We are on a journey of self-discovery to explore and address underlying issues and embrace our authentic masculinity. The core of this journey we call “M.A.N.S. Work.”
What if you just don’t identify as gay? Maybe it just doesn’t feel like who you really are. Or who God is calling you to be. Maybe it just isn’t the life you want to lead. What do you do then?
We have found an alternative life path that has brought us more peace, brotherly love, community, and self-acceptance. Plus, we can now live in integrity with our values, beliefs, identity, life goals, and commitments to God and to others.
Maybe you’re open to exploring whether you could experience something similar. But where do you start?
First: Learn What Others Have Experienced
It’s easy to hear only from one side about the supposed risks of even trying to manage (much less minimize) your feelings, attractions and behaviors.
Maybe it’s time to hear another perspective. Then decide for yourself whether our experiences sound authentic and worthwhile. Decide for yourself whether exploring this path may be right for you. Learn more here:
Second: Remember, the Real Goal is Peace
When changes in sexuality do occur, they are almost never experienced as a 180-degree shift from 100% gay to 100% straight or from 100% lustful to 100% lust-free at all times.
But that’s okay. The real goal isn’t heterosexuality, after all. The real goal is peace: And peace in a way that aligns our identity, feelings and behaviors with our deeply held faith, values, beliefs, and life goals — rather than the other way around.
Third: Decide for Yourself
Only you can decide what’s best for you, and where your greatest happiness lies.
In today’s culture, you may feel pressure to adopt a gay identity and pursue a same-sex partnership. Others may try to pressure you to deny, suppress, and hide your attractions. (“Just ignore it and it will go away.” Yeah, that never works.)
Our journey, as we call it, represents a third path — neither suppressing nor expressing romantic or erotic same-sex attractions, but exploring and fulfilling our needs for same-sex love and brotherhood in platonic and affirming ways.
But it’s your life, your choice. You get to decide for yourself how to live your life and what will make you happiest.
And that may be the most important early step you take: Make sure you’re authentically self-motivated to explore this “road less traveled” for yourself — not for your family or friends, not for your religious community, not to “fit in” better. But for your own sense of calling, life purpose, and peace of mind.
Learn more here:
Fourth: Accept and Love Yourself
You’re not broken, sick, or bad. There is nothing wrong with you (even if maybe you’ve done some things wrong). If shame or self-hate are motivating your desire to change your life, you’ll probably not only fail to meet your goals, but you’ll likely just make the shame and self-hate worse in the process.
We don’t pursue change and growth because we are weak. We pursue change and growth because we are strong. We want the best that life has to offer. It’s built into our human nature to strive to be better, to become more, to grow. (See: A man needs to be challenged.)
So a critical early starting point of this work must be to become willing to accept and love yourself just as you are, today. In fact, self-acceptance is a core need for all of us. As we teach at our Journey Into Manhood weekend experience:
Fifth: Get Support, Build Friendships
You are not alone. Many others have walked this path ahead of you. Brothers on a Road Less Traveled is an international community of well more than a thousand men who love, support and encourage each other on this journey of self-discovery, emotional healing and personal growth.
Sexual and emotional struggles are deeply personal — but they are also deeply relational. Our hearts cry out for connection and community. Belonging, inclusion, acceptance, love — these are not “wants,” but critical, core human needs.
Building authentic, supportive male communities for ourselves was a critical element in our own journeys to self-acceptance and platonic brotherly love that we were really looking for all along.
It almost certainly will be yours, as well.
Read more at:
Sixth: Get Sexually “Sober”
Caution: When you start digging into the past to heal old wounds, and when you step out and take new risks to meet core needs, you may encounter fear and uncover pain that can trigger well-established coping mechanisms and comforts, including unhealthy ones. Old addictions can flare up again.
That is why self-care, self-compassion, and the support of trusted others are critical as you move forward. Put your plan in place now to shore up your sexual “sobriety” as you embark on deeper work. Perhaps you will need to focus first on establishing sufficient sexual sobriety before you even start that deeper work.
No amount of emotional healing or personal growth will bring sufficient peace to anyone who continues to act on same-sex lust or other sexual behaviors that conflict with his spirituality, faith, values, marital commitments or self-respect.
Learn more at:
Seventh: Start Your M.A.N.S. Work
If you’ll allow it, your SSA may teach you a lot about yourself — often revealing some unhealed emotional wounds from the past or some long-ignored or unmet needs. It may teach you about the nature of your relationships — both present and past, both healthy and less so.
- Masculinity: Connecting to our internal sense of masculinity, bonding with other men as brothers, and developing healthier relationships with women.
- Authenticity: Getting real, feeling our feelings, and healing old wounds.
- Needs Fulfillment: Uncovering our true, underlying needs and learning to meet them in healthier ways.
- Surrender: Releasing internal resistance to changing, turning our will and our lives over to God, releasing our attachments to harmful thoughts and behaviors, and finding a higher purpose and meaning through this journey.
One of the most powerful ways to make some major breakthroughs in this kind of deep, personal-growth work can be through experiential weekend intensives, like Journey Into Manhood.
Finally: Be Patient. 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).
What’s different, for those of us who have been on this journey for awhile, is that now we have a path — a map, so to speak — with guides or mentors and traveling companions. We are not alone. We have a level of clarity, hope and vision that was once only a dream.
Everyone is different. You may start to see surprising results in a short time. Or it may take much longer. Don’t get discouraged when you encounter “bumps” in the road 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.
This is definitely an ongoing, life-long journey. But the brotherhood with other SSA-conflicted men, the awareness that I am not alone, and the chance to talk completely openly and feel understood in a community of like-minded men — these are really some of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.
OHHHHH, hell yeah, it is worth it. Journey Into Manhood and my JiM brothers have opened so many avenues that were not there when I had tried to do this on my own. If I am having SSA feelings and I need to talk, then I can call on my JiM brothers day or night, and I will have an ear.
The longer I’m on this journey, the easier it gets. Having a strong support system is a must — as is, I believe, having a strong faith system. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it will be years before I say goodbye to my SSA (if ever), but I see measurable progress as the weeks pass.
This journey has suddenly become a lot more fun with friends, and I know that as long as I keep my focus on my goal and do my best, I will continue to live a fulfilling life that I know would make my family, my God (and myself!) proud.
I would never have wished for SSA, but I recognize that dealing with the things that contributed to my SSA to begin with has helped me in numerous ways. SSA has been my teacher, teaching me to understand myself and to take charge of my own manhood. I am definitely more connected to men and more at peace with myself today than I was when I started this journey.
It is true that when I face stress, loneliness or other challenges, then that old familiar “story” that I am inadequate as a man can return. And inevitably, along with that feeling of inadequacy comes stronger feelings of SSA. But I am learning that these feelings are really signposts to me – an alert system that I have deep core issues (emotions) I need to deal with, or needs that are not being met. By recognizing the signposts, I have learned to look inside myself to find what needs to be addressed and to find healthier ways to deal with them.
I don’t know if my SSA will ever completely disappear — and you know what? I don’t really want it to. I’m fine experiencing the need for and attraction to other men throughout my life — I just want to express it in healthy, non-sexual relationships.
So my journey continues — and now I consider it an adventure. I want to be growing, changing and learning all my life.
It would be false advertising to suggest that SSA goes away completely for most participants and is replaced by an opposite-sex attraction that is as strong as the old SSA used to be. I find I may still have attractions to men, and sometimes these attractions have a sexual energy, but most of the time they are not sexualized. This is such a change, relief and freedom from years ago.
I do have attractions to women now. Maybe that makes me bisexual, yet that term does not really fit for me either. I have made peace with my sexual impulses, both historical and present-day. Most importantly, I no longer buy into a myth that we must have an identity that strongly centers around sexual attractions. I don’t buy that. My identity is so much larger than that, and it was the JIM weekend I attended, and the personal growth work I have done since then, that has helped me greatly broaden my sense of self-identity.
I started this journey at age 60. I waited decades for help. For so long, I did not want to live as I was living. I am so very thankful for the life I am now living. I am finally finding peace with myself.
I never considered myself to be homosexual, even though my lifestyle was. I am happy for the first time in my life. I respect myself and don’t have the need to be physical with men. I am learning true connection with men. I don’t have the shame I had. It has been progressive improvement. There are still battles. But victory comes through battles. The victories give me the strength to continue moving forward.
Twice-monthly meetings, quarterly reunions, private social media groups, phone calls, and fellowship are what keep me going. Do I still have SSA? Yes I still do — but it is greatly diminished, and I have an awesome fellowship of support to deal with it.
I am so grateful for my journey. It is ever-unfolding. I am continually learning new truths about myself, other men, and how I relate to the world of men and of women. I feel much more grounded and at home within myself, aware of my own emotions, and willing to share them with others. I suppose I could say this is what JOY looks like!