You know, after fifteen years of blogging about gay things and masculine things and all the other intermingled, messy faith things, I often feel like I’ve run out of stories to tell here. Gay kisses, wet dreams, fetishes — what on earth is there left to say??

Ah, but then I wake up one day and suddenly remember that time another “Side B” guy from a Facebook group asked if he could do something to my genitals.

Ah, yes — a new story to tell. Glory be.

I had joined this private Facebook group many years ago, and it seemed promising. I had met a good number of those guys at a conference, so it felt “safe” in that I could put names and profile pictures to voices and laughter and mealtimes and stories.

My time in this Side B group started out strong: regular postings from Scripture and prayer requests from members. A place for masculine affirmation and support. It felt like a good thing had been born, something positive being spun in this messed up universe.

Well, only a few weeks after joining the group I checked Facebook Messenger and saw that I’d received a message from a fellow group member. I’d met him at that conference, even sat beside him at lunch one day. We hadn’t spoken since, so I was surprised to hear from him but eager to read whatever he had to say.

I opened his message, only one sentence long, and my mouth fell open.

He asked if he could suck me off. Followed by a wink emoji.

I had to re-read his impossibly short message three or four times to comprehend his string of words. Whether he was actually saying what I thought he was saying.

Surely he must mean something else? Suck me off? Is that slang for grab a coffee and trade some stories??

But no. He meant exactly what he said.

I couldn’t believe the audacity. Getting a message like that from another guy, another Christian, another Side B guy? Not from some creepy stranger on the Internet or an app, but someone I’d actually met?

It was the first time someone had ever sexted me. That it was from another believer left me feeling gross and dejected.

I didn’t find this guy attractive but don’t think I’d have been tempted to engage with such a brazen sexual request regardless (another blog for another occasion). I reported this person to a group administrator. Turns out he’d been messaging other group members similar sexual things, and he was promptly removed from the group.

It sucks. Pun intended, I suppose.

I just hate it. I hate how Side B guys like us will inevitably encounter something like this at some point the longer we remain in the virtual Side B world. We need this organized support from one another — arenas like that Facebook group, or conferences, or a place like YOB with a Discord server and regular retreats — and yet when you assemble a group of similarly wired people with similar proclivities and struggles and woundings and brokenness, you’re bound to encounter some issues.

It’s the sort of thing that can keep me up at night as our community’s head organizer: wondering whose brokenness is intersecting with another community member’s brokenness at any given moment.

But worse than two adults consenting to sexual sin with one another in our community is the thought of someone harassing or abusing another. Those are the truly dark nights of my soul in this bed where I lie awake.

How much falls on me and our YOB leadership? 100%? 1%? Something in between?

I can, and do, vet people entering our community. I send them our community guidelines. I encourage them to contact our leadership should something, anything unsafe happen to them. I urge all of our members to make sure YOB isn’t their frontline community but more of a supplementary one.

I don’t want anyone in our community to spend all day on Discord or Facebook or Zoom. The Internet isn’t a healthy place for sole connection. Face-to-screen only gets us so far. We need face-to-face soul connection with other people, other men, in our churches and cities.

The difficult (but also releasing) part of leadership is that I can’t control people. I can’t make anyone do anything. I can’t stop men from doing whatever they’re going to do online or in person, for that matter. As a leadership team we can only provide the framework for safety and potential reconciliation whenever sexual or otherwise inappropriate situations occur.

Sometimes people do reach out about safety or sin issues in our community; many times, I’m sure, they don’t.

I’ve felt despair for the stories we’ve heard. I can’t bear thinking of all the ones out there we haven’t.

I have to cling to the truth that our community is doing more good than harm to people. Creating spheres of support, even friendship, but also renewing hope for this often lonely Side B journey.

It comes with the territory, though, a place like this: a place for growth and healing, as well as brokenness, to coexist. Hopefully we’re seeing far more growth and healing than the brokenness after nearly eight years now. But occupying this side of Paradise, our fallen nature still walks among us.

People sin before God, and people will sin with one another. Some may try their darndest.

But our people will also minister to one another. They’ll mentor and disciple one another. They’ll pray with one another and worship alongside one another, and they’ll hug and hold one another in healthy ways that bring Jesus the biggest grin.

At the end of some crestfallen days in this community, I must remind myself that no group of people anywhere is perfect. Inside the Church and out. No job. No school. No ministry. No Side B community.

That’s not an excuse to “give up” or avoid establishing boundaries or safeguards. YOB has certainly created those through the years. We’ve learned as we’ve gone. And we’re still learning.

I always hope people feel safe in our community. It’s my utmost priority. Whether you’re a YOBBER (pledging monthly on Patreon) or not, you can email our leadership should you experience a safety concern in our community:


I do love our community. They’re a special bunch of guys. I want us to enjoy our virtual conversations and camp retreats and all the other relationship-building aspects of this sacred space for many years yet to come. Despite the challenges that will always exist among us.

I pray we never run away from conflict.

I pray we seek reconciliation when we fail our fellow man.

I pray we persist in making Jesus grin over us and with us.

Have you ever felt unsafe in any online “Side B” communities like YOB? Have you received inappropriate contact from another believer, and if so, how did you handle this situation?

About the Author

  • Tom, thank you so much for leading by example and for creating a safe space to share about this very sensitive and challenging topic. I can relate personally as I had an experience about a month into YOB where I had been conversing at depth with someone and making what I thought were sincere and honest connections over a few weeks time, only to have the person try to engage me sexually.

    I relate to how you described it… so disheartening, so violating. I acknowledge my newness to making connections with others like me (LGBTQ spectrum), along with my desire for deep heart connection, made me vulnerable and also made it harder to see what could have perhaps been more obvious to others. It also triggered my historical trauma of sexual abuse as I felt very used. I’ll be honest, I wondered a little if I was in the wrong place. The hope that had risen up just a few weeks prior when I joined YOB felt dashed and at risk of dying.

    Thankfully, I did not give up. I felt heard and supported when I shared the concern with a YOB leader, and it actually became a very helpful learning experience for setting boundaries and reminding myself that I am worth protecting and standing up for. Today, I can say beyond doubt that the good of YOB so far outweighs the bad.

    Thank you again, Tom, and YOB leadership, for being mindful and diligent toward creating and maintaining a community that is bracingly honest and yet as close to safe as we are likely to get in this incredibly unsafe part of our human story before Jesus restores everything back to how it was originally meant to be.

    And, I love your imagery of Jesus grinning over us. I see him do that often, and it is one of the things that most endears my heart to him!

    • Means a lot to hear this affirmation of YOB’s good outweighing YOB’s bad. Thanks, Drew. I appreciate hearing about your honest experience, and I’m sorry for the boundary-crossing incident that occurred when you joined. I hope everyone in the community feels safe sharing with our leadership should issues arise. You are indeed worth protecting!

  • Wow Tom…first of all, you have a tremendous God-given gift in writing.

    Although I don’t participate much in on-line communities, I have been well-aware of such can happen. This situation actually happened to me in real life. Once upon a time, someone befriended me during a lonely, vulnerable time for me. I thought it was nice that I was being paid attention to. I didn’t know it at the time, and it hadn’t occurred to me that I was being “groomed.” One night, he got his wish. I repented and it’s never happened again.

    We all need and want friends and relationships with others, but this is one way not to have them. I’ve spoken about meeting an amazing guy. The relationship has thrived for a couple of reasons. First of all, we pray together. Great things have happened as a result. And…it’s thrived because I am committed to his well-being no matter what the cost to me (and he knows that) and building him up as well as being a servant, putting him first. It’s been such a healing and growing process for both of us. Really…only God can do that. There is nothing in the world that I would trade this for.

    I like your comment about making Jesus grin…may our relationships with others do just that.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you, Dave. That’s such the sinister thing about grooming: not even realizing it’s happening to you. I’m thrilled to hear that things continue to go well with this other friend of yours. I pray that bond continues – for each of you! Keep making Jesus grin. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words, brother. Always glad to see a new comment from you.

  • Tom and other YOB leaders, thanks for your commitment to creating and maintaining a “safe” space for others! I don’t see how this would be an easy or painless task. Recently, I’ve been reading and studying the concepts of vulnerability, safe people, and boundaries. Dr. Les Carter has some great YouTube videos on this subject. Mark DeJesus has wonderful resources on shame, guilt, and other topics. Just wanted to post these names and ideas in case anyone wants to check them out. I have to be very careful with my You Tube channel. I’ve received some strange comments for sure–nothing sexual yet. That’s why I would encourage anyone who has a blog post, You Tube Channel, to always set comments to be held for review! It’s hard to be open to others (vulnerability) and also discerning because it can be hard to ascertain a person’s motive. A dirty picture or sexual request is a quick red flag for sure. Yet, I wonder if people send such gross things because they are so desperate. It’s a sad situation for everyone! You are point on in mentioning boundaries: a safe person will respect and encourage appropriate boundaries! Love to read some blog posts about your thoughts on vulnerability and “safe”people. My goal is to be a “safe” person who seeks to fellowship with other safe, healthy individuals. I enjoy reading your blogs and am considering starting to listen in on some podcasts.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Lee! Yes, setting comments to pending is a good call with pretty much anywhere on the Internet. But particularly with vulnerable topics like ones we discuss here. I’d love it if you checked out our pod! Let me know what you think if you do. I pray you indeed continue to be a safe person for the people in your life! It’s awesome always to keep this a top priority.

  • This post hit me harder than some of the others. I’ve also been on the receiving end of such messages. And, in full disclosure, I’ve been guilty of sending such messages. Thanks for sharing about your perspective, Tom. It reminds me of my brokenness and sin. Sometimes, in the context of what I believe to be a good friendship, I’ve crossed a line. To be clear, I’ve never been a harasser. But I have made comments that were unwanted and left my friend probably feeling much like you. It can be a tough journey that we’re on, trying to navigate issues of sexuality and faith, finding safety in communities such as this one, but not sliding into sexual sin with those we grow close to.

    • Thanks for your vulnerability, Allen. It’s hard navigating this new digital age sometimes (or many, many times). The connection quotient is amazing. We can connect in all sorts of legitimate ways with people near and far, like never before. And yet the dark side of that connection is also all too real. May we always self-evaluate how our communication is affecting others walking similar roads. Holy Spirit guide us on this road.

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