The book of Jonah has always resonated with me. I mean, sure, I’d rather my story look more like David slaying Goliath, Moses delivering Egypt, or Abraham faithfully preparing to sacrifice his own son for the Lord.
Instead, I find myself in the same boat as Jonah, sailing as fast as I can thousands of miles in the opposite direction of my Nineveh. And why? Because God wasn’t clear when speaking to me? Ha. Not quite.
After all, running away is only effective when you know which direction to avoid.
I simply find Jonah relatable. He demonstrates a certain level of intimacy with the Lord; clearly, God is active in his life.
I grew up Christian and encountered the Lord in many ways from a young age. By the time I entered college, I had weathered a lot of storms with Him and had some experience hearing His voice.
So, when the call came, it wasn’t that I couldn’t hear it; it was that I had no interest in obeying. For Jonah, that call was Nineveh. For me? It was coming out.
I had known I was same-sex attracted for some time. I first noticed in middle school, although it took a number of years before I really pieced it together.
My “solution” for my sexuality was quite simple: I’d tell no one, become straight, and then move on with my life.
At the very least, this was a secret I’d die keeping rather than ever share; I could hardly admit it to myself, let alone another human.
As long as I held onto the idea that I may somehow spiritually sanctify my way into heterosexuality, it seemed like sharing this part of my life would only create undue pain and stress.
I entered my freshman year of college intent on continuing this plan of action. That plan began to crumble, however, when midway through the year someone presented his testimony of being gay and becoming a Christian — but not experiencing any change in his orientation.
Instead, he was celibate and seemed intent to pursue celibacy for the remainder of his life. It was my first time facing a story of someone who didn’t seem to experience any orientation change — nor did he expect orientation change down the road.
I began to realize this might be a longer trek than I had hoped. This guy’s testimony brought sexuality back to center stage in my life.
Through a series of recurring sermons on vulnerability, walking in the light, confessing sin, and sharing burdens, God began impressing on me this need to come out.
I would have none of it.
Instead, I formed a ship of my own of busyness: heavy course loads, extracurriculars, and part-time work. Anything to keep myself too busy to think about sexuality or God’s call to share my testimony.
Even as a spiritual storm raged around me, I took my cue from Jonah once again and slept amid my ship of distractions.
Fear of obedience paralyzed me, and despite knowing fully well how the book of Jonah ends, I stubbornly insisted that God could cast me into the sea to perish. But there was no way I’d face Nineveh.
Throughout my entire freshman year, God’s insistent calls carried on. More sermons, prophetic words from friends, and endless times of reading the Word with prayer that all sent the same message.
God didn’t seem interested in giving up, and while I (thankfully) didn’t find myself in the belly of a fish, I did find myself in my own period of darkness before finally giving in to God’s will.
This darkness manifested, in part, as a series of nightmares. After a long stretch of poor sleep, I had one final nightmare that culminated in what my dreaming mind understood to be a letter from God.
Simply put, He told me that if I wanted to experience healing (whatever that may mean), I needed to make like Jonah in the fish and repent. I must yield to His will.
And so, at long last, I did.
I came out to a guy from a Bible study I’d started attending that year. I didn’t know him all that well; honestly, coming out to him felt awkward and left me wondering if I had made a terrible mistake. Sharing this secret.
Still, I had finally done it! The secret I had sworn to take with me to my grave had finally been shared, even if only with a single person.
Over the next few years, I continued this excruciating journey of coming out. I dragged my feet every chance I had, but with each subsequent sharing, I felt the darkness loosening its grip ever so slightly.
My resolve grew as I came out more and more to others, and God was faithful in His promise that this sharing was for my good, not my destruction.
Here I am now, six years down the road and more or less publicly “out.” I honestly didn’t know if I’d survive at times, but I am so grateful God never gave up on me, even in my disobedience.
In His mercy, He chose not to spare me from the stormy sea that seemed to promised death and ultimately brought life.
And while the darkness was terrifying, it opened my eyes to an important truth: to keep my story hidden not only kept me from healing, it robbed God of His glory. It kept secret the gracious ways He was moving in the area of my life I needed Him most.
Just as Nineveh was not Jonah’s city to choose wrath or mercy for, so my story is not really my own to share or keep hidden; it’s God’s.
Have you felt “the call” to come out or some other call for spiritual courage? What ultimately prompted you out onto the waves, and what’s kept you in the boat? Finally, let’s welcome Aaron as our newest YOB author!
Glad to have you on here, brother! I can resonate with wrestling with a call you don’t to answer. I finally surrendered to the call God placed on me as well — but it wasn’t easy to do so. I’m thankful God Leo pursuing me though.
Thank you for sharing here! Looking forward to hearing more!
Thanks for reading, Dean! Glad it resonated with you. I think this is something many of us with SSA have dealt with in some form. Thankfully God is as stubborn as we are!
Stoked to have you aboard, Aaron! I think we’ve all felt like Jonah at times, running from various calls to be bold and trust the Lord; I know I have. It’s not as instantaneously “epic” as David slaying a giant or Moses parting a sea, but God still has purposes to accomplish through us. If only we’ll follow after listening.
This post especially resonates as I ponder my own next “call.” Because there’s always more…
Stoked to be aboard! Never seems to feel all that “epic” in the moment, but I think God has a habit of working something epic through the seemingly mundane. Just takes a little faith and obedience! Best of luck as you navigate your own next steps to your journey. Take it from me- its much better to just joyfully answer “the call” the first time.
Even though I have never felt the need to come out I do believe that I have had many occasions to be able to share with others my truth which is that I have had same-sex attractions all my life. I think so many times we are equating our ability to be Christian and have same-sex attraction as being polar opposite however this is not true. There is a scripture that says that Jesus was tempted in all things however he remained perfect I’m paraphrasing of course. I believe that Jesus was tempted with sexual things just like we all have been. He is not a stranger to what we’re going through. It gives me great solace to know that my best friend and my big brother Jesus has never left me nor will he ever leave me. Thank you for sharing your testimony. It is a great encouragement to know that we are able to share with one another our blessings and our challenges. God bless you brother! Darrell Cope
Amen! God is faithful to walk alongside us in our faith journey. Thanks for sharing, I’m glad you found encouragement in my post 🙂
Welcome! Of the few things I know, spiritual courage is something that I’m confident that I do not have. One could say that I fear what could happen if people knew and that my life as I knew it would be over. Yet of the handful of people who know me that I’ve told, they have all treated me with exceptional kindness and empathy, and I feel that I’ve grown closer to them (all the while distinctly remembering each time and the terror of the moment as I literally wondered whether that would be the last time we would be friends).
If there is one thing I know for certain, its that coming out is absolutely terrifying. And even though in some ways it gets easier to come out as you do it more and more, it never really stops being terrifying. I do think it was worth it though. As you mention, it allows you to known and grow close in a way that is difficult otherwise.
Very much so – I was reminded of this only a few nights ago as I caught up over drinks with one of those people who I have told. In the midst of a conversation between just us (others were within earshot), I mentioned about the ‘when are you going to get married’ question with extended relatives recently. He answered with genuine care that I must find that question difficult given my position (we both knew what he was talking about). He then said he didn’t care about that part of me, and then immediately clarified that he both did and didn’t care at the same time – we agreed that I knew what he meant in it being a significant part of me (and how it relates to my faith) yet without him treating me any negatively because of it 🙂
That level of intimacy and closeness wouldn’t have been possible without him knowing about that part of me.
That’s awesome! I’m glad to hear that 🙂
Thank you for sharing your testimony. I share a similar experience of believing that if I were just a better, holier Christian, then God would surely change me, and likewise, I was in a position of “I’d rather die than tell anyone else.” I love the parallel between running from God’s call for you to become more open and vulnerable with others to Jonah running away. Thank you for your heart!
Thank you for reading! I am glad it resonated. I think many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking we could spiritually mature our way out of it. Real spiritual maturity comes from obedience to God, so we’ve just got to follow His lead and see where it takes us haha.
Great 1st post Aaron! Your voice is a great addition to what this blog does well. I really like how you track your story with Jonah’s because of his screwups. I kinda track with Peter for the same reason. And this was so good: “So, when the call came, it wasn’t that I couldn’t hear it; it was that I had no interest in obeying.” There’s no shortcuts following Jesus, is there? We never grow beyond our disobedience, the thing God’s calling us to do that we refuse to. But also, if we wanna go on with God we can, but He’s always gonna bring us back to that same place of obeying. It’s funny how every choice we make affects who we’ll be.
So much good stuff, like you should retire while you’re ahead. Seriously, how ya gonna top this with your next post?
Great point, disobedience stalls our faith. I kept dragging my feet and God kept bringing me around to the same next step over and over: “come out.” Glad you enjoyed it, I hope I haven’t peaked in my writing quite yet haha
Guess that’s not a very encouraging thing to tell you starting out. How bout, c’mon man, you can do so much more 🙂
Seriously, it was pretty darn good.
Haha muuuuuchhhh better. Thanks for the positive feedback 🙂
Great first post Aaron. Thanks for sharing part of your story thus far. I, too, have dragged my heals when it’s come to sharing my struggle with having same-sex attractions. And even though I’ve only told a select few, I’ve also felt that storm and darkness start losing its grip on me. It’s been to the point that if I didn’t tell someone I felt like I was going to implode. So thankful that through it all that God hasn’t given up on me.
Thank you! Yeah, I can relate to feeling like you’d implode haha. Such a good feeling when you finally share a secret like this. Not that we have to share with everyone, but at the very least we all need someone to share with. Its too much of a burden to carry on our own.
Love this, great first blog Aaron! I really resonate a lot with what you talked about. I was the same, I was never going to come out. I was just going to keep this to myself, hope that my attractions would somehow change, marry a woman, and pretend this all never happened. Or at least hold on to the notion of being “normal” as long as I could. I’ve never been suicidal but in situations where would possibly crash and die I would think “well at least I won’t have to deal with that whole being gay thing.” But its impossible to keep something so major inside.
Right? We had our plans, and God had His! Thankfully for us both, His won out in the end. I resonate with not being suicidal, but also not being afraid of death. Like Paul says, to die is gain. Reunited with Christ for eternity? Yes please haha. In the meantime, there is joy in living out the call He places on us.
What a great first post!
I am still wrestling with the idea of coming out!
I struggle with SSA and don’t consider myself “gay” because I am very much attracted to women. I am also attracted to men. There’s a stigma, even within the LGBT community about men being bi-sexual, so I’ve never claimed that term. I guess for me simply telling people my struggled with SSA is my “coming-out”. Although, I am only “out” to about 5 people, I’ve shared my struggles with those I feel the LORD calling me to share them with, and for now, that’s only 5 people.
Looking forward to future posts!
Thanks, Landon! 5 people is no small feat, so well done on that. I don’t think God calls all people to share everything with everyone, so if for you that’s just 5 people, I think that’s great! God knows best how we should share His story in our life.
Thanks for the encouragement Aaron!
Looking forward to reading more content from you!
Glad to have you on board, Aaron! Looking forward to hearing more of your story and your thoughts!
I feel like the first few people I came out to were “I need someone else to know this about me,” but after that was satisfied, there started to be a sense of calling. At first I wanted to come out to be loved more truly and authentically, but then I started to come out in order to build bridges and say something about Jesus.
Thanks! Happy to get to share my story alongside all you lovely people.
That’s kinda the reverse of my experience haha. For me I came out because I felt I had no choice; I had an irrefutable call. It wasn’t until later that I started to see the practical wisdom of having support and community for this part of my life. Turns out God really does know best. Crazy.
Awesome post, Aaron! Love this so much. I started pursuing God in a real way about three years ago and it wasn’t long before I ran smack into His call for confession and transparency to my wife. I was overwhelmed. I desperately wanted God but was overcome by fear and shame. I was somewhat like the rich young ruler who walked away from Christ’s love in sorrow. I delayed obedience to God for about three years and those were some of the darkest days in my life. Lust, anger, self hatred, and fear ran my life. Although God continued to convict my heart, I was far from Him and kept delaying. A couple of months ago God’s mercy led me to YOB and my mind was blown. Until then, I thought the only types of people like me were those who hid in shame or those who actively pursued a same-sex relationship. The latter was not an option for me because I love my wife and children, so shame and hiding were my sins of choice. Suddenly a world of brothers I didn’t know came alive to me and I realized there really was another way! This website was a gift from God to me at a totally unexpected time. Wasn’t even looking for it. Here I am two months down the road and I’ve fully confessed my past porn addiction and same sex attraction to my wife and to my pastor. The amount of grace I’ve received has been overwhelming and I’m moving forward in a level of freedom I’ve never known! I’m not telling my story publicly right now out of consideration to my wife and kids, but I do pray that God will give me wisdom on how to be more open about this in the future. It’s all still very new to me. Thanks for this post – it’s spot-on!
Such a cool testimony! One of the reasons we share is because it gives others the strength to share too. Vulnerability and healing are contagious. I think you are wise to give yourself time to process and discern, rather than just riding the vulnerability high and sharing with everyone and anyone. Best of luck as you continue figuring out what the next step is!
Gotta say Aaron, this post resonated with me. I am still wrestling with the question of if I ought to come out. I feel like I need to some day. I don’t know if you read my post from yesterday, but one of the things that scares me is the transient nature of being a pastor. If I worked a regular job and came out, a company could be sued for firing me over my sexuality. As a pastor though… I do now know how my people would react. And they can find a different pastor.
At present, I feel like I am supposed to go slowly and tell a few people at a time. This may be the church I make a public statement. It may not. So far, I have not felt like God is asking me to come out at this church. I do wonder if he will.
In reality, my coming out journey was a long process. It was roughly 5 years from when I first told someone to when I considered myself more or less publicly “out.” For me it felt clear from the beginning that I’d eventually reach the point I’m at today, but I don’t think God calls everyone to be out in a public way. For those He does call to that sort of openness and “outness,” I think He recognizes that we need Him to be pretty clear with us haha. The important thing is that we are asking the question “what next” and being obedient to that. Maybe for you that will mean someday being out to your church, but maybe not. Its the little steps that prepare the way for the big steps God occasionally calls us to. For my own sanity, I try to keep it one day at a time haha.
I also feel like God sometimes orchestrates things organically.
I recently came out to my church secretary’s family. Her husband saw me with a group of side b friends and somehow intuited that we weren’t straight. Apparently me by myself is not enough to trip the gaydar, but me plus three others is. Talking to my secretary’s family was pretty easy. We’d already established relationship with them, and it was just adding another detail to life, rather than making it the main thing in life.
Nothing really changed… Except the next time we played “Cards Against Humanity,” it became a contest to see who could play the gayest cards on me.
I love that haha. I feel like my experience with coming out was part organic part intentional. It seemed like I had to just pull the trigger sometimes, otherwise I’d always find a reason to drag my feet. Yet God always seemed to have worked behind the scenes and prepared the way for me, so there were times when even my intentionally ended up feeling very organic, which was great.
Thank you for this post Aaron and the many more that will come!
One thing that’s been stirring within me is a testimony shouldn’t be something that a person should be ashamed of. In all of my research as I’ve grown up grappling with sexuality and also being an empathic personality is that I’ve chosen to wear the pain of all ssa men like a black cloak yet all it does is suffocate. That burden was never mine to bear. I see that pain and have a choice to do something about it or not. There are people in my area who could be more educated on sexuality but it isn’t hostile where I live. I’ve come out to a few people at my current church who all have been straight men. Every one of them has had a different response. I think there needs to be discernment and wisdom used in who and when we come out to people. There is much to say as well in the motivation (the why) behind coming out to someone. One of the guys at my church I came out to for support yet, when I came out to him, I felt rejected because the support I was looking for was something he simply couldn’t give. There will be people in our lives that we come out to that can’t empathize with our pain or understand it but we move on. I still love this fellow brother in Christ and I relate with him as deeply as he can relate with me though he can’t fully experience the depth I have to offer right now. God is working though and I do see him growing deeper into depth.
Hey Josh! I agree that each step requires wisdom and discernment, I really like that. I agree too that our testimony isn’t something to be ashamed of. One of the first people I came out to was another SSA guy who shared his testimony at College. He gave me the strength to share with him simply by sharing first with me. I remember one thing he said is that it’s very freeing to share our story; not only for us, but for those who hear it. That’s certainly been true for me.
Congrats on your first posting Aaron! I hope to learn more about you from your stories. I did venture out and came out to my parents in due time as well as some select group of people. However, I “stayed in the boat” when it came to my brother and my close friends. My brother, I feared, would use this as an excuse to belittle me compared to him. I didn’t need his ridicule in my life anymore than was already there. My close circle of friends are relationships that took years to foster and I don’t need to come out and jepordize those friendships. Coming out to really anyone seems rather unnecessary to me because I don’t think I’d act or be any different than the way I am now. I come across as rather masculine to an extent and this isn’t an act I’m putting on for people. I’m quite genuine in my actions and behaviors. No filter here. What you see is what you get. I don’t have an urging by God to come out of the closet. Truthfully, I think God is more concerned with my life and identity as His child than an SSA man. I don’t know if God treats us all in the same respect when it relates to coming out. Maybe you are living in a better time frame for such revelations. Maybe people are more tolerant. I can say my generation was not as accomodating or sensitive when I was a college freshman. In my case, waiting was beneficial in the long term.
Thanks, Mac! I agree that coming out looks different for everyone. I think for our own sake and the health of our faith journey, its important to have a couple people in our lives who know this side of us and can be there to minister to us and keep us accountable. Outside that, I think who we come out to is a matter of preference and God’s leading. I do think coming out can be for other people’s sake as much as our own though. It can help people see the cost of our obedience to Christ, and encourage their faith also. I agree that coming out shouldn’t necessarily focus on identity, its more about being open, honest, as well as getting and giving support to others. In my own experience, coming out helped me focus less on my sexuality. It gave me healthy opportunities to vent challenges and receive support, and to process my SSA.
“My “solution” for my sexuality was quite simple: I’d tell no one, become straight, and then move on with my life.” I don’t know if I ever put my life in those words…. but definitely true looking back on some of my mindsets during high school and college. Because, isn’t that the ideal???
There have been several times that I’ve needed / felt called to come out. The very first time, I was a complete mess. But then I rode the “high” of sharing and being met with acceptance… and maybe shared with too many people, people I didn’t know well enough. Ooops.
And then all the different communities that I’ve lived in and sharing my story with them. Stories for another day, but definitely mixed responses.
Glad to have you here – looking forward to reading more of your journey!
It certainly seemed like the ideal at the time haha. Although being where I am now, it would be hard to give up the depth of faith my sexuality has cultivated, even with all the challenges it brings.
Glad to be here! Thanks for making me feel welcome 🙂
I apologize for not saying welcome! I enjoyed reading your post! As a very private person by nature, I never say much about myself to others. However, I have been “outed” many times by others and it did not go well. For example:
1. at college – when things were done that were criminal and could have been prosecuted in a court of law had I pursued such. I chose to forgive, which was a long journey.
2. I had worked at a Christian Service organization. It would eventually close it’s doors and I had stayed until the last day it was open. It had been a very difficult time for me personally and I was now back home to recover and try to get me feet back on the ground. I had not been home but a handful of days when the phone rang. The voice on the other end asked if Dave was there, I answered I was Dave. I was excited thinking maybe someone was calling to see how I was doing. But no, that voice said, “Can I ask you something, are you still gay?” I asked who was calling and they hung up. For a long time, I thought about that call and wondered about it… What did people know from the Christian Service organization and what were they saying?
3. A while back, I went to a Christmas lunch at a beautiful B&B with some ladies at church. It is run by two guys. After lunch, one of the guys pulled me aside and said he could tell just by looking at me I am gay.
4. At the church I attended back home, I was an usher which was a ministry I immensely enjoyed. One day, we were having a benefit concert and a man walked in off the street and asked what was going on. I told him and invited him to join. However, he became very belligerent, hostile and threatening and said in a very loud voice, “And what is wrong with you, are you gay?” I probably should have called the police as I really thought he was going to physically harm me.
With no support system, I often feel like hiding from the world, but I can’t. Sadly, the feedback and comments I have gotten over the years have been hostile and negative but I’m thankful to have the Lord in these times…
Hey Dave! Thanks for the welcome, and thanks for reading. Sorry to hear how awful people have been with your sexuality. Those sorts of experiences reinforce isolation, shame, and hiddenness. God is faithful in those times, but that doesn’t mean healthy connection and community wouldn’t be great also. I hope that reading these blogs and interacting with YOB can help finally give you some positive interactions and community. I am glad to have you here, and I’m really happy you are willing to comment and interact, despite your past experiences!
Hey! So my name is Stephen and I’m new here. I’m 18 years old and I am EXTREMELY confused as to who I am or if life is worth it. I promise I’m not trying to be disagreeable or start an argument but I really am struggling and need help.:)
I believe that being gay is fine. It’s who I am and who I’m meant to be. There are plenty of advantages in a gay relationship (ie. not having someone who has to be submissive and do certain things while you do others). I wouldn’t be happy with a female and that’s just the cold hard truth. I’m naturally in love with other guys.
However, at the same time, everyone I’m around is anti-LGBTQ+ and it’s super discouraging. I feel oppressed everywhere. And also at the same time there’s that small part of me that feels that it’s not right and that I can’t do anything about it. I legit am hating my life. Few friends, anti-LGbTQ+ people around me, stress with work/college/etc., feeling like a failure, nothing working out for me,…. I have a depressing life. Any advice?
Hey Stephen! Hopefully you got my email. I appreciate you being here and sharing your struggles. We each need community like this to help us through the (often many) difficult seasons.
Please can anyone help me?
Hey Stephen! It’s great to have you here. Feel free to keep commenting and sharing more of your story with us. Always a joy to add one more to the fold. Thanks for your intro comment on this post. I’m sorry for your struggles of late. That sounds really hard, not having support and positivity around you. I hope you’re able to find that.
Beyond commenting on posts, feel free to email any of our authors individually. Our individual contact information is on each of our respective author profiles. Prayers for you, brother! You are not alone.
Aaron-thank you for sharing your testimony. I very much relate to your story. I, too, figured out I was SSA (although I didn’t know what it was at the time, I just knew I was more attracted to men than women) when I was a teen. I just seemed to want to get a hold of another guys member. I was radically saved by Jesus at 15-and I was walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, but wanting man sex and perhaps even doing it I rationalized in my Christian male mind as teen curiosity. I held men/women marriage In very high regard and I would never cross the sex line with another woman, but for some reason my desires didn’t fall into the “sex” category for perhaps touching another man. Unfortunately, my college roommate allowed me to engage him and we fell into a pattern of mutual masturbation and I liked it, he liked it, way too much. It was highly enjoyable and intoxicating. I went home for Christmas break and God showed me a picture of a fork in the road. He said, “If you don’t stop what you are doing it will only escalate and you will become a homosexual. If you stop I will give you the wife and family you have always wanted”. I knew He was right and He scared me to death. I went back to my college apartment and after the lights went out my roommate came at me with a naked fury to re-engage. I told him no. He was angry, but that was the last time I ever engaged with another man. Then God gave me that wife and the children (and now grandchildren) that I had wanted. I was scared to death on my wedding night, but I was able to perform. I thought my worries were over-no more SSA and no more masturbation. I was dead wrong. Years later the internet came to be, and as probably every man struggled, I was curious about what images I could see. It was always about men masturbating-and I would fall into masturbation, too, even though my wife was always, always willing. Then 25 years ago I found Covenant Eyes and it has kept me safe all those years. Thank God! Then, on September 15 of this year, at 62 years of age and happily married with an amazing sex life with my dear wife of 38 years God told me to tell her everything-and He meant everything. He said it would be for my healing. I did. It was the hardest thing I have ever done to tell my beautiful wife that I have had SSA since childhood (I had shared my college experiences with her early on in our marriage, but she thought it was just regular guy stuff). No, I told her, it was much worse and my biggest struggle was not porn, because I can’t get to that, but my public eye. I stumble with lust in public places. She freaked out a bit, cried more than I have ever seen her cry, but she recovered quickly and determined to help me. Now, in the last two months, when we are out in public she frequently asks me, “Are you ok?”, when a handsome young man walks by. I give her the truth, but the difference is that I used to look from his face and chest to his crotch. Now I look from his face to above his head into the eyes of a Jesus and I bring every thought captive to Him! I wish I had confessed to my wife even before we were married, but I was too ashamed. I am being healed and I am experiencing great peace and joy and victory-the cloud is gone! “Confess your sins one to another so that you might be healed”. Do it now-don’t wait like I did. Aaron, thanks again for sharing your coming out.