hard for me to become free from that fear, but with work on the friendship and developed trust, I have been more affectionate with a few. I’m also part of a community who share an initiatory experience where we’re given a context for enjoying Father-Son-ly affection in the tens of minutes. Part of that context is a commitment that sex is off the table with anyone else in the community. Other guidelines for SSA men include being in a group rather than one-on-one.
    In neither context (general or committed community) has affectionate touch ever led to anything sexual. Strong emotions of affection (whether to best buddies in my early years or later when I got my first dog) could lead to sometimes embarrassing erections, but I knew it was different from the desire for sex that I experienced at other times. In fact when I felt secure in letting a guy know about the love I felt for him and my desires for affectionate touch, sexual fantasies I had about him evaporated. (I quit getting aroused around my dog, too.) I see that as evidence that my body used sexual feelings as a way to medicate the distressing emotions I had around connection.
    If I knew the other man might want to go to a sexual place, I’d apply safeguards, starting with don’t be alone with him.

    • Yeah, I think a large reason for my “success” with this other guy was the fact that we were always in a public place. Technically we were “alone” out on the frisbee golf course, but there was always that pervading sense that anyone could walk up at any moment. That went a long way, actually.

  • I had written a lengthy response this morning and I now see that it didn’t post 🙁

    • BUMMER. I hate it when that happens, Ashley. I actually copy all my longer posts and comments before hitting the magic button because that disaster has happened to me too many times. I do it out of habit now!

      • I know. when my computer is giving me issues I usually do. but it had posted. it just disappeared

        • This has been a concern of mine in the beginning as well. When I first started here at YOB, I took down the ending questions and simply wrote down in my $1 composition book my thoughts to be rewritten on the site. Being a techie, I know firsthand how precarious computer equipment can be in its operation.

  • I can’t say I experienced the hand holding or prolonged hugging with a guy. Yet I would like to at some point, but of course only under noble and platonic circumstances. Loneliness I tend to deal with quite a bit. It’s bad enough that I don’t need to add regret to the mix. Male affirming versus boundary crossing seem conditional as to whether we are acting based on selfless or selfish motivations. In my opinion, this is also a defining factor if not THE defining factor between love making (sex) versus fornication or adultery. It is selfish intentions that fuel the sinful desires of the latter as to “what can I get or exploit from this person (siphon) to satisfy my own wants and desires.” It is a greedy and self-centered mind frame. Alternatively, the more Christ-like and virtuous condition of the heart and mind asks “what can I give this person” to allow them to feel a noble and healthy sense of affirmation, love and affection. It all weighs on where one places the importance of this sort of engagement, on oneself or on the other person.

    • Ugh, I feel this too much. The exploitation of other men versus the selfless giving to other men. It’s good that I realize this selfishness in myself. It’s not good that I rarely act nobly on it.

  • I appreciated coming across this article. Before I begin, I’m noticing my username. I have typically used “gay” and SSA interchangeably, yet I do not (or no longer) consider myself part of the LGBT community. So anyway, don’t worry or assume that I’m suggesting anything specific by my use of the word “gay.”
    Anyway, I’m just getting over a triggering conversation with someone who did not understand my intentions or my perspectives on male physical affection. Like much of American culture, it’s incessantly attached to lust and a desire to push sexual boundaries.
    I guess there will always be a “risk,” but I figured it’s better to take a risk instead of stay in isolation and deal with accompanying addictions. I try to think of Christ and His male followers at the most crucial moments of His life. I imagine Him holding my hand, letting me rest on His shoulder. I feel like my opportunities to do this with men…who have the same focus on faith in Christ…is representative of this spiritual setting.
    Of course there are sometimes romantic undertones or an occasional arousal. I just have to let those feelings be. I don’t think it’s worth forsaking all physical contact just because of some fleeting feelings. I can’t say how much I would love to hold a good guy friends hand without society thinking we’re having sex (or that we’re even “gay”). In fact, I wonder if most men are deprived of this kind of connection, regardless of whether they’re SSA or not.
    I have some strong feelings about the definition of marriage and about sexual morality (man-woman marriages). Yet I also acknowledge that this desire of mine for (hopefully) platonic physical touch is right up there too.

    • No need to worry about “gay” being in your handle. I’ve come to think of the YOB blog as a forum or refuge for all to share our stories and individual perspectives without judgment and in a civil manner. I especially want to hear others’ viewpoints as I have become fully aware that I just don’t know everything.

  • Good Morning Mike. Just a few more thoughts here. Perhaps it’s not your SSA that’s increasing. Maybe it’s your will to fight it that’s decreasing. There is a world of difference between giving up and giving in. For 50 years I have been pushing it all down, denying it and fighting it. I have concluded that it is no longer worth the effort. It’s like trying to hold a life jacket under water. I have many hopes for many things Mike. Getting rid of the SSA though, is no longer one of them. Accepting it as part of who I am has made my life easier in many respects. As for the future, I can predict two things with 100% certainty for both of us. We will pay more taxes and we will then die. Life is too short to spend it repressing and sublimating a desire that seems completely natural to me. I will not waste another minute on it. It is what it is. I accept it. I am gay. I doubt I will do anything about it at this point in my life. That would be equally stressful I think. I have more important things to concern myself with. It is only a small part of who I am and not worth pursuing. Even so, I am as God made me.

  • “All things are permissable, but not all things are beneficial”
    That’s in the Bible, and I think it makes it clear where we need to draw our boundaries. I think too many SSA men like myself convince themselves that they need this kind of thing to fix themselves. There’s nothing wrong with non-sexual intimate male touch inherently, but it isn’t something that is needed to fix you. That fix is Jesus my friends. And if intimate physical touch is a temptation for you, then it’s probably not something God has in mind for you to explore. Ultimately prayer to God is the only final answer on a matter like this. But I advise that it is most likely better to draw boundaries that are too tight than too loose. Better to overrestrict yourself than risk sinning.

    • Patience, my young padawan. Patience. You’re right though. Too often I convince myself if I just had this or that (this or that involving the emotional and physical touch of another man, usually), then I’d be fixed or healed. But I don’t go to God often enough. Thanks for this reminder.

  • I had a best friend / roommate in university who was as straight as they come. To a fault actually. But he had spent time overseas and so had I in cultures where men hold hands. When we came back we continued the tradition. It did lead to stares but we didn’t seem to care much. Most people knew us and knew why we held hands. I’ve given up the practice living in the west but I recently asked my friend and he said he still does it with his friends. His wife told him to stop because it looked gay. Ha. Healthy affirming affection can be good in the right context.

    • That’s so interesting, Brent. I’ve never had the experience of traveling or living in a land where men holding hands was completely platonic. I’d love to witness that and live that for myself one day.

      • Middle east… some places in Europe and East Asia. It varies from place to place but it’s pretty wide spread. I was taken aback at first… but when in Rome and all that. It’s refreshing. However, I know in Thailand that the presence of more and more gay men has changed the culture. Men feel less safe to be affectionate. Men have to be willing to take affection back and possibly get labeled in order to have it in their lives again. These days most men get it from sports.

  • When I worked in Asia, my good friend (a local) held my hand as we walked down the street. Without going in to a great diatribe, this is a common practice between good friends, and it’s quite heterosexual. Then it dawned on me–is this what God had planned the whole time? It was seen as natural and once I looked around, many were doing it–and no homosexual thoughts even came to their minds.

  • Me and my friend hold hands all the time. Especially when I am driving. He is hypersensitive. When I first got on the highway speeding from the merge, I noticed he was anxious, so I slid my hand into his and he grabbed right on, and even kissed it. Since that time, we always hold hands. I am 50 years old and I have long since abandoned the idea that I should ever be normally married to the opposite sex. I could be deluded into thinking that the LORD gave me my current friend. Yet, he is in my life for a purpose. Though he is quite sexual, I have learnt to keep my urges under. I know what it’s like to get out of control and I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. My friend doesn’t understand how that faith in Christ can be satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, I am no holy sage, far from it. I jerk off from time to time, we cuddle and play around, and giving “thanks in all things”, even when Law says something different. Thank God we don’t live under it. I’d be dead right now..

  • Having served over 20 years in the military, I’ve been to many different places throughout our world. And one keen observation I’ve made is that male-male hand-holding is a stigmatized “taboo” mostly evolved out of our own, overly sexialized Western cultures. Heterosexual men in other cultures (Asian, Indian, Israeli, Arabic, and some Hispanic, just to name a few) openly and publically share the affectiin of holding hands in friendship with other males.
    Hungering for the innocent (and rare) expressions of physical affection from my male friends was something I’d always sensed inside of myself. So my observations intrigued me to the point of researching it a bit further. What I discovered was both astonishing to me and deeply tragic, all at the same time.
    The photographic history of American men shows an amazing trend that suddenly comes to an abrupt halt, right before the era of what has been labeled the “sexual revolution” of the early 1960’s. What the photographic evidence shows without any dispute, even among “heroic” WW2 military men, is that American males use to hold hands and show much closer affection too, especially in front of a camera lens. So what happened?
    The answer is simple. Sad to say, the stigma of open homosexuality in America happened! And our once willingly affectionate male friendships fell to the fear of accusations of it being something sexual. And how incredibly sad that is for all of the generations of young men that followed that one… How sad for you and for me that we’ve missed out on this once “normal” and innocent interaction between males in friendship, because it’s become so stigmatized by sexual association.
    I found a close friendship in my later years, with a Christian brother who grew up in Mexico, and never had an SSA inclination in his life. After we’d gotten close in friendship (I’d already shared with him about my own struggles with homosexuality), I felt “safe” to muster the courage to ask him how he felt about two men sharing affection with each other.
    He was open to it and so I asked him if we could. After that conversation, we sometimes held hands, or sat close to each other, and sometimes even kissed each other on the cheek or lips when greeting or saying goodbye to each other. Over the next five years that followed, I felt like ours was the most honest and deeply rewarding male friendship I’d ever experienced. But then something went wrong, and my best friend suddenly pushed me away.
    To this day I’m still not sure what it was that I did, or even “if” it was something I did? You see, I also have this tendency to blame myself (or my struggles with SSA issues) for everything that seems to go wrong in my male friendships. All I know for sure is that the most rewarding friendship I ever experienced in life is also now the most painful for the loss of it.
    I think that grieving the loss of someone so deeply close to me who never died is, perhaps, far more painful than grieving the loss of someone who actually departs this life. And all of the unanswered questions are emotionally draining. I still cry over him from time to time, when the inward accusing voices come to torment me about the loss.
    http://www.beyondtheshadesofgray.org

        • Just read parts 3 and 4 of your friendship with Justin… I agree… Relationships of emotional dependency are horrible! I do believe that was very much an issue initially. But very honestly, I think the friendship became very one-sided in the way that it fell apart in the end. Yes, it hurt terribly, and I did experience a lot of the same feelings you did in the rejection I felt from him… and a cold-hearted rejection it was! He seemed like an entirely different person from who he’d presented himself to be in the years before his rejecting me. Still, you give me plenty more to think about. Much love, brother!

  • I wish I could hold hands with another man and have a prolonged hug, nothing sexual or sinful. To be honest I hardly am able to be vulnerable around other men including my father and step-father. Is this normal? I feel like I’m missing out…

    • There are lots of different opinions about that, Joseph. Speaking for myself, I’m honest to say that I do desire it and have indeed been enriched by such affection and masculine intimacy, when I’ve experienced it. And I believe the desire we often feel for such things is COMPLETELY normal!
      I think the biblical truth of it all is that the desire for such things should never be allowed to become an idol to us. But the desire for platonic human touch and affection… it is very, very normal, my brother!

    • There’s nothing wrong with you, Joseph. Your desires to be held and accepted by other men are good and true. I’ve been blessed to experience these affirmations along life’s winding roads, and I pray you find the same one day. If it’s a sincere desire of your heart, I believe God will eventually honor it. Keep on, brother.

    • Joseph, read my comments on this post. I have been blessed with straight and SSA male friends who share extended hugs with me. Some SSA friends will even hold hands platonically. As long as you have good boundaries this affection is a blessing, not a temptation.

  • So, I cuddle with other men. Straight guys as a rule. I found that there’s something about holding my hand that I just love. It’s like a way of saying I’m here beside you and I’m for you. Yes, my body still responds sexually, but I believe that’ll pass in time. And like you said, I’d rather live dangerously than isolate. I’d rather thrive. For me personally, I draw the line at you don’t touch my penis and I don’t touch yours. One of my pastors told me a boundary of anything sexual might be safe and I liked it. I believe my body reacting sexually is merely muscle memory and can’t be helped.

  • I have a similar situation with back and neck massages. I am fully aware of how much more sexual a massage is to hand-holding. It went that way when I was spiraling out of control. It was what I used to manipulate situations in a way that seems similar to this story. Now, I am in a phase where I no longer desire the sexual side of the relationship but still seek the physical affirmation, trust, and service that I used to get by offering to give a massage. I am stuck between offering/providing and fearing I’ll be triggered by it and connecting with those seeking sexual connections in a round about way of getting the affirmation, trust, and service. Of course this round about way only provides a mangled and ultimately shaming version of what I seek. Not least because I feel like whatever I get is based in a lie either to myself or the other man. What a twisted world to work through…

  • Thomas Mark Zuniga

    I'm a storyteller and story-liver in Asheville, North Carolina – the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. I'm YOB's cofounder and editor, and I also host our bimonthly podcast. I've written a couple books, including a memoir in 2013 where I first came out to the world. Once upon another universe I anonymously blogged about my faith and sexuality under the Xanga username, "twoBeckonings." I'm an INFJ, an Enneagram 4w5, and my spirit animal is the buffalo. My favorite place in the world is the one where coffee and vulnerability meet.

    See All Posts
    >