Reneging on My Six… Maybe

A while back, I wrote I was a counter-phobic, sexual six. If you’re not an enneagram nerd like myself, no, I’m not having sex with six people.

In short, a sexual six is scared and presents courageous to prove to themself and others they’re able to beat anything.

I promise I’m getting to sappy, personal stuff like I normally do in a moment. But first I need a witty lead-in to reveal myself.

When I first heard of the enneagram, it was in passing by my friend, Taylor, like five years ago, before it was actually cool. He shared how a friend told him about it, and how it’s all about your deepest fears and wounds.

That got my attention, for reasons that’ll make more sense if you’re ARE an enneagram nerd like myself.

He shared how he was a two and how he loved to get love in return. He then shared how the test was a big deal for his friend because it revealed a deep secret: he believed he was inherently flawed and wanted to be rescued.

I was halfway paying attention, mainly because I can be selfish, and I didn’t really see how this was about me (sorry, Taylor). But when he talked about his friend, I remember thinking, “Other people feel like that too?”

His friend is a four.

Ever since I could remember, I’ve wanted to be rescued.

I’d run away to the end of the street when I was spanked, wishing someone would drive by and take me away. I’d walk the fence at school, hoping someone would see me and come to me. In middle school, we’d craft foam swords and fight each other. I was always the captured prince needing to be rescued. One time my friends even put me in a dog kennel as my prison. It felt oddly safe and right, as fucked up as that sounds.

By high school, I learned that wanting to be rescued as a guy wasn’t cool or manly, at least, that’s what Eldridge said. “Every man desires a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

… uh… question: what if we want to be rescued? Never mind. I’m gonna sit back down.

Over the years, I stuffed down my desire to be rescued. I acted strong and independent. I’d sit on the side of the school, looking out at the other boys, hoping one would come talk to me and rescue me from my pain and loneliness. But if anyone asked if I was okay, I’d get angry and say I was fine. After all, boys don’t need to be rescued. I’m supposed to be doing the teaching. I’m supposed to be tough and strong, not needing anyone or caring about anything. An emotionless rock.

Or so I thought.

I’m not sure when I made the promise to myself or at what point I decided to go about this all differently, but somewhere along the way, I started moving towards things I feared to look like I could do more than handle myself. I could take on anything.

I signed up to do a missionary training program where you get kidnapped and have to kill a goat and get fake murdered. But that school got shut down (I wonder why), so I went to the next best thing: a Christian leadership academy built around the methodology of the military, equipped with its own hell week. We prided ourselves in “beating our body and making it our slave,” (yes, that’s a Bible verse) and “doing all things through Christ who strengthens me” (especially the hard stuff). After that, I ran a ministry by myself for three years, not having any clue what I was doing, but I was capable and the Lord would provide. Right? I flew across the world to Haiti and Germany and India with no friends or family, to show I could do the hard things. When that was done, I hitchhiked through Europe just because the idea terrified me.

Anything I could do to prove to myself that I didn’t need anyone to rescue me, I could save myself, I did.

But lying here with a fever, unable to sleep, feeling helpless, that yearning to be rescued crawls to the surface.

In spite of all my endeavors to look strong and independent and prove I didn’t need anyone, this thing in my chest, this thing latched to my bones, this thing to be saved by someone else screams to be heard.

Through all the years, the thing I wanted more than anything in the world was for someone to not be fooled by all the bullshit I hide behind, all the fake courage, and to see the scared little boy that just wanted to be rescued. The boy who believes he’s irreparably broken and unworthy of anything except standing in the mud as it rains, alone. And yet, in spite of the belief that they’re not good enough, a yearning for someone to see me, take me in, and keep me warm.

I know this doesn’t sound manly. I know this looks weak. And that’s what probably scares me the most: I don’t want to show this piece of me because it feels so scary, so vulnerable. So much so that even as I’m typing these words, I’m thinking of people reaching out to me or calling me on it, and me pretending like it was just some emotional, midnight blog post. They shouldn’t think anything of it. Because if they do, I’ll feel infinitely exposed, and in the past, when I’ve been exposed, I’ve been hurt. I’ve been called too much or too sensitive, and eventually pushed away.

Lying here with a fever, unable to sleep, feeling my helplessness and wanting someone to rescue me, I feel guilty. Guilty that I don’t turn to God and say, “You know what? You’ve saved me! You’ve rescued me from all my fears! Hallelujah!” (Insert hand wave and stopping foot.)

But lying here with a fever, unable to sleep, feeling my helplessness and wanting someone to rescue me, I hear God prompting me when I push down these truths. “Nope. Don’t hide that. Not from me. I see it. Say it. Say all of it. Every word that you’d rather me not know, every emotion that feels like betrayal, g it to me. Let me hear it.”

The fact is: He did save me. But that doesn’t change how I feel. That doesn’t change how much I’d rather a human rescue me, than Him. It doesn’t change the fact that it meant the world when I walked outside to “be alone” and a man came outside looking for me. It felt like a long-withheld inhale. It doesn’t change the fact that when I was in pain and reeling last week and yelling at a friend in a bar, trying to defend myself and stand my ground, that what I really wanted was someone to step between us and defend me.

That means so much. That matters so much.

When my friends know something was likely hard or they call me on my bullshit, I feel seen and known and like I matter. When my family says, “Oh! That makes sense!” in relation to my sexuality and the struggle I have as a gay Christian man, I feel known.

And that’s what I ultimately want: to be known, past my façade.

I try to be authentic, but I put it out there with this, “Yeah that’s me! Deal with it!” (as most fours do). I don’t present myself with a naked heart, laid bare and exposed to the world because that is risky. That’s scary as hell. Because what if someone attacks you and your vulnerability? Or worse, they don’t even see it and acknowledge it?

But how is someone supposed to be rescued if no one knows they need help?

I think what I’m learning, again and again, is that, in spite of me not feeling it, it’s in my vulnerability that God can prove Himself rescuer, and in doing so, make me genuinely strong.

That doesn’t change the fact that I desperately want a partner that can see past my bullshit, who can actually see me, who can be strong for me when I desperately yearn to be weak.

But even writing that here is vulnerability, and I’ve learned that that’s where God can work.

Final thing, and then I’ll shut up. I am CONVINCED that things would have been different if Adam and Eve would have stepped forward from their hiding when God called for them. But they hid. They covered their nakedness, their vulnerability.

God is the “I Am.” How is He supposed to step into communion, to show up as the “I Am” when we’re hiding.

He yearns for us to say, “Here I Am,” when He asks, “Where are you?”

Right here. In the wake of the consequences of my decisions. In the wake of me not trusting Your word. In the place where I believed a lie over Truth. This is where I am. Right here. Here I am.

It’s a millennia later, and He’s still asking the same question, and He’s looking for people who will remember we are made in His likeness.

The Great I Am asks us to align with who He is and say, “Here I Am.”

Here I am, God. All of me. Especially the icky, fucked up parts. The scared parts. The irreparably broken parts. The parts begging to be rescued.

Here I am. Save me.

Part 2. – Mack, Colorado

Yep. Mack, Colorado. Less than ten miles away from the Utah border and home of the famous Country Jam.

“Country Jam is like a burning man for red necks.” A drunk girl shared with me between gulps of beer. “Did you know that there are more underage-drinking arrests during Country Jam than the rest of the year? Some crazy stuff happens in those camps.”

But I didn’t come to Mack for Country Jam. I came for the closest thing I’ve ever found to that elusive word called “home”.

I rounded the two-lane road, passing fields of corn and alfalfa till it came into view—the Produce Peddler. Peace, joy, rest, and all those good things you feel when throwing off your backpack after a long hot day of school overwhelmed me.

In the last two years, this place had become sacred to me. That’s truly the only word for this place. Nothing holds such precious pieces of my heart like this farm, and it’s because I find home pulling weeds or collecting eggs or driving a tractor. This place had become sacred to me because of the people who owned it.

The Produce Peddler is owned by two of the most loving and gracious people I’ve ever known—Leah and Zay.

Leah and I met through this blog. She invited me to come to her farm. We had never met. But something inside me trusted her. So I packed up my car and drove six hours away to meet a complete stranger on the side of Highway 70. Good news! I didn’t become a drug mule! Even better news: a friendship was born that changed my life.

If you wanna hear their story in detail, read the blog post entitled “Little Miracles”. For the purpose of this post, suffice it to say, Leah identifies as lesbian and Christian and married a man. She didn’t marry him out of fear. She didn’t marry him because she’s now magically attracted to men. Over the course of her life, any time an opportunity to date a woman came up, she felt a gentle whisper say, “I have better.” No guilt. No shame. No strong-arming. Just “better”. That “better” was and is Zay.

Their story challenges and inspires me. But more than their story, their love creates safety for me. On this farm, two years ago, I could wrestle out my feelings without fear. I could bring my then boyfriend. I could live the same narrative or a different narrative. It didn’t matter. They loved me regardless and simply inspired me to trust God for myself and trust the journey God had for me.

That’s why I feel home every time I drive up “8 1/2 Road”. That’s why I get teary-eyed every time I see that dead oak in their driveway. It’s easier to breathe there, and I can be all of me. My gay me. My Christian me. My confused me. They’re all welcome and loved, and it transforms my heart every time.

But for the first time ever, the peace was interrupted. I turned the corner to the fifth-wheel I’d be staying in.

All the memories came back.

The last time I was in this trailer, I was with my ex. The last time I was in this trailer, I had sex for the first time. The last time I was in this trailer, I wept and cried and pleaded with God to be okay with me dating this man. The last time I was in this trailer, I made a deal with God—unless this relationship would send me to hell, I wanted it, and if God didn’t want me to have it, God was going to need to break it.

A lot had happened here, and I was completely caught off guard.

I opened the door and stepped inside. I was broken. This room was intrinsic to my previous relationship, and now here I was single; now here I was broken… but also hopeful… but also desperately alone… and above all scared. Scared I messed up. Scared I got it right. Scared I broke myself and others beyond repair. Scared I was lost.

The first night with my ex in that fifth-wheel played out in front of me, and a moment I had forgotten was relived.

I got out of bed. I couldn’t sleep. I walked to the couch and cried. I was so scared and confused. I wasn’t sure the relationship was right. I had this anxiousness in my chest. It was a feeling of being unsure, and that I would hurt myself and more importantly this man. A man I loved.

Wait. I know this feeling. It’s the same feeling I felt about moving to Utah, and as soon as I decided to not go to Utah, the anxiousness went away. The feeling I felt two years ago in the trailer was the same feeling that motivated me to not take the job, and then it clicked—that relationship wasn’t the best for me.

I fell on my knees, praying to God, saying I’m sorry. Sorry for not listening to that feeling, and in doing so, hurting someone I loved. I was broken.

The scene played out further.

My ex was now getting out of bed, coming to comfort me on the couch. But there was a third person in the room that I hadn’t seen before—God.

He was standing where I stood now, looking with tears in His eyes at his two sons. Two sons desperate to be loved. Two sons trying to find that love in each other and unable to give it. Two sons broken and hurting and clinging together in the dark, hoping for salvation in the other’s arms.

Seeing that scene play out, I saw our hearts and then I felt God’s heart. It wasn’t anger or rage. It was love and compassion. He never left us.

Throughout my relationship with my ex, any time I prayed, I always heard, “I’m right here. I haven’t left.” And in that fifth-wheel, I saw it, I saw God’s heart, and I was filled with nothing but compassion for my younger self and my boyfriend. I could breathe. I was okay. I wasn’t forgotten.

I wiped my eyes, thanked God for His love, then went to meet up with Leah and Zay. We were headed to dinner.

In celebration of reconnecting for the first time in two years, we went to a fancy restaurant in “Junction”, what the locals call Grand Junction. I always messed it up and called it “Grand”. I was trying so hard to sound like a local. Instead, I sounded like a dingus.

The restaurant was exactly what we were not—fresh and fancy. We had just spent the day in the fields, pulling weeds. Zay sported a baseball cap, and I had on shorts and flip flops. Leah at least tried with a plaid button up. But then again, maybe we were EXACTLY like the restaurant! Farm to table. They just made it look prettier. Oh! And all three of us were mildly high. It was the best!

With a new found confidence and security, I took a bite of raw meat (apparently that’s what “tartar” is) and blurted out, “Alright, I know you guys were nervous about saying any criticism regarding my relationship. Everyone is. Now that it’s over, what are things you wish you said that you didn’t.

Zay didn’t miss a beat. He started talking almost before I finished. “You guys were not right for each other. He’s not a bad guy. He’s actually pretty great. But not great for you. You guys would keep missing each other even though you were trying so hard.” He took a bite of his cheese and meat plate with contentment. “This is really good!” He had the better meal.

I took another fork full of cold, raw, ground up elk. “Anything you’d like to add, Leah?” Leah was across the table just smiling and nodding, agreeing with her husband. There was such an ease to our conversation as we decompressed my relationship. The lack of health and incompatibility. Although hard truths, it all was accepted with such grace. We could trust each other because of the love we had with each other… and maybe the mints were helping a little too.

Never once did they say, “Well he was a dude. So obviously it was wrong.” “You gonna finally follow our story and marry a woman?” None of those things. They normalized me, my ex, and the relationship. They honored and gave space to my reality that includes being gay and Christian. They gave me unconditional love and safety. They gave me home.

And just like the melons in their field, with a confidence in the new soil I found myself in, shit fertilizing the soil, roots pushed further down, creating a sense of stability. God hadn’t left me. He was with me in the relationship, just like these two people, and hope was blooming. In spite of it all, I just needed to trust Him, and He spoke in that feeling. My story could look like Leah and Zay, or it could look like my gay Christian friends in the Bah Area. But He would lead me. And the good news was that I would get to compare them back to back, because now I was headed to California.

Part 1. – Sierra Vista, Arizona

Dallas and Ariel are enlisted vegans, living on Sierra Vista’s Army base. In spite of Dallas’s wonderful squash-frying skills, I was starving… ALL THE TIME!!! Whether the lack of meat or the desert heat, I made more McDonald’s runs in those ten days than I had in a year, devouring with unadulterated delight multiple Big Macs and McFlurries.

Little fact about Arizona… it’s BOILING HOT in June! Also, in case you didn’t know, there’s a lot of desert. I HATE THE DESERT! You can ask my friend Rachel. One time, while we were driving through West Texas, I stared out the window with a melancholy slouch. Rachel inquired what was wrong. She was always concerned about the people she loved.

“I’m in a desert.” I sighed.

Rachel then went into a long monologue about how everyone experiences seasons of “dryness” in their relationship with God and how she had been in a “desert season” for some time.

I turned to her with hopeless eyes. “No! I’m literally in a desert. And I hate it!”

“Oh.” Rachel’s faced flushed with blood, her face now matching her red hair.

Like I said, I hate the desert. So why would I start this trip in the desert? Why go somewhere I hate.

Well first off, I had a free ticket. But second off, I knew I needed to be trapped to deal with some things. I had been running, and it’s pretty hard to run when you’ll melt just by stepping outside. And finally, more than free tickets, more than trapping myself, I knew there was life for me in the desert, and it didn’t come in the form of Oreo McFlurries, though that definitely made the desert more pleasant. It came in the form of faces.

My time in Arizona was so restful and refreshing. Having attractions to guys and being a Christian can be extremely exhausting. Nearly everyone wants you to be one or the other. But not the faces in these photos. They love me deeply and don’t pretend one piece of me exists while ignoring the other. The result was a deep sense of rest. I didn’t have to be something while restraining another. I was free to be all of me.

I was able worship then poke a lesbian couple about the nuances of same-gender dating. I was able to speak of Jesus and the long journey of dating my ex. I was able to laugh with my YWAM friend, Tyané, recounting our days abroad, followed by answering her questions related to my stress with gay sex.

Both were given space and honor. And the result was finally breathing unhindered.

Dallas joked they weren’t much of hosts. His favorite thing to do after work is to sit at his computer and study. But I think it was perfect. I had a lot of time just staring at myself, or running from myself in books and Netflix. But either way, I was allowed to just be. All of me. In wonderful air conditioning! And I’m eternally grateful for it. I felt so recharged.

Then came the drive back to Colorado…

Dallas and I had been laughing and talking, scheming about community, when a lull in the conversation occurred. Dallas asked if he could put on a preacher named Dan Mohler on.

I began to squirm internally, but put on a happy face and agreed.

Preachers scare me. I’m always nervous that at some point I’m gonna get sideswiped with some tirade about the abomination of homosexuality. The result is a anxiousness any time a sermon comes on.

I prepared my heart by raising defenses. I didn’t wanna get sideswiped by anger or some comment that would make me feel like crap. But that’s not what happened.

When Dan came to the stage, there was such life and love in his voice. My defenses slowly came down. I began to open myself up. Maybe I could trust this man.

After talking about the joys of Jesus, he continued on about life and death. If you’ve been around the church long enough, when you hear “life and death”, you can normally expect the preacher to roll into “Now choose! Life or death! Whom will you serve this day?!” As he slams his hand down on a King James Bible. And yes, it is a he. And yes it is a King James Bible. But that’s not what Dan spoke of. He spoke of life IN DEATH. How a death in him produced the greatest amount of life, a new life.

Something shook in me. He’d gotten through. I wanted that life, and can remember when I had it. Joy and freedom and expectation with Jesus. A question I had been scared to face floated to the surface—am I born again?

Before we could reach the Colorado border, I threw myself in the back seat and asked Dallas to put in headphones. I knew this wasn’t gonna be pretty and I didn’t want him to hear it.

I shoved my face into the floor to try and muffle my crying and praying. I was humbling myself for the first time in a long time. My back had become too rigid for kneeling or lying face first into a car’s carpet. I didn’t mean to become rigid. The last thing I wanted was to become hardened to God. But when Christians surprise attack you with fear for years on end, you get stiff. Like carrying too much weight for too long. It just happens. It’s a defense mechanism. How are you supposed to stay humble when everyone around you keeps telling you you’re wrong? It’s like lying down for a curb stomp.

But there in the back seat, I lied on the floor praying and crying. “God, I know there are areas of my heart that are hard. I raised defenses against everyone, including you, out of fear. But soften my heart. I’m open. If I’m not truly born again, tell me. I’ll get baptized again. I’ll do whatever. Just tell me.”

And there in matted, soggy, car carpet, I felt such peace, and it wasn’t a peace that was screaming “Get saved! Get born again!” Instead, it whispered “You are saved. You are born again. You’ve simply forgotten who you are.”

Something started that day. It was a tilling, a softening, and now my heart was ready for what came next.

A Criticism of Gay Culture by a Gay Man

Mark and I sat at a high top, drinking beer out of tiny glasses. The place charged by the ounce. We thought it was the greatest thing ever. We could try all the beers, only drinking a little. But there was a problem—they charged by ounce! The bill ended up being a whole lot larger for a lot of tiny tasters. But we weren’t here for the beer. We were here to talk about being gay. Come to think of it, that might have actually been the problem. You can’t tackle that topic over one beer, let alone some tiny beers.

Mark had found my blog and reached out to me, wanting to share his story and get advice on coming out.

Mark and I weren’t exactly friends, but we were always in the same circles. In other words, we didn’t know how to interact with one another over our tiny beers.

Mark’s eyes searched, dancing around, looking for a hook. And like the obnoxious, sarcastic person I am, with a flare for the dramatic, I poked at the intensity with directness.

“So you wanna come out, huh?”

While I let words splatter out of my mouth, Mark is not like that. He’s methodical. Thus, the searching eyes. Even with a yes-or-no question, Mark took his time. He sat, eyes searching for the right words as he nodded gently. “Yeah… I think I do.” His eyes finally met mine.

“Well, welcome to the worst sub-culture in existence!” I threw back the last of my beer for dramatic effect, then slammed down my tiny cup.


Now before we jump into reading an article where a gay man criticizes the culture he finds himself in, let me outline what this is and is not:

It is not ammo for straight, non-affirming people. You don’t get to use this to say, “See! I knew those homos were x, y, or z.” I could very easily write an article criticizing straight culture. Every culture has its criticisms. None of us are exempt. But like all issues within a culture, they’re systemic. They are not isolated, and have roots in culture at large. That’s what this article hopes to address.

Second off, this article is uncomfortable. You will be confronted with stories that might be hard to hear. But in spite of the awkward ruffled rainbow feathers, please read to the end or stop reading now. I’m gonna need a non-verbal commitment that I will never hear or have any accountability for before reading on. Good? Cool.

Here we go.

Five years leading up to this moment with Mark, I tiptoed around the realm of gay culture. Being honest about my story had allowed me to look at it and test the waters here or there. But I really didn’t jump in headlong till I started dating a man for the first time and posted a coming out video on Facebook two years ago.

Overnight, tons of friends and strangers reached out to me, thanking me for my video. My stuttering, stumbling, unedited feed somehow gave strength to strangers and friends to come out or begin the conversation. Like Mark.

I was so excited and honored, thinking I was doing something revolutionary, when in reality, more heroic individuals had paved the way.

But something had happened in the timespan of posting that Facebook video to meeting with Mark over tiny beers. I was fed up with the gay culture, and I wasn’t the only one.


“Don’t end up with a dude, Zach. They’re all terrible!” Matt blurts out, as Zach and I sit on the couch, drinking martinis. Matt and Zach are roommates, gay (well sort of), and not partners. In fact, they’ve never had sex with each other. Not once. A fact that every gay man has raised their eyes to, as if to say, “Yeah… right…” As if to say, “Gay men can’t be just friends. They’ll eventually sleep with each other.”

“I’m serious, Zach. All men are terrible! You’re better off with a woman.” Matt is on his third martini and is getting more and more vocal and more and more slap happy. Literally. I have red marks on my thighs to prove it.

Zach has been exploring the sexual rainbow for a few months, trampling all over the spectrum. He’s been with men, women, young, old, ugly, sexy. It doesn’t matter who it is, Zach just wants to have sex. However, Zach and Matt had just gotten back from Denver where Zach had a terrible encounter with a group of gay men.

“I genuinely thought gay men were different. I thought I could be myself and be accepted, but these guys were assholes!”

“What Zach is trying to say,” Matt elaborates, “is that he pissed these gay men off because he said, ‘All gay men are easy’, and they tore in to him!” Matt slaps Zach in between each word for emphasis, then giggles to himself.

“What? It’s true!” Zach says. “It’s a whole lot easier to get in a guy’s pants than a girl’s.”

“You think that’s true, Matt?” I pipe up from the other end of the couch.

“Most homosexual men I meet are trying to become sexual as quickly as possible. Even with my ex, we had sex on the second date. I thought that was going a bit fast, but he didn’t.”

Honestly, Matt had a point. With my ex-boyfriend, we had sex on the second date too. And outside of dating, I could get a hook up with a guy a whole lot faster than with a girl.

This past summer, I visited a friend in Oakland. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend and I just wanted meaningless sex. So what did I do? I do what every gay man does when he wants booty as quickly as possible. I downloaded Grindr.

The following are actual profiles on Grindr that I copied the other day:

Looking for now. Looking4Hung. Let’s play RN. Horny. F***MyHole.

What the profile names on Grindr lack in creativity, they make up for in blatant candor.

Within two minutes of downloading the app, I had a boy and apartment at my disposal. And that’s truly what it was—disposal. Both men using each other to get something out of the other. It’s not a night of passion. It’s a transaction. A fact that has made it hard to even consider having a loving relationship with another man.


“What about gay marriages?” I’m back with Matt, attempting to eat ice cream while I drive, and I’m failing miserably at it. White and brown seep down my arm and onto the steering wheel, as Matt gracefully laps his ice cream with a napkin on his lap. He’s a lot better at this than I am.

“I’m cynical of gay relationships.” Matt says.

“Why?”

“I am very suspicious of any homosexual, male couple because I feel like they are all open.” Matt goes on to talk about his good friend on the East Coast. He had been married for three years, but had recently solicited Matt for sex. Turns out their marriage was open.

“What the hell? All gay men have open relationships! Does anyone believe in sanctity anymore?!”

Why was Matt so upset about this? Why was I upset with him? I think it’s because we are all holding our breath, hoping someone will be different, that someone will give us hope of something to look forward to, but we keep getting let down. In my years of coming out and stepping into the gay culture, I have yet to meet a gay couple that hasn’t been open at one point or another.

“Do you have any gay role models, Matt?”

“Gay role models??? I feel like that’s an oxymoron.” Matt crunches down on the last bit of his cone and slaps his hands together to get rid of the crumbs. Matt then shares there isn’t a single gay man he looks up to and how he views most gay men as “damaged goods.”

Many of my gay friends and gay strangers alike have used this exact phrase on multiple occasions—”damaged goods”. It’s always said so matter of fact, as if it’s some reality we just learn to live with.

In fact, one time, while sitting in a hot tub, at a local bath house, a man went at length, talking about how broken and repressed other gay men are. We’re literally in a bath house, soliciting random strangers for anonymous sex in a building with cameras and metal doors to make sure people don’t know we’re here, and this guy is criticizing how broken and repressed everyone else is in Colorado Springs?

We’re self-destructive, calling out deficiencies in each other, eating our own, all the while contributing to the problem.

Where in the world does this come from? The answer would come so casually, I almost missed it.


The first gay club I ever went to was with my now ex-boyfriend. In an attempt to “act straight”, we found the straightest thing we could do in a fog filled, laser light, go-go dancing warehouse—we played pool and drank beer.

As we attempted to look like we knew what we were doing, a gang of lesbians watched us. And it was a gang. Like a pride of lionesses, I felt at any second, they’d pounce on the two gay boys and show us how it’s done. After all, all lesbians know how to play pool.

But after I realized I hated pool and that I’m terrible at it, I started people watching. I was so perplexed by this new environment.

Stranger danced on stranger. Bartenders served shot after shot in nothing but thongs. Thunderous bass shook us all to the bone.

By all counts, this should be a happy place. Alcohol. Music. Dancing. But everyone was so somber.

“What’s wrong?” I had stared too long. My boyfriend had noticed and spoke up.

“Everyone just seems so sad.”

My boyfriend followed my gaze. “Well, when you put a ton of people that have experienced so much trauma all together, you’re bound to be sad.” He drank his very “straight” beer and went back to pool as if the thought was so obvious. But it wasn’t so obvious. It was profound!

Yes, LGBTQ individuals have been given the right of marriage. But decades of hiding in the closet doesn’t go away overnight. The fear and anxiety of being attracted to the same sex doesn’t magically disappear with legislation. The very fact that my boyfriend had to play pool and drink beer to not look “too gay” is evidence enough. In fact, the day he met my parents, the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m gay, but I’m not a faggot.”

The repression continues. The closet continues.

Michael Hobbes wrote a powerful line in his essay on gay loneliness that summarizes this thought. “Whether we recognize it or not, our bodies bring the closet with us into adulthood.” He goes on to share that even though we’re experiencing more liberties as gay men than ever before, more and more gay men are finding themselves utterly alone.

And it’s so true. I feel it. My friends feel it.

The repression that was our ally as a child is now is our enemy. And what happens when a people are repressed for too long? What happens when a piece of you has been shoved into a corner for years? What happens to a child that will not be heard?

The child screams.

And just like a child, I think our sexuality is screaming. It’s demanding to be heard, and the only way we know how to get that sobbing piece of us to shut up is to appease it with sex.


“Where do you think this comes from, Matthew?”

“An entire minority group has not been allowed to express themselves, and then suddenly being able to express their pent up sexual identity… I think we’re still feeling the reverberations of that.”

I agree with my friend. We are still feeling the reverberations of it.

It wasn’t too long ago that I watched Love, Simon alone at Tinseltown. While the rest of the viewers congregated to the left side of the theater, I sat on the right. I had a feeling this was gonna be a rough one, and I did not want some randos staring at the sobbing mess holding himself in fetal position. I was right. Except the fetal position part. Like I said, I have a flair for the dramatic.

As Simon’s mom began talking with him about how she’s felt like he’s been holding his breath, I literally had the hardest time breathing. I heaved for air, desperate for that kind of conversation. For someone to mirror my pain, for someone to see I was hurting, and for someone to give me permission to be. To not make it such a big deal and to reaffirm their love for me, specifically at that critical age. It would have been so freeing to just date a guy in high school, for it to not be a big deal, and see if I even wanted that type of relationship.

But instead, I had to navigate these turbulent waters in secret and shame, like sailing a pitch black ocean in a raging typhoon. Years wasted on porn. Countless conversations with strangers. Endless nights littered with tears. All the while, the tension and pressure in my chest continued to rise. These “releases” weren’t releases at all. They ultimately increased the heat, causing my confusion and attractions to boil over.

I am now 28, and I can feel more confused and pent up than any of my younger years. Some days I genuinely wanna be with a woman. Then on others, I’m downloading Grindr, my repression exploding like a shaken Coke can.

A lot of nights I wonder, if I was priveleged a story like Simon’s, what would my story have looked like? Would the curiosity be appeased and being with a woman be my actual desire? Would a healthy gay relationship seem possible? Would I have dreamed dreams rather than nightmares?

Regardless of outcome, I truly believe I wouldn’t live with this pressure incubating in my chest. I would have thought through what I actually wanted, without this surmounting hormonal tension billowing inside me.

It’s for that reason I scream for this fight—not for myself, but for the little Simon’s and little Mark’s and little Matthew’s suffering in silence, locked in an air-tight closet, desperate to breathe.

We’ve got to destroy the closet or it’ll haunt us forever. We have to make it okay and safe for our little ones to ask questions without fear, so they won’t seek refuge in the shameful darkness. If we don’t change this narrative, if boys and girls and intersex individuals continue to find solace in the nooks and crannies of the world that ultimately isolate themselves, how will they find help? How will they know they’re not alone? How will they learn to trust? They’ll ultimately carry that shame of the closet in their bones far beyond their teenage years. Their youth will haunt their adulthood. The screams of their adolescence, of our adolescence, will echo, climaxing into a corrosive crescendo—a sexual rage screaming to be seen, screaming to be heard.

That’s what I see on the dance floor with my then boyfriend. That’s what I see in the Grindr profiles on my phone. That’s what I see in me as I wrestle and rage against myself.

For the love of millions of young ones, let’s burn the closet down. Let’s make it okay for our children to step into the light. Let’s make it okay for them to “breathe the free air again.” To “exhale” as Simon’s mother put it. Then, maybe then, in the light of love, life can grow.

Incongruents (yes, plural)

Warning: Pretty language not utilized

It’s been an odd few months. The nail in the coffin of my last relationship was hammered in four to five times. I’ve hooked up with about eight strangers. I’ve lied awake in someone else’s bed, wishing I was in my bed, trying to remember what the guys name was, asking, “Why the fuck I’m here again? I was in pajamas an hour ago!”

I hate hooking up. I do it any way.

I hate gay sex. I do it any way.

People will say it’s because of my internalized homophobia. That I would enjoy it if I’d let go of my socially constructed morality. If I’d just relax.

But as I lie in bed next to this chiseled military body (because, honestly, it’s just a body to me), I think of a woman.

I think of holding a woman. I think of kissing a woman. I think of listening to steady breathing as I play with her hair. I think of pulling her in close, and both of us holding so tight our lungs begin to collapse, but we love the breathlessness that is each other, and then we laugh because we’re ridiculous.

I think of kids.

I think of them running around with cute curly hair bobbing up and down as they belly laugh past me. Why they have curly hair? I have no clue. I don’t have curly hair. Maybe that’s what I think is cute. Or maybe I subconsciously wanna marry a woman with luscious wavy hair that our kids will get.

All the curls. All the laughs. We’ll chase them in over size sweaters and cozy up on a big couch with our obnoxiously large mugs cause that’s what the cute Instagram couples do, and that’s reality.

I think of marriage.

I think of family.

And yet I’m sleeping with some dude named Tyler I just met.

The two are not congruent, and it makes me crazy.

I think at some point I was using masculine sex to meet deep places in my heart. Young places. But now I think it’s just out of habit. It’s easier. Like eating fast food because it’s just easier. AAAAND not always having to buy the food is pretty great. And getting pursued. That’s way great! I love being chased and pursued. The fact that women get that is bullshit.

Women. Chase your men. Men. Don’t be too much of a tool to not like it. You know you do. You also like being the little spoon sometimes. Quit pretending.

Calm thy tits, Brandon, and get off the soapbox.

I guess what I’m getting at is that if we always give in to what we want now, it’s very possible that we’re robbing our future.

I’m not in denial of my attractions. I’m not gonna try and explain them away with some psycho babble that sounds smart. I’m sure there’s probably some reason why I’m attracted to men. But that doesn’t change my reality.

I think my reality changes when I trust God with the now with tomorrow in mind. With His promises in mind.

A dear friend shared a sermon on faith, and how it’s rooted in believing in a promise.

To be honest, I never got promised a man. In fact, when I think of younger Brandon, I never dreamed of having a husband.

I have friends who dreamed of marrying the same sex and they have embarked on that journey with God, believing Him to bring those dreams to fruition. I live that! It’s great!

But that’s not me. I didn’t dream of a future with a man. I never romanticized them. I sexualized them. There’s a big difference. I know, shocker. And that difference has created a massive conflict.

I’m attracted to men. But I hate engaging in gay sex. I don’t find pleasure in it.

I dream of a future with a woman, and sex with a woman actually sounds pretty damn great. But I’m so scared I’ll hurt someone.

And I know God has called me to be a dad. You don’t get babies with two daddies. You get them with a mommy and a daddy. Sex 101.

These dreams and realities are all over the place and are not compatible.

But maybe that’s the promise I hold onto. Maybe that’s the crazy Abraham promise I get. Not that I’m an old fart called to have sex with a barren woman. But that I’m attracted to men, that I’m by definition gay. But that there’s hope for me with a woman. That it’s possible, because I actually do want that. And that may sound absurd. But it happened with my friend Leah, and her story is one that awakens hope and faith and love. The eternal things. And she inspires me to trust God again. So maybe it’s not all that absurd after all. Maybe it’s miraculous.

So here’s to blabbering about nothing and everything, to not getting closer to an answer, but trusting God with the incongruents, and the obtuse and peculiar. He’s pretty great with them.

Chapter 2 | Your Homosexuality Was Made Possible By…

Recently, my family and I had an inspiring family meeting, instigated by our current pastor. All of us texted the man, asking, “Why are we meeting? What did you have in mind to talk about?”

The only response I received was, “Just be very open and honest. That’s all I ask of you tonight.”

As we all gathered in nervous expectation, every individual of our family shared some of our deepest fears or hurts. The result? Reconciliation and mutual understanding.

During the eveing, the question was asked, “Do you believe people are born gay?” All of us at the table agreed that it was not. There is not enough scientific evidence to prove it. The next question was, “Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?” As parents nodded their head, I shook it.

“Brandon, why did you chake your head? Do you not believe homosexuality is a choice?”

“No,” I responded, “I didn’t choose to these feelings and attractions. In fact, multiple times I prayed God would take them away. I never wanted this.”

The question then comes, “If people are not born gay, but it’s not a choice, what is it and where does it come from?”

To answer that question, I think the question must be asked, “Why is Harry attracted to blondes, while Steve is attracted to brunnettes? Why, if you were to go to an porn site, are there multiple ‘genres’ and fetishes? Why is there not just one way of having sex? Why are there all these ‘flavors.'”

Like all preferences, whether it be between chocolate or strawberry icecream, between blue or yellow, preferences have evolved as a result of our experience.

I am currently studying brain plasticity–cutting edge research analyzing how the brain is consistently changing. Patterns and habits are formed simply as a result of life experiences. In the book, “The Brain that Changes Itself,” Norman Doige shares how a specific client he is treating is attracted to women who remind him of his mother. However, he always abandons them as a result of feeling abandoned and unable to mourn the loss of his mother. This patient’s entire relational and sexual encounters are formulated based off of a massively traumatic experience with his mother.

Our sexuality is not determined at birth. Any studies attempting to accredit sexuality to DNA are inconsequential at best. But there are hundreds of studies supporting a the theory that sexuality develops. Through these studies, we have discovered sexuality is composed of three major parts:  

1. Initial Sexualization

2. Conditioning

3. Orientation

 

Initial Sexualization

This long word basically means this—your first experience with sex, whether it was a on your wedding night, a heated moment of “passion” after your high school prom or a suppressed moment as a child when you were raped, that initial moment has shaped your idea of sexuality.

My initial sexualization was with an older boy in the church. When I felt alone and my hormones were raging, I replayed those secret moments in our church’s storage space. In hopes to recreate that moment, I would touch myself, thinking of that guy. From the echoes of years past,my sexuality was shifted.

Conditioning

Conditioning means if you masturbate to bridges, you will be aroused by bridges. How you train your brain affects your sexuality. If you are having sex within a mutual trust, established between you and your spouse, your brain does not assimilate fear or self-satisfaction with sex. If you train your brain to “get off” in a matter of seconds, allowing your hand to please you, you are training your brain to make sex about one person: yourself. If you masturbate while looking in the mirror, you are training your brain to be attracted to your anatomy—aka your gender’s anatomy.

For some of you, this can be incredibly disheartening because you are just now realizing patterns you have conditioned your hormones to embrace. No fear, you can actually retrain them. Your brain is not hardware, wired at conception. It is a living, active and incredibly powerful organ, shaping and shifting so drastically, you literally do not have the same brain you did half-an-hour ago. Every decision you make determines your chemistry. You are a product of your decisions and the decisions forced upon you.

Orientation

Orientation consists of how each individual perceives themselves to be. Essentially, orientation is wrapped up in how you answer this question: Are you gay, bi or straight?

This is where I would like to spend the majority of this chapter. Conditioning will be a major factor in chapter three, but I believe it is this third portion of sexuality which affects the question—why do I like boys or girls… or both? Here are factors that I have discovered in my own life, as a result of analyzing my story and the story of those around me.

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Factor 1—Masculinity and Femininity

What is a man? What is a woman?

What does it mean to be womanly? What is it to be manly?

Manhood… if I were to ask you to define it, could you? Few can. When I was a youth pastor, I asked the guys that question multiple times in our small group. In the quiet of my room, especially with my own insecurities and uncertainties flaring before me, I self-inquired, asking myself that same question—what does it mean to be a man? But even in the confines and security of my own room, while staring at my own reflection, the answer continues to be elusive.

As is the case with every word, its value is only found in the meaning that we assign it, and as we give words meaning, we can judge by that meaning what things are. For example, the Webster’s dictionary defines a bird as: “a feathered vertebrate, whose forelimbs have been modified to fly.” We can look at a fish and say, “it is not a bird, because it does not have forelimbs modified to fly.” Therefore, our definition of “man” and “manliness,” or “woman” and “womanliness” (I apologize for my focus on masculinity. I am a guy. It is an easier position to understand.) is crucial to determine who or what falls under those predetermined definitions. 

But there is a problem, in that we have a loose, vague and, I would argue, false definition of the words “man” and “manliness,” of “woman” and “womanliness.” As a result, people who were never meant to be excluded from these definitions have been ostracized from that which is rightfully theirs, a birthright.

What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be manly? Is a manly-man someone who can grow a bushy beard or who possesses a deep voice? Is it someone who loves power-tools and takes pleasure in smashing things? Is it someone whose tear-ducts have vanished, being replaced by a strong right hook? Is it someone who is an avid sports fan and can be found in front of the television on a Sunday afternoon with a beer in their hand?

Webster’s defines “man” as: “an adult male human; a bipedal primate mammal with notable brain capacity, capable of speech and abstract reasoning; the quality or state of being manly.” Webster’s then defines “manly” as: “having qualities generally associated with a man; appropriate in character to a man.”

Does anyone else see the problem here? It is circular reasoning. “To be a man is to possess manliness.” “To be manly is to have the qualities of a man.” This complete lack of clarity results in confusion, forcing every man to define manliness for himself based upon inputs from society. The result, we are lost in translation. 

As a society, we have created a cookie-cutter man, and going outside of those parameters is prohibited. If you do not conform, you are not a man; you are not manly, and if you are not manly, you will be ostracized. According to our society’s false definition of masculinity, a “man’s man” (the phrase sounds slightly homosexual, but whatever) is a guy who loves sports, continually drools over the female anatomy, loves a good action movie and is incapable of vulnerability.

People who do not fit these false stereotypes may still be “men,” but we view them as “lesser men.” We have labeled such qualities as tenderness, creativity and sensitivity as feminine qualities. Not only does this affect the male species, but females as well. If a woman does not possess these qualities, she is labeled butch, less feminine. Therefore, many who truly belong to the definition of “man” or “woman” have been excluded from their rightful identity.

Still following?

Think of it this way. Imagine one of those baby block games where you insert shapes based the corresponding holes. You have circles, squares, triangles, diamonds. Now imagine it with only three shapes—straight girl, straight guy, homosexual.

This is the dilemma of our society. We have a warped definition of what manhood and womanhood is, and those who do not fit are ostracized, when in fact, those we label “less of a man” or “less of a woman,” complete the whole picture of masculinity and femininity.

The football jock on the field is not more of a man than the artist expressing himself through dance. They are two sides of the same coin. Together, they complete the picture of masculinity. The strong-willed, ambitious business woman, is just as feminine as the “stay at home mom.” One is not less valuable than the other. They are both sides of yet another coin.

You may ask, “Brandon, does this really matter? Is it really that important of a factor?”

Absolutely.

While drafting this chapter, I began watching YouTube videos of guys “coming out.” I watched story after story of boys “stepping out of the closet,” “embracing who they are.” I am not making light of their stories. It takes a lot of courage to confess those internal emotions to those around you. But I want to point out a consistent theme in every story I watched.

“Now looking back on how I was as a kid, I don’t know why I didn’t see I was gay sooner.” They then continue to share how they were always more sensitive than the other boys, how they loved to dance and valued the arts, how they could better get along with girls.

From a very young age I have been creative, imaginative, fashionable, relational and sensitive. I love writing, acting, singing and dancing. Starting in early elementary, I was writing stories, singing aloud in grocery stores, running around playing make-believe and even doing a handful of fashion shows with my female cousin.

By society’s standards of manhood I failed with flying colors, and in the words of Bradley Hathaway, “Society tells me all day long, that I have defined manhood completely wrong.”

But when did these qualities become telltale signs of homosexuality? Since when did the adjectives “sensitive,” “sociable” and “artistic” become synonymous with gay? Last time I checked, homosexuality literally means you are attracted to your same gender sexually. Thus, “homo,” meaning “same,” and “sexual,” referencing “sex.”

As I walked the halls of middle school, enjoying intimate conversations and spending my afternoons acting and singing, I was labeled “gay” and “queer”—a lesser man. I did not belong. As a result of the rejection from my close male friend and my gender as a whole, I began to distance myself from the “guys,” thinking I did not fit in. I was not fully man, when in reality that identity was my possession. 

I was robbed of my birthright.

But no worries, society has crafted a solution for me—homosexuality.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

Factor 2—Gender Hunger

A plane plummets from the sky over the Pacific. Upon impact with the crashing waves, everyone, except for a young woman named Rachel, dies. As water pours into the damaged plane, Rachel takes a deep breath, unbuckles herself and swims out a broken window. Desperate for oxygen, she frantically swims towards the sky above. Her nose and mouth breaches the surface. What does Rachel do? She inhales the most exhilarating gasp of oxygen in her existence. After looking around, gathering her bearings, she descries an island not far away and begins swimming towards it. The island that seemed not too far off, has taken Rachel hours to reach. When her feet finally touch the earth hidden beneath the water, she sprints towards the hot sand, flinging herself upon its bank. She regains her strength, after lying there for what seems like eternity. What is Rachel’s next immediate concern? Water. Rachel scours the island for a spring of fresh water. Once she finds it, she plunges headfirst into its depths, sucking down the most delicious gulp of H2O she has ever consumed. Evian could only envy. Finally, after first fulfilling her need for oxygen and water, she begins to notice a desperate hunger in her belly. She breaks off a nearby branch, carving a point into one end. Rachel is going hunting.

The body prioritizes its needs, nullifying the less important ones, to communicate to the conscious what is needed most. The soul is the same.

Too bold of a statement?

Last year, I spent two months in India, where I worked in a Mother Teresa Home. The facility housed 200 of the most destitute women of Mumbai. Absent limbs. Absent minds. Absent family. They are all alone in the world. However, every twenty-four hours the women receive three meals, plenty of water, proper medication and restful sleep. Their bodies have every physical need met. Yet as I walked the halls, I saw hopelessness, and later on I would discover multiple women die on a weekly basis, many of whom were completely healthy. Why? Though every physical need is met, the facility is understaffed. There is no time to get to know these women. There is no “tender love and care.” As my team and I desperately desired to help, we realized the best thing we could do was to simply hold their hand, to tell them their beautiful, to sing them a song, to simply be with them. As we announced our time in India had come to an end, the women wept, not because they would go hungry, but because their souls would be left starving.

Our souls have appetites. It is not just our bodies.

Upon birth, the first person little Joey is drawn to his mother. Baby Joey registers he used to be one with this human entitled “mom.” From there, Joey begins to understand the importance of “dad:” the counterpart to mom. His soul breathes fresh air, as an unmatched loved pours forth from his parents. Security and belonging is established.

As little Joey grows, he begins to distinguish there is a difference between mommy and daddy, and that his anatomy is just like daddy’s. He begins to long for acceptance from other same-gender peers, from other boys. And thus, the era of “cooties” and their limited remedies was born. At this stage in life boys could care less about the acceptance of girls. Why do you think they call them “gross,” “dumb,” “silly” and an assortment of other wonderfully articulate vocabulary words? The genders are at war. That is why clubs like the “He-Man Women Haters Society” are born. The Joey’s soul is thirsty for belonging from his male peers. He wants to know he is “one of the boys,” that he “has what it takes.”

As he understands his “boyhood,” Joey begins to become curious of yet another group, his childhood sworn enemy—women. They no longer have “cooties.” “Circle, circle, dot, dot; they finally got the cootie shot.” Hostilities have ended; the war has ended, and they have become pleasant, an epic adventure to embark upon. Joey’s soul hungers for something new and exciting, and this occurs at the exact moment hormones begin to rage. The desire to be loved and accepted by women becomes a sexual one.

But what happens when a need is unmet? What happens when priorities get mixed up, and the soul is left parched, though sustenance surrounds him? Our souls need to breathe; they need to drink; they need to eat.

If our soul does not receive air, it does not care about its thirst or hunger. Once properly saturated with oxygen, the soul notices its thirst. But if the soul remains thirsty, it does not care about any hunger for the opposite sex, for their acceptance and promise of adventure. The hunger is overshadowed.

In my own story, I shared how I drifted further and further from the peers in my gender. I was scared of rejection. In my mind, I believed everyone saw me as gay, despite my efforts to hide it, and avoided me as a result. Homophobia.

This so called “phobia” is a curse to humanity. It isolates the very people who need masculine love the most (or feminine if the individual is a lady), and as that desperate thirst for belonging grows, due to its neglect, puberty hits, converting the natural urge to a sexual one.

If you have an attraction to the same gender, let me be the first to say, your longing is completely natural. It has just been blown out of proportion as a result of that thirst left unquenched for so long. But it is not just the stereotypical “gay” that is in desperate need of love and acceptance. For fear of “looking gay” men have long abandoned intimacy and vulnerability. If a dude cries, he is labeled gay—assimilated with weakness. So despite their crusty, rough exterior, inside is a desperate boy desperately desiring to be loved.

In my years “perusing” the internet, I found thousands of “straight” guys wanting a homosexual encounter. Ads on Craigslist would say, “Wife is out of town, needing a friend with benefits.” “Was just transferred to another base, feeling lonely.” “Never done this before, wanting to try it out.” During my time on Chatroulette sites, there would be numerous “curious” guys simply “exploring their sexuality.” It was actually during one of these moments online, that I discovered what I was ultimately looking for in a homosexual relationship.

“So have you ever been with a guy?” My random partner inquired, and for some reason, I decided to be brutally honest.

“No.”

“How many times have you been with a girl?”

“Well… I actually haven’t been with a girl. I’m a virgin. I’m currently dating someone. I’m waiting till marriage (as I’m looking for virtual sex online!)”

“No way! I’m waiting too, dude!”

“Are you a Christian? Why are you waiting?”

“Yeah actually. In fact I’m a small group leader at my church, and I lead a Campus Crusade Group on my college campus.”

This guy was me! In fact, the more I scoured the internet, the more I realized there are thousands, if not millions of others in my shoes—raised a Christian, wanting a heterosexual relationship, saving sex for marriage, but looking at gay content online.

“Why do you think we do this?” I asked my mystery man. We then began to divulge more of our story to each other. Over the course of multiple hours, we discovered thing we wanted was simply intimacy, acceptance with deep vulnerability and exposure.

It is all about a thirst left unquenched, and as that thirst grows, we cannot even discern if our souls are hungry for the opposite sex. People who struggle with same-gender attraction think there is something wrong with them, something off. But the desire simply is composed of a twisted, parched soul. The desire, and even the attraction to the same gender, is completely natural. It has simply exponentially grown to unhealthy proportions.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

Factor 3—Fear of the Opposite Gender

In my experience with female friends, I have found one of the main reasons women turn to lesbianism or bisexuality, is because they have a deep wound from men. Men cannot be trusted; they have hurt them too many times; they are viewed as chauvinistic slave masters; they are incapable of empathizing with their worries or concerns.

However, they have found a form of intimacy that is safe within their gender.

While processing through my same-gender attraction, I was extremely fortunate to encounter a lovely elderly lady. She became like another wonderful grandmother in my life. One thing I love about this woman is her heart for single mothers. She has been all over the world, and the “type” of person she is most drawn to is single mothers, especially those who have been severely hurt by men. When talking about the book, she brought up, “Brandon, it’s not just a desire to be accepted by your gender that affects your sexuality, but a fear of being rejected by the opposite gender.”

Because this is not my experience, it was foreign to me. But then she started sharing story upon story of women she does life with. Many of them, after being abused or abandoned by their ex-husbands have become homosexual.

Why?

Their gender is safe. They understand the mind of a woman, and their “sister” is far more trustworthy than the questionable man hitting on her at the bar.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

Factor 4—Parents

My generation (I am currently 23) has been labeled “The Fatherless Generation.” Never before has the percentage been so high of single mothers. But more than a literally absent dad, there are also dads who are physically present, but gone in affection and support.

It is a proven fact that affection of a father, specifically physical affection, helps to solidify in a boy’s mind that he belongs to the male gender. The funny thing is many fathers are under the false presupposition that showing too much affection to their son could make him soft or gay, but the opposite is true.

In my own story, I briefly shared how my father was never around when I was growing up. While running around the country in hopes to retire early, he missed out on a lot of my early childhood moments. But my dad has more than made up for it. Although I did not talk about it much in chapter 1, after my initial “exposure” with my dad, we have been reconciled and have a fantastic relationship.

But here is one thing that is critical for fathers to do—do not just tell your son to “be a man.” Show him how to be one; equip him to succeed, and show him he belongs to this elusive idea of masculinity—he is fully man.

Probably one of the number one things guys my age are frantically pursuing is mentors. We are looking for wise men to show us the way, to equip us and believe we can succeed. Why are we looking? I think the answer may be that we are looking for what we were meant to get from our dads.

But Fathers are not the only culprits.

While sitting in the office of a pastor, he shared with me the story of a frantic mother looking for answers.

“I don’t understand, Pastor.” The woman was frantic and emotional, because her son told her he thinks he is gay. “I don’t understand where this came from, or what we could have done differently. We had him in church all the time. We sent him to all the retreats. We made sure he didn’t date or get involved with pornography.”

“Maybe that’s where it came from.”

Overbearing mothers can devastate their children. I have often had to draw lines and boundaries with my own “concerned” mom. I understand that mothers are caring and worrisome. In the words of my own mother, “It’s in our nature.” Well, it also in my nature to feel like less of a man when my metaphorical balls are chopped off.

Men cannot be pampered all the time. We need to mature and learn how to stand on our own two feet. We need to get out, scrape a knee, fail in a business venture, live life and learn. Call it a narrow perspective, but men need to learn to be strong. It is part of what distinguishes a man from a woman… besides anatomy. We are called to be strong and courageous. How can we possibly do that if weight is never forced upon us? Or run into “battles” of our “not-so-terrifying,” 21st Century world, when a sword has never been put in our hands?

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

Factor 5—Taboo

Before I conclude this chapter, I need to say something, and unfortunately, I could not come up with a quirky way of including it smoothly in this chapter, however it is something that contributes to homosexuality, and it is a problem that has to be addressed. The final factor in someone struggling with same-gender attraction is how the church responds to sexuality and homosexuality, and it is summarized in one word—taboo.

Taboo: proscribed as improper or unacceptable.

While growing up in the church, sex was rarely talked about, but when it was, it was always spoken about in a negative light. It was something gross and twisted—something that “nonbelievers” did.

From a young age, boys are taught to avoid vaginas like the plague, while girls are taught to cover every crevice that might remotely trigger a lustful thought in her “brother.”

But the fact of the matter is, humans are sexual beings. The very first command before “do not lie” or even “do not have any other gods” was “Be fruitful and multiply!” AKA “Have sex!”

Let me give you proof that sex is too taboo and viewed through a distorted lenses within the church. When I said the word “sex” walls in your heart rose, and when I said the word “vagina” offense swelled. Neither sex nor vaginas, neither penises nor breasts are dirty or wrong. In fact, they were crafted by God, believe it or not, and after He molded them, He said, “It is very good!”

But as hormones rage, and the natural process of the human body continues, the church would prefer it if we just keep pretending our kids are in Sunday school, without a “dirty thought running through their little brain.” But what does this communicate to little Tommy, taught about how sex is wrong with a pastel Noah’s Ark mural plastered on the wall?

Girls are a bad.

So what does he do with his progressing sexuality? It turns towards men.

To this day, even though my conscious has grown numb to gay pornography, I find it so “wrong and wicked” to look at straight pornography? Why is that? Sex is evil.

Funny story time, incorporating a serious lesson.

I went to a Bible school immediately after high school (as shared in Chapter 1). In this school, students were kicked out for any form of PDA (Public Display of Affection, but Christians are very conscious of that acronym). The director even shared a story of how a guy was removed from the school because he caressed a girl’s ear.

One day, during one of our banquets, a lively song was playing. My friend Alyssa and I got up to dance. We were reprimanded. To kind of make fun of the situation, we “danced” with each other, but now standing four feet away from each other, not touching at all. We were reprimanded again. Then a guy friend of mine jumped in, spun me around and started dancing with me. No questions about our motives were made.

A little bit distorted? I think so.

But, if you are lucky, your church will talk about sex, in a special seminar, when you are a senior in high school, with parent permission of course. A topic that will never be spoken about within the confines of the “four walls” is homosexuality, and the vow of silence regarding this topic is devastating.

Without a word uttered, what does that communicate to a girl or boy wrestling with thoughts of same-gender attraction?

They are the only ones. They will not be accepted. It is the worst of sins.

Unable to process, they let the thoughts and feelings boil inside. Where will they go for answers? Where will they turn for comfort?

I guarantee you, it will not be the elder board.

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Factor 6—Sin

With the whole “Duck Dynasty” nonsense, I heard a wonderful response from a professed lesbian. She spoke of true tolerance, how we as tolerant people, need to tolerate other people’s beliefs. It is true tolerance to say, “Mr Duck man, you are entitled to your opinion about homosexuality.” That, my friend, is true tolerance.

From there she attempted to explain why Phil Robertson believes the way he does. It was in that statement a revealing remark was made. “The fact of the matter is, we don’t know where homosexuality comes from. I was raised in the church like Mr. Robertson. My homosexuality could simply come from the fact that every human is sinful, and we each have our ‘sin’ to deal with, but we don’t know.”

This is a really important factor. In fact, if all the other causes had to have a source, I would say it comes back to this tree letter word, infamous within the church. You may not be a Christian. If you are not one, props to you for getting through this blog. But regardless of your worldview, every human being has to come to terms with this prevalent fact—the world is broken. If that were not the case, homicide would not happen, kids would not be raped, genocide would not occur. But it does. Why? The world is broken, and that brokenness, I believe, comes from sin.

A wonderful mentor asked me a question the other day, regarding the blog. “Don’t you think that some people just struggle with homosexuality, that it’s the ‘button’ Satan pushes.”

I think we can all agree with that sentiment there there is that one thing, that habit we just cannot kick, that temptation that is always there. Could homosexuality simply be another symptom of the depravity of man?

Maybe. Possibly. Likely.

However, I do not view “sin,” as we have come to term it, as the root issue. I believe sin is simply what was stated just two sentences prior—a symptom.

Let me ask you a question: if a child had a fever and was covered in rashes, how effective would it be to cover the rashes and put ice on the forehead? If that was the only advice you received at a pediatrician, run. The fever and rashes are only symptoms of a greater issue. A good doctor will start doing tests to see what is going on internally, the root, and that is what he will treat. Not the rashes, not the fever. He is after the cause.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to be the “Great Physician.” He said, “I did not come for the holy, but sinners. The well do not need a doctor, the sick do.”

Jesus came for the root—Sin (Capital S). He did not come for your habits or failures. He came for the root, and do you know what that elixir of the soul was? Unconditional  love.

Our hearts are cracked and bleeding. We are hurting inside, and “hurt people, hurt people,” as the saying goes. Moments of healing did not come through endless counseling sessions; they did not come through moral discipline. They came when I tasted that sweet love or a shadow of it in those around me.

I sampled God’s love when a leader refused to fire me in spite of my failures.

Traces of that love, lingered on the pallet of my soul when a friend held me and cried with me as I shared all my “baggage.”

A scent drifted from eternity into the temporal when a Pastor asked, “What do you want to be? You’ll be loved to matter what.”

But more than mere samples, scents and tastings occurred when I heard God Himself said, “Stop worrying about the sin or how to behave. Your only concern is getting to know me. I’ll take care of the rest.”

The problem with unconditional love, the thing Christians have termed agape (based off the Greeks), is that it cannot have conditions. “But what about sin? What about righteousness? If we take off the all restrictions, what’s to stop people from sinning?” The very thing you will not allow.

It is a scary thing to remove all restrictions, all guidlines, all clauses, and simply say, “You’re loved… no matter what.” It is a leap of faith, but God is not after “caging the beast,” He wants to transform it. No laws or guidelines are needed if the character of the creature is good. 

We, as Christians, need to believe that this was the aim of Christ, not renewed morality wrapped up in one commance. Otherwise, we are going to continue to get wrapped up in behavioral management, which simply paints a clown smile on an already rotting corpse.

We have to believe it is the remedy.

Which brings us to our final question—Is homosexuality something to be cured?

Lets talk about that next.