I was desperate for friends. Several years ago, after college and before I joined YOB, I worked an out-of-state temp job. I’ve already blogged about my many formative experiences there. While I don’t regret the experience, it was sadly far from my ideal of a magical adventure away from home.

My first set of roommates didn’t care for me very much despite my best efforts. They all moved out to live with better friends, leaving me no choice but to move into a new apartment with strangers.

My new roommates were pretty much invisible during my whole stay with them. Thousands of miles away from home and family, I was practically alone with few to no friends.

In my desperation, I came across a social media site for men to find other guy friends. What a wonderful idea! This could be my chance, I thought.

Much to my surprise, I received a digital “fist bump” (that site’s version of a Facebook “poke”) from a guy close to my age, Andre. We messaged back and forth and eventually decided on a phone call. I went to my car so my invisible roommates wouldn’t hear my possibly taboo conversation.

The call went well, and it turned out Andre was also a Christian (Catholic, to be exact). He seemed like a nice guy. I did notice a slight effeminate twang in his voice.

“So, I would love to meet you sometime,” he said. “But I need to tell you something, because I want to be honest. Will you promise not to hang up on me or stop talking to me?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” I said. “I promise.” Part of me knew what was coming next.

I heard a deep inhale and exhale over the line.

“I . . . have an attraction to men,” he said. “But I’m also attracted to women. I don’t consider myself gay, and I’m not looking to have sex with you or any men. I won’t blame you if this makes you uncomfortable and you don’t want to meet.”

I couldn’t help feeling somewhat disappointed by his admission. I was looking for acceptance by straight men and wanted close friendships with them despite my sexuality.

Even today, I still long for intimacy among straight men as all my closest friends are fellow celibate gay/SSA (same-sex attracted) Christians.

“Oh, it’s okay,” I said. “Don’t worry, I still want to meet you.”

Even though he wasn’t my “ideal,” I needed friends badly.

“Oh good, thank you for understanding!” Andre exclaimed. “Thing is, I don’t think I was born this way.”

He went on a long lecture, explaining how his bad relationship with his father had traumatically affected his attractions toward other men.

Ah, daddy issues. Where would all of our Freudian excuses be without you?

“Because that’s the thing,” he explained. “Homosexuality is so obviously a mental disorder! Ugh, I hate the American Psychological Association.”

From there, he told me he had partaken in many reparative therapy sessions and that they had been “very helpful” for him.

I had been looking into reparative therapy and strongly considered it (something I’ve also blogged about), and I admired Andre’s honesty about his sexuality. I figured he’d be safe for me to spill the beans about my own sexuality as well. He appreciated my honesty and said he still wanted to meet, so we set up a time at Subway.

I sat nervously at the table.

Was this guy for real about his convictions on his sexuality? Or was it a cover for trying to get freaky on me? Or was he the opposite — a crazy, self-righteous Christian who wanted to beat the gay out of me with a Bible?

Andre arrived, and we shook hands and chatted. He had long hair and wore a leather jacket, because he loved 80’s grunge. Andre seemed like a safe guy, so we walked around and shared some of our life stories.

He talked at length about how thankful he was for reparative therapy and that I should pursue it some day.
Throughout our walk we passed certain women, and he turned to me exaggeratedly: “Whoa, did you see her? She was so hot.”

It wasn’t all just ramblings on reparative therapy and objectifying women, though. I enjoyed telling him my story and my struggles with faith and sexuality. I could talk to him about my failings and slip-ups and didn’t feel any judgment or disapproval.

Andre understood; he had been there, too.

I talked to him about my deep loneliness, longing for brotherhood and friendships — to be accepted by other men and yet met with rejection or cold indifference. Again, he had been there; he understood. It felt liberating talking to someone about this stuff for the first time.

We walked to a park that was virtually abandoned and sat on a bench. It was quiet.

“So, I know we’ve only just met,” Andre said, “but could we perhaps have a little cuddle, please?”

I could sense the desperation in his voice. Truth is, I wasn’t comfortable cuddling with him. He was nice, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so we sat with our arms around each other. I tried not to cringe.

After a couple minutes of this I said, “Okay, that’s enough.” I told him I wasn’t ready for such touch just yet. (I totally was, just not with him.)

We kept in touch with texts and phone calls the next few months. I discovered YOB around that time and fell in love with what I read.

I told Andre about YOB and highly recommended the blog to him; he said he would give it a look. We met up a little later to see a movie together, and I asked him what he thought of YOB.

“Oh, it looked cool, I guess. But they didn’t talk about reparative therapy anywhere, so I’m not really interested,” he said dismissively.

A few months later my temp job ended, and I moved back home to St. Louis. But my relationship with Andre wasn’t over yet. We kept in touch over the phone, and things would indeed get a little more interesting.

So, how will Eugene get out of this one? Tune in next month — same YOB time, same YOB place!

How was your experience meeting another gay/SSA Christian for the first time? Was it liberating, awkward, or a little of both? Do you have any fears or anxieties befriending another gay/SSA Christian?

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    • Reply Rasul Khasanov

      3 March 2020, 1:33 pm

      Yes, me too, I still wonder why you haven’t discussed reparative therapy yet on podcasts

      • Reply Kevin Browne

        3 March 2020, 7:35 pm

        Probably because reparative therapy is discredited and actually.doesnt.work.

        • Reply Alan Gingery

          9 March 2020, 11:55 am

          I think the real truth is reparative therapy is discredited by those who have a bias against it (generally those who promote GAT). I know many who have benefited from it and also studies that show it is not harmful. The APA has retracted their previous statements about it.

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        4 March 2020, 11:39 am

        Its a controversial subject to be sure. I think the next installment of this series will give some insight to it, at least for my friend.

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        4 March 2020, 3:27 pm

        While I hear more negative stories than positive ones, I do want to be sensitive to folks in our community who have benefitted in some measure from it. The key would be in accurately telling both sides of that story.

    • Reply Anthony

      3 March 2020, 6:25 pm

      Hey Eugene, great story! I’m curious about how it went on.
      You reminded me of my own story from last summer. I’d like to share it.
      Last summer, I desperately wanted to make a move in my life so I decided to register to a gay dating (=hookup) site. I explicitely indicated there that I didn’t want sex, but just get to know and talk to someone. After a while I met a guy who seemed ok. He is an active christian, but keeps his sex life secret. We met for a walk. We shared our stories and had a nice time. We talked about Church and faith. Then it happened that we went to my apartment. I didnt’ suspect anything. Very quickly our conversation ceased and I initiated a cuddle. At that point I became aware of what I was doing, but my curiosity was stronger. Our cuddle turned into a long sensual night which we both enjoyed. We didnt have actual sex (I didn’t want it), but we were close to it. I was overwhelmed by the experience. After just three hours of talking with a guy, we became intimate! I liked it and wanted more. We kept seeing each other for a few days until I had to leave for my 4-week summer holliday trip. We stayed in touch regularly. After some three weeks I called him saying that I was calling him out of boredom. He was extremely irritated by that and we started talking less often. When I came back from holidays and finally met him, he didn’t even hug me. Our relationship suddenly became cold and I sensed an accusing undertone in his words. We phoned only a few times after that, but we never arranged to meet again.
      That was such a huge lesson. It took me three hours to (unintentionaly!) light a fire of passion between us, but only one unlucky sentence to damp it all down. I never tried to meet somebody like that again. I’m still confused sometimes – where should I direct my life? Somehow it’s easier in our situation to know what you’re not supposed to do (eg. seeking sexual contact), but indeed very hard to figure out what I should or at least could do. I hope I’ll come up with some answers eventually…
      Anyway, thanks for your post, man! You made me write down my story for the first time and reflect on it. That’s the best “reparative therapy” i can think of now. 🙂

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        5 March 2020, 11:14 am

        Thank you for sharing your story! I’m sorry it ended poorly though. Perhaps he was hoping that things would turn sexual between you two eventually and was getting bored when it didn’t. I’ve stayed away from hookup sites because I know that’s what a majority of people there would be looking for. I tried an “asexual dating” site once around the same time period of this blog but nothing ever came of it. Like the “bros” meetup site it was poorly made and badly maintained.

    • Reply Chris Martinez

      4 March 2020, 3:37 pm

      Yet another good post Eugene. But really, you’re going to leave us hanging like that haha. On a serious note though, yeah, the first time I met up with another SSA guy, it was a little odd, but like you and Andre, we had been talking for a bit before hand. We just met up to go see The Nun. Thankfully we’ve been friends for about 2 years now and that’s where it’s stayed. I’ve met up with a few SSA guys since then, and each one has been great. Although I will say I just met up with one last weekend and he was a little flirty, but I was ok with it since I had no attractions to him. I think a fear will be there every time since you don’t really know how the other is going to react to physical touch (hugging, etc).

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        5 March 2020, 11:04 am

        Haha well the story does take a more sad and weird turn in the next blog. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m glad you two have stayed friends for two years! Yeah sometimes that fear is still there but we often discuss boundaries beforehand and you just sort of use your intuition on when physical touch is good or not.

    • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

      4 March 2020, 4:31 pm

      Ah yes, you never forget your first. For me it was…1,000 people together in one giant conference setting. Go big or go home, right? Within that thousand, I did connect more closely with a few guys, though only one of whom remains my friend to this day. I was definitely nervous about meeting anyone “like me” (what if something happens??), but I was also ready not to be totally alone anymore. So, something had to give! It can be quite challenging befriending fellow gay/SSA guys. But then every brand of friendship has its challenges. May we all learn to step out with others and press through those challenges. Because otherwise isolation just won’t cut it.

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        5 March 2020, 11:04 am

        Very true Tom! Yeah I’d had reservations about it before like that but the isolation was just about ready to kill me. And yeah, it can be quite challenging, as you’ll see in the next blog this relationship had its challenges as well.

      • Reply WaveDave

        5 March 2020, 11:15 pm

        I am quite shy at first and hesitant about meeting strangers. It would definitely be God’s strength that would propel me through a situation like that. I know isolation just doesn’t cut it. With this virus going around, my mom and I are under quarantine and can’t have contact with anyone. I know, with her health, getting this would kill her (she said that herself). So…no church, no going out except in a dire need. I went to my Dr. today, and got a good report, but we are being very, very careful. I’ve been sick a number of times since moving here…the germs don’t seem to agree with me!

    • Reply WaveDave

      5 March 2020, 11:06 pm

      Loved reading your post Eugene. I remember communicating with a guy on a forum…and he came to visit while he was passing through where I lived. My mom and I had him to dinner, and I had made some cookies and brownies for him to take back home. We had a wonderful time talking as, interestingly, we happened to know some of the same people.
      The next year, he was going to be in the area again singing, and so we hosted him to spent the weekend. I knew he was also SSA and “Side B”. Again, we had a lovely time. He was from a very solid Christian home and strongly Side B. He was such an encouragement to me. In fact, he left a beautiful gift of appreciation and his kind words brought tears to my eyes.
      This guy was absolutely brilliant – as a young man he had gotten his PhD in some obscure area of study. Not only that, he was accomplished in sign language, singing, and baking and many other things. He was so easy to talk with and…well, an amazing blessing. I remember talking with him about being single and celibate and he assured me he would never change his views and he would always be that way.
      But, it didn’t work out that way. He met a guy, and got married to him. Maybe I am wrong, but I have tried to be sensitive and haven’t been in contact for a long time, although I have his phone number. I would not want to be a problem to anyone…although I would enjoy a conversation with him as a friend, and only a friend…

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        9 March 2020, 11:39 am

        Thank you for sharing your story, Dave. That’s definitely rough though, its hard when a friend goes Side A. That’s a subject I’m considering blogging about. But I’m still glad you guys had a good time in the moment when you first met.

    • Reply Alan

      10 March 2020, 6:33 am

      Sounds like Andre crossed paths with you at the right time in your life, that he was a blessing that way. Just being able to be open with someone else for the first time is like the best thing ever. Did you guys become good friends, or just kinda shared the journey for awhile? Looking forward to Part 2.
      I’m really thankful for the first ssa Christian guy I ever met, it was after college and I was still figuring out my sexuality thru religion and alcohol. I didn’t know he was a Christian when we met, and when I started to do something wildly inappropriate, I fled. When he found me, I was a mess. I half expected him to pound on me, instead he was kind. He talked about his not being with guys cause he was a Christian and how good that was for him. He walked me back that nite and his kindness changed my life, turns out he was the last guy I ever tried to hit on. I don’t know if he told me his name or I just don’t remember, but that nite he was the closest thing to Jesus I had ever met. I still remember that nite and his being kind, and I try to be that with others now.

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        11 March 2020, 2:24 am

        Yeah in some ways it was a blessing especially at that time. While it wasn’t the best friendship ever or anything, it was a blessing to have someone to talk to about these things. And I will be sharing more about where our friendship went afterwards. Thank you for sharing your story there, it really goes to show just how powerful grace can be! You still stay in touch with that guy or do you not really hear from him?

        • Reply Alan

          11 March 2020, 8:39 am

          Nah, never saw him again, I was on the road and it was just that nite. It’s ok tho, that guy made a huge difference, at the time I hadn’t heard of Side B, I thought you had to become straight and I was lost living in between.

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        11 March 2020, 12:35 pm

        Thanks for sharing this story, Alan! What a phenomenal memory.

    • Reply Michael Young

      10 March 2020, 5:00 am

      Eugene, thanks for this post. Most interesting. I am very new to being out, but I have felt a need to talk to someone like me, another Christian man who has struggled with SSA. Had no idea how to find someone. I posted an obscure question on one of my FB Christian men’s sites and I saw an answer from a man in TX. My question had no connection to SSA, but he actually stated he had struggles with SSA and had found healing. Of course, I immediately messaged him. What a Godsend this man has become! He has a full time secular job, but he counsels SSA men like me, and our experiences from our pasts parallel each other. He didn’t tell anyone until he was 50, and I didn’t until last year at 62. He is full of Scripture, full of wisdom, has some really great tools in overcoming shame and condemnation, and walking in freedom! A totally amazing man of God, and best of all I can count him now as one of my best friends! He knows everything about me, I know everything about him, so there is deep intimacy and non-judgement. Such a great friend I have found and I am finally getting some healing for my brain. God is so good!

    • Reply Noël Handy

      10 March 2020, 10:43 pm

      Thank you so much for this! I really appreciate your knack for storytelling. I feel like I’m right there with you in the story. What a gift!
      The first SSA person I met was my friend who I ended up (falling in love with?) and after I told him I found out about his attraction to men. What a crazy day that was!
      Looking forward to the conclusion to this!

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        18 March 2020, 12:37 pm

        You’re very welcome and thank you, I’m glad you have enjoyed my story telling. Hoo boy sounds like your first meet up was a tad turbulent but I would love to hear the details about it!

    • Reply Dean Samuels

      11 March 2020, 4:00 pm

      I have a feeling Andre wouldn’t want me to talk about reparative therapy… 😉
      Thank you for sharing this story, Eugene. Even if it’s not a “perfect match” of friendship, it is still nice to know you’re not alone in your sexuality. That first realization is always memorable. Interested in hearing how your relationship with Andre progressed.

      • Reply Eugene Heffron

        18 March 2020, 12:38 pm

        Haha yeah he was opinionated about it, I bet you guys would get in a heated debate. Yeah it definitely wasn’t a perfect match by a long shot but I am grateful for it as it was the first time I talked to someone face to face about these things and realizing I wasn’t alone.

    • Reply Alan Gingery

      14 March 2020, 8:41 am

      How was your experience meeting another gay/SSA Christian for the first time?
      My first meetings with SSA Christians were online through support groups for men with SSA. I was looking for other men who understood SSA and had walked the road before me and could help me make peace with the conflict I felt between my faith and my addiction to gay porn and masturbation. Places like YOB and other websites were helpful for me. Since it was online, I had no fear of awkward moments getting out of hand. (I had chosen to end my sexual relationship with a man many years earlier and had never felt the temptation to have another live sexual encounter.) But that didn’t end the deeper emotional struggles that had led to my SSA as a young man and later led me into sexual addiction with porn.
      Was it liberating, awkward, or a little of both?
      For me, it was liberating. I had focused on my relationships with straight Christian men for years and that was also healing for me, but I was able to be more authentic and stop hiding what I thought was the unacceptable parts of me in my relationships with SSA Christian men. After opening up with them, I was able to open up to my straight friends without fear. To date I have told more than 130 straight men and women, including pastors, friends and family members.
      Do you have any fears or anxieties befriending another gay/SSA Christian? Nah!
      This is seven years later. I have no fears about befriending straight men, gay men, men with unwanted SSA, ex-gay men, bisexual or transgender men (online or in person). Well, I don’t personally know any transgender men, but I do have Christian female friends who are ex-Trangender. I do have male friends in all the other categories.

    • Reply Aaron

      9 April 2020, 6:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Eugene! Seeing as I found this through the link you have at the start of the next post in this series, I will not have to wait long to see what comes next :p Looking forward to continuing the story!

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