Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking: Eugene, how can our sexualities which tempt us into something biblically declared sinful, give us backlash and prejudice from society, and keep us from having normal family lives possibly be a blessing!?
Yes, sometimes it does seem like there is no upside to our sexuality. I think we all can agree that it is not easy having homosexual orientations, especially if you’re “Side B” or are otherwise called to a traditional sexual ethic.
Many of us have been rejected and cast out of our churches and families because of our sexuality. There’s also the inward struggle with shame, self-hatred, and reconciling our sexualities with the word of God.
Indeed, it’s hard!
It can feel like God is tormenting us when we experience our sexualities.
However, I’ve been traveling and meeting so many other likeminded gay or same-sex attracted (SSA) individuals for the past few years. It’s been a very fascinating and rewarding experience, hearing other people’s stories and experiencing moments of joy, intimacy, and love with one another.
Amid all these interactions, I have learned a lifetime of lessons with other perspectives that no normal person ever would have otherwise.
I have rediscovered the age-old truth that God can take the seemingly darkest, hardest things in our lives and use them for something incredibly good.
How so? In my many interactions with these other men, I’ve picked up on so many commonalities. I’ll list the three most common below.
Before I begin, let me say that I don’t mean to stereotype and paint with broad strokes; everyone is different. But it’s hard to ignore that 90-100 percent of gay/SSA men I’ve met fulfill at least two of these traits. I don’t intend to treat personal experience as quantifiable scientific data, but I hope readers can still relate to my point.
1. Our Discovery of the Lost Art of Brotherhood
It’s been an oft cited thing here on YOB that the state of American masculinity is not very good. And as a result, friendship and brotherhood amongst men have taken heavy hits.
I think most of you know the drill: cultural American masculinity eschews male friendships because it’s “too gay,” and there’s an idolatry on romantic relationships with the opposite sex. If there is any male friendship at all, it will be very surface level with no intimacy.
In my relationships with other men in YOB and the Side B world at large, I have experienced non-sexual intimacy, vulnerability (both emotional and physical), and loving physical touch.
These male relationships have made me incredibly happy and filled my love tank to the brim — especially after living a 27-year life of loneliness and friendlessness.
Yes, straight men may not have as much of a desperate need or natural draw to such relationships as we do. But at the same time, they could learn a lot from our example. There’s something that intimacy with a brother can bring that intimacy with a spouse cannot.
If married straight men tried out such relationships, they could rely less on their spouses for emotional needs and be less overly attached as a result. In fact, I’ve read many articles and heard stories that men experiencing such relationships have vastly improved their marriages and sex lives.
And yes, I think straight men would enjoy cuddling with other men if they gave it a chance; if not cuddling, then at least good amounts of physical touch. Hey, it used to be a thing, and it’s currently the norm in other countries.
Perhaps that level of touch can be brought back to the more western world with our example?
2. Our Emotional Sensitivity and Empathy
We all know the gay trope that appears in romantic comedies. The gay best friend who lives next door to the female protagonist who she goes to for emotional support and empathy? It’s a stereotype but a very true one. I’ve noticed that gay/SSA men tend to be deeply emotionally sensitive and empathetic.
Yes, being sensitive can be a very hard thing, especially when we live in a society where men are told to hide their feelings. When people are hurting, we feel their hurt. And when we feel their hurt, we feel an intuitive drive from above to help them.
As a guy who’s lived most of my life without close friends, I’m amazed how naturally this empathy comes to me. It seems like I can comfort people without breaking a sweat.
This, of course, isn’t to say straight men have no empathy; the empathy levels just seem so much more off the charts for gay/SSA men.
The many times I’ve told straight men about my past difficulties with health, I’ve often gotten a bland “cool story bro” response.
But whenever I’ve divulged this information with other gay/SSA men, I’ve gotten the biggest hugs I could ask for. I’ve received unbelievable empathy from these other men, and it’s been so beautiful. Empathy seems to come as naturally to them as it does me.
3. Our Artistic Talents and Interests
In my meetings with other Side B men, I’ve also noticed a higher ratio of artistically talented and creative people: musicians, actors, visual artists, dancers, and singers.
This has been SO refreshing. You’d think people adhering to conservative sexual ethics and (usually) coming from conservative backgrounds would only wear bland khakis and button down shirts. But heck no. So many of the guys I’ve met rock their own style and even have a rebellious streak. Both in their art and fashion choices.
It’s another gay stereotype to be big into showtunes or performing plays. Well, yeah, again in my experience that stereotype tends to be true. I myself did musical theater summer camps and loved them.
It may be a stereotype, but who cares? If you’re passionate about it, then do it!
Of course, not all gay/SSA guys are artistic. I’ve met many who are into the technical sciences as well. Even if they aren’t creative themselves, they at least have a major interest in the arts. Movies, musical theater, and fashion designs tend to be major interests.
Why does there seem to be such a connection to “gayness” and these other factors? Frankly, I don’t know. But for whatever reason these traits often come with the package of our sexualities.
So, we have all these incredibly talented people who wish to honor God despite the difficulties with their sexualities. And how has the church responded? I think you know where this is going. In a word: poorly.
And since so many alienated gay/SSA people have left or been kicked out by the church, they’ve taken a large resource of creativity and love with them into the secular world.
I think most can agree that a majority of Christian media is a joke. It’s practically a cliché to make fun of Christian films. I tried watching Courageous and practically died of a cringe attack when one of the police officers launched into a preachy sermon about God to another officer who doubted his abilities as a father.
A lot of these works try to be sermons masquerading as movies, but it doesn’t work that way. Everyone thinks they can do it, but it takes lot of creativity, subtlety, sensitivity, and talent to get it right.
If there were a better reconciliation between the church and the LGBTQ world, can you imagine what additional creativity and empathy talents could bring glory to God and bring the Word to the world?
As I’ve said, I don’t meant to paint with broad strokes. I know there are probably sensitive artistic straight guys out there, as well as insensitive uncreative gay guys. In my own experience, though, I’ve yet to meet either of them.
I also don’t mean to sound like I’m hyping gay/SSA folks as a super creative and sensitive master race, here to take over the world (though that would be cool). However, the patterns I’ve noticed have been very hard to ignore.
Generally, yes, our experiences with our convictions and our sexualities can be hard. But if you are a gay/SSA individual and most or all of these qualities above apply to you, USE THEM. They are an incredible blessing.
Use your abilities to help others, love others, care for others, and create for others. God has given you these qualities for a reason. Try to focus less on the despair and sorrow that your sexuality can bring and focus on the blessings.
Bring glory to God and you will find such joy in the midst of your struggle.
Do you possess some/all of these traits? Do you think there is any correlation with our sexualities? How do you use your personal giftings with brotherhood, empathy, and creativity to build and further the church?
Terrific blog! Spot-on in your analysis of three virtues that seem to be especially prevalent in gay men. Among the straight Christian crowd, there is a general belief that being gay is “lesser than” being straight. In some ways, that assertion seems to be true. Yet, in other equally glorious ways, gay men are, well, … “better than.” Thank you for the courage to state what, to some, seems blasphemous.
Thank you so much Mike! You are so right, I think we seem to be geared with some very special gifts that God has given us to give to the world. The full potential of it has yet to be seen I think. At the same time I hope I don’t come across as promoting “gay supremacy” (boy there’s a phrase I never thought I’d use in my lifetime lol). But still, yeah these gifts are just so special to be used. God wants us to use them to their full potential. I intend to do just that on my part.
Thanks for this blog entry, Eugene! Keep writing brother. I like the graphic/image with the post too!
Thank you Jerry! I’m glad you liked my featured image. I think its a drawing I’m most proud of. Really eye catching.
Love, Love, LOVE this, brother! I gave this a standing ovation after I read it. I’ve had the same belief for awhile now as well- that my sexuality is a gift and has given me so much more than I ever thought before. I can’t imagine life being straight and I don’t want to. While I believe I still would have had some of the three traits listed no matter what, I would not have had the chance to develop them as fully or appreciate them as greatly without my sexuality.
Thank you for this post, Eugene! Absolutely love it (and you!)
Wow Dean, thank you very much! I feel humbled by your comment. That’s the thing, a lot of struggles we have in our lives can be so difficult. But in the end they help us see different things and become better people. As much as we wish our burdens would go away, they can be a source of such great strength. Oh and I love you too!
Yes, yes and yes to all 3! It’s taken me years to see the blessings of this cross vs. the resentment, hurt, anger and torment. But they are there and I can most definitely see the blessings (and people) it has brought to my life. And I’m privileged to walk this road w/ men like you all! <3
Aww that’s fantastic Christopher! I think we often dwell a lot on the shame, and hurt we feel in regards to our sexualities (important to talk about for sure though) but its time we took a lot at the positive side and see the blessings. I really do think these gifts can really help us be used by God to make this world so much better.
Thanks for such a great post! I hear you loud and clear. Although I am not very creative or artistic, I can relate especially to the first two points. Especially about the empathy part…having gone through things like assault, rejection etc. I have a greater appreciation for the struggles and trials others go through and don’t offer pious platitudes or quick fixes or microwave surgery as that usually comes across hollow and uncaring. Our hard times can be used to help others, I believe.
Thank you Dave! Yeah I totally relate to you on that. We can go through such similar things as other SSA/gay men and can understand their emotional places so much. But those struggles can be used to help others!
As for insensitive gay guys, have you even MET Matt? Hahaha. He knows I kid.
For real though, there absolutely are sensitive/creative straight guys. I hope you meet them and befriend them one day, Eugene. They’ve been such a blessing in my life.
Such a great post. Let us all embrace our God-given strengths.
Thank you Tom! Yeah I know they’re out there, its just amazing I’ve never met any. I think they tend to be a needle in a haystack though. They’re there but hard to find.
I absolutely love this so much. Growing up in India, guys were expected to be rough and tough and just play games and sport but I absolutely loved things like cooking and doing chores and I ended up being bullied a lot in school! I love crocheting and that has helped me a lot with my anxiety as well as being able to gift someone with an article made with love with my own hands.
Being one of the guys with a very soft nature has helped me to love people in a deeper way and I am very thankful for this! Love you brother and thank you for this lovely article!
From my own experience, I have found that straight guys can have these traits as well, but it takes them more/longer to get to a fuller expression of brotherhood and sensitivity. For me, it seems like my own vulnerability has bred vulnerability in others. I craved connection, and I took a few leaps of faith in friendships. And because I was comfortable sharing, others felt able to do so as well. One friend in particular told me months after I shared my story with him, that it was the first time he felt like someone trusted and valued him enough to share the deepest part of themselves, and like his walk with God was real enough for someone to ask him to walk with them.
That’s fantastic! Yeah I think it can take bravery on our part to show a straight guy what vulnerability, and sensitivity can be for them to emulate and open up more. That can be soooooo hard to do though and its a big risk. But yeah I think straight guys can be sensitive too, though it just seems to come more naturally to guys like us.
I have found that the guys I do open up to tend to come to me with the most inner wrestling of their hearts. I think that we can be a gift to our straight brothers… to show them that it is okay to be vulnerable, that we are stronger together than we are apart from each other. It is beautiful to see the strong macho manly men let down their guards and just weep and unload their burdens before the Lord. Our vulnerability gives them permission to do so, and invites them to do so with us.
This made me think of a Ted Talk I saw with a man discussing how a gay individual benefits a family unit by producing resources that go back to the main trunk of the family tree not their own branch. While he wasn’t promoting a Side B lifestyle I believe he might have been somewhat correct. If I look at my own strengths I can form myself to almost any situation. Identifying or creating rituals and procedures to help things move along. I can tap into people’s feelings (while being driven mad by my own) and most of all their weaknesses and fears (while hiding from my own). I don’t know if I have met many men who seem to feel the same power and unity I do when singing in a choir either. I don’t know if any of these examples resonate with anyone else, but their my “hot take”. 🙂 PS Fashion Sense needs to be expanded to all humans as far as I’m concerned!
Interesting, I’d love to look up that Ted talk sometime. It goes to show that we might look inferior for our inability to be “normal” and reproduce (at least in most cases) but we really do have so much to offer the world. I really resonate with tapping into other people’s feelings while being driven mad by our own. Its so true, such a pro and con to be sensitive. And yes, I think we all need good fashion sense too. lol I hope mine is up to snuff.
Wow I’ve been waiting for a post like this! There are so many blessings that can come out of our struggles – I think you hit the nail right on the head. And those three “broad strokes” I would say are actually pretty accurate because I have made note of all three of those attributes in my own life. We have so much to offer this world, it’s insane!
Thank you Caleb! I was really worried when writing this blog that a lot of people would come forward and say they were nothing like this and that I was just basing on stereotypes. But either way there is a lot of truth in it and we do indeed have a lot to offer this world. So let’s get to work!
I’m late to this rodeo but what a great post. I love your art Eugene. How good you see yourself with wings, ones that aren’t broken. You can fly, how good is that? It fits your post really well. I’m kinda curious which came first, the pic or the post? With how positive the post is I’m not sure why you’re all sackcloth and ashes in your art. I get the struggle. . . but you can fly.
I don’t have much to add to all the good comments left, more of a question. I don’t like stereotypes all that much, but yeah, have to admit there’s truth to your post. Do you ever wonder tho if those things are innate or more the product of most guys having to live hidden from the view of others for so long? Until recently, the place occupied by gays in society going back forever has been really small and not well received. If you’ve lived your life hidden and ashamed for years, that can have a big impact on how you live and who you are in the world. It will be interesting to see if or how stereotypes change now that it’s more acceptable and ok to be open.
If change does come, it will probably be seen more among Side A guys who find confidence in being gay. As a Side B guy, I can’t find any confidence in that. Only confidence or strength I find dealing with stuff is what I find in Christ. It’s another one of those hidden blessings. Keep flying Eugene.
Thank you so much! And thanks for the complement on the art. I love creating them for the blog. It kinda varies on what comes first. I think mostly I think of the image after writing the blog. Other times I’ve had an idea in my head and the blog comes around and I’m like “aha! Now I can use that idea!”
Yeah I’m not sure if these things are innate or not. It seems like the sensitivity is innate in most people And sensitive people are naturally drawn to artistic things so I guess it goes along those lines? Yeah I hate stereotypes too but they often have a strong basis in truth. With the many SSA many I’ve met that seems to be shockingly so common. But yeah I do wonder how much the stereotypes might change in time. Most people might try to shed it in order to be less of a cliché to the outside world but sometimes that can come at a cost at one’s individuality.
“Most people might try to shed it in order to be less of a cliché to the outside world but sometimes that can come at a cost at one’s individuality.”
That right there would make for a good post Eugene. In the church too.
SUCH a great article, Eugene. Thanks for helping me realize God’s blessings in who I am.
You’re welcome Lewis! God has indeed blessed you with amazing gifts.
Hey Eugene! What a great article! Just raising my hand in affirmation that I fit the stereotype substantively; highly sensitive (too sensitive if you ask my INTJ wife) and empathetic, not interested at all in the “manly” sports like soccer and rugby. I am also a designer by profession who is more passionate about art, music, movies, literature and all types of design: fashion, interiors, graphic, etc. For a lot of my life I felt less manly because of my introverted, sensitive, artistic nature. I have always loved to draw and write music but I have not had any close friends who shared my interests. Apart from Interior Design being my profession which has provided an outlet for my creative gifts, my family and social world is very “African hetero-normative” (read: mostly patriarchal, somewhat misogynistic) culturally. When I was younger, my proclivities rendered me a sissy in the eyes of my peers so for most of my life I have explored my other related interests largely alone and somewhat discreetly. This “differentness” generally contributed to my low self-esteem from adolescence and I went through a long season of self-improvement trying to make myself more like the A-type, assertive, virile, self-confident man I thought I was supposed to be and could become if I worked hard enough at it. God mercifully brought me to the end of myself when I experienced a minor emotional burnout a few years ago (or at least that was what my counsellor diagnosed) and I had let go of this “ideal man” goal and start accepting and appreciating myself as I am. It has taken a long time for me to believe God’s intentionally in creating me “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm139:14) and I am still on this journey. God is continuing to help my find my significance and security in Him and His saving grace. Your article has encouraged me in that I don’t feel so alone and I am reminded that as long as I continue to follow Jesus, He will use everything I have (my personality and sexuality included) to fulfill the unique purpose He has for me on this earth and bless others along the way too….
1Thank you so much for sharing your story Bryane! Yeah it is kind of hard when we don’t fit in with a stereotype and yet conform somewhat to another stereotype. Still, I say we take what we can even if some of it is stereotypical and try to fashion it into our own identity. But you are so right, if we follow Jesus he will use our gifts to fulfill a purpose, and even if our gifts are somewhat stereotypical they’re still gifts one the less.