There is 44 of us singing worship songs to our creator who knows our pains, sorrows, losses, joys, friendships, and our struggle with same-sex lust. We flew from all over the United States, England, and Canada to meet each other, encourage each other, learn from each other, and hear each other’s stories.
This is the second time Your Other Brothers has done a retreat in the green Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina.
As we participated in ice breakers, there was one particular ice breaker that gave me the feels, the same ice breaker happened last year too.
We stand in a circle and as Tom reads out questions, we are to respond by stepping into the middle of the circle.
As that happens, we can see who answers the question.
Tom reads the first one…….
“Who here is attracted to the same sex?”
All of us walk into the circle and laugh.
All 44 of us.
44 men who deal with same-sex lust, same-sex attraction, masculinity, sexual abuse, and shame.
I looked around and saw different men step in.
White men, black men, Hispanic men, married men, older men, young men. (I wonder how this response would take place in a local church?)
Tom keeps asking…..
“Who here is “out” to their friends and family?”
It was interesting to see about 25 guys step in the circle. As I stepped in the circle, I looked around to see men that didn’t step in. I had this feeling they were carrying a heavy burden. A burden that seems they would be afraid to share with the people in their life that should love on them and walk with them in life.
Can you imagine that? Carrying a very dark deep, and at times, shameful secret because you don’t know if your friends and family will love you if they knew your deep sin? Or having the feeling of heavy shame that you feel because of your sin struggles?
Sort of sucks right?
I walked into the circle because most of my friends and family know about me. But to see other men still stay behind caused me to feel some sadness. To have your friends and family not know is such a heavy story to keep hidden. The very people we need (straight buddies and our family) are the very people we are afraid to go to and be our true fallen selves.
“Who here is married?”
About 7 guys out of 44 are married and step in the circle. It was interesting. There was some quietness to this question. A quietness that seemed to be filled with curiosity, questions, wonders. How did these men get into a marriage? Imagine the constant struggles and conversations these men have to deal with in their marriages and families. How did telling your wife you are attracted to the same sex go? How about your children? How is your sex life going?
The list goes on about the complexity of the situation these married men are in.
Tom reads the Next question.
“Who here is single?”
36 men walk into the circle and laugh. No surprise here. Most of us are still trying to accept this fact, that we most likely will be single for the rest of our life.
“Who here is dating?”
1 man walks into the circle and we all start applauding and laughing. Not because it’s a joke, but because we all know the risk, hard conversations, future important conversations, and complexity this man has entered into as he dates a woman being attracted to men.
It was great. He is figuring out if he can fulfill the marriage covenant that God has allowed men to enter into with a woman.
Tom reads the next set of questions, “Who here is in their 20’s?”
About 20 men step in.
“Who here is in their 30’s”
I along with 15 or so other men step in. I was sad about this because I don’t want to get older, but my buddy Matt walks in dancing and celebrating being in his 30’s. It seemed like it's a party to him. I think I felt sad because I'm still fighting for the little good (an idea of a best friend and dorm life) I once had in my early 20's that seems to be fading away and now I enter into a decade of life that I have no clue will bring to me, likely a war of loneliness and a lot of netflix.
“Who here is in their 40’s?’ a handful of men step in.
“Who here is in their 50+?” another group of men step in.
Christian men that are attracted to the same sex come in all different sizes, ages, cultures, etc.
Tom then reads the next question,
“Who here has been affected by a divorce?”
There was some confusion here because some men interpreted that as did they themselves get a divorce in their own marriage which some men said yes to and others heard the question as did their parents get a divorce.
Tom reads the next question,
“Who here has a sports team?”
Some of us walk in and others don’t, but laugh. I look to my left and there was a guy I know, who hasn’t told his mom or dad he deals with same-sex attraction, I ask, “Who is your sports team, he tells me, "Green Bay," I respond, “Cool, mine is Barcelona.”
As others are still laughing at this question because remember, “gay guys or ssa guys generally don’t like sports," someone yells out, “Can USA sports teams count?”
“Who here have tattoos?”
Only two men step in, we chuckle.
Tom then goes over the 5 love languages. When it came to touch, almost all of us walk in laughing and start a big group hug.
One guy yells out,
"Ha, GAAAYYYY." Then he finishes his long hug with some of the guys that he is arm in arm with.
Tom goes on, "Who has grieved loss over the past year."
My heart started to feel something heavy. As men stepped in I started my assumptions. I knew most men had lost friendships and brotherhood (the relationships we long for most in our life), church community, friends that committed suicide because they struggled with homosexuality.
The basketball court we were doing this ice breaker on got quiet at this question because we all knew the grief of our loss of attachments can be a tremendous bag of bricks we carry on our back and in our hands.
Tom reads the next question, a question that haunts me, causes me a bit of anger and bitterness towards God, it causes me to ask God a never-ending question of.....
Tom asks, “Who here has asked God to take away their same-sex attraction?
Quietly looking around knowing this question has been a question all of us at one point begged God to take away, but he hasn’t.
Again, GOD HAS NOT TAKEN AWAY OUR SAME-SEX ATTRACTION.
All of us step in.
It is quiet.
We know we are not alone. We all have been there in those nights of agony and chaos. Late nights screaming in our cars, crying on our beds, daydreaming about suicide, sitting in the wilderness crying thinking is this how the rest of our life goes? Does God hate me? Is He trapping me?
“Why haven’t you taken this from me?”
“How the fuck am I suppose to live like this?”
“Why have you forsaken me?”
“Why do I have to be attracted to the same sex?”
“Why can’t I date someone I want to love that I am attracted to?”
“Father, can you please take this away from me? I’ll read my Bible every day, I’ll pray 3 times a day, I’ll fast every other week. I’ll do anything for you to take this away. I'll be the best Christian there will ever be."
God stays quiet.
We are all brothers. Your brothers. Your husbands, your friends, we are in your small groups. We are attracted to the same sex. We deal with lusting after the same sex. We deal with something we hope the Church can one day understand so we don’t have to fly all over the country in order to gain some relief that people can actually understand our struggles and our needs and our way of loving back.
Our need for same-sex affectionate Touch.
Our need for quality Time.
Our need for transparency from our guy friends.
Our need to be one of the guys that are allowed into the locker room.
Our need for the Church.
We end the night as your other brothers singing worship songs,
We sing to God,
“I will build my life upon your love,
it is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in you alone and I will not be shaken.”
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