Ah, straight guys — also known as “the normal ones.” What a load of complicated feelings I have toward them.

I see straight guys now and again in groups together. Sometimes they’re hanging out in town together; other times, kicking around the soccer ball on a field. Sometimes they’re shirtless, hooping and hollering as they have fun.

Maybe this sounds like a lust-inspiring scene for a guy like me, but actually not so much. It evokes more of an emotional longing. A deeply profound longing.

It’s a feeling of wanting to be like them, to be one of them. To be normal and accepted by ordinary men and be like ordinary men.

But it can’t be that way. I’m different.

Still, I remind myself: it’s probably not as ideal as it looks. These guys probably don’t show affection of any kind to each other or throw their hands up to say “no homo” if they come within even an inch of physical contact.

But still. I feel that longing of things that could be or should be.

For the longest time in my life, I had few to no friends at all. Growing up, I never quite fit in with the other boys.

I was never outright shunned or hated, per se, and I was generally considered a nice guy. But no one ever wanted to hang out with me. I was far more interested in drawing, the arts, movies, and creativity in general.

The other boys? Big shock, they were interested in sports, cars, sports, video games, and sports.

Throughout middle school and high school, I disliked how many of the other boys could be so crude, obnoxious, loud, and temperamental.

I had some general friends in my classes, but those relationships never went beyond the confines of school.

In four years of high school, I was never once asked to hang out by another guy. Or a girl, for that matter.

I wanted to correct this in my college years. I knew my introversion had gotten in the way of asking other guys to hang out and that I should’ve taken more initiative.

I’ve already written about Mark, my straight friend who I regularly hung out with at this time. He was pretty much my only “success” when it came to regularly hanging out with anyone. But if you’ve read the story, you’ll remember it was still far from ideal.

A lot of online advice I read simply went: You HAVE to take the initiative and just start talking to someone! You never know, he may turn out to be someone awesome.

And I tried that. Just about every time I did work up enough courage to talk to a guy in any of my classes, he’d give me this dead “why are you talking to me?” expression with one-word “yeah” or “cool” responses.

It was like talking to a concrete wall.

Sometimes I tried to text or Facebook-message some guys I’d been sorta friendly with and take the daring leap to ask them to hang out. I guess this is how it feels when straight guys ask out girls on dates?

Most of the time, I got no response (but, of course, the messages were marked as “seen”). Other times, I got the awful: “Hey man, I’ve been really busy right now. I’ll let you know if I’m free to hang out.”

Ah, the good ol’ “I’ll let you know” OF DOOM. I’ve been waiting six years for some of them to get back to me.

Needless to say, these unrequited attempts at male friendship hurt. They hurt a lot. Roommates, classmates, coworkers — it was all the same response.

I’ll let you know.

What was I doing wrong? Was I coming across as awkward or desperate? Did I smell funny? Did these straight guys think I was gay and trying to date them? Did I have such bad luck that all these guys were legitimately too busy to hang out? Or did I simply choose the wrong college to attend?

I’ve come to realize the bittersweet truth that it was probably none of those things.

I simply don’t emotionally click with straight men. Odds are, it probably wouldn’t have mattered when or where I went to college. My attempts at friendship would have created the same scenario of loneliness.

Ever since joining YOB a couple years ago and being active in this “Side B” world (holding to a traditional belief on sexuality and marriage), I’ve realized I emotionally click so much better with gay/SSA (same-sex attracted) men. They tend to be so sensitive, creative, loving, affectionate, and temperamentally similar to me that it’s spooky.

Meanwhile, just about all straight men I’ve met and interacted with have been cold, dissonant, unemotional, uncreative, boring, and unwilling to show any sign of affection, let alone any sort of physical touch.

Of course, they are more than happy to slobber their affection all over social media about how “I’m marrying my best friend!” and bleEeEeEegh, but I digress.

Other guys in the Side B world will assure me that not all straight men are the same. They tell me that they have really amazing straight friends who are very emotionally supportive and even physically affectionate.

It makes me wanna tear my hair out.

Where were these straight guys in my high school years? Where were these straight guys when I was so cold and alone in college? Where were these straight guys when I was going through whirlwinds of emotional hurt in my twenties?

After discovering how much easier I could make friends with gay/SSA men within YOB and the Side B world, enjoying it immensely, I gave up on pursuing relationships with straight men altogether. Because of how distrustful and resentful I had grown toward them.

That is, until last summer when I made my first visit to fellow blogger, Benjamin. We took a short trip to a nearby town to meet a fellow YOBBER (one of our Patreon supporters). He lives in a house with a straight roommate.

This YOBBER and his straight roommate were very close emotionally and had even cuddled a little bit — not “hardcore cuddling,” but something like watching movies with arms around the shoulders.

As we chatted in the kitchen, the roommate arrived and introduced himself. He was a handsome, athletic guy. More importantly, he was extremely friendly and wanted to have dinner with us.

As we ate, we shared our stories, including our sexualities. He didn’t seem weirded out and was very attentive. He even related to my story, saying that he went through long stretches of loneliness and feeling outcast when he started at a new school.

Even better, he gave us hugs before he went up to bed.

Wow, a straight guy who actually doesn’t mind physical touch with another guy? What dimension am I living in?

The next day, as Benjamin and I were loading up the car to leave, the straight roommate came running out of the house — he had been doing homework in his room all day and we hadn’t seen him — and said, “Wait! I need to give you guys hugs before you go!”

And just like that, he wrapped us up in some of the nicest, warmest hugs I’d ever received. Oh, the warm fuzzies!

It goes to show that there are straight guys out there who are happy to give affection and love to other men. They may be needles in haystacks, unfortunately, but it’s good knowing they’re out there.

Yeah, it’s extremely frustrating that they haven’t been in my life. But I’m at least given new hope.

The long stretch of friendlessness hurt. While I sometimes want to blame straight guys for it all, I think God had a plan behind it. He’s taught me never to take any relationships for granted and how to deeply love those who are hurting and going through the same situation as well.

My friendless stretch has taught me a lifetime of lessons that has helped me love my brothers here on YOB well.

Are you a gay/SSA man with many straight male friends? Do your relationships include much physical or emotional affection? If you are a straight man, how do you feel about showing affection to other men? Do you think gay/straight men have inherently different inclinations with affection, or do social constructs govern “acceptable affection” in men’s relationships?

  • Heya. I’m a straight guy and for me it seems to be quite the opposite. I actually tried making friends with SSA people on FB et cetera, and one thing that I realised is that as soon as you try to be more intimate to them, they try to push you far away from them. Nowadays I have three SSA friends, but sometimes this happen and they basically vanish for months (just two days ago one of my SSA friends who vanished for more than 8 months appeared from nowhere seeking emotional support. He’s lucky I’ve a good memory though, since most people would have forgotten by then. I don’t know if their vanishing is because they fear being in love with me or something like that though, and this kind of friendship can feel quite frustrating sometimes. If you want, you can call me on FB, I would love to be your friend. Peace.

    • Hey Emmanuel! Its funny you should mention that, I’ve had the exact same problem with many of my own gay/SSA friends. Its happened so many time where we connect great at first and then they disappear that its starting to drive me crazy. I’ve blogged about it, and I think the answer lies in the last podcast we did with Taylor Zimmerman. He talks about how gay/SSA guys show the behavior of “defensive detachment” in their relationships. Basically they drop off communication out of a subconscious act to avoid hurt. Its weird I know. The very thought of that seems so counter intuitive to me, I don’t get it. But I think its important to be aware of it.

      • Hmm… I wasn’t expecting other SSA guys had the same experience I have with SSA friendship. And it really does drive me crazy a lot of times. They usually give some nonsensical explanation as to why they’re doing that which doesn’t even have a leg to stand. I tried being direct these days, but they prepare their best pokerface and just ignore everything while changing the subject… Sometimes I feel our friendship isn’t as intimate as I once thought it was.
        Also, my proposal of friendship is still open if you want.

        • It is very strange. Its something I’m trying to figure out and navigate myself. You’d think it would just be common sense right? But oh well, a lot of them are doing it subconsciously, they’re not trying to hurt you. They’re just trying to avoid hurt. But in the end it ends up hurting others. But anyways, yes glad to accept your friendship on Facebook and look forward to chatting with you on there!

  • Thank you so much, brother, for all your hard work into sharing this! I can relate to a lot of your story…especially the growing up part. I always have a soft spot in my heart for those who are never included…for those who feel like they don’t belong, as I’ve been there…
    I was listening to a great podcast at The Christian Post this week entitled, “Crisis of Male Loneliness, Why Men Need Close Friends.” I would recommend it be listened to.
    Since moving to a small town here in the south, I was warned about several things. One thing I was told and warned about is that I can never be seen in public with another guy…The reason is that the gossip is so pervasive here and I don’t know who is related to who, or who knows who. People make it their business to know what others are doing. So, to protect others, I can’t even say to someone, can we meet to have coffee or anything like that. As a caregiver for my mom, it would be great to have relief sometimes just to talk…People know I am single and I know I have a target on my back…so I would never want to hurt anyone by being with them and then have the gossip “factory” get revved up. I sometimes have helped at a ministry which helps create bags of food for needy children, and there was a young man helping who was extremely friendly to me. I didn’t know why he was so friendly…but it made me uncomfortable knowing that just talking would get the ball of gossip rolling. Crazy, isn’t it! I should have applied for a visa when I moved here…it was never like that were I came from! Thanks again for such a heartfelt post!

    • Hi Dave, I would love to listen to that podcast. I’ll see if I can listen to it today. Glad you could relate to my story. And oh man, I would hate to move to a town like that if that atmosphere was so gossipy and you had to walk on egg shells. In a way it was like that in high school. Homophobic slurs and accusations were so rampant that you really had to watch what you did with other guys, how closely you sat next to them, etc. Was such a toxic atmosphere. But I can say I’ve been liberated in YOB’s atmosphere.

    • I also live in a town where any physical contact between men is deemed as gay. I need to watch out how far I am to my own brothers at all times if I don’t want rumors on incestuous homosexual relationship to gossiped about. What’s worse isnthat even contact sports such as BJJ is beginning to get such status and be subject of gossip. I hope to move from this town when I get the money to, since privacy is basically an unknown concept here.
      What I find more ### about this b####### is that they say gay people shouldn’t act on their instincts but at the same time they isolate these people in a bubble where the only support they could get is from gay people who act on their instincts. It’s important to support our SSA brothers in their journey to chastity and godly virtues.

      • Thank you so much for your kind response. I apologize so much for not getting back to you. I’m trying to work through the posts…I don’t know where you live, but here gossip is what people thrive on, and it’s quite the “industry.” I trust things will work out for you to be able to move as God directs. You are so right about supporting others…I bet you are a great friend and encouragement to many – may your tribe increase! Blessings brother, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  • I am a man dealing with same-sex attraction and I have a good number of straight male friends. These friendships mean a lot to me but they are somewhat different from my friendships with other guys dealing with same-sex attraction.
    All of my close straight friends are Christians. We are friends because we share the most important common interest, a relationship with Jesus Christ! I don’t think even one of them would possibly be my friend if we were not both Christians.
    Some of the differences in the way we relate are just as other guys have said here. Most SSA friends are much more comfortable with physical touch than straight friends.
    Some of these straight guys have literally said “Don’t touch me!”, and I respect their boundaries if that is what they want. Yet I can literally feel these guys’ love. They just show it by quality time, encouraging words, or vulnerable conversations. I do have some straight friends who hug me, and even a few who will hold me in a tight hug for 5 minutes as we talk in depth!
    Every one of my SSA friends will hug me.Some of them will sit right next to me on a couch with their arm around me for 30 minutes or more at a time. I can’t think of a straight guy who does that.
    One big difference is how fast a friendship develops. Many of my straight friends are casual acquaintances for years until I help them in a crisis and then they become a friend. At first I feel very little emotional connection but it slowly builds over time until I can feel their love strongly and consistently.
    On the other hand, I feel an almost instant connection with new SSA friends. I had a brief conversation with a guy in my church who deals with SSA, and I could feel his love powerfully the very first time we hugged! There is also more drama in SSA friendships since we are often more sensitive and hurt each other more easily.
    Straight guys usually are tougher with me when I need it for motivation. SSA guys understand me me better when I go through sexual temptation.
    Both straight and SSA friendships are needed and can be very satisfying!

    • Thank you Marshall! You’ve shared with me before about how great your roommates are and I’m so glad you have that. I just wish I’d had a roommate situation like that when I was in college and when I had that out of state job. I imagine with straight guys the emotional connection does take more time rather with SSA guys it tends to explode right off the bat. I guess I get frustrated because my one straight friend Mark that I’ve blogged about, I’ve known him for so long and we’ve gotten nowhere in terms of intimacy. He just has so many walls up. The roommate I met with Benjamin is literally the only straight guy I’ve met who was so open and loving. Never seen anything like it. It was wonderful. I know those types of straight guys are out there but its a needle in a haystack and its so frustrating. But I know I’ll make the connection some day.

  • I think some of this comes down to the times we live in or lived in and also early ‘training’. For at least 2/3rds of the 20th century, America men were taught not to touch each other, some even in family situations. It was thought there was a risk of feminizing their sons by making them affectionate toward the same sex or the possibility of even turning them gay. It was like gay was contagious and could be brought on by too much love and affection. The church fell headlong into this trap. The only exception to this would be in a sports situation where, for whatever the reason, it became acceptable smack each other on the butt and hug in a somewhat violent manner. And then there’s wrestling…don’t get me started…
    Today we know these things are not true, but sometimes the most enlightened of us still believe it in the back of our minds.
    The real problem I think is that we expect too much from our straight friends. If straight friends are not physical to begin with, they will not be open to hugs and arm squeezes with us. If this is something we need from straight guys, we need to find straight guys that are OK with that. Also, straight guys do not always befriend us because they do not know what to expect or how to act with us. It’s like we’re aliens…and sometimes I do feel like I’m from another planet…but I digress.
    I went to High School back in the 70’s. I had one gay friend. He continued to be a friend to me until he died. He knew I was Christian. He knew I was gay. We seldom traded hugs or touched, but we had very deep conversations about what it meant to be who we were in our own contexts. Later in life I began to share with straight Christian friends. One of them panned out really well. We talk about everything. His wife and kids love me too.
    Today, I’m in a small group at church with four other single men. We had dinner last night. It was a good time. Three of us are straight and two are gay (including me). Our conversations are not that deep and we are not that physical with each other, but we do talk to each other one on one about personal issues.
    I have always found straight male friends easier to deal with than gay friends. Straight guys are a simple lot. We, on the other hand, tend to be more complex because of the things we have to deal with. In some ways, I think we are harder for straight guys to understand than the women in their lives, and since they need women, they try harder. They really don’t need gay men in their lives and so we have to give them a reason why that might be a good thing. And ‘Eugene’, if you can do that, you will have straight friends.

    • Yeah I agree that society has a lot of influence in causing this problem. But yeah that was the thing, I was trying for so long to find a straight guy who was okay with touch but just couldn’t find any. It got so frustrating that I gave up. It wasn’t worth all the hurt. And straight guys who are okay with touch are just so so so so so so so so so rare. And what’s more odd is that in college I wasn’t out with my sexuality to anyone. So obviously the straight guys weren’t judging me because of my sexuality. Just so strange.

  • Thanks for putting your struggles out there, Eugene. I’ve shared a lot of your yearnings to connect. I effectively gave up on the pursuit of intimacy with straight men, whatever that even looks like, in sticking with intimacy with other Side B guys. After all, I’d already accomplished that, and it was revitalizing, and it was just easier to connect with these men instead, just as you described.
    But then several of those relationships exploded. Looking back, I clearly see our lack of balance. We were isolating in a “YOB bubble,” and eventually the pressure blew. The fact is, we needed straight men in our lives. As we also needed women. As we also needed older and younger folks alike.
    We need the entire Body of Christ, not just the gay familiar safe parts.
    As I nurture a few friendships with straight men today, I’m learning the nuance of this word “intimacy.” It doesn’t have to look like cuddling on a couch while watching Netflix. Or 10-minute hugs. It doesn’t have to be physical at all. My heart wants what it wants, and it’s still messy reconciling, but it’s actually been refreshing not to experience that pressure cooker feeling that eventually happens if you isolate solely among Side B guys.
    Of course, I love YOB. But it’s been such a breath of fresh air to escape the YOB bubble.
    All this talk about male intimacy also leads to my prioritization, if not idolization, of men over Jesus, which is a comment and a blog post for another time entirely. But all that to say — I feel your pain, Eugene. I encourage you to keep putting yourself out there with straight men. And I encourage you to lean on Jesus all the more as you continue following Him. Proud to witness this journey you’ve led since you found YOB!

    • Thank you for your words of wisdom Tom. Yeah I get that it can be an imbalance but part of me is just so jaded from all the negative experiences I’ve had with straight guys all my life that its hard to even want to pursue it. Especially when any sort of intimacy is not guaranteed. But yeah, I do tend to idolize men over Jesus. It happens and its hard not to let it happen, especially when you’ve gone through years of such isolation like I have. In a lot of ways I feel like I’m emotionally going through what I should’ve been going through in my teen years even though now I’m 30. Its very strange. But yeah, proud to have you as a witness on my journey Tom!

  • The older I get and the more mature my straight guy friends get, the less of a problem this kind of toxic masculinity tends to be. To be fair, it could be that I’ve only kept around the “high-quality” ones, or the really macho ones gravitate toward different kinds of churches than the one I go to (or not to church at all), but I do think that maturity has a little to do with it. Having kids changes your perspective, as I understand, and even alters a man’s hormones to make him softer around the edges and more emotionally available.
    Still, though, there are certain types of connection that my straight friends are either unwilling or unable to provide. I don’t struggle to believe that they love me but I do struggle to believe that they understand me and know how to take care of me. Especially in the realm of physical affection.

    • Thank you for your perspective Ryan. That is an interesting perspective, that the older guys tend to be more emotionally mature especially if they are fathers. And one thing I understand is that guys who are more religious and go to church tend to be more sensitive and understanding as well. Most of my experiences were guys in college. But yeah, the thing is that even the very best straight guys will never fully understand our struggle. No fault of their own of course, its one of those things that they won’t understand unless they’ve gone through it.
      And I wouldn’t say that SSA/gay guys are the perfect flawless alternative to straight guys either. Sometimes you have those that are just TOO sensitive and sort of bring you down with them when they are going through an emotional rough patch which can be exhausting.

      • Another valid, and I think necessary, perspective to have…is that we’ll never fully understand the straight man’s struggle either. That’s been a pivotal realization as I relate to the straights (TM) in my life. It gives me empathy to say it’s okay they don’t fully get me, because I don’t fully get them. To make my struggle somehow “worse” than a straight man’s has not been a personally healthy mindset.
        Ultimately, we’re all struggling. Getting out of myself and learning to see through another man’s struggle will be a lifelong endeavor.

        • Yes Tom!
          “To make my struggle somehow “worse” than a straight man’s has not been a personally healthy mindset.”
          That kind of self-pity and victim mentality can be very destructive. It is much better to stop saying “poor me” and start looking forward and deciding where I need to go from here.

  • Great Post Eugene!
    Our stories parallel so much I wonder if we are the same person in a different multiverse? LOL!
    I’ve tried to connect with straight guys and it seems futile. I struggle with whether or not they’re scared of me… like I’m going to try and make a move on them. I think what’s harder is not finding community with straight men in the church and feeling this same rejection. I can sort of rationalize why people outside of the church would reject me, but inside the body of Christ it drives me nuts. We are brothers in Christ…. are we not? I hope as the side b sexual ethic expands in churches men would feel more open about discussing their sexuality (both straight and non-straight).
    -Landon

    • Haha oh gosh Landon how many people I’ve met who have said the same things when they hear my story. Its so true, so crazy how a shared experience can bring us together. Yeah it has felt very futile to me as well. What’s odd as many of the straight men I tried to befriend had no clue about my sexuality at all and I have no obvious mannerisms or stereotypical behavior that would give it away. But they still kept me at arms length. Seems to be a problem both inside and out of the church. Maybe when our displays of platonic and love for us amongst our Side B peers become more visible perhaps straight men will see it and might decide they need it for themselves as well.

      • YES! Perhaps it is the “other brothers” in the church that will be an example of true spiritual friendship among men!

      • YES! Perhaps it is the “other brothers” in the church that will be an example of true spiritual friendship among men!

  • I love this post Eugene. Man can I relate to SO MUCH of this. I know growing up, I was never one to want to play video games and other things boys did growing up. I would have much rather be in my room reading or drawing. Heck, I’m still like that. I don’t know why, but I’ve just found that in general, guys don’t like showing emotion. I’m the total opposite of that. I wear my heart of my sleeve basically. I’ve always been one to show affection, that’s just who I am. Like you, never really had a ton of close friends in school, generally had 3 at the most. Thankfully with the friendships I have with other guys now, hugging is just how we show we care. And for that I am so thankful.

    • I’m glad you related to it Chris! Yeah its hard to say that guys not showing emotion is just apart of how men are or if its just society. Its frustrating. I don’t always wear my heart on my sleeve but at least wanted one guy to hear my emotions but got met with a stone wall SO frustrating. I’m glad you have great friendships with guys now though! What a blessing .

  • Thanks for the mention Eugene!
    I remember that visit, conversations, and those warm “straight guy” hugs.
    I have also struggled to find local straight friends who are able to be affectionate physically and emotionally. I think when we do find such people, it’s all the more a gift.
    I do have a group of straight friends who know my story and walk with me in it. I talk with them about life, ministry, the side b world, etc. They love me and are willing to have the deep life-giving conversations I crave, and are vulnerable about their own lives as well. Some of them are even willing to engage in physical affection. I know that is a gift.
    I think that ultimately though, the friendships that give me the most life, whether with gay or straight people, are those that consistently point me back to Jesus and back to my wife. There are friends I have that can engage with me deeply on an emotional and spiritual level and not be physically affectionate. There are also those who want to be physical, and have harmed me emotionally and spiritually.
    One of the things I feel like God is doing right now, is showing me what ( and who) gives life to me, my marriage, and my ministry. Those things and people are what I am praying for.

  • This makes me wanna cry.. I guess because I can relate so we’ll. I was terribly rejected in high school, especially by the guys. And it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that the Lord started healing that rejection in me (I am 46). In a relatively short amount of time I met 5 guys, all straight, that received, accepted, and even loved me. And through those relationships God has healed me of much rejection by men. This started after I read a book called Growth into Manhood by Alan Medinger. In the book I learned that no matter who you are or what age you are or where you are in life you can get on a journey {with God} towards real and authentic manhood. And so I told God I wanted to go on the journey with Him. That is when I began to meet all these straight guys. It’s not been an easy journey (that I’m still on) but God has been faithful and His steady hand continues to direct my path in ways that develop manhood in me. I’d like to say authentic manhood is A goal of mine but it is not the most important. My ultimate goal is that I, in this life and in the one to come, desire and aspire to and gear my life to know JESUS Christ and God the Father, who is my Father and be ready for His return. There is nothing more satisfying that sitting with JESUS, allowing His Holy Spirit, to touch, minister and love on me. Cause ya know what.. This God/Man Christ JESUS.. He is the the man we all need. He can do it. Trust in Him.

  • Eugene Heffron

    I’m a 30-something still trying to find my way in the world. Lover of all things creative, I am a drawer with an intuitive mind while also a deep thinker. I can be a person of extreme opposites: one moment a lone wolf, the next a social butterfly; one moment joyful and optimistic, yet sad and melancholic the next. As I came to terms with my SSA I met fellow SSA Christians and formed deep, intimate bonds. I’ve always longed for brotherhood and, at last, I have found it after years of social isolation. I am glad to be part of this community of bloggers and share my stories and struggles, joys and sorrows, dreams and longings.

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