#8 No Hangups

What if the person is attracted to me?

         A common thought in the minds of those that seek to build relationships with LGBT people is the possibility that this person may be attracted to them. I was lucky enough to witness this happen in real time among two people that were painfully and refreshingly honest.  A straight man confessed that he was often uncomfortable around his gay friend saying, “I’m just afraid that you might be attracted to me”, to which the other replied wryly and without hesitation, “Don’t flatter yourself, you’re not even my type”.  My straight friend was shocked, incredulous, and then realized it was a little self-absorbed to assume that because our friend was attracted to men, that he was also somehow attracted to ALL men, including him. 

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         That story makes me laugh, but it also reminds me that even though we are inundated daily with sex, desire, attraction, etc., we rarely talk about it well or redemptively.  We also get so hung up on the sexual attraction piece of a person’s LGBT identity that it’s hard for some to see that person as anything more than same-sex desire.  We have to get a bigger vision OF & FOR people if we ever want to help people see, feel, and know the love of the Father. 
            The fact remains though that some gay people may be attracted to you, and navigating this well will prove to be a significant sign that you are a safe, stable person with which to build a deeper friendship.  So what if the person is attracted to you….no really, so what? Is it really that big of a deal that someone finds you attractive? Most of us spend an inordinate amount of time trying to be attractive & then get surprised and anxious when someone we weren’t anticipating actually does see us that way. 
            I don’t know anyone straight or gay that hasn’t experienced attraction to someone else that is either embarrassing, confusing, or just plain inconvenient.  It can be momentary and fleeting or stable and enduring and still I would file this under the category of “Just Being Human”.  It’s human to find someone else attractive and for a variety of reasons. God doesn’t expect us to not be attracted to others, rather he cautions us to be aware of what is going on inside of us so that the attractions don't lead us away from his abundant life.  
         I’m sure people thought Jesus was sexy.  Humanity was not different 2000 years ago. He was the man of the hour and he treated people with respect & honor.  He was generous with his affection, while being admired and sought after. He was the ideal friend and leader - perfect husband material – all with an olive skin tone. What’s not to like? Do you think that even when people realized he was the Messiah that their infatuation, attraction, and fascination with him vanished? Do you think that he pulled back from relationship when he realized others were attracted to him? This didn’t cause Jesus to rethink relationship and how he loved people.  It actually says he purposely hung out with prostitutes and that some of the women closest to him were former participants in this sex trade.  I’m willing to bet that some of these women would have been willing to sleep with him and yet Jesus, a man who knew how to honor people who treated themselves cheap, continued to include & love them within boundaries that honored God.
            So if you think that a gay person might be attracted to you, I’d challenge you to not get too worked up about it.  I know for many straight men that this can feel like a threat to their own sense of masculinity, but remember that that’s a learned cultural value, because those same men likely feel a greater sense of masculinity if multiple married women found them attractive.  Neither of those situations would honor God, if the attractions were pursued, and yet one leads to shame and the other to pride.  We’ve learned to think that way.  So learning to love people in the midst of their attraction to you is something you can choose to do because Jesus already modeled it for us. 

This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people.  Find the condensed list HERE.  These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues.  These blogs have been expounded upon with permission. 
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” available HERE.