A peek inside the life of a YOB author: I receive an email notification with every comment made on my posts. Let’s just say my inbox has been busy recently.

I am a poor judge at gauging how my posts will be received. I once wrote a heartfelt blog about my friend Henry: 7 comments. Oh well. I also wrote a more lighthearted post about a guy saying that men shouldn’t take baths: 63 comments. Well, fun!

I did not anticipate the intense reaction to my most recent post, “Why I Want to be LGBT.” If you had asked me to give an estimate for comments and participation, I would have ballparked it around 15-20. It’s not that I thought it was a bad post — I just figured it would be acknowledged and then left alone.

Clearly, I was wrong.

Comments flooded in, opposing thoughts and opinions clashed, and readers and authors alike took their stands.

Being out of town for work the first few days kept me from being more actively engaged with my post. I could only watch the comments and conflicts grow more and more.

Another peek, this time into my life: I am careful never to post anything controversial on Facebook. I do this for one reason alone: I despise comment wars. I see little value in them — only hurt.

As I watched the comments escalate on my post, I worried that I had just started something I greatly despise in a place where we value community through diversity. I literally turned it all upside down!

And I knew I couldn’t stay quiet. Since it was my post, I had a responsibility to get involved.

The Thursday after my post went up, I sat at my laptop staring at what felt like an endless stream of comments. Part of me wanted to sternly defend what I thought was right; another part just wanted to apologize for something I believe.

But then I was challenged to remember the very heart of my post. And I ended up summarizing it best in one of my comments where I wanted to clear up any confusion:

If telling someone I’m gay allows me to be a light in their life, then I will do it. If saying I am SSA Side B allows me to be a light in their life, I will do that as well. At the end of the day, my desires are secondary to the Great Commission, God’s call on the life of every Christian.

That’s it. It’s that simple. That was the essence of my most recent post. I do apologize for not making that clearer sooner.

I know there are people who will still disagree with me. You may still want to caution me on the dangers of this sentiment and so on. I appreciate that — truly, I do!

But I ask you to remember that I am not doing this alone, nor am I doing this without a strong and vast support system.

I have leaders in my life — pastors, counselors, and mentors. They are speaking into my life as I pursue this calling to minister to the LGBT+ community, walking with me through all of my life.

I have a wonderful wife with whom I share my life. God has given me incredibly close friends whom I consider brothers, dozens of other friendships, and a community of fellow authors through YOB.

I am not walking this road alone or without direction or navigating solo. I have an amazing community around me.

All I want is to open my life to others and to share the love of Jesus with even more people.

Do you struggle with conflict or clarity of beliefs? Do you feel any compunction or conviction to belong with or minister to the LGBT+ community?

About the Author

  • I understand what ‘side b’ is, because I live that life; however most straights never heard that terminology. Rather than explain it, I simply say I’m gay but don’t indulge. Still, people have dirty minds and assume you are having sex with men. They tend to marvel that I have been celibate nearly 14 years. Maybe it’s because they can’t themselves.
    I hate saying I’m gay, because I no longer live that life, but I know of no other way of relating to straights.

    • I’m not sure that people have dirty minds so much as I think it is a cultural understanding that has always linked being “gay” with behavior. It is relatively recent that Christians have adopted LGBT vernacular in describing themselves. I think where a lot of this hurt comes in that everyone talks about is the perceived failure of the culture to readily accept a change being pushed upon its own understanding. This is why I personally believe it is best to steer clear of identifying ourselves with the watchwords of the world.
      As you have said, before. “I am just Bradley. I am a child of God.” Amen to that.

  • No compunction…that’s a really big word. I did have a thought once about going to a Pride event and offering free hugs. After all, doesn’t love cover a multitude of sins?

    • Yeah, I thought about going once or twice too; but do I really want to be associated with them? They don’t represent me. I am not defined by them. Besides, they are just television events. Would anybody really go if there wasn’t TV cameras filming?

      • Mine here in Chattanooga TN isn’t as far as I know. Boils down to: we’re both human, we both need love and touch, hugs are healthy ways to convey both, how bad can it be? 😉

      • That said…don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually one of them now. Came out as gay a month and a half ago. Lol

  • I appreciate the desire to clarify, but there are several issues here. First, saying you’re gay means you approve of the homosexual lifestyle, no? Doesn’t it mean you’re a homosexual? (I just checked Webster’s, and that appears to be what “gay” means.) You have no qualms in calling yourself a gay man? If I’m off base, perhaps this question is a good place to start since we aren’t even agreeing on terms and what they mean.
    Saying you have SSA doesn’t mean you necessarily approve of the homosexual lifestyle. I believe SSA would describe most guys here. That’s a safe term.
    Terms matter. Truth matters too. There are only two possible paths with the choice you propose.
    1. If you are not gay, then why would you say you are? Never should we use deception to win people to Christ. That’s pragmatism. So for the benefit of the doubt, I’m assuming you are not lying.
    2. If you sincerely identify as gay (and are apparently married to a woman too), I guess I’m speechless. I thought this site was all about helping guys who have SSA NOT be gay. Why would you knowingly take on a label that means you approve of homosexuality to minister to someone who may come to know Christ and come out of homosexuality? Do you see the contradiction?
    I’m glad you have a strong support system surrounding you for the sake of protection, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the rightness or wrongness of your choice of how you want to self-identify. While it’s a noble desire to seek to reach homosexual people who need Christ, terminology matters. Who you choose to identify with matters to God and the Christian community. If you’re truly a gay man and identify as such, wow, what can I say? I’m still flabbergasted and really trying to understand your meaning. You’re a regular columnist here. All sorts of readers look up to you for advice and leadership. What does this message tell them?

    • Well said, Drew. I enjoy Dean’s writing, like I do all posts from the fellas here. I share Dean’s divided heart, however I have to always test things (including my own emotions and feelings, which do not mean they are facts) against Scripture. If we’re born-again, adopted children of the Most High God, then we don’t have any rights to label ourselves in this fallen, broken world. The Bible portrays humans as either sheep/goats, wheat/tares, righteous/unrighteous, regenerated/reprobates. I preach this to myself constantly. I see my same sex desires/lust as a curse, not a blessing. I do use the term ‘gay’ when talking to nonbelievers about my same sex attractions, but avoid that when talking with fellow believers. I also hate the term ‘ex-gay’ because it means nothing to me lol….I know we’re all here working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

    • Drew, you are right about words mattering. Let me clear up some of my use of words.
      When I say “gay,” I simply mean I am attracted to men. When I say “SSA,” I simply mean I am attracted to men. Now the two terms have cultural connotations. Back in the 90s and early 2000s, “gay” meant affirming. Now, however, it’s no longer strictly tied to that. Christian authors such as Wesley Hill, Nate Collins, and Greg Coles are using the word “gay” simply for individuals attracted to the same gender as themselves. In the wake of Exodus International collapsing, SSA has been seen by some of the current generation as too closely associated with the “ex-gay” movement.
      So, when I say I can alternate between gay and SSA, I am simple acknowledging that the terms are nearly synonymous denotationally, with different connotations based on the person listening. I aim to clarify that I am non-affirming ( I do not believe the Bible affirms same-sex relationships). I also aim to clarify that I don’t actually consider my SSA unwanted. I’ve accepted it as a part of who I am.
      One other thing- you noted said that you believe YOB to be about helping guys with SSA not be gay. That’s not actually our goal. We’re simply here to provide community for men and women on a similar journey. Our mission is to navigate faith, masculinity, and homosexuality together. I could expand that without much work to simply say navigating faith, identity, and sexuality together.
      I am honored that you would say others look up to me. I don’t take that lightly. I hope the main message received at all times is pursue Christ, spread the Gospel, and love others as yourself.
      Also, last note, I never said I would choose the word “gay” or even the phrase “SSA Side B.” Those were “if” statements. I would actually choose another identity for myself if I chose to label my sexual identity in any succinct way.

      • Thanks, Dean. Thanks for the gracious response, and I understand now what you mean by your terms. That doesn’t, however, mean I agree with the terms as you use them, especially “gay.” While those in “the community” may use different shades of meaning for that term, in the world at large there is little confusion. If somebody says he or she is gay, there’s little ambiguity to the person on the street. The person is a homosexual and typically a male one. So to use this identifier in a pursuit to reach out to others for Christ is, I believe, quite problematic for a number of reasons, some of which I’ve already communicated. We obviously aren’t going to agree.

      • If the site purports to have a biblical basis, then it should discourage homosexual behavior. Most content I have read here points to this perhaps unspoken objective.

      • Dean, given Drew’s take on the term “gay” meaning what it has meant for many years (practicing or actively pursuing a homosexual lifestyle), would you say that it is a goal of YOB to help someone not be gay (in that sense)? YOB is not an affirming site for gay sexual behavior, correct?

        • YOB is a group for men who acknowledge that they have an orientation to the same sex but do not want to live that lifestyle. They affirm traditional Christian teachings that all sexual behaviour is reserved for a married couple. Some members may still be struggling to keep their behaviours in line with Christian beliefs but they do want to live out their beliefs in their lives and acknowledge the need for repentance when their lives fall short. We are here to help and support one another in this noble and holy endeavour. We encouage one another to live out our Christian faith in all that we do…sin is not solely sexual but in all areas of our lives. However, living a celibate life or mixed orientation marriage is not easy for those who have chosen to live it. We do not deny our orientations, we deny ourselves what we view is a sinful lifestyle. We do not live in the closet. We bear witnrss to God’s love by affirming ourselves and living out our Christian faith by witnessing to the truth of the Gospels.

          • I echo Dan. We hold to a traditional sexual ethic but of course diverge on a host of other issues. That’s the beauty in this community. Let’s continue talking out those divergences respectfully as we unite under a common conviction.

      • Dean – Nothing has changed with regards to how the overwhelming majority of the public perceive the terms “gay” and “LGBT.” Wesley Hill and the Spiritual Friendship crowd are unfamiliar to most Christians and have had miniscule influence outside the very small group of intelligentsia they represent. They are not mainstream. The fact is that the vast majority of those within the church, the gay community and the general public associate the word “gay” with homosexual practice. You may use the terms “gay” and “ssa” interchangeably but only a tiny percentage of the public can separate “gay” and “lgbt” from active homosexuality – and those within the church in particular. Nothing has really changed in this regard. Look at the recent uproar about Pope Francis’s alleged comments to that young man. He probably meant “gay” in the way you use it. But countless throngs of Christians and the gay community interpreted this as the Pope’s endorsement of active homosexuality. And that is what you face when you publicly present yourself to the church and to the LGBT community. You know what you mean. I know what you mean. But only a tiny minority of Christians and active homosexuals will know what you mean. Nothing has changed in this regard.

        • Thanks, Buckdipper. That’s what I meant all along. These terms have definite meanings to the world. We don’t get to control the meaning, and there are powerful voices and forces in the LGBT movement guarding those meanings.
          I do believe we can impact the culture. The disciples turned the world upside down. I am with Dean and Tom in their fervent desire to reach the lost and hurting in that community. Even so, I still don’t get to control terms or redefine them.
          I don’t think the opposing voices on this thread are going to agree. Life will teach both sides what the truth is. Hopefully, we all have humility enough to learn from our mistakes. I certainly hope I can. And I hope it doesn’t mean we lose brothers to the pull of the world. The track record so far, though, is not very encouraging.

    • Drew, I’ll be brutally honest. It’s hard to read comments like these and not get extremely frustrated. We did a whole podcast on labels. We all need to get over this whole terminology debate. You’re making up your own definitions for words that a dozen different people in this community would define a dozen different ways. Maybe “gay” doesn’t work for you. That’s fine. It generally doesn’t for me either. But if I can use the word with my gay or nonbeliever friends as a route toward deeper story-sharing, you bet I’m going to call myself gay. It doesn’t change anything about my convictions whatsoever.
      At the end of the day, I’m striving to reach the lost. Not appease the found.

      • What can I say? Try to shine some light of truth on moral ambivalence (with a good dose of pragmatism) being communicated here, and yeah, I’m of course the one who’s completely wrong on this. Predictable. I’m not making up my own labels. Maybe some folks here are. If you call yourself gay, then you are telling the world you are fine with homosexual behavior. You are contradicting your beliefs. What kind of witness can that be? Very disappointed in this site and doubt I’ll be reading much in the future.

        • Drew, the very fact that myriads of people can identify as gay yet do ~not~ endorse homosexual behavior undoes the definition to which you’re clinging so tightly. I hear your concerns, but if our community doesn’t fit into your box then by all means find one that does. There are too many people out there who need Jesus for me to waste time over the “right” word choices.

          • I appreciate your insights, Tom, and largely I’ve been encouraged by some of the content here. But what a few insiders choose for terminology doesn’t change how the world at large views that terminology or even how Webster’s defines it. Whether it’s Good Morning America or CNN, EVERYBODY knows what “gay” means. The fact that you did a podcast on terminology doesn’t mean all of us have heard it. Instead of expressing frustrating because you did a labels podcast I must have missed, perhaps take a moment to define your terms for some who may have missed it. Or perhaps Dean could have and removed all doubt. The discussion will go much farther that way. If you use a term that means one thing to you and something else to the world, is it wise in using it? How does that give you a bigger podium for outreach? Won’t some folks feel they were deceived once they realize their idea of the term doesn’t match yours? I’m truly probing because you identify with the leadership at YOB, and word choice does matter, though you appear to make light of it.

          • In my experience nobody has expressed a feeling of deceit about our differing definitions; on the contrary, great conversations have flowed out of that starting ground. As Dean commented, “gay” is becoming much more nuanced thanks to the efforts of Hill, Collins, Cole, and other authors. I don’t see it as “a few insiders” anymore.

          • I’ve never heard of those authors. People on the street most likely haven’t heard of them either. But if you want to use a term the world will misunderstand because you think that will give you in roads for the gospel, that’s your choice. Hopefully somebody won’t punch your lights out when they discover you gave them the false impression you were gay.

          • The LGBT folks I’ve encountered would never “punch my lights out.” I just don’t see this extreme scenario that you’re painting. Give people a chance; I think they’re more open to nuance and deeper stories than you’re giving them credit, Drew.

          • Tom, I’m not saying this “will” happen. The possible fallout doesn’t have anything to do with the rightness or wrongness of what you and others are proposing, but it is a potential fruit. You tell your neighbor that you’re gay, and he or she will be on the lookout for your partner or lover. That’s our world. You may be defining “gay” a different way, but I personally believe it is deceptive because most of the world just doesn’t see the word that way.

          • So maybe you say “I’m gay” on the first encounter, grab dinner on the second, talk about past dating experiences and future romance grabbing coffee on the third, and the door gradually opens to elaborate on what your sexuality/faith looks like in your life. It’s all about building trust as with any other friendship, Drew. All the answers and elaborations don’t need to come on that first conversation.

          • But what is building trust if not building a relationship based on truth? Won’t the neighbor be a bit surprised when he discovers you aren’t really gay as you said and don’t really believe homosexual sex is okay, which is what he most likely thought upon your initial declaration that “I’m gay”? Why create the possibility of confusion on the part of anyone? Why say you’re gay at all? Just say, “Hey, let’s grab coffee sometime.” Then during coffee you could say, “You might have noticed I’m living by myself. No, I’m not really looking for a girlfriend. Okay, I’ll be honest. I’d probably be a homosexual if not for God’s work in my heart. Would you mind if I share a bit of how Jesus Christ has worked in my life”? Maybe that’s a bit abrupt, but you get the point. You could actually HARM your witness with a general audience by saying you’re gay. Why use the hot-button label at all? There’s no need to. And since you guys hate labels, here’s another way to go about it. Use biblical terminology and get to the heart, which is a relationship with Jesus Christ and how he has made a difference in your life. Just some thoughts.

          • I’m not saying your approach wouldn’t work. But I’m also saying my approach can work. To each his own.
            Also as an aside, I’d avoid using the word “homosexual” in conversation. It’s become an antiquated, supercharged term that the LGBT community associates with a homophobic church culture. Something that many LGBT folk grew up in. Additionally saying, “I’d probably be a homosexual” lends some confusion for me: do you then no longer have same-sex attractions? Are you “healed” of this? I think that’s why I prefer “gay” in these contexts. It makes it clear that I am very much still attracted to men and will be til the day I die. But then future conversations can allow me to elaborate on my faith and convictions.

          • The YOB motto itself uses the term homosexuality. Is it acceptable to use homosexuality but not homosexual? I’m confused.

          • Tom is referring to homosexual as a noun, as in “a homosexual,” or “the homosexuals.” People receive it much differently than the adjective “homosexual” or the noun “homosexuality.”

          • That’s interesting in light of the fact that they are okay with the term bisexual in describing one’s self, but not homosexual. Even the word queer…and that was a universal term of disdain for gay people when I was growing up. So they wear that like a badge of honor, even enshrining it in the LGBTQ designation.
            People are fickle beings. Just sayin’. But I am one to always be careful when addressing someone. I never have understood people who willfully offend someone and think themselves justified in doing so.

          • It’s the attached article that’s the problem. Calling someone else “a” bisexual or “a” homosexual just comes across as old-fashioned, out of touch, and ignorant. Bisexual as an adjective is more current; rather than using homosexual as an identifier, gay men just prefer the more simple “gay.” With no thanks to those aforementioned fire-and-brimstone church connotations, I’m sure.

          • Okay, well, I think what Drew meant (and he was only referring to himself) by the term is that he’d be actively engaged in gay behavior. To him, as to the vast majority of people, the terms, regardless which one you use, are tied to behavior. I know that you are running rogue, and other modern Christian scholars are trying to redeem the terms, but that is why Drew and a number of the rest of us are completely uncomfortable with the use of the terms to describe one not engaging in the behavior. To beat a dead horse.
            Anyway, thanks Tom for taking time to explain. I appreciate it.

          • On the YOB About page: “The term “gay” may cause confusion within the Church…Labels are tricky things, and ultimately we just want our stories to reach people — inside the Church and out. We are laying down our labels; call us what you will.” But this article and the one before it uses the label gay exclusively when discussing the positive use of it in witnessing. Seems like a contradiction.

          • To clarify our FAQ: we will use “gay” and “SSA” interchangeably depending on the author’s comfort with said label. One label is going to confuse one side, and the other will confuse another side. No single label will satisfy everyone, so we’re moving beyond that discussion to dive into the actual content of our stories. Call us whatever you’d like.

      • I love your statement about striving to reach the lost Tom…I am in contact with a young man on YouTube who was a fitness model and fashion model (among other things)…and in his recent video he broke down and cried saying he was lonely. I don’t feel comfortable saying much more about him at this point, but I told him I would pray for him…and he wrote back expressing so much appreciation for that. It’s been a great opportunity to show the love of Jesus to a person who really needs to know that right now. I hate to be vague, but discretion is paramount right now.
        In other news, somehow I am having a big problem with logging onto Disquis right now…hope this will post. Thanks for all your hard work!

    • Drew, when did words become more important than the heart? Also why do you need Dean to agree with you? Even if you believe he is wrong, doesn’t love cover over a multitude of sins?

      • Hi, there. Thanks for your thoughts here. I think I know where you are going with this. If not, feel free to shoot me a question or two. I never said words were more important than the heart. In fact, they are both important; they aren’t mutually exclusive. But having good motives (a good heart) doesn’t mean words no longer matter. They always do. No, I don’t need Dean to agree with me, and I don’t need to agree with him; but it can be healthy to discuss areas of disagreement. Love does cover a multitude of sins, but in some cases, love doesn’t cover everything. Words matter, so if something doesn’t make sense or causes conflict based on other truths, we are doing the right thing by questioning/discussing them. I may discover an area in which my thinking is flawed; Dean may consider an angle he didn’t consider before. Iron sharpens iron. Discussion can be profitable; otherwise, there’d be no point to commenting at all.

  • sorry you’ve had to your thoughts and intentions misinterpreted. I really liked what you wrote and your posts have always been ones I relate to personally. and yes I do feel those convictions and the conflict comes in when searching for the best way to do it. and as you said as did paul unto greek, greek and unto jew, jew in order to reach all

    • Thank you, Ashley. I greatly appreciate your comment here and I always look forward to what you add to our conversations. Thank you for journeying with us here at YOB!

  • Oh dear… what a mess this whole labels debate has become. And its not like this only on YOB, its like this across the Side B world in general and I feel like its causing a lot of unfortunate divisions in our groups when it really shouldn’t be. A lot of unneeded drama and controversy over what is essentially just words.
    Some people seem to think there are serious moral problems with labeling yourself Gay or SSA. Gay has the stigma of folks assumed to be pursuing homosexual relationships. SSA has the stigma of being associated with reparative therapy groups. In my opinion there’s nothing morally wrong with either label. If someone is Side B but prefers either label its FINE. I prefer SSA/Side B and that doesn’t automatically mean I’m in the reparative therapy camp. I have many Side B friends who prefer to call themselves gay and I’m totally okay with it even if I have a personal disagreement with using that label. Either label requires lengthy explanation to the non believer/ straight crowds who are unaware of movements like ours which is annoying. Perhaps we need a new label all together.
    Either way, we need to stop all the petty drama and divisions over the labels debate. We can have our disagreements over what labels we prefer but the drama is not going to help our cause in the slightest.

    • Labels matter. I meet my neighbor on the sidewalk and say, “I’m gay,” he’s going to be on the lookout for my male partner or lover. I doubt he’s going to think, Oh, this guy has desires toward the same sex but could be Side B with SSA mixed in but maybe not reparative theory. And not only that… Absurd. He’s going to think I’m accepting of or living in a homosexual relationship. Words matter. This is one of the simplest understandings in our society. Some folks here are the ones trying to complicate matters.

      • Well like I said, I personally don’t agree with the groups that call themselves gay. Yes, if I were to go up to a liberal atheist or conservative Christian and tell them I’m gay I’m sure they’ll make the same assumption that I’m pursuing homosexual relationships. But it would require some further explanation to explain my Side B ethics. Same would go for saying I’m SSA/ Side B in which case they’d most likely say “what on earth does that mean?” and I would also explain further my sexual ethics beliefs. Pros and cons to both.
        I just fail to see any moral ramifications to one calling themselves gay even if they are Side B. Its simply a rose by any other name. Does God care what label we use as long as we stick to our biblical sexual ethics? I don’t think he does.
        All I’m saying in the grand scheme of things is that we shouldn’t get into major arguments or throw fits over the labels issue. Discuss and debate it sure, but not let it divide us.

        • Okay, I take your point, Eugene. But if serious explanation is going to be required for your use of the term with either the liberal atheist or conservative Christian, that goes to show that the term has a generally accepted meaning. Perhaps it is best to let our yea be yea and nay be nay, and speak words easy to be understood.
          Q:”What are you?”
          A:”I am a follower of the life and example of the Lord Jesus. Can I tell you about what He’s done in my life? “

        • You don’t think God cares whether we call ourselves a homosexual? I’m not sure what you mean here. I’m not sure that this is an area where we can just agree to disagree, to be honest. Walk into most Bible-believing churches and try explain to those in leadership that you call yourself gay but that’s not really what you mean, and I doubt they’d give you hearty approval. There are reasons why certain labels just aren’t acceptable, nor should they be, in the name of ministry. I tend to agree with Kirk. Why the provocative labels? Just get to know a gay man and say, “I’d be living in the gay lifestyle if God hadn’t worked in my heart. Let me tell you about what Jesus Christ did for me.” Then you can share your testimony and the gospel. No reason to say you’re gay or anything else that may give the wrong impression. Again, my opinion is that those who seek to use a provocative label when they perhaps mean something else are the ones who muddy the waters here.

          • Yeah, I really don’t think God cares in the slightest what earthy terms we use when he already knows our hearts and intentions.
            Like I’ve said, I don’t refer to myself as Gay and don’t necessarily agree with it. But that’s mostly on a level of proper communication. There’s nothing morally wrong with it.

  • Thanks for trying to clarify, Dean. I don’t doubt your heart for the lost and hurting in the least. I don’t really think anyone does.
    I am just speaking for me here after reading the comments on this clarification. I still don’t know that I am comfortable with the way the burden is being expressed. I am definitely not comfortable with the idea that no one can define me or that it makes no difference what label we choose. We cannot redefine terms that have had specific connotations for decades and expect everyone to just come jolly along with us. The terms everyone is wrangling about on here have definite meanings in the broader LGBT+ community. The nuanced uses of the terms among Side Bs are what is new.
    Several years ago, there would not have been an argument.
    But here we are today, in a society of pluralism and judge-me-not mentality; a culture steeped in fiercely held personal independence. It is very confusing and disconcerting for those of us who are a little older to witness the wholesale compromise on terms and definitions. It’s getting to the point where no one can be certain of anything anymore. Anarchy is the result, and I think we see this in the falling dominoes of the mainline denominations, as they embrace an affirming stance to homosexual behavior (albeit in it’s “Christianized” white-washed form of “loving, MONOGAMOUS, committed relationships”, or course). That started somewhere.
    When people come out of the lifestyle and warn us that things really aren’t like we see them through our rose-tinted glasses, we should listen. Not just politely, but very carefully. When they read the following statement from your first post, what are they supposed to think?
    “For now, I’m not changing how I view my sexuality. I’m not thinking about changing communities or anything of the sort.”
    Those two words that began the statement, “For now.” Red flags. And why wouldn’t and shouldn’t one be concerned with that? We are watching church movements cave on the issue (and it is a fundamental one). Should I not be concerned about a Christian brother voicing something that resembles getting a little too close to the cliff?
    I think that’s where the concern is coming from. The language of yearning to identify with the confusion inherent in the LGBT movement. It is concerning. Still.
    We may be “over” labels. But clearly, they have a power of their own. The whole conversation surrounding these posts is a testament to this. We underestimate them at our own peril and that of those we so fervently wish to reach.
    Love you, brother.

    • Kirk, to reframe that sentence you quoted, here’s my intent: “For now, I’m not changing how I view my sexuality. BUT I’m DEFINITELY not thinking about changing communities or anything of the sort.” The “for now” was only supposed to apply to the first sentence it was attached to. I apologize for the grammatical ambiguity. I think I commented to someone on my last post that I have no intentions of leaving the church for the LGBT community. I’m sorry if I gave such an impression.

  • Hi Dean, I support your desire to see beyond the labels, and elevate the Gospel.
    Personally, I think this conflict comes from mistaking cultural norms as morality. Case in point, both “gay” and “homosexuality” refer to an orientation. The bible’s gay clobber verses talk about sex between men- as an action. So it would be hard to defend any arguments based on our concept of sexual orientation- which is not an action, but a feeling you have inside.
    Sexual orientation is a cultural norm. So are the ways we use of the words gay/ ssa/ homosexual. The word “gay”, even not too long ago, just simply meant “happy”.
    Taking these cultural norms and reading morality into them is- at best- misinterpretation of the bible. The rock solid morality in the bible is: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. And Love your neighbor as yourself.
    Christians have been redefining cultural norms since the beginning – liberating slaves, elevating women, serving the government in a God honoring way, the strongest among us are the weakest. All of this is exemplified by Jesus dying to save us. Everything about it changes the script of the culture.
    Why should this be any different? Shouldn’t we get beyond ourselves – and our beliefs about what a word means – if it allows us to redeem the culture? Shouldn’t we love our neighbors by reaching out to offer hope and healing? What if using the word “gay” allowed you to do that?

    • I really like your point about Christians upending the culture and redeeming it. Thank you. I can’t say I agree with the method, but I do agree with the premise. So much of our world is broken. God calls us to be the restorer of paths to dwell in. I am very excited about being one that He can use to do so.

  • Here’s my opinion on things:
    Every person you meet in this life has a preconceived idea about something about you. It is not your job to force them immediately to your way of thinking. Rather, what you do is a gradual start that slowly builds over time. As a private music instructor, I would never expect my beginner students to perform at the level of a musician who has been studying for years. What I do is start from where they are and build from there. In the same vein, my use of the term gay to someone who is more understanding of the term allows for there to be some familiarity with that person. In a different circumstance, the terms Side B or SSA would be used if that is language that a person is more comfortable with. As we walk along the road of life together, I am going to gradually expand their understanding of the term to how it relates to me specifically. Will there be negative connotations despite the term that I use? Most assuredly so, but that is not my problem. Sharing my story, loving people, and bridging the divide of the “us vs them” mentality is what I am called to do. All I can do is till the soil and plant the seeds, the rest is up to the other person.
    Thanks Dean for writing this, it needed to be said.

    • Thank you, Brandon, for your thoughts and opinion. The analogy you used was great. I appreciate your sharing your example and your own experience in this!

  • Dean, I am thankful for your voice in all this. When I first started wading into online dialogue of what I later learned to call “Side B,” I was astonished to find a profound diversity of opinions even within this very niche area. I was expecting to see more uniformity with a narrow scope of discourse, but actually, like a fractal, things didn’t get simpler as they got smaller. I found assumptions challenged that I didn’t know I had. As much as my timid little enneagram-9 heart quavers at the thought of wading into conversations that have turned heated and controversial like this, I think it’s helpful for all of us to see and remember that even the tiny-feeling Side B world is bigger than we often picture. I have not always agreed with YOB authors on everything (I do agree with what you’ve written in these posts), and in fact when I first started reading YOB I was ENDLESSLY frustrated, but I have seen the value in all the different voices here. I decided I wanted to be involved and help build this amazing community. The hill worth dying on is making Jesus famous, and building his kingdom. I hope that everyone reading who shares that vision can continue to participate in YOB with charity, patience and humility. We’ve all put up so many walls and had so many divisions drawn against us. We need all the unity we can get.

    • Hi, Ryan. I hope all the men on here will have charity toward each other. That doesn’t have to mean compromising what we personally believe to be true, nor even yet agreeing to disagree. I have definite reservations about a number of things expressed on the site (obviously), and am downright mystified by some of the thought processes. But I’m going to be the first to embrace any one of you should we ever meet. And in our fellowship, we greet with the holy kiss. So, be prepared! No… Seriously, I would hold off on the kiss for your sakes.
      I think it behooves everyone not to be thin skinned when our positions are challenged, or when someone holds us accountable for something we have said or done. Let the righteous smite me, says the Psalmist. It shall be a kindness. It shall be an excellent oil that shall not break my head.
      Thanks for weighing in.

  • Hello, Dean. All right, I am immensely in awe of a courage, despite the reactions of the community, that models so much for me. The fact that you have articulated your point of view, with a passionate desire to reflect the heart of Jesus, leaves me realizing what a remarkable community I have joined. How I wish I could know you as my next-door neighbour; I would be over in a shot with a hearty handshake and clap on the back! I have also garnered much insight from the responses of the YOB community. However, my primary reason for writing is to thank you and continue to pray that you continue to follow Jesus with that contagious authenticity that pulls me deeper and deeper into this excellent fellowship of saints.

  • Dean,
    Thank you for this. I have known for the past 12 years that God wants me to use my SSA to connect with others in this tribe. You may have just given me the courage to finally open up and share with others.
    You share some insights about the community around you. How have you gone about building that kind of community and how much access to they (pastors, counselors, mentors) have into your life?

    • Kendall, I’m thankful my post was able to bless and encourage you!
      I have been very intentional the past many years to build a community of pastors, counselors, mentors, and parental figures in my life. I have several pastors with whom I meet regularly and we discuss this ministry. I also have counselors with whom I discuss my personal health in all areas.
      I also talk with individuals who have experience in LGBT outreach. There are some incredible ministry leaders out there with whom I can talk about LGBT ministry.
      It has taken years, but the support system I have is worth the work. I pray you can build a support system of your own as you lean in to Christ!

  • Thanks for a good follow up post. I don’t run from conflict, but neither do I seek it. I probably wouldn’t have posted something with the prospect of being so controversial, so I admire your courage to stir up the hornet’s nest. Jesus often challenged the status quo of the “nice scripture quoting religious folks”.
    Your “summary” comment reminds me so much of Paul’s comments, that I cannot believe you didn’t have 1 Corinthians 9 in mind when you wrote: “If telling someone I’m gay allows me to be a light in their life, I’ll do it. If telling someone I am a Side B Christian will let me be a light in their life, I’ll do it as well…”. Paul said this…
    1 Corinthians 9:21-23 New International Version (NIV)
    21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
    I honor your intent, I respect your willingness to sit down and eat with sinners where they are at (which Jesus was criticized for doing) and your willingness to face criticism by the Side B community. Saying that you are a gay Christian (unless qualified, because there is ambiguity in the term— it has different connotations to different people) is nonetheless offensive to some. I know a few YOB Long-time readers/friends who told me that they can no longer follow YOB. That makes me sad. I know that was not your intent, because I believe you want to share Christ with every person.
    I am also reaching out with pastoral care, support and friendship to men and a few women. Most of my outreach is with men with unwanted SSA, but I have gay, ex-gay, heterosexual, bisexual and former transgender friend, who have some struggle or another with sexual issues. I see a real need for the transforming power of God in their lives. And I can only accomplish this by being where they are and sharing the love of Christ with them through my own life and life story.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Alan! I actually never thought my original post would be so controversial. I was proven very wrong.
      Thank you for seeing my heart and intent. I was sad to see people step away, but I cannot be sorry for wanting to pursue spreading the Gospel by however I can do it. My heart is to share Christ with everyone around me and I want to use all tools available — that includes the words I use to talk about myself and my experiences.
      I greatly appreciate your encouragement! I pray you continue to spread the Gospel to all those around you as well.

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