A Peer-led Weekend of Self-DiscoveryEvents in the US, Israel, and Mexico
About the Weekend
Journey Into Manhood is a 48-hour immersion in intensive self-discovery and personal-growth work.
Like not feeling “man enough.” Or not “one of the guys.” Or an unmet yearning for male attention, acceptance and affirmation. Confusion over what it even means to be a man in today’s world. Confusion and distress in relationships with women.
We create a highly supportive yet challenging environment for men to address these and related issues.
Men who do NOT experience sexual or romantic same-sex attractions also attend Journey Into Manhood and experience many of these same benefits working through these issues.
Journey Into Manhood is an experiential weekend. You won’t just sit and listen. You’ll actively participate, connect and explore. We create opportunities for you to experience healing, growth, and brotherhood, not just talk about them.
Exploring Through Experience, Not Lecture
By “experiential,” we mean exploring through experience, not lecture or discussion or “therapy.” Experiential processes are participatory, not passive. These can include experiences like:
- Visualizations or “guided imagery”
- Shame release
- Profound, introspective questions
- Inner-child affirmation and healing work
- Emotional processing and release (especially around anger or grief)
- Psychodrama (role-playing internal conflicts)
One simple example: You won’t just talk about what it is like to look another man in the eyes. You’ll stand eye to eye with another man while we help you process whatever beliefs and feelings might arise.
Exploring Underlying Issues
In the course of the weekend, we don’t actually address same-sex attraction directly all that much. Primarily, we are exploring common underlying issues frequently shared by so many of us who have experienced unwanted same-sex attractions. Issues like:
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of rejection, or a history of rejection by peers, family, or others
- A longing to belong, to be wanted, or included
- A history of being bullied or abused
- “Father hunger”
- Defensive detachment
- Not feeling like “one of the guys”
- Not feeling “man enough”
- Buried or unresolved anger, fear, or grief
- Feeling wounded by men or masculinity
- Feeling wounded or smothered by women or overly identified with or immersed in the feminine
Every man is unique. Not all of us have dealt with all of these issues personally in our lives, of course. Nevertheless, these are extraordinarily common issues among men in our community who have experienced significant distress or dissonance over our same-sex attractions.
Journey Into Manhood gave me a much stronger sense of self. It taught me how to be aware of my emotions, what I’m feeling and why. It helped diminish my shame in having SSA, as well as diminish the shame and guilt when I pursue getting my same-sex needs met in platonic ways.
Group and Individual “Work”
We do this work in large-group sessions or small break-out groups. We allow ample time for men to do their own individual work in various small-group settings.
Structured experiences focus on:
1. Recognizing the differences between “stories” (judgments), data (facts), feelings (emotions), and impulses.
2. Recognizing core emotions (anger, fear, sadness, joy) versus counter emotions (shame, anxiety, depression, lust, etc.) versus defenses and distractions — and how they affect us differently.
3. Understanding projections and transferences and how they affect our responses to people and situations.
4. Experiencing self-acceptance and “inner child” healing — in real-time.
5. Framing your inner-healing and -growth work through the lens of four “MANS” principles:
6. Meeting your “Golden Self” and “Shadow Self”
7. Healing your deepest wounds around men and masculinity.
8. Facing your “shadows” around women
9. Healing your deepest wounds around women and femininity
10. The surrender principle — yielding your heart to God
11. Your freedom to choose your own life path
We consciously create a safe, supportive yet challenging environment to explore issues, challenge internal “stories” or touch emotions that you may have previously been avoiding.
At Journey Into Manhood, we face our “stuff” head-on, with courage and rigorous honesty — to the extent that we are ready and willing — rather than hide it or run from it.
Nevertheless, we always honor every man’s free choice. Anyone can “pass” and choose to not participate in any particular process. If you do “pass,” our staff-volunteers will likely ask what is behind that choice for you, but they will never force or pressure you to do anything against your will or to do anything that may not feel quite right to you.
About the People
About the Participants
All are men at least 21 years old. The maximum number of participants per event is 32. The average is about 22 participants.
Since the first Journey Into Manhood in January 2002, some 3,000 men from more than 45 U.S. states and more than 40 countries have been through the program.
Typically, participants range in age from 21 to 70, but most are in their 20s to 40s. The average age is about 35.
Usually, about a third are married (often with children) and working to keep their marriages intact. Most (but not all) attendees are religious. Most are Christians (of every denominational variety), Jews and Muslims. Some are non-religious or agnostic.
Most have struggled relatively secretly with unwanted same-sex attractions over a period of years. Some have been sexually active, but others have not. A minority were openly gay before opting to leave a gay lifestyle.
Some participants are heterosexual men who are attending in order to explore issues related to men and masculinity, self-esteem, unresolved pain from various life experiences or past relationships, or related issues.
About the Volunteer Staff
Journey Into Manhood is peer-led and facilitated by men who have been where you are now — men who have done (and continue to do) their own inner-healing and personal-growth work.
It is run by about 15-20 men who volunteer their time because they care deeply about supporting men’s healing and personal growth.
Most of the volunteers come from an SSA background themselves. Some are men who have always been heterosexual but have significant experience mentoring SSA men or facilitating men’s emotional healing work generally.
Volunteers either are not professional therapists or are not serving in that professional capacity in the course of the weekend.
Journey Into Manhood gave me new friends, a new community, and new life. It was a total reset in my life, and a fresh start. I’m forever grateful for my JiM weekend experience.
Journey Into Manhood has shown me that I am not alone in my struggles. That there is hope, but also hard work that I need to do. Through JiM, I met a lot of other men who are on the same journey as I am, and we support each other in this journey.
What We Teach and Believe
- You are good and valuable just as you are, right now, today, unchanged — and even if you never change.
- You have brothers who see your “shadows” (weaknesses, blind spots) and love and accept you just as you are.
- Shame never brings about meaningful change, healing or growth. Bringing our shame into the light by being authentic and vulnerable with a few trusted others can significantly reduce shame and bring about healing and self-acceptance.
- Your beliefs create your internal reality. Change your beliefs (about yourself and others) and you change the world as you know it.
- Same-sex attractions are not simply chosen and cannot simply be “unchosen” as an act of conscious will.
- Same-sex attractions most likely develop, for most people, as a result of both “nature” and “nurture” — a complex interaction of biology, innate personality, life experience, emotions and behaviors over years, especially the early years. Brothers on a Road Less Traveled and our Journey Into Manhood program primarily address whatever portion of one’s sexuality may be a result of environmental influences (“nurture”).
- Behaviors, choices and individual identity are particularly malleable and subject to change. Feelings and attractions usually take much more effort to channel, diminish or redirect, but these, too, can be fluid in many cases.
- Many of us have experienced significant and lasting change, healing and growth in our lives by doing what we call “M.A.N.S. Work” and living these principles in our daily lives. “M.A.N.S. Work” is an acronym that refers to:
- 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.
At Journey Into Manhood, we focus especially on self-understanding, emotional healing, and uncovering and meeting some of the core needs that often underlie incongruent same-sex attractions or other unresolved issues around men and masculinity.
What Journey Into Manhood Is NOT
- Journey Into Manhood is not “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy.” In fact, it is not therapy at all. There is no “diagnosis,” no “treatment” and no counseling. There is no assumption that there is anything wrong with you. Journey Into Manhood is a peer-led, experiential workshop or retreat for emotionally and mentally healthy men to explore unresolved issues in their lives.
- It is not a “cure.” “Cure” is a deliberately offensive and mocking word used by opponents, never by us. Same-sex attraction is not a disease, illness, disorder or sickness that needs a so-called “cure.”
- It is not for minors. The minimum age to attend is 21 years old. The average age of attendees is 35.
- It is not coercive. No one who feels pressured to attend against his will is eligible to attend. No set of beliefs or expectations are pushed on any attendees. We honor every individual’s free choice.
- Journey Into Manhood is not a prayer- or worship-based retreat, nor is it a so-called “pray away the gay” program. We are, however, faith-affirming — within a broad spiritual framework that is welcoming of Christians of all denominations, Jews (orthodox, conservative, reform and non-observant), Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others. We are also respectful and welcoming of people who are agnostic or non-religious. We do not advocate a specific faith, nor do we intentionally challenge anyone’s existing religious beliefs. But we do teach the principle of “surrender” to God and his divine will, and many men find our program spiritually rejuvenating.
- We do not engage in any form of gay-bashing, nor tolerate it.
- Journey Into Manhood is not a place to meet potential sex partners or boyfriends.
- It is not a place for shaming or ridicule. Quite the contrary: We affirm your inherent value as a man, just as you are.