For the past few weeks it has been evident that God is on the horizon, crafting amazing stories to whisper hope into my heart. And He has whispered to it through a powerful, yet simple miracle…
Many people, especially family members, have asked, “Why do you write your blog? Why do you display your intimate struggles for all to see?” Some have labeled it unhealthy, others brave, others are ashamed.
My response to both? I have to.
There’s literally no other way for me to describe this process than “bleeding out.” For so long I felt ashamed of my story, hiding in the shadows. I think a lot of people feel the same way regarding same-gender attraction–that there stories aren’t allowed.
But I think a pendulum swing has occurred. I have went from hiding in the dark to being completely exposed, and it’s the most freeing and healing experience. I’m never going back to hiding.
Tenth Avenue North has a song called, “Healing Begins.” The chorus says, “This is where the healing begins, this is where the healing starts, where you come to where you’re broken within, and the light meets the dark.”
I’ve witnessed that reality. As I’ve bled out on these “pages,” a healing of transparency has occurred. But besides healing, this blog has opened many doors. It’s allowed me access into lives still hiding in the dark. It’s given me insight into other stories other than my own. It has challenged me… as people have shared stories that challenge my beliefs, my values, my fears.
As someone who wrestles out these attractions while attempting to trust Jesus, the number one fear everyone with my story has is, “What if I get married and some day hook up with the same sex, ruining my marriage and family?”
As more and more posts have ensued from this blog, many caring individuals have reached out and shared how, “My youth pastor married, realized he was gay, divorced his wife and is now happily married to man.” “I grew up in the church, tried to date girls and just realized I can’t do that, and started dating guys.””I know a pastor who’s gay.”
Growing up I first-hand experienced a pastor commit adultery with another man, get kicked out of the church and state and is shamed for his failure. His marriage is still in tact, but his name is forever tainted.
Probably my deepest fear, above snakes or needles, is that I would become him, that I would marry, be in ministry only to epically fail.
Hearing stories from these “good meaning people” added to the fear. And that fear is shared by any man or woman wrestling out marrying the opposite sex while having attractions to the same sex.
We all think at some point, “Is marrying a woman/man fair to me? Fair to my spouse? What if I mess up? What about the kids? What if…”
I’ve heard it countless times.
That is the narrative I have been hearing for a long time. It is one of fear. But recently, as a result of this blog, I have witnessed a new narrative that I had never heard till now. I wish had heard these stories growing up. But no one wants to talk about homosexuality or that they or their spouse had/has these attractions. We’ve made it shameful to talk about.
Because of its silence, I hoped for marriage but always doubted its reality, simply because you don’t hear that story. I’ve only heard stories of failed marriages. But recently, I’ve encountered some powerful stories challenging the norm of what to expect regarding same-gender attraction.
I have these friends. I deeply respect them. We’ve done ministry together. Their marriage inspires me. Their candid love and honesty challenges me. They’re simply amazing.
But never in my life would I have expected the email I received in response to this blog.
“Brandon, I just want to say, as a woman who is married to a man who’s attracted to men, that a beautiful marriage is possible. We’re living that story, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
I had no clue her husband had these feelings. Never would I have guessed that their marriage came in spite of his attractions. Never would I have believed this as part of their story, because, frankly, their marriage seems great. And it is great. But never did imagine that marriage with someone with those attractions would be great. If anything, it would be limping along. But their’s isn’t. It’s thriving.
Hope was conceived.
Last minute I bought a ticket to Texas to visit old friends. The time was desperately needed to escape. Surrounded by these people I feel the most at home. I can laugh with them, cry with them, snort with them. I can be me, and it is cherished. Not only that, but in their presence I am reminded of what my heart beats for, what I want my life to emulate.
After hardly any sleep, due to conversations, music and In and Out rendezvouses, I found myself, sitting across a coffee table with one of these cherished friends. After laughing, she gets deep on me the very next second (my favorite), “Brandon, I’ve been reading your blogs, and thank you for your honesty. But I just want you to know, there are passionately strong women out there that will champion your heart. I’m one of them. We are very rare, but we’re awesome. My boyfriend has done everything in the book, including aspects of your story, but I’m so in love with that man, and I will fight for his heart with my last breath. We’re out there. I promise.”
For so long I felt that only a man could satisfy the longings of my heart. But sitting across the coffee table from my friend, one of these “passionately strong women,” reminded me that there is a good fit for me, that this is possible.
After first publishing this blog, a woman reached out to me named Leah. She shared that we had a similar story, but that she was now married to a man. Over email correspondents, we decided I was gonna come visit her and her husband… whom I have never met… whom I didn’t even know what they looked like… and live with them for a few days… on the complete opposite side of the state… five hours away.
Needless to say some people thought I was crazy.
“You’re doing what?” was the most common response when I shared my plans for the following week. Some people even told me to send me my location in case I was Taken, as if they were Liam Neeson.
But I wasn’t scared as I drove five hours through mountain roads to the Utah border. One, because I do this kind of thing a lot (hitchhiking, couch surfing, etc.) Second, because I had an overwhelming peace. In fact, I was excited. Anticipation grew in my chest. Something was gonna happen with these people.
At 9:45 p.m., ten minutes away from the Utah border, in the middle of nowhere, on the side of the road, I met up with Leah and her husband Zay. Though they never met me in person, they both were so excited to see me and gave me the most welcoming hugs, stating, “We’re so glad you’re here!” We jumped back in our cars and drove to their farm in Mack, CO.
And guess what? They didn’t kill me, stuff my body full of drugs and ship me across the border. Nope. Instead they shared with me their story and unconditional love. I got a taste of heaven on their farm, and I’m eternally grateful.
After a trip to Moab, a hike in Devil’s Canyon and wine tasting in Palisade, I found myself at the end of my trip sitting next to Leah and Zay mesmerized. Zay had passed out asleep after a long day of gardening, snuggling into his wife.
The thought came, “I’ve witnessed a miracle.”
Leah is very candid about her story. But she didn’t used to be that way. Growing up in the church, loving Jesus but attracted to girls, she always felt “othered,” caught in between two worlds at war with each other.
(I think lots of us with the same story have felt that exact same feeling.)
Till the age of thirty she wrestled with these attractions, never voicing them, never acting on them. The tension inside of her brought about depression and frustrations.
She would see lesbian and gay couples partnering up, feeling left out, like she couldn’t have it. Multiple times she screamed at God, “Why can’t I have that?” But His response was always, “It’s not the good I have for you.”
Unsure what that “good” was, she continued through life silent… that is until she started a young adults small group where she was challenged by God to share with them her attractions.
Terrified, she opened up… and was warmly welcomed by her peers. Thank God! Good job humans! You did good!
One such welcoming peer was a guy names Zay, who was absolutely mesmerized by this woman’s faith and love of Jesus.
A week later, something truly miraculous happened–Leah started having feelings for Zay. Small problem: Zay was dating another girl… Leah’s good friend.
Talk about rough. But it gets rougher.
God told Leah she needed to express her feelings to her friend. She did, and the friend broke up with Zay, via text message and said, “Leah likes you.”
Zay was utterly confused. “Didn’t she just come out to us? Why did my girlfriend just break up with me? Is this gonna work?” But, in spite of all his questions and confusion, Zay took Leah on a date, and a year later they’re married. And here’s the crazy part… happily married. Not begrudgingly. In fact, I would describe their love for each other as stupid cute. They’re madly in love, and it is so captivating to see.
They celebrate and cherish who their partner is. They don’t care about social constructs. There is permission and excitement with who the other person is.
Leah has complete permission to get down in the dirt with Zay without feeling “de-feminized.” She can shave her head, and Zay adores it. She doesn’t like cooking, so Zay takes her out to eat most nights. Zay can be the epitome of jock, yet have the largest heart. He can snuggle up into his wife’s shoulder and fall asleep. He doesn’t feel threatened by Leah being strong and independent. He adores it.
Social pressures and stereotypes have been completely disarmed within their marriage, and they simply love who the other is. Their each other’s biggest fans.
Sitting their watching them snuggle into each other’s arms, as we watched Seinfeld, was a precious moment for me. Why? Because it sparked hope.
“Brandon, I never saw this coming. I knew God had a ‘good’ for me, but I would have never imagined this life I have with Zay, but I love it. We live on a farm. We’re madly in love. But at the end of the day, I’m not attracted to men. I’m attracted to Zay, and he’s the ‘good’ God had for me all along.”
Here’s another awesome thing about Leah and Zay: their love transcends each other. Being in their presence I felt completely safe and loved. I could say whatever I wanted without fear. I could see that they truly saw me, and not only gave me permission to be that person, but rejoiced in that person.
Leaving the farm, Zay sent me a text. “I see this being a friendship that lasts a long time. Just keep being yourself, there is so much there for people to love and for you to bless them with. You’re the man!”
There is a love that Zay and Leah have that I think is meant for all of us to share. It’s a love that believes in people, and gives them permission to be themselves and wrestle through this thing we call life.
Some good friends of Zay and Leah’s are a lesbian couple that own a pizza joint. They never say, “Your story should look like our’s.” They love those two women right where they’re at.
While out at the farm, I told Leah that I’m still texting a guy I’m interested in. Instead of saying, “Brandon, there’s a woman out there for you,” she simply said, “Hey, your journey is your journey, not mine.”
Regardless of my story, I’m accepted by these people, and it’s freeing. No guilt. No shame. Just love, and it’s birthed hope, and man how I’ve needed it.
I don’t know my story. But to define where I’m at I would steal the words of my ex-girlfriend. “Open handed.”
I don’t know if I’ll meet a perfect woman to hoe weeds in western Colorado with. I don’t know if I’ll find a man for that matter. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll simply have a best guy friend where we share an intimacy beyond marriage, but we never have sex. Maybe I’ll create a pseudo-family around me of people who I just love. Maybe I’ll find a “passionately strong woman” like my friend “who will fight for my heart.” I honestly don’t know. But for the first time, in a long time, I’m trusting Jesus again. He has my best interest at heart. He has a “good” for me. I’m not sure what that is. It’s not Leah’s “good.” It’s my “good.”
So I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I trust Him. And that’s saying something, and I owe it to people like Leah and Zay and the friends surrounding me, inspiring me through their trust and obedience. Thanks guys! You mean the world. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your love, belief and hope. Love you guys!