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.

Prelude

“I’m putting in my two weeks.”

My supervisor stared across the table at me, wide eyed in excitement. “You got an offer?”

We had been talking about me leaving the company for some time now. I was bored with my monotonous work. Every Monday there was a dread of coming in. When the alarm blared on Monday mornings, all I could feel was anxiety.

But the truth was, there was a dread about life inside or outside of work, and there was an anxiety that greeted me not just on Mondays, but every day.

Desperate and hopeful, I applied for a number of outdoor therapy jobs. I had to get out of Colorado Springs. Instead of blindsiding my boss with a notice, I invited him into the process and would let him know as soon as I heard back from any of the companies.

But I hadn’t heard back from any of the companies.

“There’s not a job offer.” I told my supervisor. “But a friend wants me to help move his mom from Colorado to Arizona, and I need to get out. I’m not happy here.”

My supervisor nodded his head and told me he’d put it in the announcements. Although I lacked a lot of emotion, I truly was happy. Something was gonna change, even though I wasn’t sure what that “something” was. But something had to change. The last six months had been horrible. In the wake of a breakup, I struggled to even function. I needed to jolt my system with cold water, and apparently that cold water was in boiling hot Arizona.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Great… another human unable-to-cope-with-a breakup story. Here comes a Taylor Swift chorus.” Pump the breaks. That’s not exactly what’s happening here. Not to diminish the power and pain that exists in breaking up, but this was a bit different. This relationship changed everything for me.

On June 3rd, 2016, I came out on Facebook in a loooooong 36 minute video, stumbling over my words and repeating myself over and over again. Up until a few months before this, I had been planning on marrying a woman. Not any particular woman. It’s not like I was dating someone. But a woman. Definitely a woman. Even though I was looking at gay porn an hooking up with men. But definitely a woman. I was gonna marry a woman.

But then I met him… and it changed everything. So much so, I decided to go public with it, and that cost me a lot.

Friends from Bible school, high school, and church disappeared. Not violently like a car crash, but subtly, like turning down the volume on the radio after deciding there’s nothing good to listen to. They just faded away.

Family also suffered. I had been living with my parents for a few months. But after some conflict, I moved out… and that one was not with a fade. That one was more of an abrupt collision.

One text message and a stuffed backpack later, I was searching for a place to crash for the evening. After some frantic searching, I landed in a house I could not afford. I needed a job and ended up working for a software company answering emails all day.

I pulled away from people, scared to be vulnerable. I pulled away from God, scared He’d break this relationship, leaving me with nothing. I retreated into myself and into this person.

Life became a panic, surviving one day to the next. What was dreaming? What was hope? To be honest, most of it was wrapped up in this person. Dreams of raising rascals. Hopes of our love being more than tolerated by the people around us. Maybe it could one day be celebrated.

It was as though I had pulled all my funds from all areas of life and deposited them into one person. After all, everything else was deteriorating. I needed to invest where I had a viable future.

But there’s a problem with this methodology. What happens when your only account becomes volatile? What happens when you haven’t diversified your relational portfolio? Will I use another financial term to give symbolism to my relationship?

I’m not saying my ex was violent, but I am saying that the relationship was violent on my soul.

We were extremely sexual, and it freaked me out. Anxiety about how to navigate gay sex consumed potentially months of my life. I remember crying to myself, thinking I now had to bottom even though I hated it. I felt trapped in confusion and panic regarding anything related to sex with my boyfriend, even though I didn’t want to be engaged with sex to begin with.

We didn’t share a lot of interests. He loved guns. I was a pacifist. He wanted to stay in Colorado Springs. I wanted to travel the world. He was a loud conservative. I was a quiet moderate.

But probably he hardest part was he didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Fear and pain had driven him from the church. And as hard as I tried to incorporate Jesus into our relationship, he refused it. I was left alone in my pursuit of God, when I always wanted to share that piece of my life with my partner.

If I were looking at this as a normal human, I would say, “Oh! We don’t work. We should end this.” But there was a problem–this purchase had cost me everything. Now I was gonna lose it? The fear of losing the only thing I had left crippled me. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me in this relationship, something had coupled itself with my fear–need.

My ex and I filled holes in each other. The cliché of “you complete me” was no more true than in our relationship. Where I was strong, he was weak. Where he was weak, I was strong.

But the problem with any relationship built out of need instead of love is just that, you don’t actually love the person. You need them. And when the person doesn’t meet your needs, you resent them. We call love patient and kind. We say it’s not self-seeking. But love built out of need isn’t any of these things. Is that love at all? Or just selfishness disguised as affection? But it was true–we both needed each other. And what happens when someone or something threatens to take away the thing you need? You panic. Anxiety conquers your mind. And we had a lot of threats.

The twelve breakups. The uncertainty of the future. The lack of God in our relationship. The uncertainty of if this was right for me. The… you get the picture. There was a lot. But I refused to see any of it. I pushed it down. He was moving in August, and I didn’t want to ruin this. “Enjoy this while it lasts,” I’d tell myself when the panic became too much.

But emotions demand to be heard. The more you ignore them, the louder they get, till they become a despondent child that no longer cries. Learned hopelessness sets in.

That’s where I was from January to May of 2018–learned hopelessness. The anxiety had always been there. I just learned to live with it, and even though the source of this anxiety was gone, the anxiety remained. That was probably the hardest part. I had stripped my life of the source of all this anxiety, but it was still there, and I didn’t know why. I couldn’t fix myself and doubted everything.

I doubted the breakup. I doubted the future. I doubted God. I doubted myself. It was as though I had nothing to grab hold of anymore. Every day was a gray blur of surviving. My days were passing without color and life. Something had to change, even if it was just a trip to Arizona to help a friend move his mom.

But I was in for a surprise. The day after I told my boss I was putting my two weeks, I got a call from one of the companies I had applied for. I had completely forgot about the phone interview we scheduled!

“Is this a good time?” The recruiter asked. I was smack dab in the middle of downtown Colorado Springs. My car was at least five blocks away.

“Yeah! This is a great time!” I lied as a Harley blared passed me.

Over the next hour, I knocked the interview out of the park. We were laughing. He was talking to me about job details. I was excited. Turns out, when I have a well-this-is-screwed attitude, I interview well. I relax; I’m honest, and for some reason, recruiters like that? Whatever.

At the end of the call, he offered me the job and I accepted, thinking this must have been what I actually quit my job for. But as soon as I hung up the phone, the smallest feeling stole the joy I had from saying yes–a small unsettling.

Although all of this “made sense”; though security would be provided, and I would love my job, something was off. Something deeper than wisdom. Something in the gut that said “I’m not sure”. And it kept coming back like a song you can’t get out of your head. It wasn’t a no. It wasn’t a yes. It was a simple “I’m not sure about this”.  That’s the best way to describe it that. My gut simply felt unsettled and unsure, and it was driving me nuts.

In spite of the unsettling, I pressed on. I had to move out of my current living situation. I would be moving to Utah in less than a week! Small problem. Strep. Thursday morning, I woke up, unable to make it to work. Come Friday, my boiling hot skin and pathetic voice had caused some coworkers to pity me. They showed up to my house and help me move. As I picked up the largest boxes to prove a point, they screamed at me to sit on a bed and rest so I could get better. I’m not the best at listening.

But finally the sickness forced me to go outside and get some air. When I did, that obnoxious unsettling was there to greet me. I couldn’t make it shut up. How could I rest and get well when I was being nagged by this thing?

Then I prayed.

“God, I’m so unsure about this. I feel like it might be wrong, but I’m so not sure. I need help. If this is you telling me not to go to Utah, give me something else other than a nagging feeling. It’s not enough. I need more.”

At about 11 at night we had unloaded the last boxes into my parents’ guest room. I began to undress, burning with a fever. I had to get to bed. I was starting to get catatonic. But that’s when I heard her.

“Brandon,” it was Marcy, an old family friend that helped me move all day. Marcy came up the stairs, pulled my face into her hands, and stared into my eyes. It was that super intimidating stare too. Like where they switch from eye to eye, peering into the depths of your soul. But I couldn’t fight it. I had no energy.

“You and I both know you’re not supposed to go to Utah.”

And that was enough.

I emailed my recruiter the following night, letting him know I wouldn’t be going. I then texted my friend, Dallas, telling him I was coming to help him move his mother.

Few years back, I lived in Mumbai, India for two months. They say the air quality in Mumbai is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. When I landed in the UAE for a layover, my lungs gripped at the air. “Oh! That’s what clean air tastes like.”

I had learned to breathe in an existence saturated with anxiety. As soon as I sent the email, I was breathing clean air again. The anxiety was gone, and all I could think of was “Oh! That’s what peace tastes like!” I had forgotten.

But what about after Arizona? What about a job? What about a house? To be honest, I didn’t have the answers for those questions. I had ideas of what I would do after Arizona, but that didn’t matter. I had peace. For the first time in a long time, I was “breathing the free air again”, to steal Gandalf’s words. And with that peace, came a gentle knowing that hope was near. Life was near.

Color came back into my face, not just because I was burning up, but because of that breath of hope. And breath brings life.

Monday I quit my job. Tuesday I said yes to a job offer. Thursday I got strep. Friday I moved. Saturday I declined the job offer. Monday I flew to Phoenix where my good friend Dallas and his lovely wife Ariel (soon to also be good friend) awaited me. We were bound for the middle of the desert–Sierra Vista, and who knew that life lived in the desert.

Stay tuned on Instagram for the next leg of this journey.

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.

Voicemails and Longing

I hung out with an old friend the other day! It was horrible… Not because the friend is horrible or that the time was horrible. It was horrible because it resurrected emotions and longings that I would rather have dead.

It felt like a shadow of what once was but is no more. A shadow has no substance. In fact, by definition, it’s the very absence of light, an absence of substance, color, and life. It’s like a memory. It has a shape and form that is similar to what once was, and that’s what makes the longing worse. Like when someone’s dumb voicemail sounds like they’re answering the phone, and you get excited, eager to talk with them. You start rolling out your latest news, only to be cut off with a “Leave a message after the beep, and I’ll call you back.” But you don’t get a callback. It’s like calling someone who’s dead and all you get is their pathetic voicemail. You’ll never get the actual voice. You never get to hear that actual life. You never get to engage.

That’s what the interaction did to me. Like someone made the call, forced the phone to my ear, and I got the voicemail. It drew out all these emotions that I thought I had killed, but the shadow had swirled to the surface. And now I’m filled with longing, a longing that is terrible, especially when you believe it is very likely to go unmet.

This wasn’t the first time I had tried to kill this desire. From an early age, I longed for intimacy and proximity and just some basic physical touch. But that was inappropriate. Boys can’t want physical affection. Especially from other guys. That’s gay. And I didn’t want to look gay.

So as the jocks wrestled and slapped each other’s butts with a “good game” or the class clowns plopped onto each other’s laps, laughing, I sat at my desk with that terrible longing, writing stories to grasp at something I couldn’t have–to be physically affectionate with people, for it to not be wrong, for someone’s sexuality to not be brought into question. Just let it be affection. Period.

But that’s not how the world works… or so I thought. As life progressed, I was blessed, and also cursed, with fraternity that was balm to an aching wound. It was this balm that I was reminded of while driving with my friend. Memories floated to the surface, and all I wanted in that moment was to relive each moment, to capture it, and hold onto it, to never let it go. I missed those memories. But more than those memories. I missed the names and faces that made them worth cherishing…

I saw Bethany, Lynn, Micah, Kirsten, Esther and I lying on each other’s bellies at my goodbye party, laughing and crying all at once. I saw random bodies stacked on top of mine, as all of us cheered, “More men! More men! MORMON!!!” trying to reach the ceiling of our dorm. I saw Curran, Derek, Chase, Sherman, Michael and I sleeping next to each other, trying to keep warm in the freezing woods. I saw Josh and I in his bed, watching Friends and complaining about our leadership. I saw Janell, Abi, and Dallas crawling into my bed, dawning pajamas, each owning a character’s voice as we read through Narnia. We laughed so hard, tears were wiped from our eyes as I emphatically shouted, “I’ve been a baaaaaad fawn.” We’d later call ourselves the “Narnia Kids”, cherishing that moment in bed together.

I see it all, and I see how improbable it will ever be to ever have it again. As you get older, this type of affection becomes more and more inappropriate. People pair off and build their own families. We gravitate into ourselves, our phones, our families. They can curl up with the one they love. They can hold their child close to their chest. They kiss their parents goodbye. And that’s all fine and well. But what about those of us that crave something outside of that nucleic family?

Honestly, I wonder if I would even be gay if I could readily access this affection without it being stained with sexuality. In all the memories listed, I never had an inkling to pair off with someone, man or woman. The fellowship of my friends was enough. But then I think, “It’s not probable. This is why I need to marry a man.”

But I don’t want to be an island. Even if I were to marry a man or woman or whatever, I want fraternity with a tribe of people. People whose affection transcends blood or surname. Where affection is seen as simply that–affection. Where there is trust and vulnerability. Where people are loved as they are, and we champion the very best out of each other.

I want that. More than anything else. That would be a substance to this nagging shadow. But it feels like a mist, something I can never grab ahold of. It eventually slips away. So I cope with quick fixes.

Just the other day I downloaded an app, desperate for intimacy. I was about to hook up with a random stranger because I just wanted to be physically close to someone. Who the fuck does that? Me. Yep. Me.

Love Thyself

Love thyself.

That is hard to do for a man attracted to men. How are you supposed to love yourself, when the rest of the world says that that piece of you is not loveable, especially the culture that says, “God is love”. The narrative reads, “Yes, God loves you, but not that part,” and that in turn fractures a person. When people are willing to talk with you about everything else except anything that looks remotely gay, it doesn’t allow you to incorporate your whole self. When they want to small talk about everything, including the bloody weather, but they pretend your love life doesn’t exist because they’re scared of “encouraging” that piece of you, you have to deliver a self that the person will receive. You cater and tweak your identity to deliver someone that can be accepted. In doing so, you shapeshift to meet other people’s needs, not your own.

I sat down with a pastor not too long ago over lunch. After he was vulnerable about how my family and I hurt him (News Flash: pastors can get hurt too because they’re human too), he goes on to say, “Brandon, you need to know that God loves all of you, including the gay part of you.”

To hear those words felt so good, but also like blasphemy. It was like apprehensively drinking from a faucet you think might be poisoned. It felt good and refreshing, but doubt steals the blow you honestly need.

I recently spent a weekend with 1,100+ LGBTQIA+ Christians. Yep. I just said that. The whole weekend was powerful in the sense that I became normal, I was able to accept all pieces of me. Not just certain parts, but all of me. I belonged, and not just an arm or leg. All of me belonged. Though the speakers and worship were all powerful and freeing, there was an undercurrent that took me under in the least likely of places–a gay club.

After the conference, a group of us hit up a local gay club. As the bass pulsed through my body and laser lights danced on my skin, that undercurrent swallowed me whole, and I was caught in its riptide–I’m accepted, wholly accepted. In a place that most Christians would say God is not, but there be plenty of other “familiar” spirits, I experienced the love of God in the most powerful way.

Above the throng of people and the rhythm of EDM, I felt and heard a voice so calm and quiet, but far louder than all the noise, “You’re loved. All of you. All of you is lovely.” As that truth sunk deeper and deeper, I began to dance like a madman. I was pulled into the current of true acceptance.

PS, I don’t dance. You can ask my friends. I’m awkward and embody the spirit of Urkel (suspenders included). I normally jump up during a line dance because I know what’s expected of me and do it with my own flair (#mylife). Instead, without an expectation of how to dance, I danced how I wanted, knowing it was accepted, knowing the goober in me was cherished, knowing that I can be fully me and me is loved. I danced for three straight hours that night and had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I’ve had in a long time, in the “least likely” of places.

But it’s easy to remember that truth when everyone around you is communicating it. It’s quite another to hold onto that truth in the midst of the whirlwind that is life, especially when that whirlwind wants to suck in some pieces of you and throw the others away. It rips you to shreds.

So now, in “normal life” the wake of a breakup, it’s really hard to remember that. The person that would remind me of that is now gone. And that’s when I realized… I didn’t just want someone to love that piece of me, I needed someone to love that piece of me, and the result was putting pressure on someone to meet needs I needed to meet in myself.

I went out dancing (because I now love it since it’s an act of accepting myself) with a friend. He said, “I don’t see many healthy gay relationships.” He’s someone that’s working out his sexuality, and that reality makes it hard to even see a relationship with a guy. The fact of the matter is it’s true. When I look around at the gay culture, I do see a lot of unhealthy relationships, and I think a rejection of self is a key reason. So many LGBTQIA+ humans have denied and not loved this piece of who they are. They’ve ostracized portions of themselves. So when someone affirms that orphaned portion, they, in turn, need that person to keep affirming that orphaned piece of themselves. And unfortunately, a lot of times, the other person is looking for the exact same thing. Now, instead of two whole people delighting in each other, you have two fractured people that need each other, unable to offer all they are, because they haven’t reconciled themselves. They finally are having pieces of themselves loved that they are unwilling to love themselves and to lose that is terrifying. They can’t lose it.

It’s like parching a thirst you didn’t even know was there because you’ve stuffed it down for so long. Now that the thirst has been quenched, you have no clue how to live without it. And unfortunately, society has done a terrible job of quenching that thirst. The desperation builds, twisted with shame, and you quench the thirst in the dark places. Why? Because you haven’t accepted them. How can you bring it forward and love it, when everyone will shame you for doing so? Fear and shame force you to put pieces of you in a corner and punish it with a dunce cap.

What does this do to our psyche? What does this create? You get men looking for hookups on Grindr when they just need this piece of them loved. You get men who have to take a pill to not get HIV because they can’t find the right guy so the find the right now guy. You get men who get drunk and take off their clothes on a dance floor because they just want this denied piece of them to be seen and loved. You get married men who all of a sudden want to open their relationship to a third.

This internalized homophobia, this self-hatred is robbing all of us. It’s robbing us of health. In our relationships. In our family. In our internal world. Because we’ve been told a piece of us is unlovely and we refuse to love that piece of us, we will latch onto anyone that will love that piece of us.

I have a question, how are you supposed to embrace someone when you’ve chopped off an arm? How are you supposed to run through life when you only have one leg? This is what happens when we fracture ourselves. We amputate pieces of us. Then we find a relationship that allows us to do a “three-legged” race through life. But when the one person wants to go one way, and you need to go the other, you panic. How can you continue on without your legs? No person deserves this pressure. It breaks people and demands things from them that we’re meant to give to ourselves or find in God.

At conference, I saw healthy gay relationships. And you know what they had? Each person was loving themselves, all of themselves. They weren’t looking to their partner to meet that need. They weren’t asking a person to love them in a way that only God could. They finally believed God loved that piece of them, and they could, in turn, love that piece of themselves. They didn’t need a person to love them. And in doing this, they could offer a whole self to the other person. A healthy relationship blossoms for the world to see.

This blog post came from one such healthy gay relationship. The relationship that he and his fiancé share honestly gives me hope. Healthy relationships with the same gender are possible, and I think it happens when we first love ourselves, when we know in the depth of our being, every piece of us is lovely before God. You can undo the very curse Adam and Eve brought upon themselves. “Who told you were naked?” In other words, “Who told you ‘You need to carry shame’?” You don’t need to hide behind the fig leaf anymore. Your arms and legs are not just accepted by God, even those private and intimate places are lovely to the Father. You can love all of you because God loves all of you. And that’s what this couple has done the hard work of doing.

My friend told me, “If my fiancé left me today, I’d be okay. It would hurt. But I’d be okay. Because more than loving my fiancé, I love myself. I love me some me.” In doing this, my friend isn’t looking to his fiancé to meet places in his heart, and when he doesn’t get them, he gets angry. He meets those needs in himself through the help of God, and in doing so, offers a whole self to his fiancé. It’s beautiful to see.

Fractured pieces mold back to wholeness. Silhouetted shadows are brought to the light, offered to the world and your partner.

Regardless of sexuality, I see lots of people get into toxic relationships just to have a piece of us loved that we’ve deemed unlovely. But before we can give ourselves to the world in any healthy way at all, before I can give myself to another person, I want to love myself completely. I want to own and bring to light every piece of me. I wanna cherish all my legs and embrace all my arms, and I wanna love every piece. I wanna “love me some me”. I think that’s the reason this blog exists, to bring a piece of me forward that I’ve hidden for so long to simply say, “I see you and you’re worth being seen,” and in doing so, cultivate some health in my life, because I sure as Hell need.

To close this thing out, I’ll quote my friend who quotes the legendary RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here?”

Love yourself. You’re worth it. Jesus thought so. He died for that person. Why call Jesus a liar by calling pieces of who you are unlovable?

Ten Things Every Gay Man Wishes Straight People Knew…

Ten things every gay man wishes straight people knew…

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  1. There is no “gay agenda” meeting – We’re not trying to make your kids gay or your wife a lesbian. We do want our love to have a level of normalcy. We also know how hard it was to feel “othered” growing up and don’t want that for the next generation.
  2. Yes, I’ve heard of Rue Paul – Doesn’t mean I’ve watched the show. But if I figuratively had *cough*, I’d also say, “Those divas be so extra, I wanna punch them in their put-together face.” (What do you mean I’m being extra?)
  3. Not all of us are liberals – Some of us open carry, drive Harley’s, and want the government to mind its own business. There were actually some of us that were not “with her”.
  4. Gay people are not perverts – I promise your son is safe at camp. Just because you’re straight doesn’t mean you’re gonna rape my figurative daughter.
  5. Being gay isn’t contagious – So stop acting like being around me or getting close to me or showing me physical affection will somehow make you gay. And just because you’re a guy, doesn’t mean I’m having sex with you in my mind. You may be ugly as hell. Attraction in the gay world is like attraction in the straight world. Also, no, if you’re my close friend, I think of you as my friend. I’m not attracted to you. Imagining having sex with you is like imagining I’m having sex with a sibling. Ya nasty! So don’t get weird after I come out to you. Treat me the same. I am the same. You now just know another part of me.
  6. Being gay JUST means I’m attracted to the same sex – It doesn’t mean I like theatre or Glee. It doesn’t mean I am feminine or have a lisp and talk with my hands a lot. It doesn’t mean I’m fashionable or super sensitive. I’m not wanting to get “mannies” and “paddies” (Although I did get a pedicure once and it was greaaaaat!) PS, a good chunk of us actually play sports and go to the gym. In fact, we go to the gym way more than any of you straight people.
  7. No, I will not be your GBF (I’m taken) or your “guncle” (I have a few nieces and nephews already) – We’re in high demand. That’s what happens when there’s one of us for every ten of you.
  8. Being gay doesn’t make me a lesser man – In fact, maybe we embody the other half of a caricatured masculinity.
  9. Just because I’m gay, does not make me more sexual – That said, if you’re gay,  you’re probably more sexual. There are a looooooot of gay men out there that are very sexually driven. But men, in general, are more sexually driven than women, and now you have two sexually charged humans in a relationship together. All that said, the gay community has done a disservice to put so much emphasis on sexuality when it comes to their identity. It creates a sexually charged sub-culture. But that’s also what you get when sexual desires have been put at bay for the majority of adolescence. It’s like we have to have a second puberty. That said, I know tons of gay men that actually don’t like sex. Did you know that over 25% of us don’t even have full-on intercourse, even in a committed relationship?
  10. Being gay is not a choice – Believe me, if we could choose to be straight, we would have, a long time ago. Anyone that “chooses to be gay” is a masochist. No one in their right mind would choose all that comes with being gay (queue for next blog post, stay tuned).

In short, we’re people. Just like you. Don’t try to pigeon-hole us. Get to know us. Like any human, chances are, we’re not going to fit your stereotype. We’re infinitely different, and yet the same in our “human-ness”, just like you.

I Came to God for Witchcraft

“Dear God, come into my heart and make me powerful.” -Me, at the age of five.

I don’t like sharing the deep details of my first encounter with God, because my intentions would be exposed… and my intentions weren’t pretty.

After getting spanked with a belt for what felt like the hundredth time (young minds have a way of exaggerating, so don’t quote me, probably more like twentieth), I ran outside and laid down on the cool California lawn, staring up at the few stars I could see.

My mind went racing, contemplating that someone had to put those stars there, and to put those stars there, that someone had to be powerful. In that moment, all I wanted was to feel powerful.

I couldn’t run from being spanked. I couldn’t fight being spanked. So I allied myself with someone more powerful.

No one led me through a “sinner’s prayer”. No one told me the “magic words”. Desperate to become powerful and not alone, I prayed, “Dear God, come into my heart and make me powerful.”

Shortly after that, I prayed for a little brother to “annoy my parents”, out of spite and vindication. I was mad, but now I was powerful, and I was gonna have my way.

With confidence, I marched my five-year-old, cocky self to my mom, told her she was gonna have a baby, and it was gonna be a boy.

I had no concept of sex. In fact, I wouldn’t learn girls had pleasure in sex till I was 19 at Bible school of all places. But with or without my mom’s permission, she was gonna have a kid. Why? Cause I prayed, and God was living in me now.

Little did I know that my parents weren’t “planning on having a kid” anytime soon. But nine months later I had a baby brother.

Shortly after that, my mom asked me to pray for her friend to have kids. “She can’t have babies, Brandon. But if you prayed for her like you prayed for me, maybe she’ll have one.” I did, and nine months later she had a baby. A year later, she had another.

In my young mind, I was convinced that if I prayed and asked for it, God had to do it because I gave Him my heart, and He now lived in me. I was powerful. In the following years, I would pray for another family’s fertility and also a young girl that had leukemia. The family had a girl, and the child with leukemia was healed.

Why do I share this, especially when I could have hidden my motives forever? Why expose myself and not pretend I came to Jesus with a pure heart?

Because that’s just simply not true, and I think there’s a lesson to be learned here in how God functions.

In the book of Acts, there’s a man named Simon. He was a sorcerer. He wanted to be baptized so he could say, “In the name of Jesus” and perform miracles. He came to Jesus for power. Just like Simon, I came to Jesus for power. They were wrong motives. But He used it.

Not only did God answer my VERY simple prayers (“Jesus, give my mom a son”), but He used it to gain a place in my heart. Once there, He began to change it.

Twelve years after praying that prayer, I transitioned from believing there was a God, to trusting God with my life, from manipulating a powerful force, to being transformed by that force.

Jesus had THOUSANDS of people following Him for free food. They didn’t come for the messages. They didn’t come because they believed He was the Son of God. They came because there was free food… and maybe because He took jabs at religious folk.

But He used it.

He used my need to feel powerful. He used Simon’s greed for fame. He used a multitude’s hungry stomachs.

He will take what you have–period–and use it to gain space in your heart.

I do not trust Jesus because I magically saw who He was and instantly turned over my life in hopes of becoming a missionary to starving orphans in Africa, or some other noble, selfless cause. I came for a selfish cause–myself. But He took it. And I’m so glad He did.

Masculine Love

 

It. A horror movie that most of us are familiar with. But for me, it was so much more than that. “It” called out to longings in my heart…

No… I don’t want to eat children and feed on their fear.

But when a bunch of boys jump in a quarry, when they walk into the face of danger fighting side by side, when they simply bike down the road laughing with one another, something stirs deep within me. In the final scene, as they cut their hands and make a circle, vowing to vanquish the evil together should it raise its ugly head, I got a little emotional.

I want that.

I recently had lunch with a pastor in town. He said, “Brandon, you crave masculine love. I see it in your eyes when you’re hugged by a man, and it isn’t evil.”

Is it, though? For so long, I’ve had this thirst for masculine love, and all at once I love it and think it’s so wrong. When my guy friends hug me, it means so much, and then I immediately feel dirty for it meaning so much. One time a leader of a ministry in town said, “I feel like I’m just supposed to hold you for a bit.” He held me in his arms for ten minutes, and the whole time I both craved and despised it. I wanted to give myself to it, but I can’t. I can’t want this.

Somehow, if this means so much, it’s a sign that something is wrong within me, twisted within me, gay within me. So something I crave I feel I have to hate. And in doing so, hate that I crave it.

So something I crave I feel I have to hate. And in doing so, hate that I crave it.

It makes me question my motives. It makes me want to hide.

“If this guy knew how much it meant that we’re grabbing a beer and talking so candidly, he’d freak out and fear being around me. If this guy knew how much this hug means to me, he’d never hug me again. Keep cool. You don’t even need this, Brandon. Act like this doesn’t matter. Men don’t care too much about something. You’re overbearing. You’re needy. You’re twisted. Better not show it, because if you do, the men in your life will leave, and then you’ll be missing the very thing you crave… but don’t crave it too much, because then…”

And the circle continues.

I literally psychoanalyze every motive, movement, and word that leaves my mouth. They are passed through a test of, “Does this look gay? If you look gay, they’ll run.” It’s one of the reasons that having a boyfriend is so great. The tension breaks. I don’t have to fear being gay because this person appreciates that. I don’t have to live in on an emotional tight-rope anymore. I can just fall into a masculine love that meets so many parched and lonely places of my heart. The lonely places of sitting on the side of a school building, watching the boys be boys without me. The lonely place of feeling like I should have an older sibling or for someone to show me the way. The lonely place of having best friends that choose others over you. The lonely place of wanting to be held by a man and for it to not feel wrong.

It’s one of the reasons that having a boyfriend is so great. The tension breaks. I don’t have to fear being gay because that actually opens a door to everything I’m longing for. I don’t have to live on an emotional tightrope. I can just fall into a masculine love that meets so many parched and lonely places of my heart…

The lonely place of sitting on the side of a school building, watching the boys be boys without me.

The lonely place of feeling like I should have an older sibling or for someone to show me the way.

The lonely place of having best friends that choose others over you.

The lonely place of wanting to be held by a man and for it to not feel wrong.

So, while others have adrenaline coursing through their veins from the terror that is It, I’m breaking a little inside with a feeling of forlorn.

I wanna belong with someone. I want strong arms to hold me and for it to not be tainted. I want masculine love.