I often talk with our readers about YOB, as they often reach out with questions or ask for help. They bemoan how alone and isolated they feel in a world that doesn’t seem to understand or truly love them how they want.

The primary thing I often encourage our readers to do is seek out community with fellow “Side B” men (those who hold to a traditional belief on marriage/sexuality), be it through YOB and our YOBBERS group, the greater Side B world like Revoice, and other private online groups.

Half the time they go for it wholeheartedly; the other half, they are skeptical.

Why would I want to talk with other Christians who are also attracted to men? Wouldn’t there just be a temptation for us to have sex? How would that benefit me? I just want to fit in with my local church community and be accepted by “normal” men.

These are legit concerns. Indeed, is not a little backwards — and perhaps more tempting — to meet with other men like me?

The responses don’t just go like this, though. I’ll sometimes talk with guys who give these Side B communities a try only to back away and basically say, “Oh, I don’t really need this because I have plenty of community in my church.”

And then:

Three Months Later...

These same people come back going, “Aaaah someone please help! All my friends are dating or getting married and I’m all alone with no one to talk to!”

I think that response greatly illustrates why communities like this are so needed for guys like us. Of course, I don’t mean to belittle people if they truly do enjoy great community in their churches, small groups, or local communities.

If you have such community, that’s great! What a blessing. I wish I had that; in fact, that is sort of a goal for my life.

I’ve indulged so much in YOB and the broader Side B community, but I feel a longing for acceptance in the greater Christian world where I have close relationships with straight men — if I can find the cool ones who are willing.

In a time when gay people sadly get rejected or ignored by their church communities, it’s an unbelievable blessing to find accepting Christian communities. If you have that, that’s wonderful. Gives me hope to know that such great churches with great straight people indeed exist.

HOWEVER.

As great as it is to have straight Christian friends who love and accept you as you are, they’re never going to fully understand. It’s through no fault of their own, of course, especially when they’re making such commitments to listen and understand.

They’ll simply never know what same-sex attraction is like unless they’ve lived it.

In YOB and other Side B communities, we’ve all lived it. To talk with others who have gone through such similar emotions and experiences can be incredibly liberating and beautiful. Camaraderie naturally grows from shared feelings and happenings.

It’s like talking to veterans. I’m not a veteran and have never experienced war combat (closest thing for me is watching Band of Brothers). I could talk to a veteran and empathize as best as I can, but I will never truly understand his lived experience.

Veterans often form their own groups and communities — not to discriminate themselves from the rest of the world but to be among people who understand.

Our community is like that, too; in fact, it’s like a family.

These past few years I’ve grown such a huge family, far beyond my biological one. It’s like I have cousins and, yes, brothers living in cities all over the world — family who would offer me a couch if ever I passed through town.

That is an incredible feeling.

Now about that pesky possibility of things turning sexual among this family — well, I’m not gonna say it’s not a risk. It can happen; truth be told, I’ve heard it happen. But those seem more like isolated incidents than the norm.

From my experience, times with my brothers have been wonderful, especially if we’ve established boundaries and stuck to them. That’s the important thing. Boundaries should always be set before and during interactions with other guys in this community, and the results have spoken for themselves.

Ultimately, you are meeting men who share the same beliefs and aspirations for their sexualities and wish to live them out. It’s different than, say, meeting secular gay men who hold less standards for their sexuality.

If you have community and intimate relationships in your church and among straight people, then celebrate it as a blessing; it can be hard for many to find in this day and age.

But here are my main reasons for also pursuing friendship and community with other Side B Christians:

  • As already mentioned, you’re meeting believers with similar attitudes and beliefs and shared experiences.
  • There’s less chance of your bros dating, running off with a girl, and not having any time for you.
  • In my experience it’s ridiculously easier to click and make friends with fellow SSA/gay Christian men than straight men.

I can understand if joining YOB or the greater Side B community might not be quite your thing; it can be overwhelming, that’s for sure. Or maybe you don’t entirely agree with some things.

At the bare minimum, however, you should find a few men in your circle so you have people to talk to amid your struggles.

We’re all in this together, and we need to stick together and help our movement grow. Hundreds, if not thousands of men still struggle with their faith and sexuality in isolation.

They need help, and all of us together can do it.

Have you joined any Side B communities, inside or outside YOB, or have you been hesitant about it? If you currently experience such community, what have been the primary benefits? Do you have a strong local church community?

  • I was like that for a long time, in the sensw that I wondered why I “needed” to interact with other LGBT people at all. I didnt understand my experience enough to even know that the parts of our experience that we have in common were important to know. When it came to a point where I realized that the straights couldnt explain certain things to me I realized that I needed that, but I also needed the common faith background for them to fully help me get to where I needed to be as opposed to only reflecting back where we commonly came from – I also needed us to be heading in the same direction and it has been highly beneficial for my own health and well being as well as in my spiritual journey and walk with God.

    • Ashely! Its always so good to see you in the comments. Yeah for the longest time I thought interactions with other SSA/gay folks just wouldn’t work. I wanted so bad to be friends with straight guys. But having a shared story and journey with our faiths with God is such a powerful thing and it has been so highly beneficial for my health as well. Its such a blessing.

  • I want to start that I definitely agree we need other Side B men in our life. For me, though, there is a balance. I fear having too many connections inside the Side B world leave in an “echo chamber,” where I forget what the rest of the world is like. For most of my life, I was in the “echo chamber” of the cis-straight world and I know I benefited greatly from the breaking out of it. Like most things, I always lean towards moderation and balance. How can I have the relationships I need within Side B land while still having the relationships I need outside it?
    Thank you for the challenge in this, Eugene! Great post with great thoughts as always. I also appreciate the Sp*ngeb*b meme. 🙂

    • I feel you on that echo chamber, Dean. The reverberations grew so loud a couple years ago. I felt like I needed out of this Side B world. Or at least I thought I did. Moderation and balance are the wiser courses of action. We need all parts of the Body working together. I need more diverse voices speaking into my life (and I, theirs). Grateful for all the wonderful folks I’ve met in this strange little world. It’s been really hard in here at times but ultimately good.

    • Yeah I think you’re absolutely right Dean. I’ve noticed that I’ve been more apprehensive about having any dealings, especially when it comes to professional life with “the outside world” because I feel much safer with my Side B echo chamber. Yeah I think there is a need for moderation and balance, we need straight people and other Side B people in our lives. In my case I prefer to keep sticking with Side B people for now. Still licking my wounds from all the rejection when I tried to be friends with straight men. But sometime in the future that will change.

  • Yes! It’s definitely important to have Side B community in addition to straight community – there is a unique fellowship that happens among believers with the same struggles, no matter the type. There are certainly risks (as with anything in life), but I feel the positives outweigh the negatives by far.
    Still working on the Side B community aspect in my post-college world, but this is a great reminder!

    • Wonderful! Yeah the fellowship that forms amongst believers of similar struggles is just such a gift. Never would’ve thought I’d needed it. I hope you can find your own Side B community soon.

  • I enjoyed reading your post Eugene! To answer your question, I have tried to find various on’line communities to be a part of…just to make some friends that perhaps I could talk with.,. share with, encourage and talk with and pray together. However, in more than one case, the websites suddenly shut down without warning…one day they were there, and the next day they had seemed to vanish into thin air. So, those hopes were dashed.
    I have no idea if i even live close to anyone that posts on YOB. I wish it were so, as it would provide some needed fellowship. There isn’t anyone at church to talk with…I have been here for several years now, and don’t even have my “foot in the door” yet with others, as they really don’t like outsiders coming into the town. Basically, it’s just me, my mom and God. I recently heard a pastor on TV say that isolation and loneliness in men are destroying us…leading to depression, suicide and addictions. Thanks again for all you do!

    • Wave, I may be out of line here, but how is your gaydar working? Anybody at church set it off? Find someone, even if they are straight and take them to lunch after church. Scary right? Ya, fixing the isolation is hard, especially if you sort of enjoy the solitude. Sometimes it’s necessary to push our way into tight knit communities. And don’t let one bad lunch date stop you from pursuing a friendship. You may have to move on to someone else. When you’re ‘new’ to a church community, passivity does not always work. Don’t wait for them to invite you. My opinion. Please forgive me if the advice is unwelcome.

    • Have you tried joining any Facebook groups Dave? That’s pretty much where its at now, there are tons of various Side B community groups on Facebook so you might want to start there when looking for community. I’m so sorry you feel so isolated and alone. And yeah I’ve heard those talks before about how isolation is killing men across the sexuality spectrum. It is a sad thing.

  • I agree that the feelings of being ‘alone’ can lead to moments of despairing, especially when you start comparing yourself to others and have reached that season of life seeing your friends getting married, relocating or settling down. You’re left with this sense of ‘what about me’? This is a reason why there needs to be effective community in the local church for those on the longer path of singleness or who may wish to remain celibate life-long and find contentedness in their bands of brothers/spiritual family.
    I think sometimes in our culture we tend to overthink community or where to find it, but its so simple-‘you don’t find community, you create it through love’ – Paul Miller. What if it started with you, with us?

    • That Miller quote is so convicting, Joshua! I’ve spent the bulk of my life trying to “find” community when I feel this louder and louder call to create it. We all have something to offer those around us. What if we all stepped out as the Lord prompts us?

    • So very true Joshua. Churches need to be better environments for those who are single and celibate. We have our Side B communities since churches don’t seem to do so well with this. And I resonate with that quote! We are starting communities, and they are getting bigger.

  • I think Bob Ross would like the way you honored him here. But developing side B community is, for the most part, NOT a happy accident. It usually takes a purposeful trigger. My entire life changed when I came out at church. Becoming honest about why I’m not married actually drew people to me. You see, many straight people have gay family members. There are also more mixed orientation marriages in our churches than I think anyone realizes. I suddenly had information that people wanted to know. I was also immediately adopted into a small group of single men of all ages and orientations. It’s a group that would not work if we were not all Christians. We basically just eat together and de-stress together, sometimes with a couple of beers. I’m in another group that’s all single, divorced women..except for me :^) I call them The Angels. In some ways they understand me better than the guys. I am a non-threatening male presence in their lives. It all works very well. Also, on the day that I came out, one of the pastors (married, six kids) came out to me and in the next week he came out to his wife. Honesty can breed closeness and community.
    You might think that my church is very liberal. That’s not the case. I belong to a Church of Christ in the middle of flyover country and somewhere north of where Eugene lives. I suppose it could have been my age or the fact that I have belonged to this same church all my life. These people, some of them, knew me from birth. I have also been a teacher of adults there for 20 years. They are a very conservative group that also loves me. What more could I want?
    Secrets drive us away from the people we love. We avoid them or don’t get closer to them because we think they will not understand or they will reject us. Coming out is a risk. I had no idea what would happen when I did it. It is a gamble I suppose. It did work for me though. It comes down to love and trust and this is a two way street. If you do it, pray about it and have a couple of friends in support of it at your church.

    • Wow thank you so much for sharing your story. You sure were taking a risk by being so vulnerable and coming out to your church. But the fact that it helped more people open up and sharing their own stories is amazing and shows the true power of vulnerability.

  • Well it might be different for everyone. There are some who really struggle with falling for guys they find in the Side B world. I can’t say its ever been a problem for me. But its good that you have a few SSA friends as well as OSA friends.

  • I’m kinda late to this rodeo, your post is good Eugene and I loved your art. That’s probably you but I’d like to think that God does that too, bring others into our life and us into theirs. I get that we need to face things and grow individually, but I think we’re made for community cause of how it changes us. Ya hear it for guys getting married, “it’s not good for a man to be alone,” but I think that’s for all of us. I like down time as much as the next guy, but one-on-one with another guy or two if the talk is real is better.
    I think you’re right about having other Side B guys in your life cause other Side guys don’t get it sometimes. The first guy I ever shared my ssa with was a straight pastor. I think cause he was in his 20s he didn’t go old school on me and we’re still friends today. We’ve both had our struggles with porn and he talks about his when he preaches, but when we talk about it, what he was getting out of looking at women was different from what I saw in the guys, for him it was just body parts and sex, and I wanted more, to be like the guy I saw. And that didn’t really register with my straight friend, but I’ve talked with other Side B guys who get it. Same thing with emotional dependency with other guys. Maybe cause it’s the northeast, there’s a lot of Side A guys and gay guys, but I’ve never met a Side B guy here. It’s why YOB is so great, you guys are like unicorns man, and we can leave comments, even tho sometimes I say stuff about Jesus that doesn’t come out right, probably a lotta other stuff too. Anyway, this blog has been the only place to turn sometimes. God bless you guys, I hope you keep going strong. You too Eugene, keep making your art, it says more than words do sometimes.

    • Aw thank you so much my friend! I’ve enjoyed doing the artwork. And it helps to receive the encouragement about it, last year I met with a freelance graphic designer to possibly help with career and she called my portfolio “unhirable” which really hurt. So its great to have this encouragement. And yeah I think you’re right, there’s only things that guys like us understand. I think the difference with your pastor illustrates it perfectly. Straight guys might mainly be looking at porn for the sex but we’re longing for things we don’t have in porn. Not the same with everyone of course but I think it does illustrate the point well. I’m sorry there’s no Side B guys around you. Its true the north east is a rarer location for Side B people. Its funny, guys like us are rare in the northeast because its so liberal and rare in the Southwest because its so conservative. You’re more than welcome to come to St Louis and the good ol Midwest!

      • Hey man, don’t be too tough on yourself. Graphic design tends to be more commercially oriented, dealing with products, logos & signage, and you’re more Norman Rockwell depicting life. With your art, it’s not just the pic, it’s the story you tell. Keep following the muse God’s given you wherever that leads artistically.
        Thanks for the invite, but I’m hoping to relocate to Michigan in a couple years. It seems conservative but maybe I’ve lived here too long. There’s for sure probably more Side B guys here, just haven’t connected. One time I googled “Side B churches” in my state which was kinda dumb, but pretty much ya get Side A churches here, or mainline ones. I have run across married guys who go to church who wanna hook up but that’s just creepy, they don’t know what side they’re on.

        • Well you are in luck, I know a ton of Side B guys in Michigan and one of our bloggers here on YOB live there as well! So if you relocate there you will no doubt be amongst friends.
          And yeah thank you, I intend to go where God leads me artistically. I have defiantly lost my taste for advertising style graphic design so perhaps it is going in a different direction.

  • Great post Eugene!
    I think you’ve well outlined some of the benefits and drawbacks of having Side B community. And I also believe that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
    I’ve also seen Side B friendships go sideways, either in “love bombs,” emotional dependency, or falling into sexual sin. I think for many, this first experience of having other people who are “like me” means navigating relational challenges they’ve not had to previously. Some have referred to this as a second adolescence. While there are possible pitfalls, it’s also possible to navigate these things well in the context of accountable community.
    I am part of several Side B groups. Each is a little different, but the thing I find common among all of them is a sense of other people “getting it.” I am not alone in my experience. I have other people willing to walk with me and point me back to Christ and to my wife. It’s been a huge benefit for me and for her to have people to walk with in this journey.
    My own church doesn’t know my story (aside from a handful of people). I do have other local area friends and pastors that know my story, that love me, and walk with me in it. There’s brotherhood there, even if they don’t experience attraction to the same sex. But… Eugene is correct. There’s some things they can’t understand, because they don’t experience what we experience. I do think that we sometimes can overplay the gap between us and them though. I’ve got a few straight friends who if I’m having a hard time, are willing to wrap me in a tight embrace and hold me as I weep. They don’t understand everything, but they love me well.
    One thing I do lack is truly local Side B community. Everyone is an hour or two away from me. Most of us are willing to make the drive once a month to have facetime, but I am learning to lean in to online community more. After all, I’m a pastor. My local community might not always be my local community. If God ever called me to another church in a different state, I would have to say goodbye to my local community… But I could take my online community with me.
    For myself, I find that having local and online community, Side B and straight, has helped keep me balanced. I’m not in an echo chamber of only having other sexual minorities to walk with, I have dear friends who are willing to challenge me and question me when they hold a different view than me. This mix helps me feel grounded.

    • Thank you Benjamin! I think you outlined everything so well here. I can only hope for straight friends like what you have who would hold me like that. But yeah even the very best ones wouldn’t be able to understand everything. I guess I have the opposite problem of you, TONS of Side B community here in St Louis but no straight friends. Hoping to find that eventually.

  • Eugene,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings here!
    I have been blessed with many long-term friendships with straight guys, and they have been very fulfilling, but sometimes difficult. In one case I even have a decades-long close friendship with a guy and so I got to know his son, who is now over 18. When I found out his son had slept with another guy, I have had to keep it a secret from his father. What do I do? Betray the son and tell the father? Protect the son and possibly offend the father? Who gets hurt worse in each case?
    This is just to illustrate that friendships with straight guys can get complicated and full of drama too.
    Like you, I have found that I need both Side B friends and straight friends. Straight guys are tough with me when I need it and other Side B guys understand in ways straight guys can’t. Both kinds of friendships are difficult at times, but both are worth it!

    • Thank yo Marshall! That definitely sounds like a difficult situation with your straight friend and his gay son. That sounds like a tough triangle in that respect. I imagine you could keep it between you and his son as SSA friends and not have to share it with his straight father but then again I’m not sure how your story turned out. And yeah, its a balance I think. I still only have my one straight friend. We see movies together and hang out sometimes. But its still not a very affectionate relationship and we don’t talk about deep things as much as I’d want to. But its still something I guess. Im still hoping for straight friends who are affectionate.

      • Eugene,
        I have never told his father and as far as I know, the son has not revealed it to his father either. I seek to let my friends come out in their own way and on their own schedule. It is almost never a good idea to “out” someone without their permission.

  • Eugene, thanks for sharing. I felt like I, too, wanted some SSA men to befriend and communicate with. I mostly wanted some man to to tell me how to find peace, to fully overcome the attraction, and find someone who understood my thoughts. I did find a Side B small group and I went to one meeting. The leader of the group counseled one young man who was depressed and feeling temptation to come and cuddle with him when he felt that way. Another young man had found another Side B guy and this leader also encouraged more cuddling and didn’t really encourage him to be careful as he seemed to be exploring Side A. The things the leader encouraged is off the scale for me-I could never “cuddle” another man. Way too much temptation to go further, I am sure. I left that meeting confused and on the way home God said to me very clearly, “What does my Word say about homosexuality?” I knew what He meant and it was clear for me I could not go back to that group. But I still thought I needed to find another man to talk to like me. So, I contacted a large church quite a distance from me where I knew no one. I emailed one of the leaders, told them my story, and asked if he knew of an SSA man living in victory I could talk to. He invited me to his Bible study and I went. He pulled me aside after the meeting and basically told me, “Don’t go there. You don’t need to fellowship around this issue. He believed God wanted me to say to myself, “It is finished”. So, I have pressed into my straight guy group at church and I have great support, love, and feel cared about (Of course, they don’t know my issue). In many ways I do want to believe, “It is finished”, and God is moving me to complete healing of my attraction. But, I have to admit, I keep coming back to YOB to find solace, commonality, and insight into my struggle. I appreciate so many of the young men on this site. They are vulnerable and courageous and tell it like it is, and maybe this is all I need to challenge me and find some comfort. YOB has helped me to understand, I’m not the only one. But, maybe God just wants me to press in even more to my straight friends, and like the man told me, “Don’t fellowship around this issue”, and maybe he is right-it might tempt me more than help me.

    • Hi Michael! Are you sure the first group you went to was a Side B group? That just sounds kinda odd to me, even though I love cuddling the over emphasis on it in that group just sounds off. I’m sorry it wasn’t a good experience for you, my Side B group here in St Louis doesn’t do that. I’m glad your group of straight guys is a great group of support for you. I will be blunt though, I think that man you talked to at that church, while he has good intentions, gave very unhelpful advice. Simply saying “it is finished” to me is like saying “just ignore it and it will go away” which will not help. That’s just my opinion though. I’m glad you keep coming back to YOB and that it has been such a great source of solace for you. But I think it seems to say that you do need fellowship around this issue. And again its great that you have that community with those straight men at your church. But what a feeling it is to talk with someone who has also struggled and having that moment of “you too?! I thought I was the only one!” I’ve have countless moments like that. Don’t let your bad experience with the first group you went to dishearten you from meeting any other Side B folks out there. Like I said, that group sounds odd to me and it hasn’t been my experience. And also, the temptation is not as bad as you would think. I’ve rarely had any of that in my experience.

      • Eugene, thanks for your encouragement. Yes, that was a Side B group, but it really came down, I think, to the leader of that group encouraging things that were more Side A. I need to process and pray about your perspective on the “It is finished” guy I encountered. Although it did give me some peace as I pulled away from that church, I know it is not completely finished and I still am triggered in public, and I suspect I may always have this temptation and attraction to men-but it is diminishing as I look into the eyes of Jesus when I see an attractive man. Yes, I have encountered that “You, too!” experience-“Good, I’m not the only one!” feeling. I will need to re-examine my fellowship with Side B guys. Thanks for your encouragement! As far as the cuddling goes, yes, I would really like that in my flesh, but in my walk with Jesus that is a bridge too far. In my mind that could turn south for me very quickly. But, I do have a wonderful cuddle-buddy in my wife, so I can fully understand the need for a single SSA man needing some physical touch- I think it is necessary for a man’s well-being. And, yes, I greatly appreciate YOB-it really has helped me and you guys are such an encouragement to me!

  • Just this past week, I saw a post on a forum that said, “78% of all suicides in the world are men” and the person writing it asked, “why?”. At the last time I checked, nearly 26,000 people had responded. While I did not have time to read all of them, the ones I did read revealed a world of hurt and pain the likes of which was astounding. I tried, in my own mind, to glean some points that were brought up time and time again:
    1. loneliness and/or isolation. people mentioned being around others, but only able to engage in “small talk” or very safe topics like the weather. Some spoke about feeling isolated due to circumstances beyond their control and they felt trapped with no way out.
    2. lack of verbal affirmation – so many mentioned they longed for a compliment or encouraging word, and rarely, if ever received such to affirm their value.
    3. lack of physical touch – people expressed a longing for a hug for example. In no reply that I read was anything mentioned even remotely sexual in nature, but people mentioned feeling starved for more than a handshake (in so many words).
    4. I don’t know how to word this, but it had to do with emotions and feelings of failure. One guy wrote and said he held it together pretty well during the day, but when he came back to his apartment at night, he would sit and weep alone.
    It showed me there is such a “mission field” for lack of a better term and I know that God is using my circumstances for good…even though it is hard to figure that out right now. Certainly empathy and compassion for the struggles that others shared in such a heartbreaking way…

    • I love it Dave, that all resonates with my so well. I feel like I have those similar experiences with my one straight friend, he seems to back away from those things because he’s told guys shouldn’t do that. I feel like God has been using my circumstances for good as well. As tough as they’ve been.

  • 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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