The worship and short sermon had concluded in my weekly men’s small group. I nursed my ever-present cup of coffee, stopping to sip just long enough for the opening prayer. We had a new member this week, so we followed the tradition of each of us telling a brief part of our story.
After I shared that I was same-sex attracted, I couldn’t help noticing that the new member kept his eyes focused on me. What is this guy’s problem? I thought to myself.
The rest of the group continued introducing themselves. Finally, when it was the newcomer’s turn to share, he stated that he had initially come to our recovery meeting for drug and alcohol abuse. But he also considered himself same-sex attracted and had “played for both teams.”
This felt especially off to me as this guy had come in that evening with his wife and two daughters. He didn’t share a lot in group that night or talk to me much afterward.
I was actually hoping he wouldn’t talk to me about sexuality, to some degree; sexual conversations like these can get long and exhausting. On top of that, he was actually quite attractive, and I was at something of a low point in my walk with Jesus.
Later, I did have a few conversations with him before his job transferred him to another city. In those conversations I learned that he was even more closeted than I am. Of course, the sad irony was that I was better at giving him advice rather than using the same advice myself.
As closeted as this first gentleman in my small group was, I would soon meet someone else at group who not only hadn’t ever come out to anyone but who’d also totally convinced me that he was straight — so much so that I felt incredibly uneasy sharing anything about my sexual struggles with him.
One night, just the two of us showed up for the men’s small group. I thought about telling the lady leading the women’s small group that I wanted to go home early and rest — an always convenient out when you have cerebral palsy.
She convinced me, however, to stay and “lead” the “group” which, again, consisted only of me and this one man.
As we got started I began with, “Well, you know I’m same-sex attracted.”
He then interjected, “Actually, so am I.”
I only had about a million questions for him at this point, but I stayed quiet and let him talk. He had grown up in severe poverty and had fought a drug addiction along with a general life of crime.
I talked with him about “coming out to oneself,” a concept which was actually new to me at the time. I didn’t get to learn as much of his story as I would have liked to know (do we ever?), and I have often wondered where our conversation could have led.
Did he just continue to stuff his same-sex feelings and temptations?
Did he get some type of help from a “Side B” ministry?
Or did he join an otherwise affirming ministry?
While I’m pretty sure he didn’t follow the third option, I can’t help but wonder if he pursued further Christian counseling and support for his sexuality — or not.
Have you ever been surprised to learn somebody was gay or same-sex attracted like you? How did you handle the revelation? Do you have any regrets about not pursuing deeper conversation with fellow sexual minorities?