Chances are, you’ve heard a few horror stories about the supposed despair and loneliness of anyone who chooses NOT to embrace his homosexuality, celebrate gay pride and live an active gay life.
We are here to tell you about our own, very different experience.
Certainly, choosing to walk a “non-gay” path can be challenging at times. It requires courage, commitment, emotional risk, and a willingness to take a deep look inside ourselves. But ultimately, this alternative journey has brought us much more peace, brotherly love and self-acceptance than we had ever experienced before. Plus, we can now live in integrity with our beliefs, morals, values, life goals and commitments to God and to others.
Let’s assume you’ve explored this far and decided for yourself to walk this path away from unwanted or incongruent homosexuality and toward what feels, for you at least, like your more authentic self—maybe even your higher self.
You’ve come to realize that you must love and accept yourself right where you are today, and then grow from here. This is not a path of shame!
Now it’s time to look forward and get a realistic view of the path ahead.
The Real Goals: Peace, Brotherly Love, Self-Acceptance
First, it’s important to have a realistic and worthwhile goal. Frankly, you’re not likely to go from 100% gay to 100% straight. Such dramatic transitions seem to be extremely rare. Even if you’re already more bisexual than homosexual, you’re not likely to remove all traces of same-sex attraction forever from your life—if for no other reason than that certain memories and past conditioning may never leave you entirely.
But that’s okay. The real goal isn’t heterosexuality, after all. The real goals are peace, brotherly love, self-acceptance, and living in integrity with your faith, beliefs, morals, values and life goals. For some men, that may include being able to authentically fall in love with a woman and enjoy a happy, faithful marriage with her.
Everyone is different. There can be no guaranteed outcomes of this journey. There never are, in any kind of personal-growth effort. But we have found again and again that so many of those who choose to walk this path and stick to it do experience a tremendous increase in peace, brotherly love and self-acceptance.
It Really Is a Journey
There’s a reason we call it a “road” or a “journey.” This work requires living your life differently than you have before. Being more honest and open. Asking for support. Identifying and meeting your underlying core needs in non-sexual ways. Growing spiritually (in whatever way is meaningful to you). And much more.
There is no “magic pill.” No quick-fix weekend event. You can’t just “pray away the gay” (a pejorative phrase made up by opponents of this kind of work).
Some men have experienced much greater peace, happiness and connection after attending just one Journey Into Manhood weekend event. Some have experienced a temporary let-down when they return to their everyday life where they find so much less brotherhood, authenticity and vulnerability than they experienced at “JiM.”
Some who have struggled with out-of-control sexual behaviors for years experience a breakthough level of sexual “sobriety.” Others continue on a roller coaster of emotions and cycles of sexual abstinence and sexual “acting out” for some time.
Either way, what’s different is that now they have a path—a map, so to speak—with guides or mentors and traveling companions. They are not alone. They have a level of clarity, hope and vision that was only a dream before.
That is our experience, at least. And while the journey always continues, it is a journey we can find joy and meaning in, even amidst the inevitable bumps in the road.
Learn About Others’ Experiences—and Apply What Fits For You
We live in the most gay-affirming society in history. And yet we also have more information, books, videos, testimonials, ministries, conferences, experiential weekends and other resources than ever before to light an alternative path to addressing same-sex attractions. You don’t have to forge your own path in the dark. There is so much you can learn from the real-world experience of many others who have walked this road ahead of you.
When those in our Brothers Road community share among ourselves, it is no longer surprising to see so many commonalities in our experiences. No two stories are exactly the same, of course. But no two stories are so vastly different, either.
Some of the common (but of course, not universal) experiences that so many of us share include:
Detachment from same-sex peers, due to bullying, feeling rejected, feeling awkward, or just believing we don’t fit in.
Feeling like we are not “man enough” or “one of the guys.” We are clear that we are not girls, but we don’t feel like we quite belong among the guys either.
Detachment from father, or not feeling the level of love and attention from him that we wanted.
Over-identification or enmeshment with mother.
Retreating to the perceived relative safety of the all-too-familiar feminine, while fearing but at the same time longing for connection with the masculine.
Sexual abuse or premature exposure to sexuality that created confusion or even trauma.
Hypersensitivity to criticism, or a generally sensitive personality that could be both a blessing and a curse.
Tending more toward artistic or spiritual interests than athletic or more physical interests, which only set us further apart from the dominant male culture.
And much more.
While these may or may not be actual “causes” of same-sex attraction for some people, we find that they are often very common experiences among those of us who experience distress or incongruity over same-sex attraction.
(Who knows, maybe the experiences of men who easily embrace and welcome a gay identity and gay life are quite different. We can only speak for ourselves, from our own experience of being in conflict with SSA and feeling like it’s not who we really are or who we really want to be.)
But the frequent commonality of our experiences means that they also provide significant clues to the inner-healing and personal-growth work that lies ahead of us:
Building our sense of masculinity, both internally and interpersonally.
Facing ourselves authentically — even the parts we’d rather not see — and accepting the things we cannot change while having the courage to change the things we can (to borrow a line from the Serenity Prayer).
Growing in self-esteem, resilience, assertiveness, masculinity and personal power.
Uncovering and healing emotional pain from the past.
Discovering and meeting underlying, core needs.
Taking the risk to build deeply authentic male friendships that meet our needs for same-sex affection, connection and community in non-sexual ways.
Growing in sexual integrity, sexual sobriety, fidelity or chastity—however we define it for ourselves.
Become more loving and nurturing toward others, especially wives (if married), children (if you’re a father), brothers and friends — and even yourself.
Obviously, this kind of growth takes months and years. It takes courage and commitment. It doesn’t happen on one weekend. It doesn’t happen through prayer alone, without significant action and constant follow up.
It’s the work of a lifetime. It’s a journey to peace.
Do Your Due Diligence—You May Want to Consider What Our Detractors Say
Of course, groups like Brothers on a Road Less Traveled are in the distinct minority today. The major mental health professional groups are pretty much in lockstep opposition to our experience and our message. Some might even tell you to disregard our first-hand experience because some anecdotal evidence indicates that some people have allegedly been so damaged by certain “sexual orientation change efforts” that no one should ever attempt to manage or control their sexual feelings at all.
So be an informed consumer. Go ahead and read what others have to say. But go to the original sources. Gay advocacy media (and much of the mainstream media as well) routinely overstate the conclusions and the “science” behind the objections of the mental health trade groups, and ignore or outright lie about the existence of research that doesn’t fit their predetermined conclusions.
To start with, see our Q&A: What Professionals Say About “Change Efforts”
But remember to distinguish fact from opinion, and real-life personal experience from theories, position papers and talking points.
Admittedly, this road is not for everyone. But it is right for us. You alone get to decide whether it’s right for you.
If you’re ready to move ahead, get support. Take the risk to step outside yourself and reach out. Build a support network. Join a support group, in person or online. Find a counselor or life coach. Work with a pastor. Seek out a mentor. (See: More Resources.)
You don’t have to walk this road alone. And frankly, in our experience, it isn’t possible. Same-sex attractions are deeply relational issues, and they can’t be addressed in isolation and secrecy. They can only be addressed in relationships, friendships, with mentoring and community.
Then do your work. We call it “M.A.N.S. Work”—an acronym that stands for:
These are four broad, overlapping areas that we have found are the core of our growth into wholeness as men.
We call it “work,” but it is really just learning to “do life” better–becoming happier, more whole, and the best possible versions of ourselves.
Of course, with all of this, you’ll also have to develop and maintain sexual sobriety. In our experience, all the personal-growth work in the world will not bring peace and happiness without “sexual sobriety” (or sexual integrity, fidelity or chastity — however you may define it for yourself).
Expect Some Setbacks–But Stay on the Journey
Finally, remember that this is the journey of a lifetime. You may start to see surprising results in a short time. Or it may take much longer. Don’t get discouraged when there are “bump” and “slips” along the way. That’s the nature of life. Wholeness and peace are not a destination, but a journey. And in our experience, well worth it.