Today marks the first in a 3-part series on my sexuality: particularly the specific nature of my same-sex attraction. While I share lots in common with fellow YOB authors and community members, I’m better realizing — and maybe this is obvious — how differently wired we all are: different personalities, different proclivities, and yes, even different sexualities. Different spectrums in this same “Side B” universe while still holding to this same traditional belief on sexuality.

This series will reveal some of what I’ve been learning of myself in recent years — the “psychology of my sexuality,” so to speak. Here in part 1, I dive into what attracts me to other guys. Stay tuned for the when and why of my same-sex attraction later in this series . . .

So, what attracts me to other guys? Abs (but not too many). Pecs (but not too pecky). Shoulders (but not too Michael Phelpsy). And dimples (the deeper, the better in this case).

BAM, end of blog post.

Okay, let me circle back. Unlike some of my other brothers in this community, I’ve never watched hardcore pornography. I’ve never been beckoned by romantic trysts or sexual encounters; I’ve never even wanted to have sex.

What attracts me to other men tilts more toward the emotional and physical rather than anything sexual, and I’ve been wired this way my whole life.

So, what does it mean to be physically but not sexually attracted to other men? It’s a question I get a lot, a distinction worth clarifying.

I get the confusion. We live in a hyper-sexualized culture; that someone wouldn’t be drawn by sex in 2019, the year of our Lord, is admittedly confusing — even to myself.

I’m a 32-year-old virgin, and I’m averted by sex — heterosexual or homosexual. Sex just sounds scary and awful with anyone, man or woman. Other mens’ penises disgust me. I don’t ever want to see them.

But that’s a therapy session for another day. Back to my physical attraction.

My earliest memories of same-sex attraction started with a couple boys in first and second grade. They were “cute” to my innocent little 7-year-old heart — often blond and blue-eyed with bright smiles. And they were so cool.

Ultimately, the objects of my fixation were just good guys. They were nice. All the girls liked them, and all the other boys wanted to be their best friend.

No kidding, I remember a childhood conversation with Caleb about Timmy, how Caleb was Timmy’s best friend. Caleb made it clear he was tight with Timmy, even though I don’t recall ever seeing them doing best friend things together.

Caleb loved Timmy, and so did everyone else — the kids, the teachers, everyone. Though Timmy and I never reached “best friend” status as he did with Caleb, apparently, Timmy always caught my eyes. He was cute and cool and really nice to everyone. His niceness only made him cooler and cuter.

Throughout adolescence and even into today, the “Timmys” of my life have followed a similar pattern: nice, cool, and more subtly cute than overtly “hot,” their personality and disposition making up for any lack in physical appearance.

And they were always, always straight.

You see, that’s the thing about my same-sex attractions and how they have worked from the start: gay guys just don’t appeal to me. They have to be straight for me to find them deeply attractive.

I first had this epiphany when a fit, attractive gay guy tried to kiss me many years ago. And I’ve never wanted to be further away from another man.

Of course, gay guys can have abs and pecs and shoulders and dimples and swoopy hair and all the other physical attributes that I admire and envy. I might be initially attracted to a gay man’s physique for the sheer “masculinity” of it.

But if I know a man is gay or same-sex attracted (SSA) or queer or whatever his label, my attraction for him wanes. Any fixation plummets and disappears entirely, usually.

It’s partly why I’ve never had a romantic or sexual relationship with another man — his being into other men kinda “ruins” it for me. But I’ll talk more about that fun dynamic later in the why part of this series.

Beyond the noticeable physical beauty of a man, I’m mostly attracted by a man’s attraction to women. Something I’ve never been able to experience.

I’m an Enneagram Four with the primary passion of envy, and my envy of straight men cuts to the core of his sexuality being opposite my own. I’m so different, so other; how can I get some of that?

Gayness just isn’t attractive to me. Straightness is.

As for more of what attracts me to other guys, I’m not typically attracted to the “hot guy” — those model types who look like photoshopped humanity (their digital images often are).

Those guys are just too hot, too perfect looking. Where’s the vulnerability? Where’s the flaws, the relatability?

How does his masculinity connect to my own?

As a pale, wiry, splotchy faced kid growing up, I’ve long been attracted to bronzed skin and shapely muscles and clear complexions — but not in excess.

A guy with abs, but not too ripply; a guy with pecs, but not protruding like The Rock’s; a guy with broad shoulders, but not the wingspan of an albatross; a guy with a cute face, but maybe with a couple asymmetrical freckles or stray eyebrow hairs or something.

All of these “lesser” physical attributes are more attractive to me than their “utmost” forms, because they represent both something further along yet not impossibly unreachable. Like: I could get a basic 6-pack if I did a few more crunches each night (and maybe each morning, too).

In essence, I find “heightened normalcy” more attractive than sheer “hotness” by the world’s standards. Guys who may work out regularly but simply let their physical masculinity be without ever needing to overwork or over-prove it.

More than anything, it’s confidence: I’m deeply attracted by male confidence, because I lack it more than any other quality, physical or otherwise.

A straight guy who’s mostly normal looking, maybe with an ab or two, but really confident. How deeply attractive indeed.

Years ago, I was attracted to one particular straight guy who really wasn’t all that attractive on the physical front. He had a beaming smile, but he wasn’t in shape, and he was pale-skinned and balding.

Spiritually, though, this guy was a giant. Super wise and super confident of the Spirit at work. He was also extraordinarily funny, a dynamic storyteller, and that always helps from a personality standpoint.

If ever I wanted to be somebody, or at least have a man like that as a best friend in my life, I wanted him. If ever I found an “other,” it was Brock.

Just like Timmy’s “nice guy effect” on me as a kid, Brock’s amazing inner qualities made him all the more physically attractive. So much so that I craved his presence and physical touch to the point of obsession and idolization.

Brock could spend time with me and hug me here and there. But he couldn’t give my heart the full extent of what it so desperately craved: a bountiful masculinity always flowing around and through me.

I often get into conversations with fellow YOB community members about the sorts of men we’re attracted to. It’s funny, I rarely find much crossover in my “tastes” and theirs. I’ve more of an affinity for boyish normalcy than Chris Evans or Zac Efron.

But I won’t name some of the guys I find incredibly attractive like Shawn Mendes or —

Seems I’m wired differently than many other gay or SSA or “Side B” guys. But that’s okay. I also know I’m not the only one wired this way. I’m grateful for those affirmations over the years.

Next post, I’ll dive into the particular moments when I’m attracted to other men. And then I’ll dive into what I believe to be the underlying why of my same-sex attractions.

Learning the psychology of my psame-psex attraction has been something else, y’all. I’m excited to share more of my discoveries in these posts to come.

But for now, I’m curious to learn more about what attracts you to other men. How do you experience emotional, physical, and sexual attraction? Do you experience more of one form of attraction than the others, or do they all work hand-in-hand?

  • Hi Tom,
    You already touched on this briefly, but do you believe that your attraction towards the same sex is the root of your desires or the result of your desires? In Rosaria Butterfield’s book, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, she makes the claim that pride was the root of her same-sex attraction; based off of your story, it sounds like envy is the root of yours. I know that for me, a type 4 as well, my envy constitutes much of what I once considered my sexual orientation. Recently, I created a chart of about 10 guys to whom I was attracted, making columns out of the qualities that I believed made them attractive–“cool,” “confident,” “easy sense of masculinity,” etc.–and placing a mark for each guy who had that quality. At the bottom of the chart, I included my name and repeated the process. Out of the seven qualities I found most attractive, I, myself, only had one of them. I found this to be a really helpful exercise in discerning the “why” behind my attraction and realizing that envy is rooted in my heart far more deeply than homosexuality. In essence, I find myself attracted to other guys because I want to bask in their attractive qualities and satiate my anemic masculinity. Additionally, previously, I believed that many of my more platonic desires for friendship and intimacy were colored by homosexuality; after all, they seemed distinct from the type of experiences that a heterosexual would have. Now, I know that those platonic desires bare the hue of envy, not innate homosexuality. This shift from homosexuality as the root sin to envy as the root sin has been really helpful for me in making sense of my attractions and navigating relational difficulties. Sorry for the long post; just wanted to share my own experience and what I’ve been processing lately.

    • Hey Dave! Thanks for this long comment. I love long comments. Especially long comments that hit the nail on the head. Envy is absolutely at the root of my desires. I want what I’m not and what I cannot have, and it’s a concept I’ll dive more into in Part 3. Good stuff to chew on for now!

  • Interesting article. I understand what you are articulate at explaining. My concern is that you’re glorying in your attractions in an exciting way that creates an imbalance in your walk with Christ. I know the article is about what you are attracted to but God calls us to be attracted to every creature (man) by His love to preach/share the gospel with them through sheer motivation steming from the One that should be the focus of all our attraction, JESUS Christ. And we are to be in fellowship with men in Christ focusing on Him alone. What benefit do your attractions offer you in Christ? What are you learning in regard to your attractions that are being transformed into the maturity and likeness of Christ? But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord , exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. I could explain my attractions to men all day long and the internal dynamics there of but How is the Spirit of Christ within them at work to bring us closer to Christ? I used to be right where you are actually glorying in understanding of my attractions but mainly how they had changed because of the influence of JESUS. How is Christ changing you & your attractions? In other words, write about the One by whom we are transformed by beholding His glory. Let us fix our eyes on Him.

    • Thanks for checking this out and responding, Chadd. No intention to “glorify” any aspect of myself here. Just a dive into the psychology of my attractions — also talking about spirituality would add significantly to the word count! Maybe in another post I’ll dive more into how Jesus meets me in my sexuality. Feel free to check out some of my other posts where I talk more about faith matters.

  • I can relate so much to all of this. Here I am 34, single, virgin and also never been kissed. Never even come close. I’m not attracted to guys who are hugely built, but more toned that’s for sure. There is such a thing as too much in my opinion. What’s funny is I’ve never been attracted to my friends, even those that are very good looking. I guess mainly because most of them are Christians and that would just be weird to me. Though I’ll admit that I am attracted to guys who are more fit than I am, which can be a lot of guys. And I’ll admit that I have to avert my eyes at times in the gym on occasion. And my attraction to my Twitter friend Ryan, who I’ve mentioned before, was both physical and emotional for sure. It was always interesting when we talked about how hot some guys are, particularly Michael Mealor (Kyle on Y&R). And I wish I could say that I’ve never been into hard-core porn, but that would be a lie. While penises may not disgust me, I know I certainly don’t want to cross that line and be THAT intimate with another guy. I was just always curious as to if others looked like me down there (I’ll leave that for readers interpretation). And like you, personality is more attractive to me than anything else. Looks are great and all, but with anyone, including friends, it’s more about personality. Can’t wait for the next 2 in this series

    • You’re not alone, Chris! Thanks for sharing. I’m with you on “toned” versus “hugely built.” Jacked guys have rarely caught my eye, and it’s always been that way. But a more subtly toned guy, on the other hand…

  • I don’t know that I’ve ever thought out what I find attractive in men. Connecting with the side B world has helped me work through a lot of the shame surrounding my feelings towards men, but I’ve never given myself the space to ask that question…
    Men are beautiful. I don’t know. Prose seems an inappropriate way to explore beauty, so let’s see…
    There is a keen beauty in women—
    Of hair that shines as it falls,
    Of silk and seashells and of springtime pastels,
    Of dresses and debutante balls,
    But others have sung of their praises—
    For whom their hearts filled past the brim—
    But my heart is different; towards “her” it’s indifferent,
    So here’s a few lines about “him”:
    The first thing I see is his smile,
    A fount in his close-gardened chin.
    We both see and know we’re the same, and it shows,
    As my face mirrors the grin.
    The next thing’s the form of his body,
    The raw power under his clothes—
    I see in his chest, shoulders, biceps, the rest
    That our strength through each other, it grows.
    This next bit should come with a warning, but I trust you relate in our “he-ness”
    Our bodies are mens’—there’s no shame among friends—
    So yeah, it’s cool seeing—it.
    It’s good to know I’m not alone;
    Together, this race we can win.
    I am strong; I am weak—we’re both boats that both leak,
    So if you’re my bro put your oar in.
    That strength from the weak is my beauty;
    With men we all share in the fray—
    Battle or rope, joined together, there’s hope,
    And I don’t care if that makes me gay.
    It’s like fifty cocoons opening at once in my gut when any guy with a strong jawline smiles at me. I want him. I don’t get why visual cues should stir up my desire for intimacy so strongly. Perhaps it’s God’s design for beauty to affect us—especially me personally—so strongly. More to the question, sexual attraction is merely tangential to my gayness, whereas emotional attraction could be nearly circumscribed by physical attraction—and vice versa; is there a geometry term that means “effectively the same”? I experience it all as a way to glorify God through the appreciation of His beauty in the men He’s created. I want the guy who made Shawn Mendes. I have a lot of gay pride knowing that God makes me to long for Him every day in a way straight guys seem to miss out on.

    • Joshua, I love how you phrased that bit at the end: “I experience it all as a way to glorify God through the appreciation of His beauty in the men He’s created.”
      As a writer, as a storyteller, as an artist, I greatly appreciate the beauty in the Author’s story and in the Artist’s creation. For whatever reason, nature or nurture or both, I notice and bask in — and yes, often ache for — the beauty of a man. Both outwardly and inwardly. It can feel like a curse, noticing what most other men do not see or care much for, but it’s more a gift, I’m realizing — valuing that which God made good. Made beautiful.
      Thanks for sharing your heart (and poetry!) with us. Grateful for this comment so much.

  • Having all three attractions working hand-in-hand doesn’t ever pan out for me. I can sit and talk with another guy and have a deep emotional conversation and this would spur my emotional attraction to him. Yet he may not invoke a physical or sexual attraction in me. In a large part, I think by getting to know the person, not simply the exterior, I see the depth of the man like his values, morals and personality and I gauge him on these attrubutes. I could go as far to be physically or sexually intimate with another guy, but my intellect overrides these fleshy desires. I can’t be with a guy whom I have no deep connection with and expect to immediately fall in love with them. I have too much self respect and I fear living with that regret.

    • It’s also rare I find all three forms of attraction ever lining up, Mac. Definitely a blessing, less distracting toward the pursuit of authentic friendship. Having never experienced sexual attraction, I can’t imagine what that dynamic would add to any relationship.

      • Simple sexual attraction may be a distraction or hinderance to allowing you to gain emotional attachment or attraction to someone. I’ve seen guys that I was either physically or sexually attracted to, but I see them from a distance, not knowing who they truly are. I rebuke myself saying they are *people* not sexual *objects* to gauk at or lust over. Relying on a single dynamic like physical or sexual attraction to maintain a relationship is ultimately futile and sinfully shallow on our parts.

  • I appreciate reading your post Tom…and the thoughts you expressed.
    I have a quote I wrote in my Bible that says, “the most likeable people are those who are most like Christ.” I’ve been blessed to know some people who, although they were not “attractive” in the physical sense, they attracted people to them with their kindness, their compassion…the Fruit of Spirit which radiated out of their life. i am reminded of that verse from I Samuel, I believe, which says, “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” A good encouragement to me at least.
    I wish I could say more, but right now Hurricane Dorian is hitting us and the weather outside is frightful!

  • This was such an interesting post to read because it (a) helps me understand my friend—you—and (b) it helps me see more of how different we can all be!
    As I’ve gotten older I feel like I’ve seen my attractions lose their sweaty, lustful edge, while at the same time becoming broader to encompass more types of men. I remember only being attracted to a specific body type and skin color in college but recently (by that I mean the past few years) I’ve been noticing men that I wouldn’t have felt any interest toward back then. More body types, more skin colors, more types of faces, more sexual orientations, more ages (within certain bounds). And it seems like for the most part it’s become more like your attractions—less about the idea of intercourse and more about an emotional longing or an appreciation of/delight in beauty.
    The phenomenon of your attractions sometimes hinging on whether or not the guy is straight is interesting. I know we’ve talked about it before. I also think we’ve talked about at least one exception? Not asking you to give more details here than you’d want to share in the comments, but I was wondering if your draw toward/attachments to gay men (whatever those are) are something you’d categorize under “attractions” such that sometimes there are exceptions (which is okay—there are always exceptions) or if you have a different category for those feelings.

    • Hope you understand your complicated friend at least a little better!
      Indeed, we’re all so different in this community. It never ceases to fascinate me, hearing everyone’s stories. Thanks for sharing some of yours here, Ryan! I’ve always had a “type,” but I can also relate with a broader appreciation of beauty in recent years.
      As for your question, I’m still processing how I categorize “attraction” for gay and straight men. Any attraction I feel for gay men feels very surfacey and fleeting. Attraction for straight men tends to linger; there’s something deeper to it.
      Of course, this opens up the door to defining what “attraction” even is. So many layers!

    • Interesting point about how your attractions have changed in recent years. I do wonder if perhaps as we persist on this path of celibacy, of giving up sexual pursuits, God works in that to align our hearts more with Him- to reward our obedience by allowing that obedience to be the very thing our heart desires. Of course, it may be as simple as our hormones and sex drive calming down as we age, but I think there is more to it than that.
      Recently I went a year with no porn, masturbation, etc. At first it was difficult and I noticed some withdrawals, but over time I noticed a change in my sex drive. As I stopped feeding those drives, the desire lessened, and a different sort of love began to grow. My attractions shifted from sex first and moved into emotional intimacy and longing. It shifted into different types of attractions for the same-sex, attractions that may more readily have positive outcomes instead of only sinful ones. Once again, it seems like God might actually be onto something when He sets forth a particular path of obedience. Perhaps He designs to grow our hearts to a state of delight in things that beget life and health, rather than purposelessly demanding we forgo all things fun.

  • Tommmm! Such a great post, and the start of what is sure to be a great series. Your sexuality really is particularly unique, and I think it’s so helpful for us to get to have insight into who you are and what a sexuality like your’s looks like. While it may be difficult at times, I think the fact that you naturally avoid making attractions about sex is really a gift. While non-sexual attractions can still be problematic and lead to sin, I also think they can more easily be shifted into healthy intimacy and closeness. They can be a driver to bless you and the other with intentional friendship- something many straight men lack.
    As for me, my attractions are generally sexual in nature, although not exclusively of course. There are aspects of straight men that draw me to them, but gay men hold a fairly equal draw in their own way. Despite never being anything close to a jock, I’ve never struggled much with my masculinity or connecting with straight guys, and perhaps that is part of why they don’t have a unique hold on me. I’ve felt “other” in my own ways, but its hard to piece out how much has to do with my sexuality, and how much of that is an experience many straight men go through also, particularly when sports just aren’t their thing. Thanks for sharing, brother! Great to be able to hear your perspective on this.

    • Thanks for reading, Aaaaaaaron. For too long I assumed we must all be attracted in the same way and to the same extents, and I always felt inwardly isolated, even amongst this supposedly close-knit community. It’s refreshing to speak my specific story and plot out the differences and even hear from folks who feel wired quite similarly. May we all have the courage to share and also to listen and for all to not be shamed.

  • Thomas, I have read much of what you have posted on this site and very much appreciate your perspective and writing skill. Personally, I truly don’t understand your aversion to sex because my story is mostly all about sex and filling that relational man-void I have inside. I do connect with what you are attracted to. I, too, am only attracted to straight guys and their bodies. As a conservative Evangelical Christian raised in America you know how that was handled in churches for so many years, so I think my lack of attraction to that segment of maleness is the root of my aversion. I feel like I have spent my secret life looking for love in all the wrong places, in a sense, to find a straight man who would hold me, love me unconditionally, and that I could share my deepest secrets with without judgement or condemnation. No sex, just deep abiding relationship! Thanks for sharing!

  • Thomas Mark Zuniga

    I'm a storyteller and story-liver in Asheville, North Carolina – the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. I'm YOB's cofounder and editor, and I also host our bimonthly podcast. I've written a couple books, including a memoir in 2013 where I first came out to the world. Once upon another universe I anonymously blogged about my faith and sexuality under the Xanga username, "twoBeckonings." I'm an INFJ, an Enneagram 4w5, and my spirit animal is the buffalo. My favorite place in the world is the one where coffee and vulnerability meet.

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