After attending regular Courage “meetings” for a few years, I slowly drifted away from those more formal gatherings. Blessedly, at the time (roughly from around 1999-2002) Courage offered an on-line support chatroom. The room was open for a couple of hours one night a week. Now that I stopped making the trip into San Francisco to attend the in-person meetings, this was about my only means of connecting with other men suffering from unwanted same-sex attraction. Depending on the night, there would be between 15 and 20 guys in the chatroom. Topics ranged from the insignificant to the incredibly deep. Some merely wanted to share their current struggles, while others (usually me) put forth larger questions concerning the origins of their own homosexuality and how that related to their current efforts. Some wanted to partake in these bigger questions – others did not. Then, what made the chatroom wonderful was the ability to break off and personally message someone which enabled a one-on-one conversation. Looking back, those times spent hashing through much of my emotional baggage, with another man, someone I hardly knew, were about of the most important moments in my recovery: the certain anonymity of the internet, the ability to reach a wider cross section of men from different backgrounds and ages, and the ease of a non-restricted conversation, enabled me to unburden myself for the first time in my life – in many respects, telling my story, and then hearing that another man lived almost the same plot line, made it all seem less oppressively substantial.
Also through the chatroom, I stayed in touch with men from my own local Courage chapter as well as meeting others from all around the US. And, in those one-on-one chat sessions, with a few, I created lasting friendships; some of the most important I ever had. First, we exchanged phone-numbers, then, oftentimes sat for hours talking over the phone: With a small number of men, I had a very strong connection – for the first time, really in my entire life, I was having a none sexual relationship with another man. At first it was an extremely odd feeling – being just friends with another guy; liking someone for themselves – not for their looks or their personal charm or magnetism; but, solely for who they are. After getting to know each other long distance, I met with some of my new found comrades. The bond forged between us was something that could never have formed under the restrictive confines of a Courage meeting; though, Courage was the blessed catalyst that brought us all together. Then, for the most part, most of us decided to leave the formal Courage structure behind; and, then, sort of out of necessity, we started forming our own little communities; with one or two of the arrangements becoming permanent. We went beyond Courage, only it had laid the groundwork – proving a forum of Hope. Though, for true healing to take place, we all had to move past the daily grind which occupied much of the “sharing” segment of the Courage meetings and delve deeper into the real reason for it all; it was as if: because I had been hurt by men, I needed to be healed by men.