I lie awake in bed from a long night’s sleep. I’m tired and weary from the stresses and longings of my everyday life. I don’t feel like getting up, but I groan, lean over and pick up my phone.
I have a new text! It’s from one of my brothers:
Hey Eugene! I love you.
Wow, so simple with only five words. But a world of difference it makes in my day. I rise up and I’m ready to take on the world. But not before sending a message back:
Hey brother! I love you too. You mean a lot to me.
The slog of waking up to my drab mundane life takes a sharp turn for the better, and I am suddenly filled with hope and optimism. The world is not so scary anymore.
How on earth did I live without this hope before?
I attended this year’s YOBBERS retreat, and my mind is spinning over what I just saw and experienced there.
47 men all under one roof: Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, White, Black, Latino, American, and international. All followers of Jesus, all attracted to the same sex, all uniting under a “Side B” traditional sexual ethic, all united as brothers.
Strangely, I don’t think my favorite part of the YOBBERS retreat was my own interactions with these men (though a lot of that was fantastic, too). I actually enjoyed seeing these other men interact with one another, most of whom meeting for the first time.
Just watching these men laugh, play games, joke around, sing, pray, and cry together truly lifted my soul. I’d never seen anything like it.
All my life, I’ve lived in dread and fear about my future, envisioning a bleak future in which I become that creepy old man who lives alone down the street. The one of whom the neighbors gossip and the mothers warn their kids.
My parents would be long dead by this point, leaving me alone in this world as an only child with no surviving family.
My straight friend would be married with a perfect family of his own and no time for me.
No one else would be there for me, or guide me, or love me. I’d be alone in my dark house full of hoarded furniture and junk with porn as my only consolation.
I know many of you readers have similar fears about what awaits you on the horizon. But I say this to you: this need not be your future. Being straight or going “Side A” with your beliefs is not your only option.
Now that I’ve found my brothers, I see a future full of abundant love, intimacy, and family beyond what I could have ever comprehended.
God has come through on his promises, even if it was something I never expected. God has been so good to me, even if I don’t deserve any of it.
I look back at this life-changing year-and-a-half of discovering brotherhood, and a sea of memories wash upon me:
A brother tells me he loves me for the first time on Skype.
I see a brother for the first time at the airport, and he embraces me.
I sit with a group of brothers, and we all hold hands as we watch a play.
I show several brothers around my town and introduce them to my parents.
I sit on the couch with another brother as we watch a movie. He unexpectedly rests his head on my shoulder.
I hold hands with my brother on the Haunted Mansion at Disney World.
Believe it or not, those aren’t even half the best things I’ve experienced. There are so many other stories, and I anticipate more to come.
None of these relationships is perfect, however. They’ve come with a fair share of pain.
But honestly, I would much rather live a life of brotherhood and love and some dosages of pain rather than in a horrible, friendless wasteland.
I’m never going back to that place again. Never.
With my brothers, at long last, I feel alive. I feel alive.
After all I’ve been through, I could easily choose to resent God for seemingly letting me be doomed to a life of loneliness and perpetual difference from everyone else.
Instead, I see a light of hope shining.
I hear my brothers sing.
I feel love in me roaring.
A wondrous, beautiful feeling.
Do you have hope and optimism for a full life of brotherhood, or is this a concept with which you often struggle? Did you attend this year’s YOBBERS retreat, or do you have any questions about our first-ever weekend together?
I’ve never met you, Eugene, but I have emailed you a few times. And I can truly say that I love you, too! There is so much more connecting us than even the things you mentioned. We are raised up TOGETHER and sit TOGETHER in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
I’m so glad that God has not willed you to loneliness and isolation. As long as I am alive, I have determined that no brother will go friendless. God bless you, my friend!
You are such a blessing…such a blessing. I am sure the Lord is pleased to call you His son. You have such a great heart of encouragement and love…I am always blessed to read your posts!
Thank you Kirk! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. God bless you too.
Wow Eugene…such a great post! I am so happy you got to go there! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity!
The concerns you expressed about being doomed to a life of loneliness is certainly one I think about. As the years have seemingly flown by, most people I have known are now gone…many, many so young. I don’t know what the future holds in regards to my life where I live now…little acceptance etc. I take comfort in my Heavenly Father’s promises as He promised to never leave us or forsake us…He can take our broken wings and let us fly again.
I look forward to reading more about the retreat and…are there any pictures somewhere?
God’s blessings to you.
Thank you Dave. Indeed God has not forsaken us as he has promised. Sometimes it has felt like he has to me, but low and behold he kept his promise. Take comfort that he will keep his promise to you as well.
Well, there are more pictures that were posted in the private Yobber Facebook group. However I know most of the Yobbers don’t want their likenesses shared in a public space like this. The main featured photo of the “Debriefing the First Ever Yobbers Retreat” however is a photo of the lodge we stayed at.
We may release more “ambience” retreat photos in upcoming postings and/or our Instagram. Just not any facial photos.
Amen! Love your avatar too! And…that would be great to have YOB chapters all around!!! Bless your heart today.
What a joyful post! I love it. Thanks for sharing, Eugene!
I have never been more thankful for the Internet and digital communication than the past year or so. Yeah, there are some dumpster fire days, but recently God has mediated a lot of reassurance and a lot of hope through those means.
Also, what’s the quote from at the end?
Thank you Ryan! A lot of my posts have been dark so I felt like having something uplifting for a change. And yeah so true, I can’t imagine how hopelessly lost I’d be now had I not grown up in the internet age. No YOB, ugh!
And the quote is actually just a little verse I made up myself. Just a poetic ode to how better things have come.
Thank you Jonevan! You know I’m amazed that bible verse hasn’t been quoted more on here. Well, I guess technically in most versions it includes “mothers” as well but in this case I guess we can let that slip for now haha. And yes there are brothers and Yobbers all across the world. Several came internationally to the retreat.
Yes that would be amazing! I’m personally hoping for “Professor Zuniga’s School for Gifted Yobsters” where we’re the “Zmen.” Or maybe “YOBwarts” would work as well.
YOBwarts. Dang, that’s good. Maybe a costume night at the next retreat?
Costume night at our next retreat!? I’m totally there!
Thanks Eugene for such a hopeful post!
Unfortunately my next post is not so optimistic. It is about my SSA friend who committed suicide. I actually think this post of yours would give hope to people like my friend, so I would appreciate it if you would comment on my post about solutions to the problem of SSA guys finding themselves alone and depressed.
By the way, Is that Peter Pan in your drawing? One of my friends has a T-shirt with an image of Peter Pan. The caption reads, “I’m so fly I never land.”
You’re welcome Marshall! And yes I will comment on your post with some hopefully good tips. I definitely know ways out of loneliness.
And haha no, its not really meant to be Peter Pan. He’s simply a colorful character leaping for joy. I can see how you made the connection though.
That was beautiful, Eugene! I will be re-reading it over and over again because I know the feeling, of course. As I’ve pointed out before, there are millions of hetero people who are also single for various reasons, so you don’t just have us, there is an entire world suffering with loneliness that needs all of us, including our time, love, and fellowship in Christ. We can be the light to someone else who desperately needs light.
An issue I have is becoming too self-focused, too inwardly focused. When I do that too much, it can bring me to dark and desperate places, but that is why Jesus teaches to put others before ourselves. We were not made to be inwardly focused, we were made to love the people of this world, the second most important thing after loving our God.
So glad you liked it Robbie. And its true, there are lots of single straight men out there. One statistic I find fascinating is that women outlive men substantially in widowhood. When women lose their husbands, they have an intricate network of female friends to fall back on and get support from. Men unfortunately do not as they’ve been told that male friendships aren’t important and to only focus on their wives. So there are definitely a lot of lonely men out there who need brotherhood, not just us SSA guys.
I can relate a lot with becoming too self focused and always looking inwards. I’m guilty of this quite a bit, and just leaves me feeling isolated and miserable. Reaching out to others and forming meaningful relationships, especially having them in Christ, can be so incredibly meaningful.
You said it so well! Your post brought back a memory of mine from when I was taking a cross-country train trip. At Chicago, 4 guys were seated in the coach I was in. The next day, I got off the train to spend the night before continuing on. The next morning, they were there too to board the same train. As the train finished it’s journey, I was going to spend the night again, and get another train the next day. To my surprise, they appeared at the station to once again board the same train…their itinerary was nearly identical to mine. By then, I had to talk! They told me that once a year, they left their wives and spent a week traveling together. I thought it was great that they cherished their friendships and nourished them in that way.
Or, the two guys next to me at the men’s changing room at the Yampah Vapor Cave in Glenwood Springs, CO. I struck up a conversation with them and they were best buds who lived there and loved to do things together. How wonderful!!!
Eugene! I feel like we always seem to “miss” each other when we have the opportunity to hang out. But I love this! I would agree that some of my favorite moments of the retreat were seeing my brothers with each other.
And this idea of brotherhood that sustains us. It’s counter-cultural, and thus easy to forget sometimes. However, posts like this take me to all the times that I have had brothers (and sisters) who have shown me authentic friendship and love in very real ways. Thank you for your stories brother!
Thank you Kevin! I know, we never seem to get any one on one time, not even at the retreat. Let’s remedy this next time we’re in town! I like how our brotherhood is counter cultural in a lot of ways. We’re sort of like a rebellious counter culture even though we come from a relatively conservative point of view of sexuality. Yet most of us aren’t a bunch of uber-conservative stiffs either. Its refreshing!
I guess you could say the stereotypical folks who think that anything and everything that isn’t the social norm is somehow sinful. Would probably be against a lot of what we talk about on YOB such as intimacy, physical touch, vulnerability, etc.
I dunno, Eugene. I might fall somewhat into that category. At least about some things in particular. I certainly hope that doesn’t make me a “stiff”.
Oh no, no not you don’t worry.
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