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?