It was the first song I'd ever heard that touched upon my most simple yet desperate longing; buried beneath the pangs of my sexuality, a clear yet unattainable desire – to have a best buddy, someone who tells me he wants to be with me, someone to goof off with, someone to sit beside in a country field. Someone by my side when I'm hurting.
I spent nearly three decades of my life sexually involved with other guys, and even longer than that attracted to them, and in all that time I never once considered Pride Month or attending any Pride parades or events. Part of that thinking is because I was raised in the South in the 60's and 70's, and in the Black community particularly acting like a homosexual was strictly taboo. Gay men would either stay on the down-low or be total flamers because they didn't care what people thought. I was the former, someone on the DL.
Who was it that said Pride is a celebration of having survived? I can certainly relate to that. I don't know who said it before Ryan did, but I'm processing Pride with new eyes and new appreciation this year, and hopefully for the rest of my life. Recognizing the blessing, even the miracle, that I'm still alive. Indeed, I could have died years ago because of my sexuality.
Phillip Henry died yesterday at 29 years of age. That was the short, somber text message on my phone. No! Not Phillip! I thought. He was such a close friend. That last thought was only a half-truth. My friendship with Phillip had only just begun, and I'd had such hopes for it. Now, he was gone.
As shared on our most recent YOBcast, we are indeed exploring the possibility of birthing a literal sister site – Your Other Sisters. Like YOB, YOS would be a storytelling community of Jesus-followers committed to a traditional sexual ethic, just geared more toward women. A place to navigate matters of femininity along with faith and sexuality.
Though we hold certain theological convictions as queer or "Side B" Christians, I was recently reminded we share much history and experience with the greater LGBTQ+ community – which shapes and influences our own lives and experiences. Things are better now than they were sixty years ago, but abuse by religious and secular societies still exist. There is more work to be done.
Who am I? This could be a question for self-edification or self-deprecation. A question answered with set shoulders and proud confidence, or a rhetorical question asked to oneself at the depths of loneliness and despair. The best way I have determined to answer that question is I am...loved by God.
He's the guy who has clarified my boundaries with cuddling and physical touch more than any other. The guy from whom I've sought comfort in touch more than any other. The guy who has made me feel seen and warm and laugh and cry like no other. He's the first (and to this point, only) guy I've fallen in love with.
I still have that Link costume somewhere in my closet. Perhaps it's the wandering through the woods that I love, the isolation, the music; or, perhaps it's something deeper that has stuck with me after all these years. Perhaps it's that I feel like the protagonist: adrift in time, unsure whether I'm a child or a man. This is how I feel as I move back into my childhood bedroom – the place where my sexual trauma occurred.