I've been meaning to share this for some time here. I lost the article somewhere in the depths of my study (um...yeah :-) and I found it this weekend. I found it when I was looking for something else! Lisa McMinn professor of sociology at Wheaton College as well as author of Sexuality and Holy Longing wrote an article in a recent Journal of Psychology and Christianity titled: "Sexual Identity Concerns for Christian Adults: Practical Considerations for Being a Supportive Presence and Compassionate Companion" (200, Vol. 24, No. 4 368-377).
She starts her article "In colleges and universities throughout North America, students find their way to perceived 'safe' faculty and staff offices to disclose confusion about and longings for emotional and physical intimacy with others of their same sex."
She talks at the very beginning of her essay about students with same sex attraction who have come to her. A number of them she states "speak of the burden of being perceived as one who needs fixing or healing." She reports "What they say they need are friends who will journey with them without holding onto a particular picture of wholeness and healing."
She refers to a college student who had enjoyed some level of friendship intimacy with a group of male friends. At a significant point of vulnerability he shared with these friends his same sex attraction feelings. McMinn reports "When he disclosed, most friends maintained some level of friendship, though they began to treat Michael as someone who needed fixing. All but one emotionally distanced himself from Michael emotionally. Michael expressed a longing for friends who would stay vulnerable to closeness, and not be fearful of it. He said he thought some fear was motivated by homophobia, but most of it came from their perception that they helped him by not being too close, thus contributing to his greater sexual confusion or frustration." McMinn makes this observation: "Their desire to 'help' him inhibited their ability to stay engaged with him in authentic, intimate friendship."
Her article raises four explicit issues and then another issue implicitly:
1. The complicated same sex dynamic.
2. The value of authentic, intimate compassionate companionship with those
wrestling with same sex attraction.
3. The Western social stigma as being perceived as 'needy' or needing 'fixing.'
4. The cultural stigma of being too close to someone with same sex attraction.
5. The parallel dynamics in cross gender helping/spiritual friendships: Pursuing intimacy and vulnerability in a cross gender relationship with the belief heterosexual attraction should close the door in intimate friendships.
McMinn takes the position that we are created for intimacy, we are created with a "will-to-relate." We are created with desire for relationships and this desire is good and authentic. She suggests compassionate companions are those who come alongside those who struggle with self-hatred, emotional stress, and isolation. Some of those who struggle with same sex attraction "will do this in the context of therapy, while others seek it from members of their churches, friends, or from faculty." Compassionate companions are those who recognize that personhood is bigger than sexuality and encourage a mutual journey towards wholeness, maturity, and depth. They see that the will-to-relate is a good core desire. "As such, compassionate companions seek to be in intimate, caring relationships with the young adults they walk alongside, affirming the importance of relationship as they provide a supportive presence to them."