Not Looking

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What are you looking for?

 

If you’re a gay man navigating gay subculture, you’ve probably been asked that question more times than you can count. It’s such a common question that we have a HBO show entitled Looking which explores the complexities of hooking up, dating, and love between gay men. I sometimes wonder if what seems like such a superficial question could actually speak to something far more meaningful than a hookup. In all our searching, maybe we’re hoping to finally be found.

 

The decade of my twenties provided a lot of opportunities to begin this journey of interacting with other sexual minorities. I can’t say I’ve always been proud of my actions or that my motives have always been unselfish. I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to assuage my loneliness through ineffective means which only perpetuated and deepened the angst.

 

Moving away from home and beginning the chapter of adulthood didn’t go quite as I had planned. If you’ve read much of this blog, you know I’ve been a fairly conservative thinker when it comes to same-sex relationships. I didn’t believe anything could change my perspective until I lived with the reality of singleness in a new location with a bunch of strangers. For a guy who has depended on people to help regulate my emotions, I was a mess. All the questions I’d suppressed resurfaced with a vengeance, especially as I experienced life with other gay men and encountered their humanity and rich perspectives. I ended up with more questions than answers, and I haven’t been in a rush to discover the latter.

 

Based on my circumstances, I could begin the process of dating if I wished. I’m studying at a school that probably forbids same-sex dating, and definitely has rules against same-sex sexual behavior. I’m sure that hasn’t stopped other sexual minorities from forming a compartmentalized life where they display one persona at school while they present a different persona in the LGBT community. There are times when the idea is attractive, especially when the loneliness feels unbearable and everyone I know is busy. There have been some weeks where the only deep conversations I’ve experienced have been with patients sharing their stories with me.

 

But I’m not a fan of secrets and closets. I’ve seen the damage they’ve done to my soul for years of my life. Relationships need community to flourish, just like individuals do. It’s not a fair situation for anyone involved, and yet it’s a messy situation that many of us Christian sexual minorities find ourselves navigating at Christian universities and colleges as human beings who want to be seen and loved like anyone else. We’re humans who need physical affection, and like all single individuals, we’re starving to be touched, to be affirmed that we’re worthy of something as simple as a hug. From a biochemical level, we need other people for our bodies to mass release oxytocin, a hormone that combats the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol and binds us to other humans, creating the feelings of closeness and belonging.

 

What are you looking for? Casual sex? Or maybe your soul craves an oxytocin release to feel less alone for a little while.

 

I don’t know God’s best for my future. I’m a part of two worlds who hold strong beliefs and feelings with what I should or should not do with my sexuality and my desires to be connected to another human being. Many sexual minorities cannot comprehend a future without a partner, while the future eludes me. I feel convicted that sexual minorities who pursue same-sex relationships are not damning their souls and bodies to Hell, yet I’m not convinced I’m meant to pursue a romantic relationship.

 

I see so much of my shift to affirming theology as an emotional response to my deepest fears of abandonment and being seen as unlovable. I think there are many compelling arguments within affirming theology, as well as difficult questions that traditional theology doesn’t answer well—and vice versa. It’s a tension I usually try to avoid—usually pushing myself to settle in one position of certainty or another. Our world pressures us to pick a side, either by warning us about our salvation or internalized homophobia. This leaves us with little breathing room to just be, to just live life in the assurance of God’s grace and mercy, and to experience the love of a community who extends the freedom to let us be our authentic selves.

 

My whole life has been a journey of developing a secure attachment—knowing in my moments of loneliness that love is just around the corner. Rather than falling apart and needing other people to affirm I see you and I value what I see, I trust and rest in the stable love I receive from my family, my friends, and my academic community, even when it is not always present. I can regulate my own emotions, and I don’t need a man to save me from myself. If I choose to someday date, that decision will be from a place of security and out of a desire to pursue a vocation of love as a team, not because I need marriage to hold my spirit together. While I’m pursuing a calling to become a psychologist in an environment that dictates what I can do with my life, I choose to live in the light without secrets and experience the redemption found in showing up to community day after day, no matter how hard or messy it may be at any particular moment. I am loved as I am; I am enough as I am.

 

My life is not on pause; I’m in the middle of one of the greatest adventures of my life. So no, I’m not looking. I’ve discovered what my soul needs to thrive in this season. I’m embracing singleness as a gift, as an opportunity to love and grow where God has placed me. I resonate with these words from Eli Lieb, a gay singer-songwriter:

 

“All of my life I’ve been waiting around

Waiting for someone, but I’m the one I found.

Everything now comes easier to me

Waiting for no one

Now that I found me.”

 

No Prince Charming needed right now. In the vastness of God’s love, I’m found.

  • Wow. You’ve come a long way. As always, your transparency and honesty is a great asset and is much appreciated. The longing to connect and communicate, to “heal the wound of individuality” as C. S. Lewis put it in the Epilogue to his Experiment in Criticism, has become the central focus of my own life…perhaps that’s why the “building bridges” metaphor of your blog title so resonates with me…like CSL’s poem “As the Ruin Falls” that he wrote about his wife Joy Davidman Lewis as she was dying of cancer…
    So, on with the adventure!

  • Zerohour

    Wow. Thanks for that. I feel that that has helped explain where I am at in my current life story.

    I feel convicted that sexual minorities who pursue same-sex relationships are not damning their souls and bodies to Hell, yet I’m not convinced I’m meant to pursue a romantic relationship.

    That really touched on my view on where I am at right now. I want a spouse and children. I also know not everyone is called to be in relationships and what to do with my life in absence of that.

    Anyway. Good read.

    Thanks!

    Brad

  • kolten schnack

    Seth, thanks again for writing from such an honest place. I’ve recently found myself living in similar complex tension where I cannot live up to the farthest ideals of either “side”. My views do not line up like a tidy checkbox like people want, but all I can offer is where I am at. Like you, I have questions, but I’m not necessarily seeking the answers. Or at least, I have tried looking for answers and have only come back with more questions and confusion. So right now I am living in the tension, listening to others but also living out what I feel called to. Those lyrics that you shared are spot on and comforting to hear. I hope you are able to continue finding “you” in this season and living out your calling.

    Best wishes,
    Kolten

  • I’m in that same boat. I think I’ll be OK being single for the foreseeable future, especially if the family I’m living with continues to fulfill my need for love and belonging, but every now and again, I feel a longing for a romantic relationship. As usual, I’m keeping an open mind to what God may have for me. As always, thank you for sharing Seth. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and honesty. I’ll be praying that God provides for your emotional and relational needs. Reach out if you ever wanna chat.

  • AnotherJosh

    My boat is a bit behind yours, but we’re pointed in the same general direction. I have a family and church community whom I expect to have significant difficulty accepting the as of yet future revelation that I’m gay, even without me being in a relationship.

    Still, I was only able to feel some semblance of “human flourishing” when I accepted that I am what I am and that – contrary to what my church teaches – I have the potential to love and to be loved. I could not hold hope for my future on this planet together with the concept that we’re all broken, but some of us (i.e. LGBTQ people) are more broken than the rest. Even if I’m single forever, I can at least live at peace with myself when I can affirm that my secrets don’t make me unloveable (even if my church community would leave me beaten and bloodied by the side of the road, collateral damage in the culture war, if they found out).