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?