Several years ago I wrote a blog called “I Used to Hate Gay People.” Don’t panic, I haven’t reverted back to that way of thinking. But I do think some cynicism has crept back into my worldview.

Before joining YOB, I definitely held hostile attitudes toward gay individuals. It wasn’t just my religious beliefs about homosexuality; I was also just looking for guy friends. My ideal friend was a confident and (at least relatively) masculine straight guy with a “dude/buddy/bro” kind of personality.

Unfortunately, that’s not what I found. My interests are primarily in the arts and creative world, which just so happens to be dominated by women and gay men — often the effeminate, uber-flamboyant stereotypes you’ve seen a million times.

Maybe I’m just a simple old-fashioned country boy from a backwoods chicken farm, but that sort of masculine personality didn’t appeal to me.

It wasn’t until I joined YOB many years ago that my heart softened upon meeting men of various shades of sexuality. Some were stereotypically effeminate, some only mildly so, and some more stereotypically masculine to the point where you wouldn’t guess a thing otherwise about their sexuality.

Don’t get me wrong, I still consider a vast majority of my experiences and relationships with YOB men to be quite valuable. To deeply relate with people of similar struggles and beliefs on sexuality has been touching.

But I’d be lying if I said these particular relationships haven’t also had their drawbacks.

Frankly, the “gay drama queen” stereotype can be very true. I’ve had to deal with quite a few of those relationships, and man can they get draining. A good chunk of these men have been very sensitive and insecure. I recognize that I can be a deeply sensitive, insecure guy myself, but even I’ve come across characters who make me want to say, “Geez get a grip will ya?!”

Sadly, some friendships have dissolved for seemingly no reason. Some men have thought it better to distance themselves than actually face the music and talk.

I also feel a certain alienation with my sexuality in how it differs from many other sexual minorities I’ve met. I’ve blogged about my asexuality and how often I struggle to relate with other guys who wrestle with desires for same-sex intercourse when I do not.

I feel a level of disconnect there that’s hard to get over.

But what bugs me most is when queer people become extremely identity-driven with their sexuality. I’m not talking about the mere language debate, like using “gay” versus “same-sex attracted” to self-identify.

I’m talking about queer people who mold themselves to the point where their personalities begin and end with their queerness: adopting every stereotypical personality trait and component of queer culture, and mindlessly parroting far-left politics.

When it comes to queer people like this who are formerly Christian, prolific “Side B” author David Bennett describes it as “exchanging one fundamentalism for another.”

Some queer people splatter social media with pictures at a Pride parade, captioned by long lectures about how they are finally being their “true selves.” But the cynical side of me only sees someone mindlessly conforming to another culture. I don’t see any individuality present.

I’ve recently returned to school for a second degree in graphic design, putting me in various art classes. I’m easily one of the more straight-laced people in my classes: one of the few without dyed hair, nose rings, or they/them pronouns. Most of my classmates are gayer than a handbag of rainbows.

One classmate prefers to be called by his drag queen name, endlessly lectures the class about his hatred for capitalism, has a Soviet Union hammer and scythe sticker on his laptop, reeks of weed, and even once danced shirtless with wooden clothespins attached to his nipples as he lip-synced the national anthem with projections of the KKK behind him — practically a walking meme of what the far-right thinks the left is like. The rest of the class isn’t too far off.

I noticed this hubris amongst my classmates as they thought themselves to be “rebels” or “nonconformists who fight oppression.” All I saw were people following a shallow trend — no individuality, just a hive mind following what’s trending on social media.

I feel such a helpless frustration that my interest in the arts automatically pigeonholes me into a crowd like this. And so begins my burnout on queerness and this longing for straight friends, starting with acceptance amongst straight guys.

I recently went bicycling with a fellow YOBBER in a college town. We ate at a local restaurant, and I saw many tables of college guys sitting together — masculine, presumably straight dudes galore. A lone attractive guy on the street doesn’t trigger me much, even if they might cause me to turn my head.

But seeing a group of bros like that together at a table? It sets off my longings and FOMO like crazy. Whenever I see such a scene, I long for that to be the life I live or the crowd I belong with.

I must talk myself down from scenes like that by saying, “It’s probably not as good as it looks.” They’re probably not having cuddle parties at home. They may have superficial relationships with each other. They probably haven’t seen each other naked.

But still, part of me doesn’t know all that for sure about these friendships. And the longings hit me hard.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that having 99% of my relationships be “Side B” guys can be great, though insufficient as I need to diversify. I need more straight friends.

But can I find straight friends in this day and culture that doesn’t value deeper friendships among men?

Where do I look?

Do you feel burned out on queerness? In what ways do queer friendships bless you, and in what other ways do queer friendships cause frustration, tension, or other challenges?

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  • Eugene, thanks for your insightful article. I’m right there with you. It’s hard to hang around some guys who either identify as gay or straddle the fence. Not judging anyone, it’s just that I feel I don’t belong there. I strongly relate to your question here….

    But can I find straight friends in this day and culture that doesn’t value deeper friendships among men?

    • I will say I connect more with guys here on YOB than I do in the broader Side B world. They often tend to be a lot more “gay” for a lack of a better word haha.

      But yeah that’s the hard question. Its near impossible to find straight men who are open to closer friendships in today’s culture. I’m sure they’re out there but its a needle in a haystack. I hope our culture wakes up from this and realizes that we are killing ourselves here. People why the loneliness epidemic is such a problem? Especially among men?

  • Eugene,

    I’ve followed your writing for awhile now. I’ve deeply appreciated and related to your honest reflections from time-to-time (frustratingly, I do differ sexually, though — I find myself somewhat envious of your asexuality!)

    Part of me believes that having little to no intimate desire for men would simplify a lot of my internal world and eliminate the looming possibility of any unwanted (and sometimes even unexpected) physical pulls towards my friends — the closest of whom are straight. Platonic cuddling or safe, non-threatening nudity with pals without my brain going right to sex. That’s honestly wild bro haha. It is a gift to have rare and trusted straight brothers in my life, but it’s crazy how easy some could (or have become) idols or sources of fantasy. Would be so interesting not needing to think about those things to the same degree.

    I didn’t have nearly the colorful cast of classmates that you described while completing my own graphic design degree, but the overall allegiance to echoed sentiments was almost entirely the same (dyed hair did abound, though!) Hadn’t heard Bennet’s comment on trading one fundamentalism for the other, but the idea is so true.

    To your questions, I have queer friends, but I have a bit of the opposite problem. The ones who come to mind aren’t really prioritizing their relationships with the Lord, so it’s hard to give too much of myself in those relationships. I care for them, we hangout, there is some trust (with reasonable boundaries), but they haven’t quite been able to reciprocate care for me since they don’t seem to prioritize being filled/guided by the Spirit or regularly walk with Jesus. Because of this, I tend to be slower to lower my emotional drawbridge with them.

    Like I said earlier, my closest friends are straight — but, for me, the grass isn’t necessarily greener. Not all live super close anymore or have the same relational bandwidth with life getting busier or as some get married. And that’s all disregarding if I were to find myself sexually attracted to a friend as emotional intimacy deepens (those have been uncomfortable discussions to have and confusing boundaries to figure out with some in the past.)

    Nonetheless, I do relate to your desire “to diversify” or find balance. Would be nice to get to know a few other local sexual minorities trying to walk this out. Also can relate to not being naturally drawn to the overtly effeminate/dramatic — but I haven’t met many SSA believers holding to a traditional sexual ethic in my area for that to really come up, either.

    It’s odd, because I do believe that even the “perfect” notion of one friend or group in my head would still be lacking everything I’d need. But even so, there’s a deep need in me (and felt pushing from the Lord) to lean into intimacy with those God gives me — seasonal or otherwise.

    • Heya Josh! Yeah I get that, I can easily project a grass is always greener when I see groups of straight guys hanging out. Odds are I’m projecting my own insecurities and longing onto it and probably even idolizing it. And yeah there’s never going to be a perfect group of friends this side of heaven. I would recommend finding a group of Side B sexual minorities if you can! They’re not perfect like I’ve mentioned but they can be a great support group. It always varies, yeah sometimes you get the crazy gay drama queens but you also get the level headed ones. Yeah I’m tooting my own horn here but frankly I find the ones on YOB to be the most level headed.

      • Any from the YOB community in the Cleveland or Ohio area?

        I wasn’t able to attend, but I remember seeing that Revoice was hosted in Columbus, but have no idea how many at the conference were local.

        • It just so happens I know of one who lives in Cleveland and some others who live in Akron. There was one in Columbus who hosted a Your Other Brothers and Your Other Sisters get together during the conference at his house! So there’s some around. Wish we had talked sooner, then you would’ve been able to attend and join us!

    • Thank you Josh! Yeah I agree, I may be projecting too much on straight guys with like you said, a very “grass is always greener” attitude. Yeah you have the pesky problem of them walking away with women and being “too busy” to spend time with you after a while, or them moving away. Not to mention we live in this culture that suppresses men being affectionate with each other. But still, I’m always thinking I’m just a hair away from finding perfect bromance with the rare needle in a haystack with a straight guy who is not insecure about such things.

  • Eugene, enjoy your honesty and writing. First, this line “Most of my classmates are gayer than a handbag of rainbows.” made me laugh so hard.

    Second, I hope this encourages some of you. I don’t think I seem super feminine to other guys, but don’t really know how I come across to others. But for sure I used to feel so excluded from the world of guys. Like you say in your article, I would see a bunch of guys hanging out in a group and wonder why I didn’t fit in. I desperately wanted to fit in. If some guy did like me, I started trying so hard to fit in that it turned the other guy off…end of “straight guy” friendship right there.

    But then I decided I was going to stop trying to be something that I’m not. If they don’t like me for who I am, then forget it. Once I stopped trying so hard and was just myself, then straight guys started liking me back. When I saw a group of guys, I would just go stand and be a part of the group. Usually not talking because I wasn’t sure how to act without looking gay. Honestly, it was kind of weird to me at first. After a while I discovered that I didn’t NEED them. I didn’t need to consume them or have to be with them all the time or fantasize about them. I just enjoyed the friendship. And I discovered something surprising about straight guys….they are a lot more like us than you would think. Lots of straight guys aren’t into sports (like me), enjoy talking about ideas (like me), and will even open up if they think you won’t make fun of them. I also discovered a lot of straight guys are lonely and just want someone they can be themselves with (and not have to compete)…just like me.

    Probably the weirdest moment was when the straightest, manliest, toughest dude at work threw his arm around my neck and pulled me in for a tight bro hug…cheek to cheek! Seventeen year old me never thought that would happen in my lifetime.

    So guys, I guess I’m saying, be yourself…whatever that is. I can imagine you are thinking, “yeah, right! That would never work for me!”. All I can offer is I had no straight guy friends my whole life. Now I have so many straight guy friends that I can’t keep up with them. Sometimes I’ve even had to tell some of my guy friends they are acting like clingy girl friends. And we both laugh.

    Hang in there, guys.
    – Christopher

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