I’m queer. That is how I now identify my sexuality. And it’s how I can best define my experience of gender, too.

Let’s explore this, shall we!

Regarding my sexuality, I’ve always struggled with how to identify. When I first came to accept my sexuality, I went with “gay.” But I was never really public about this.

Years later, encountering these brothers who’d one day form Your Other Brothers, I used “SSA,” or same-sex attracted. We didn’t have many other options back in those days.

Fast-forwarding several more years, I realized I don’t necessarily like this “SSA” identifier. It’s not that it doesn’t describe me; I am attracted to other men. But it felt cumbersome. And it felt like it didn’t accurately describe me.

For one, I fell in love with and married a woman. I find her attractive — but in a unique way, unlike other men or women. I also find a person’s personality incredibly important in attraction. And I do not have a massive sex drive.

This left me dancing somewhere among the pansexual, asexual, and allosexual scales.

So, I just decided I wouldn’t define my sexuality. I was simply Dean — not straight Dean, not gay Dean, not SSA Dean, not anything Dean.

And it felt like I’d won. After all, I was placing my identity in Christ, right?

Well, I encountered a problem. I’d left my sexuality “undefined,” and it’s not just that I didn’t label myself — it’s that I also didn’t bother to understand myself.

In my pursuit to grow more like Christ, I was setting aside part of my life as a mystery spot. How could I submit my sexuality to Christ if I didn’t even know what it was?

Thus, I started exploring sexual identities again.

For a while, I thought pansexual was the one for me. But I didn’t need to know someone’s personality to find them attractive.

So, maybe I was asexual? But I found that one lacked the ability to describe my sexuality for other reasons.

Eventually in my research, I came across the revival of the word, queer — a word that was once a slur, a way to degrade LGBT individuals. However, language is always under the influence of culture. In this case, the LGBT community took the word slurred against them and flipped the script.

The queer identity became a badge of honor, not disgrace.

Something about this story — something disgraceful discovering honor — resonated with me. Perhaps the queer identity reminded me of my redemption in Christ.

How does that old hymn go?

Amazing grace . . . that saved a wretch like me . . .

How powerful for a word once used negatively now to be used positively.

I realized “queer” reflected both my sexuality and gender identity. I still bear the scars of gender dysphoria; while it is no longer a present or active part of my life, it impacted me greatly.

As such, I don’t feel like a cisgender male (one whose sense of male identity fully matches their male biology). I’m not transgender or agender at all — but I also can’t say I am this full, 100%, no-doubt-about-my-gender guy.

Queer fits me well. I’m different. Maybe just slightly, but just slightly enough. Something that was once negative, my dysphoria, is now positive: my scar-bearing gender identity.

I’m aware many of our readers may not like this. I’m prepared to get hit from all sides. If nothing else, please understand this:

I’m queer. I’m a child of God. And I have a desire to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ shared with all who need to experience His great love.

Do you also identify as queer? What journeys with sexual identity and gender identity have you taken to this point?

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    14 Comments
    • Reply Terri Thomas

      13 August 2019, 1:44 pm

      I so appreciate your perspective, Dean. I’ve been following YOB since they started, and it has been helpful to me to learn more about how other “side B” folks walk out their faith in practical ways. I feel like it may have helped me better understand and relate to my husband (we are a mixed orientation couple). I just listened to the podcasts that you and your wife did recently, and so much of what both of you said resonated deeply with me. Keep sharing your story! It is so helpful to so many!!

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        14 August 2019, 4:35 pm

        You’re so welcome, Terri! I’m glad Lisa and I have been able to help you and bless you. I pray you and your husband continue to grow closer together and closer to Christ in the days ahead!

    • Reply Joel Jones

      13 August 2019, 12:02 pm

      Great testimony Dean – thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Ismael Macaia

      13 August 2019, 12:58 pm

      This is going to be an amazing comment section. My two cents of knowledge are: God is bigger than our earthly labels. Great post Dean. Glad you could come to terms with your sexual identity. I hope that you wont let this topic consume you. With brotherly love.

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        14 August 2019, 4:35 pm

        God is indeed bigger than all things — but I am allowed to offer my unique traits to the world. Paul himself said that we all have different gifts and different callings in life. Part of what makes the body of Christ incredible is the diversity within it. Yes, we are all children of God — but we are by no means all the same. My being queer is a uniqueness I bring into the body. Thus, I feel that it is worth sharing.

    • Reply Ιωήλ

      13 August 2019, 1:32 pm

      Well I’ve been thinking about this tbh: am I more gay or asexual?
      What if I’ve always been straight but I tricked myself into liking guys because of pornography?
      That being said, I don’t use the term “queer” when describing myself. I’m sorry brother, but to me it seems too “worldly” in some way.
      I still don’t understand myself fully but I guess labels can’t be compared to being a child of God? Sending lots of love to you.

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        14 August 2019, 4:35 pm

        I take no offense at you not wanting to label your sexuality as “queer”. I will say — I’m not taking away from my label as a child of God. And you are right — it’s the greatest “label” I bear. But I am allowed to describe myself. Just as I would say I’m a husband and a father and a nerd, I would also say that I am queer. Obviously, different descriptions have different weights and different levels. Saying I’m a nerd is not equal to saying I’m queer. My sexuality is more deeply rooted to my core. But none of these labels or identities shake my core identity in Christ.

    • Reply Eugene Heffron

      13 August 2019, 10:44 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this Dean! I resonate a lot with this. Like in my case I’m completely sexually, emotionally, relationally, everything to men. But despite that the word gay doesn’t quite encompass that because while I am completely attracted to men and not women, I actually don’t long to have sexual intercourse with men. So somewhat asexual? Yet at the same time I’m not above being tempted to do some certain sexual acts with men. Weird I know. But still, I’m not picky on labels. If I’m in a more conservative crowd or with folks new to the Side B scene, I don’t mind using “SSA” as a label. If I’m with a more liberal crowd, I don’t mind calling myself gay much. Tomato ToMAHto.

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        14 August 2019, 4:26 pm

        I know what you mean, Eugene. I’ve occasionally just “shorthanded” to gay before if the situation feels more like that should apply. But I generally try to be upfront about it now. Thank you for sharing your story in this process as well!

    • Reply Landon Emmerson

      14 August 2019, 12:44 am

      Hi Dean,
      Thank you for sharing your story! You’ve obviously given a lot of thought to this, and I see why you chose the term queer. It really encompasses both the SSA and gender dysphoria. I love the way you closed this post, identifying as both queer and a Child of God.
      For me, I like both men and women. I find both attractive both physically and emotionally. I’m still wrestling with whether I should say I’m same sex attracted or I’m bisexual. In my mind I identify as bisexual, but to those I’ve shared my struggle with with I’ve always said I was just same sex attracted. I feel like bisexual men are a minority within the LGBTQ community. Straight people think we are gay and simply “haven’t come to terms with our sexuality” and some within the LGBTQ community have said the exact same thing ( I’m not speaking from first hand experience, but other bisexual men I have known have told me about these feelings of rejection from both sides.)
      In addition to finding both men and women attractive, I find that I can be more attracted to one gender in certain seasons. Never really exceeding a 70/30 ratio. Similar to your story, I’ve done research on this topic and wonder if I’m more sexually fluid.
      I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m still trying to figure this all out. I’m so thankful that Your Other Brothers is a community where I can figure this out along side other men with SSA who love Jesus!
      Best,
      Landon

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        14 August 2019, 4:26 pm

        Hey. Landon!
        Thank you for sharing your story with me. I’m sorry you have felt like you can’t share your sexuality more honestly. According to a study by the Williams Institute a few years ago, bisexuality is more common amongst the LGBT community than any other sexuality. But you are right that it is not always represented in the culture that way.
        But don’t feel rushed to figure it out. I spent years (as you read) understanding the best way to represent my sexuality. It’s ok to acknowledge it being more complex than can be defined at a moment’s notice. Praying you continue to grow in your understanding of yourself and the Gospel as well!

    • Reply Benjamin Michael Rutkowski

      16 August 2019, 4:36 pm

      This…

      I encountered a problem. I’d left my sexuality “undefined,” and it’s not just that I didn’t label myself — it’s that I also didn’t bother to understand myself.

      This was also me for a long time. I processed my attraction to other men in undergrad, but it was with a bunch of other guys who were also new to talking about/learning about their sexuality. There was no roadmap for what that was supposed to look like. I also told my wife about my sexuality before we got married. But once I graduated and got married… it’s like I pushed pause on my processing for 6 years! I didn’t have a clue how my sexuality was supposed to impact my everyday life and ministry. So I pushed it down and ignored it.
      Like for you, I realized I needed to process it, and define it. I needed my primary identity in Christ, but I had to figure out how my orientation figured into my faith and life. Thus began my second coming out experience, which I’ll definitely write about someday.
      I also identify as queer. It matches with my experience. I find it also invites discussion from others.

    • Reply Ryan Burger

      17 August 2019, 2:25 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Dean. I’m glad for the umbrella term of “queer” because it gives more room for more experience than the other LGB letters (or “SSA,” for that matter). I guess I describe myself as queer implicitly when I describe myself as gay, kind of like how all squares are also rectangles. Maybe if I decide one day that “gay” doesn’t fit anymore, “queer” will become my primary word : )

    • Reply Aaron

      17 August 2019, 3:01 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Dean! It cool to get inside your head a bit with your journey to figure out how to describe yourself and how that impacts identity. Your story demonstrates well the complexity many people face- and why its not as simple as “finding your identity in Christ alone.” I think most of us agree fully that our true identity is in Christ alone, but its often less about identity and more about understanding. Understanding ourselves, and communicating succinctly to others so they understand us as well.

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