SSA suggests an experience, not a permanent identity. It implies a set of feelings, not a way of life.
Why Not Just Embrace Being Gay?
In today’s world, what could possibly motivate men like us to try to minimize our sexual or romantic responses to other men, or to see if we can increase our romantic interests in women, if possible?
There is no one answer to that question. But some of the things that motivate many of us are:
- Disappointment with gay life, gay relationships or gay communities. They just didn’t deliver on their promises of healthy love, acceptance and brotherhood. In some ways, the price we paid was just too high.
- Internal conflict with our deeply held religious or spiritual convictions and personal beliefs. Simply put, we choose to put our relationship with God first, above over our sexual feelings.
- A strong desire to have a wife and children, or to maintain an existing marriage and family.
- A sense that “gay” just did not reflect our authentic selves.
- A belief that our same-sex attractions or same-sex lust were, at least to some extent, a learned response to pain, loneliness, low self-esteem or unmet needs.
- A desire to find peace and fulfillment. We wanted to become the man we feel called to be — our best self living our most fulfilling life. And we just couldn’t seem to find that in a gay identity or gay relationships.
① Disappointment with Gay Life
As politically incorrect as it is to say this, disappointment with gay life, gay relationships or with our experience in gay communities has been a key motivating factor for many of us. The fact is, the reality we experienced just didn’t match the fantasy or the media portrayals. Some examples:
The gay community just didn’t meet my needs. I just couldn’t identify with gays.
I eventually came to the conclusion that gay relationships were never going to be fulfilling for me, and I wanted to find another alternative.
When I imagined my best fantasy — I’m out and proud, everyone loves me, and I live happily ever after with the man of my dreams — it somehow felt like a consolation prize.
What I saw of the men I knew who had gone into the gay lifestyle was unappealing. It seemed to me to be a world of promiscuity, and lacked depth. I was looking for a committed family of men to be in my life, and it seemed to me that I wouldn’t necessarily find that level of fidelity in the homosexual community. In addition, I didn’t see anyone in an openly gay life who I wanted to be like. I wanted to live life as a man, not defining myself by whatever my sexual impulses may be.
Being in the gay life in Manhattan generated a rush of excitement that I initially mistook for self-fulfillment. But the lifestyle and my behavior were still driven by my deep insecurity and emotional neediness. I was easily manipulated, and when the rush of an “encounter” wore off, I felt lonely and bad about myself. Deep dissatisfaction with the gay lifestyle, and a desire to live a physically and emotionally healthier life, motivated me to change my life.
When I have acted on homosexual attractions, it has always left me with a bad feeling afterward.
The gay world (or at least gay Los Angeles in the late 1980s) greatly disappointed me. I found in it an obsession with sex, porn, youth and physical appearance; prevalent recreational drug use; a campy, effeminate ‘crush’ on masculinity; and derision of family, monogamy and religion. I didn’t like the man I became when I was with gay boyfriends or at their parties.
② Faith & Spirituality
Religious or spiritual faith and personal beliefs are strong motivators for most of us. We value putting our faith first, over our sexuality.
My religious beliefs cause me to see that there is something higher than myself, and if I want to be in line with that, then I should live the way that I believe will make me happy. The way to my happiness is through living in line with my personal beliefs, religion, and the lifestyle that I choose.
I am an orthodox Jewish man, and I am resigned to the “fact” that I will never marry or be loved by a wife. In spite of being a rational, “modern” thinker, I won’t give up my faith.
My primary motivation is my belief in God and my personal convictions. I knew that I was living a lie and that the only way out was to seek God and then to participate in counseling.
I want to live as the man God had created me to be, at peace with his desires, and at peace with other men and women.
After 18 years of living a gay lifestyle, I had come to an end of myself. I did not like anything about who I was and where I was going. I grew up in a Christian household and decided that I would give God one more chance. I had tried everything else in order to make myself feel better and more connected. Nothing worked. It was in a life of submission to God that I found my answer. He is what motivates me to live the life I live now — a life based on biblical principles, honoring God and serving other people.
At 21, I realized that my religion was more important than the transient nature of this life, and if God didn’t want me to act in a certain way then I accepted His authority over my life.
③ Wife & Family
A strong desire to have a wife and children of our own — or to hold together a marriage and family we already had — is a significant motivator for many of us.
I didn’t like the man I became when I was with gay boyfriends or at their parties. In contrast, when I met the woman I would later marry, I felt uplifted, like I was being called to be a better man. I liked the man I saw reflected in her eyes. That’s who I really wanted to be.
Though same-sex attraction was never a choice, I have always felt that it was in conflict with the person that I truly am. I am a husband and father of four now, and if I had believed the lie that homosexuality was my only option or that I was born that way, I would not have pursued marriage and fatherhood, which have been the two most wonderful experiences of my life.
Remaining a husband and father is a strong motivation for me to continue my journey away from SSA. I am not sexually active with men at all. I am extremely attracted to my wife and desire her sexually. I still experience SSA, but the intensity is far less than in the past, and I can more easily put these attractions in perspective, realizing that I need healthy non-sexual connection with men — which, when that need doesn’t get met, shows up for me as SSA or body envy.
I have always wanted a traditional family and to have kids of my own. Even though I was attracted to men, what I wanted was to have a wife and kids.
Today, my same-sex attraction has decreased to the point where what I want most now is just close friendship with other men. I don’t want to live with a man. I don’t want a boyfriend. I still have not had sex with a man.
Although I have never been attracted to women in general, I am very attracted to my wife. We have very fulfilling, easy and enjoyable intimacy. I desire her physically, sexually and romantically, which I never thought would have been possible 10 years ago. We have a great relationship.
I am committed to maintaining my marriage and living in harmony with my personal values.
I desire a life that is more compatible with my personal goals as far as family, marriage, children, etc.
④ Not Our True Selves
For many of us, “gay” is just not a core, authentic identity. It just didn’t “fit” with our sense of who we really are.
It was in conflict with my authentic self. It didn’t make sense to me that God would create me to be gay.
Though same-sex attraction was never a choice, I have always felt that it was in conflict with the person that I truly am.
I never felt 100% at home during the time I lived that lifestyle. It never seemed to fit with who I am made to be, but I had addictive drives to continue the behaviors, even though they made me feel guilty and shameful. Since beginning the journey out of sexualized same-sex attraction, I have found more peace and satisfaction than I ever thought possible.
My same-sex attractions do not resonate with the way I want to live my life. Part of the motivation is spiritual. Part of it is societal. But mainly, homosexuality just wasn’t working for me.
⑤ Covering Pain
Many of us have come to see that, for us, same-sex attractions do not represent our authentic, inborn sexuality. Rather, they are, to some extent at least, a way to cope with underlying pain or unmet longings.
I realized that my homosexual desires were an escape from my self-hatred and shame, from real friendships with other men and their emotions, and from women. I realized that I used sex only to reduce distress and not because of real love and relationships.
I knew that underneath my same-sex attractions were wounds that I didn’t know what to do with. I was sexually abused as a pre-teen, and I could sense that my desire for men increased dramatically after that, mainly because my need for attention and acceptance escalated.
I was motivated to change when I accepted that the roots of my unwanted same-sex attractions were not a sexual issue, but that of a wounded boy who had never had a healthy nurturing fathering, and were profoundly emotional and psychological in nature.
I began to understand that what I was really seeking was non-sexual affirmation from the world of men. Sexual gratification never filled the underlying void. I felt deep in my core that I was not homosexual; rather, I had sexualized those male qualities I judged I never possessed.
It was incredibly liberating to come to understand that my attraction to other men at its core wasn’t because of homosexuality per se but because of a deeper unmet need for me to connect with masculinity in order to continue my own growth.
⑥ A Desire to be Happier, Better
A lot of us just yearn to be a better man, to become our best selves living our most fulfilling lives.
I want to find the joy that I have not glimpsed in the gay environment. I firmly believe that what I want and really need is to fulfill my needs in healthy non-sexual ways.
When I was living a gay life, I felt this emptiness in my heart. I didn’t know where it was coming from, but I realized that I needed to change. I realized that what I wanted most in my life was to not feel alone — but contrary to what everyone was telling me, pursuing a gay lifestyle made me feel even more alone.
I wasn’t reaching my potential. My body was naturally created heterosexual (physically, biologically, endocrinologically) but my psychology wasn’t in step. I wanted more from life. Marriage. Children. To reach my fullest potential as a human male.
I didn’t like the man I became when I was with gay boyfriends or at their parties. In contrast, when I met my future wife, I felt uplifted, like I was being called to be a better man. I liked the man I saw reflected in her eyes. That’s who I really wanted to be.
Shame Never Motivates Real Change
Any successful change or personal-growth effort — whether we are talking about sexual attractions or sexual behaviors or weight loss or quitting smoke or anything else — must be intrinsically self-motivated. It cannot be based on shame. Shame never motivates real change.
Successful personal-growth or emotional-healing efforts of any kind must be built on a foundation of self-worth. We pursue change (of any kind) not to become good or worthy, but because we already are good and worthy — and therefore we deserve better for our future than we’ve had in the past.
That’s why our Journey Into Manhood program teaches: