I’m Joseph, a 60-year-old married YOBBER and father of three adult children who looks forward to a family growing soon. I’m a semi-retired high school teacher of philosophy who still enjoys reading, writing, and interacting with brothers in this YOB community. I’m always active in my Church and local community through volunteer work with Scouts, as a Lector, and wherever I am needed. I enjoy cooking, singing, hiking, and activities with family and friends.
In February of 2018, I typed “gay” and “Christian” and “traditional sexual ethic” into my search engine, and Your Other Brothers appeared in my results. I discovered a blog and a bunch of podcasts, listening assiduously to everything these young men had to say. I loved their enthusiasm for the Lord, their honesty about who they were, and their genuine search for truth and meaning as they struggle through living the traditional sexual ethic as gay Christians.
YOB gave me hope, because even though I was 55 years old I had struggled accepting myself since my teen years. I had never seen myself as anything but subhuman, unworthy, and a complete reprobate because I had feelings and desires for other men.
In her wonderful book Tenderness, Eve Tushnet equates self-loathing with blasphemy because we are created in the image and likeness of God — the Imago Dei. I lived with this self-loathing since about the age of thirteen.
Your Other Brothers has opened the door to self-acceptance.
YOB Means Community
Yes, Tom and other brothers would speak vulnerably about their struggles with sin, sexuality, loneliness, the need for physical touch, and the acceptance of others. But more than their blogs and podcasts, there existed Facebook and Discord communities where other brothers around the world shared their stories of struggle, hope, discouragement, and encouragement.
I saw pictures of brothers meeting up with brothers, giving me the hope that someday a brother may want to meet up with me. I discovered brothers praying for the needs of other brothers as they would the needs of their own families.
I discovered a vibrant community of men spanning their twenties to their seventies, supporting one another through counsel, prayer, and friendship. Probably the most important aspect of this YOB community is the development of friendships.
YOB Supports Friendship
I’ve had a few gay friends in my life, but I had to distance myself from them because they wanted things from me which, given my married state with a traditional sexual ethic, I could not give.
As a result, I found myself alone in my journey as a gay man.
I have many straight-identifying friends who are also married and know of my struggles, but even though they are accepting and very supportive, they cannot relate to the suffering, struggles, and challenges of a sexual minority in the Church. In YOB, I found other men who struggled with the same things.
This, too, can pose some unique, particular challenges if we cling to one another while wallowing in self-pity! But most of the brothers here are not just here to take but also to give; they do not just want to receive support but are willing to give it.
Indeed, I have made several friends in Your Other Brothers — a very unexpected gift. However, I also had to open myself up to that possibility!
I joined the YOBBERS Book Club and online Zoom calls on topical discussions. I got to hear the other brothers’ perspectives on different topics and sometimes engaged in discussions with them privately. These discussions have turned into longterm friendships and heartfelt respect over time.
I know the naysayers will tell me that friendship is not as possible online as in real life, limited by time and distance with no physical proximity. One young man said this to me last fall: “It is not real friendship unless you spend time with each other outside of where you normally meet, whether at work or church or in an online chat.”
I totally disagree.
Friendship is where you find honesty, respect, intimacy, and genuine Christian love. It means that I can be myself and speak frankly about my faith, my struggles, my pains, my joys, and my sins.
I am not open about these things with everybody in YOB, but with my YOB friends I most certainly am. And they are just as much my friends as those I interact with outside this YOB community, because we are real with one another. To me, that is the most important thing.
I can go out to dinner with a friend from work who only really knows the persona I have created for all my work friends: the straight husband, churchgoing Christian, scoutmaster, community volunteer, and father of three adult children.
Of course, the persona is not totally false; it does reveal aspects of who I am. But it also hides an important part of the real me.
That part is never hidden from my friends in YOB. Indeed, it is that shared common struggle to find our place in the world as gay Christians that binds us deeply to one another.
YOB as a Gift
There are many other resources in Your Other Brothers, and there is richness there that you will have to explore for yourself. I have only shared some of the things that have made a huge difference in my life; these things have helped bring me some healing.
It is always easier to overcome self-loathing when you have friends who tell you: “You are special, you are beautiful, you are delightful, you are a gift to me, and God loves you beyond all measure.”
I always used to hug and hold my children every day and tell them that I loved them as deep as the ocean, but that God loved them much, much more. My children are now adults, but they never forgot the nurturing love of their father and Father.
God has used Your Other Brothers to share the gifts of His love to me. Maybe we will see each other on that journey.
Thank you, my Other Brothers.
Inside Your Other Brothers or out, where have you found genuine Christian love? What does (or should) genuine love in community and friendship look like inside the Church?