A few years ago I took a summer job working around other guys. It was a simple job mostly and was dependent upon customers. That basically means that we sat around a good portion of the time just waiting for the customers to show up.
During those quiet times at work, I began talking with some of the other guys. I remember being very nervous about that in the beginning. I hadn't had much experience relating to other guys, and I basically had no clue as to how to talk to any of them. I remember being very reserved and feeling so awkward and out of place being around them like that. I mean, here I was working with at least ten to fifteen other guys, just thrown into the mix with them, and not having the faintest idea as to how to relate to them.
I found a friend fairly quickly in the resident screwball, who'd worked there for about twenty-five years. When I call my friend that, I mean it in the best of ways. He's a lot older than me, but he's got the heart of a child. There have been very few men in my life who I've known to be so warm and open and caring. I found that I could relate to him easily. I felt like a great big kid myself anyway, so we made a good match.
I slowly learned that summer how to get along with other guys as well. By simply talking to these other guys, I began to learn that not all men are cruel, thoughtless, uncaring, jerks. I began to learn that some were, but not all of them. In fact, most of them weren't. Most of them tried to get to know me in return. They talked with me, asked about me, laughed at my jokes, and joked back.
I remember that, in the beginning, I actually hated my job. I hated being thrown in with all these other guys. But by time fall approached, I'd learned to love my job. I really did love my job. I loved being able to be around those other guys. I loved the friendships I was building. And whenever I was asked to return to work that next summer, I certainly jumped at the chance.
This is now my sixth year working at __________. I'm now the boss of my department. I got this promotion because of that first guy who befriended me. He recommended me for the job. I don't expect my friend will ever read this blog. He does not know that I struggle with my sexuality. Although he has admitted to me that he's suspected I might, I've never admitted that, and for now I'd rather him not know. Regardless of that, I know I owe him a lot. I'm very thankful for him, and I hope that he knows that.
In learning to be friends with other guys, I've made some horrible mistakes. I've pushed away some of them whenever I found myself becoming attracted to them. I've neglected them at times for fear of getting too close to me and finding out my horrible little secret. I've turned down invitations to hang out or to go to parties or group outings with some of them. I've made a lot of mistakes like that, which I regret so very much. However, I was thinking today about how far I've come. Six years ago, I didn't really have any close male friends. I didn't have hardly any male friends, close or otherwise. Most of my friends were girls. But there have been so many friends I've made over the last six years. I'll admit that the majority of them, I lost as friends once the summer ended. Actually, I don't think “lost” is quite the right word. They are still friends. I just don't get to see most of them near as often as I'd like.
I've learned so much from these guys. I learned how to relate to other men. I learned that I'm not some girl stuck in a mans body. I'm a guy just like any other guy. Most guys face similar problems I have—pornography, masturbation, lust, envy, loneliness, rejection, etc. A lot of them have went through similar things. I would never have known that if I'd not started trying to make friends with them. I've learned that there is no such thing as a perfect guy. I've learned that I'm a lot more like other men than I ever thought possible. And over the years, I've grown to feel a lot more comfortable around other men. I've learned to be at ease around them.
It's funny, because six years ago, I couldn't imagine any other guy asking me for advice about guy things. This year at work, earlier this summer, I had three of them asking me about sex, one about college, one about religion, and I'm sure several other things have come up that I'm just not thinking about right now. I feel like I'm one of the guys now. And in a way, that's not really as strange as it seems like it should be, or like I used to think it would be.
When I first heard the message a year and half ago proclaimed by Exodus International, that change is possible, I believed it because I'd already experienced a little bit of it. Their message had already rung true in my life, or had began to ring true. Not that it's a guarantee, but that to one degree or another a person battling with homosexual temptations can change their lives. Their message is that homosexuality isn't really about sex, or a sexual problem, but that it's relational problem and one of misperception. It's not that we have a problem with sex, but that we have a problem relating to other people of the same sex. We simply use sex as a means of achieving those things we didn't receive from those of our own sex. (I won't say anything else here, because I know multitudes are sure to disagree with me about this stuff, and I'm not writing this post to debate these things, nor will I. There are a lot more things to mention here, which I won't bring up at this time). I believed this message because I knew how different I'd already begun feeling around other men since the time I started working with them. I could see so clearly how those problems with relating could cause me to have homosexual attractions. It's an opposites attract sort of thing. I didn't relate to men, but I could relate to women, so naturally, woman was not my “other”, but men were. Over the last six years, as I've been able to better learn to relate to other men, and as I've begun seeing myself in a different light, the attractions I've had for men has gradually decreased. And whenever I can go long periods of time without pornography or creating sexual fantasies in my mind, the even more those attractions dissipate. I feel more like a man now than at any of time in my life.
Having said that, I still feel very insecure as a man sometimes. I wish I could make more “close” friends, or feel like I have more in common with other guys. I have a few male friends now, and I love each of them, but I still wish I could spend more time with them. I hate the onset of fall (even though it is my favorite time of the year) because I know most of the friends I've made over the summer will be leaving and moving on in life. I know I won't get to see them or hang out with them as much. And there are a lot of guys I know I'm going to miss terribly. Some of them who have already moved on, I already miss terribly. I wish I never had to say “goodbye” to any of them.
I thank God for my friends though. I thank God for sending people into my life who have helped me so much. I thank Him for showing me a way out. God does that you know. Whenever you're stuck and needing help, God will help you and show you a way out. Before I began that summer job, that first year, I had just experienced one of the worst times of my life. It was my first year in college. I lost most of my girl friends from high school and was having so much trouble making new friends. I felt so lonely, and I was just coming to terms with the fact that I was gay. I was diving headfirst into all sorts of sinful behaviors, and I was so depressed I couldn't stand it. I was suicidal and actually came within only seconds of surely killing myself—I'd planned to drive myself off a cliff and just barely turned to wheel in time to keep myself from doing that. I remember traveling back and forth from classes and crying and praying until it hurt, begging God to help me, and crying out to Him to help me stop being gay. God showed me a way out! He showed me how to relate to other guys in a Godly way. He showed me that I'm not some horrible freak. I am a man, and I am a Christian. That's what I am. And even though I do find men attractive, that doesn't make me gay. I'm just like any other guy. Hey, we all have problems. But whatever our problems are, we shouldn't label ourselves by those problems.
I am loved! God loves me. My family loves me. I have friends who love me. I have people who care about me and want to help me. I'm not alone. It feels so good to know and to say that. I was alone for such a long time.
Here's my advice for anyone struggling with homosexuality: Pray to God to show you a way out. Try to build positive, Godly friendships. Bring your sins into the light, and allow others to help you. Be open-minded and reach out to others. But most of all, trust that God WILL show you a way out. Hold onto that with all your heart.
I'm sad that I've had to say goodbye to so many of the friends I've made. I wish I didn't have to say goodbye to any of them. But I'm grateful for having been able to know them during the time we were granted. They befriended me, and they helped me in a way which I doubt most of them will ever realize. And I'm not only talking about the guy friends I've made at work. I'm also so very grateful for all the friends I've made at church and online. I'm grateful God has given me friends. All of them have made me feel like I belong, that I'm not some sort of freak or different. They've cared about me, loved me, and made me feel like a man.
...I am a man.