Just ignore it and it will go away? Yeah, right. White-knuckled resistance to facing our same-sex attractions might work in the short-run but only creates further distress in the long-run. Our real goal is peace — and within the Brothers Road community, at least — finding peace in affirming ways that align with our faith, values, morals and life goals. And that means “doing our work,” authentically, not denying or suppressing our true feelings.
Relying Solely on Willpower
We certainly never consciously chose to be sexually attracted to men. Neither could we simple become attracted to women instead through a simple conscious choice or sheer willpower. At best, willpower could only help us resist the urge to indulge whatever sexual desire we felt in the moment. It could not bring long-term peace.
Rather than work on our will, we found it much more effective to work on our heart (our deeper emotional and spiritual desires).
Trying to Pray It Away
Almost all of us at one time hoped and prayed that God would suddenly change us — that if only we had enough faith, we would wake up one day and find our homosexual desires miraculously gone. Yeah, we might as well have prayed to wake up tomorrow and find a luxury car in our driveway.
It turns out we had been praying the wrong prayer all that time! Rather than asking God to take away our unwanted attractions — basically, for him to do our work for us — we needed to ask him to show us what to learn from these feelings and how he wanted us to respond to them. “What do you want me to do with these feelings, Lord?” “What’s the next step, Lord?” “Where do I turn for support?” “What do you want me to learn?” These are prayers he would actually answer, if we asked humbly and in faith. Then, we needed to be ready to get up off our knees and follow his direction, wherever it might lead.
Shame, Self-Ridicule and Self-Hate
We teach at Journey Into Manhood:
- “First, shame can NEVER motivate real change. In fact, shame begets only more shame, which may fuel self-destructive feelings and compulsive behaviors. So, shame must be released — and that can’t happen in secret. It cannot happen in isolation. It can only happen in relationships.
- “And second, for men dealing with unwanted homosexual attractions, we found that those yearnings result, in part, from feeling unrelated to the world of men. So, we need to feel closeness and love from other men. And that can only happen in male relationships.
“I learned I needed to take the risk of trusting others enough to let them walk WITH me through my deepest shame. I don’t trust everyone, but I create safe communities with trustworthy individuals. When I let them get close, I usually find that they’ve walked similar paths, in some ways. They understand me, and even love me. And I come to love myself — just as I am.”
Isolation and Secrecy
As long as we kept our “shameful secret” hidden and attempted to fix it in isolation and secrecy, we made little or no progress. No wonder. Difficulties relating to others do not resolve themselves in isolation without relationships. Fear of trusting others cannot be overcome without taking the calculated risk to trust.
Indeed, we found that what we wanted most — authentic male bonding — in some ways, we actually feared the most. For too many of us, emotional intimacy felt much more risky than sexual intimacy. So some of us used lust and sex to give us the illusion of intimacy without having to take the emotional risk of opening our hearts to another man, especially a straight man. It didn’t work. It was like drinking salt water to quench our thirst.
Trying to Force Opposite-Sex Attraction
Some of the worst (albeit well-meaning) advice we ever received was to resolve our homosexual feelings by dating women or looking at female pornography to arouse interest. Many of us already loved women – as sisters. In fact, many of us identified with them – sometimes too much so.
Our biggest issues were generally not with women, so that’s not where the main part of our work usually lay. Our bigger issues oftentimes were with heterosexual males and with our own masculinity. We needed to spend more time with heterosexual men, not with women. Before we could concern ourselves with attraction to women, we had to feel like more of a man. We needed to ground ourselves much more firmly in a masculine identity and in the heterosexual male world. That is where our authentic work led us.