Permission to Read Our Stories

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I don’t know that I have permission to read these stories.

My new friend, Henry, said as a puzzled look hit my face. He must have noticed, because he scratched his chin as he leaned back to consider it. I followed suit, ruminating further.

“It’s so personal,” Henry continued. “And I guess I just don’t feel like I can relate to it. I’m not part of that community. I don’t have that struggle. It gives me insight, for sure. But I can only see so much before it feels like I’m intruding.”

The pieces started sliding together.

“So, you feel that, in order to be a reader, you have to be a part of that community?” I clarified.

Henry nodded. I continued. “So, even if you are given permission to read these stories, you still feel that you should refrain, correct?”

Henry agreed with my statement. I thanked him for his input and turned around to keep working. But I couldn’t shake his words out of my mind. Something was still missing.

If it’s not permission to read our stories that he needs, and the insight is still not enough to help him feel welcome, what else does he need?

Henry couldn’t shake it either, because we both turned around at the same time to speak. His mouth opened first, so I held mine closed.

“It would be different,” Henry said, “if I knew the authors. Like, if I personally knew them well. Not just through their posts, but if I also knew them outside of that. Then I’d feel like I could read.”

My lips curled into a smirk. Oh, Henry, if you only knew.

“So,” I said, hiding my smirk, “if you knew the guys who wrote for Your Other Brothers, you would feel more comfortable reading their stories? And you’d be able to connect with them? Because you’d know the people outside their posts?”

Henry nodded with a resounding “Yeah!” each time.

“That makes sense,” I concluded. “Thank you for checking out that blog for me.” I turned back around, grinning ear to ear.

I had asked Henry to check out the blog as a favor, not telling him that I wrote for the blog. Due to my pseudonym, he had no reason to look for any trace of me on here. All he knew was that I had asked him to check out this blog for feedback. I’m sure he assumed I came across it in my research and found it interesting enough to warrant a second opinion.

I debated letting him in on the secret; true to his words, he would not go back and read ever again. After all, he didn’t know any of the guys personally.

I could write a post about our whole conversation and he would never know.

However, Henry is a good friend. And not only do I care about him a lot, he is highly intelligent and always willing to help.

He was willing to read several blogs outside his realm of understanding simply because I’d asked him.

I finally decided. “Which posts did you read?”

Henry turned around, racking his mind for some titles. “I don’t remember them all. But one of them was about Father’s Day. It was pretty good.”

“Oh, yeah, I read that one,” I answered, a smile shining on my face.

Have you invited or given permission to anyone to read YOB with you? How have others responded upon your sharing this site with them? Do you want others to read and better understand, or do you prefer this realm stay separate in your life?

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  • Ashley Lavergne

    I have not shared this blog with anyone. I don’t share many things that have to do with any of this. But if there were someone who really was invested in knowing more I’d definitely share this. and while I don’t write in the blog obviously I am in a lot of the comments with my real name and face attached and quite a few of my comments are deep personal things. I’ve definitely thought about it. I want to see how well the spanish option works for the blog so my husband can read them sometime in the future

    • Dean Samuels

      That would be awesome if you could share this with your husband through the Spanish version!

      And I definitely get not sharing this with many people. Even though I am under a pseudonym, I still am careful about overly public discussions of YOB. It tends to be for my closer friends as is appropriate.

  • You know, it’s funny… When I found YOB, i was instantly able to see the clear benefit of becoming a member of the community. No question there!

    But I’d also been involved (and very out-spoken) over the moral side of all of our issues, especially from a Christian perspective, and especially where it reahces over to the more political side of the isle, as well.

    People know my testimony… I’ve got a book out there, and also a couple different testimonial videos have been done about me. But people don’t know all of my very personal struggles, unless I’ve shared it one-on-one.

    And experience has taught me that a large portion of our worldly society, not to mention a large portion of the “Christian community” is really unprepared to grasp or comprehend the difficulty of our particular mess—and far less of those are able to respond back, or look upon us within the truth of our messes, with any manner of genuine compassion!

    I say all of that to say this: When I started participating in the YOB Community with Disqus posts below the blogs, I intentionally changed my Disqus profile to “private,” so that people could no longer look at my Disqus profile to see my YOB postings (or any other of my Disqus platform postings, unless they were actually visiting that community themselves.

    I believe this is a prudent way to approach our level of extreme vulnerability and honesty, here.

    I don’t care if anyone sees my postings here, of course. But it needs to be on the right terms, and for the right reasons. And I’m content to allow God to handle that aspect of what we all share across the Internet, about ourselves.

    • Dean Samuels

      I am so glad you have been able to find a community with us, fellow Dean! And thank you for sharing it with others, even if they reject it. You never know what God will do in their lives that may lead them back to YOB and engaging with us at a new point in their life. Keep sharing your story!

  • I have not (obviously) been asked to write for YOB; but I have not changed my privacy settings either. It is all still public, and I post on Disqus quite often, giving links to my blog. It has brought a LOT of healing and feeling better about myself as a human being; to know that I am not the only one who struggles with what my body wants verses what my spirit wants. I want everyone to know how much healing God can give you, if you just let Him.

  • James a la carte

    To be honest, I’m scared of sharing this blog with people I know. My heart wrenches when I read the articles. Although I didn’t write the articles, it feels like they are describing me- my secrets and shame are suddenly out, in public, for everyone to see.

    A large part of me feels less alone when I read them, I feel understood, not alone in these struggles and the terrible complexity.

    I want to share this with people I know, but I’m afraid of their reaction. It’s so easy to misunderstand these topics, especially when the church is at war with the concept of ‘homosexual’. I’m afraid many of these articles would be seen as theological debates, instead of what they are- stories of honest struggles.

    The authors are incredibly brave, and transparent with their inner thoughts. I want to be that way, too. I just don’t feel safe at church, with my family and friends.

    When I was newer to the community, I made an honest mistake. I liked I one of the articles on Facebook- which my parents saw, and then they read the blog. Later they confronted me for pursuing the ‘homosexual lifestyle’- which for them is the same as struggling with SSA.

    What a grave misunderstanding. In typical fashion for them, they focused on morality and theology, blind to the people that are hurting.

    This is just one example, but it’s a typical view in my Christian community. Churches aren’t safe, we can’t really be community, because we don’t have permission to be honest, to struggle with our faith and our sexuality.

    I desperately want to be transparent, to share my heart. But in so many ways, I’m just not allowed.

    • Dean Samuels

      I’m sorry you aren’t able to share openly, James. I pray you come into that opportunity soon as it is something so powerful in this struggle we share. I also pray your parents’ hearts are softened and grow more understanding. Thank you for sharing your struggle here with us.

    • Brad

      Thanks for sharing brother – my heart goes out to you. This is not what Jesus intended for His church. May He breath Holy Spirit life into the pharisaical, morality-focused culture – releasing the compassion of Christ for broken, hurting sinners. So easy for us (humanity) to get infected with the yeast of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6). Jesus, come now and minister to our brother Vincent’s church, mix in your yeast (Matthew 13:33), release your Kingdom, reveal your heart.

  • TriggerWarning

    I have shared this site with many Christians, SSA and otherwise. . NONE…NONE have come back with a review. I did not ask either. If one is searching, it can be found. If one is not searching and does not want to deal with people like us, I’m sure this place would come as a shock to them. Actually, it came as kind of a shock to me, but I got over it.

    I want Christian people to know that someone they love is probably SSA and probably a Christian. They need to lighten up and let the light in allowing them to love their brothers and sisters, their sons and daughters, their grandchildren, their neices and nephews. To paraphrase, we are here and we are not going away. Help us in our struggle and we can help you too.

    The Christian world needs to get over themselves. We are among you. We exist. We always have. Now we’re talking about it.

  • A Friend

    I’ve been terrified to share these stories, as where I am, mere MENTION of SSA/gay/homosexual/bisexual is an immediate rejection and scorning. Instead of going on the path with me, I literally got the response when making hint/suggestion of SSA, our small group said, and I quote, “That is the unpardonable sin.” Thus, as you can see, such reaction pushes me further into the closet. This site has been a welcome relief to know others out there walk with me.

    • WaveDave

      Wow – I am so sorry …but I am in the same boat. I haven’t been able to post in a long time due to computer issues and some rough events in my life, but I, too, am thankful to know there are others out there who walk the same path. Many blessings to you…and a big shout out to YOB!

    • That is such ignorance! The only unpardonable sin that I am aware of is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (to attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan and his evil, or to deny Jesus Christ).

      But as for you and I, and all of us, look at 1st Corinthians 6:9-11

      “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
      [emphasis, mine]

      So, rest easy in your relationship with Christ, good brother! You are among friends here. And those ignorant people you spoke of… They would do well to look at themselves in a mirror, before they are so quick to play God like that.

    • You’re safe here with us, Friend. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced this in the Church.

    • Dean Samuels

      Friend, I am so sorry. As other brothers have mentioned already, you are welcome and safe with us. We love you and are here for you. Thank you for sharing. Will be praying God guides you to a safe community in your physical surroundings as well.

  • Fred

    I’ve shared that this blog exists with others and have read to them from it, however I have been very careful to give them no information how to access it. All they know is that I “talk to a community online”. Sometimes I really want to reveal it, but I’m very easy to pick out because of my writing style (if you know me personally) and the anonymity of the “Fred” name allowed me to go rawer than I’d ever think in the first place. Who knows? Maybe one day God will instruct me to be an open book to all, and then who cares? I definitely think that might be my calling one day, maybe it will even be through yob! For right now, my name is extremely unique, so I won’t be revealing my full and real identity simply because Google searching my real name will pull up everything I’ve been in, including yob if I were to reveal it. Until I come completely out, if God does so call me, I probably won’t be sharing yob with others unless they were SSA as well.

  • Ernest

    When I first found YOB, I asked a friend who knows about this part of my life to have a flick through it, to see whether he thought it was ok for me to read or if there was something problematic that he could spot (the whole ‘wanting to be aware of any blind spots’ kind of thing. He may not have agreed about all the posts (and that’s ok), but realised that it would provide me with a perspective that he could never have and a community that he could never be a part of, no matter how much he would be there for me (he’s good at being self-aware, much better than me).

    • Dean Samuels

      Glad you were able to share this with your friend and that he could look past his disagreements to see the benefit of sharing our stories. We may not even agree amongst ourselves, but we still value each other’s perspectives. Glad you are able to benefit from that, Ernest!