Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Totally not weird or gay

I'd like to introduce you to my new friend:



This is Ben Shafer. 

He and I met a few of months ago when we were both performing Rob Gardner's "Lamb of God" (which is incredible, btw) in Tacoma. We hit it off immediately, and he was like "Josh I want to be your best friend ever" except he didn't actually say those words. Well, actually, he pretty much did say those exact words, but it wasn't upon meeting. It was waaaay later. Like that night after friending me on Facebook.

Question #1 for Ben was: are you a homosexual?

Though he wept like a bleating lamb while singing his solo for the performance, dresses like a True Live Seattle Hipster, and occasionally plays basketball dressed like this:



his answer was simple. "I love vaginas and breasts waaaaaay too much to be gay. But I really love gay people."

Pretty definitive.  

I find myself a little bit baffled by our friendship. I've had some really, really good friendships develop for me in the last couple of years. Guys who will probably be my friends to some degree or another for the rest of our lives. But Ben and I seem connected in a way I've never experienced before.

1. We both like ice cream. Seriously.
2. Neither one of us is color blind.
3. We both eat cereal in the morning.
4. We both like music.
5. We are both homo… sapiens.

I mean, need I go on? The connection should be pretty apparent…



No, but in all seriousness, it's been interesting to find a friend like Ben. So many of the things about myself that I have often felt weird about, or excluded from maleness because of, he exhibits. Shamelessly. It's just part of who he is, and he owns it. For example, he enjoys having deep conversations about relationships, philosophical concepts and religion for like, hours. Like, he prefers that to doing stuff. I've always been that way, and have always felt a little weird about it--like there were very few other guys out there like that. But being friends with him makes me feel way less weird, which is a nice feeling. Also, he also isn't afraid to share his feelings. Guys, I'm gay, and I'm terrified to share my feelings 80% of the time. It's interesting to have a friend who is so openly affectionate to those around him. It's good for me. Then there's all the other stuff, like that we are both musicians and our musical tastes are almost identical and we both write poetry and we both served in the same mission at the same time (though only met once for like five seconds) and our kids are similar ages and our senses of humor are complementary and we both have really cool wives (like really, his wife, Whitney, is amazing. She's also the Fruit Ninja's cousin. It's NBD).

I think what it comes down to is that sometimes you meet people that you just feel tailor-made to relate to. Sometimes you realize after you've met a person that there is a connection there. A connection that transcends time. A connection that…

Well, I think this expresses it best:




Yeah. Totally not weird or gay.*

I promise.

All kidding aside, I am curious to hear others' thoughts about friendship. Do you have a best friend (or multiple best friends) and if so, what are the things that keep you connected? Do you spend lots of time with your best friends, or is it a meet-up-every-year-like-no-time-has-passed situation? Are you closest friends with people that are really similar to you, or do you tend to be friends with people who are your opposite, thus keeping things interesting? When you get together with your best friends do you *do* stuff, or do you end up just hanging out? I'd genuinely love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

*Clarification: I actually am gay. 

36 comments:

  1. Let me add to the totally not weirdness or gayness by saying that you have changed my life Josh Weed, and although I can't express my feelings in as nearly eloquent phrases as you can turn, I believe that Stephen Schwartz said it best when he said...well...just take a listen: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2fR4JotwwWo

    Yeah, like you said Josh, not weird or gay....like, at all. ;)

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    1. Yeah, especially with that use of musical theatre to bring home your point.

      So, Ben, listen, while I've never seen Wicked (a hush of surprise falls over the crowd), when I looked up the lyrics to the song you posted (For Good) I must say, I was… hurt and irreparably dissed. I now take this entire post back.

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    2. Ok, ok, so before you do anything rash like take back an entire post...Let me mend thine shattered heart by saying that really the ONLY message that I was conveying with the song was "I've heard it said, That people come into our lives For a reason Bringing something we must learn."

      It must have been just too late in the day for you to use your individually selective telepathy (oh, this is for real folks) to know that this was the case. Soooooo, irreparable dissageness aside...we still on for lunch? ;)

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    3. The use of the ;) in both comments was purely subconscious?...honestly, I don't wink every time I talk. For reals. It's compulsive. I need a therapist...Josh? ;)

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    4. Hey, that guy worked at MF once.

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    5. Wow, you guys are totally made for each other... Haha! ;-)

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  2. A few years ago I developed a friendship with a woman that literally changed my life. Through her I learned what the love of God looks like, and it healed my heart, pure and simple. When she died unexpectedly about 3 years ago, I was (there's not a good word for this that doesn't sound melodramatic) [insert appropriately broken-hearted adjective here]. A few months later, still drowning in grief, some distant acquaintance said, "I'm going to pray that God gives you a friend." At the time I ignored it - I'd had a friend, after all, and she was gone. I didn't want another one. But a year later, when I was finally breathing again, I met Tierney, whose family had just moved to my state from 3 states away. Our connection was instantaneous (I spelled that right on my first try!!!) and 2 years later it still has both of us marveling.

    I tell that story to say this: God cares about friendship. He knows what and who we need in order to reach our full potential in Him. I believe friendship is a ministry, that we are created to reflect certain aspects of our Heavenly Father and then placed in the lives of people who need what the Father has placed in us.

    P.S. it's nice to hear from you again.

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    1. This was a really beautiful comment. I'm really glad you shared. And I very much agree.

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    2. Great comment (and post)! I agree. I really love your last paragraph, emilygetzfreid.

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  3. Weed! You were up late last night. Anyways, friends. It's been hard for me to find good friends. My whole life. We move a lot (my husband and I) and growing up I had a major move at 9. I am a female physicist though now I'm a SAHM yet my time in physics mostly gave me great friendships with married men. I relate better to men. Weird, I know. I still love the general sisterhood in RS but on an individual level it's trickier. I was raised by someone with few social skills and even fewer friends herself, and I honestly don't know how to relate to other women unless they are A) musical like me, B) really social themselves and don't mind my awkwardness, and/or C) educated themselves and don't mind that I studied physics (read: self-confident). In short, when other women know a little more about me they get intimidated sometimes, even though I do my best not to be intimidating. Intimidation does not go hand and hand with deep relationships. My best friendships (which sadly haven't lasted well past our frequent moves generally speaking) have been with self-confident women who love both themselves and others for who they are.

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    1. It's not weird to relate better to men. I'm the same way. Most of my friends throughout my life have been boys/men. Currently, I have more girlfriends than guy friends, which is different, but I'm almost always closer to the men in my life.
      Confession, sometimes I'll befriend a woman just so that I can socialize with her husband. At social gatherings, including family gatherings, I'm found at the table or huddle with all the men. I have to consciously seek out the women and join them intentionally.
      I'm no physicist, but I understand the need to be around confident and relaxed individuals. Often I find men to be more that way, but I've been lucky to befriend several intelligent, confident, and laid-back women of late.
      Enjoy your friendships no matter the gender. The best friendships are the ones where you can feel the most like yourself and feel encouraged to share your strengths and passions.

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    2. 1. I was up late last night getting a haircut. I'm actually not joking! 2. both of these comments were so good! It's nice to hear from you all.

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    3. I was raised with several brothers and always felt like I fit in better as "one of the guys" doing tomboy stuff, but now I'm a SAHM and am trying to develop more friendships with women in my same situation, and although I often say or do totally awkward/weird things that obviously don't fit in the girl group, I know other women don't like me being besties with their guys, so I try to keep some boundaries in play and chill with my girls :)

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    4. I third that it's not weird to relate better to men. In general I do too, and as I grew up in a household with one brother and five sisters...I wonder how much of a difference that makes. I've always connected way better with the less dramatic, less catty, more loyal and reliable type of person and more often I find those characteristics in men. I am also a SAHM and teach from home music teacher and getting out for me has been a challenge. I've always had a hard time at RS activities/baby showers/[insert stereotypical female gathering past-time] because I hate small talk and discussing crafty things (and quilting...knitting)...even though I think I am a fairly crafty person. I dunno. I do, however, have a few excellent and wonderful bosom buddy female friends but we live far apart and don't see each other often. But when we do, it's a great time. And they're just as weird/non-conformist as I! :)

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  4. Oh you guys are hilarious! How the wit must fly. I love it!!!

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  5. I'm not very good at making friend or having really close friends. I think I have one really close friend and that's my wife. I don't know how some people do it so effortlessly.

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  6. I think you would sooo get a long with my hubby! lol (No-he's not gay...lol) But he is so much like you. He'd rather be with me and at home than go anywhere or do anything. He's never been one to 'hang out with the guys' - course he doesn't really have many guy friends. His best friend lives 6 hours away, so ya know... I guess he's probably my best friend at this point, and I know he's mine. I used to have a couple of best friends and we used to do stuff all the time, but things have sort of drifted apart. (shrug) stuff happens. Anyway - love to read your blogs, they always make me chuckle (or cry, depending on the subject, ya know) and my hubby gets a kick out of them too. Have a good one. ;)

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  7. I'm so blessed to have several really close friends. The oldest one and I were baptised the same year and the first time I meet her I knew she and I would be good friends. Later I have gotten some other good friends, not with all has it been "love at first sight", but that doesn't matter, the important thing is the closeness we share. I believe that with thouse who we are close to like that we were also friends with in the pre-life, we are just continuing a relationship we already had.

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  8. I have both types of friendships. To be honest my favorite are the ones that click effortlessly. I really hate putting work into friendships. And now I sound like a jerk. I like friendships that are easy, they go both ways, both people are interested in the friendship. I have long term friends that I don't see often at all, like twice a year because they live on a separate continent, and we pick up where we left off. This friend in particular I have been friends with since kindergarten. No joke and we are now in our late twenties. I have other friends that are "new" due to have moved a lot semi-recently. One of which it was like a light switched when we started hanging out. Her son and mine are almost cut from the same cloth. Age and personality wise, they play so well together for hours. It is amazing. Her husband is amazing and gets along well with my amazing husband. Having good friends is amazing and important no matter what your age is. I think its awesome that he was bold enough to say you should be best friends and mean it. Great friends are awesome!

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  9. As a fellow lover of Ice Cream... You need to try Dryer's Drumstick ice cream... It will change your life!

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  10. Friendship has always been incredibly important to me and satisfies parts of you that other relationships can't. I also have come to appreciate how friendships evolve and sometimes people grow in different directions and don't necessarily satisfy those parts in a friend anymore and that's okay.

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  11. AuntSue
    All my life I have been a loner. Always kind and polite to people, but riding a bike, going to the library, going shopping were things I always did alone. Inviting someone els e along never occurred to me. Lots of "church" or "work" "friends" I could chat with or sit next to. If I had people to do things with, they were the ones driving the relationship. Finally at 61, I have met a friend I really "click" with. Not matter what we talk about, the other one has thought about it, been there, done that or knows about it. It has been so exciting to have a real friend! We both like so many of the same things. It is a blessing. I was lonely.

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  12. Serious question - how do you guard your heart from developing a crush or deep feelings for your new friend? That is not so easily controlled!

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  13. I have one best friend. I waited for her for a long time. When we get together we eat, a massive amount of good food and (finally) are allowed to talk uninterrupted...no screaming kids. She has helped me grow so much spiritually and her goodness and acceptance of my path in life (and hopefully my acceptance of her life) really helps me to be a better mother and wife. I think my deepest friendships are all spiritually based. If we can connect deeply on a spirit level, then life is good. And my life without her would have a huge, massive, gaping hole in it.

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  14. You know that seven degrees to Kevin Bacon? I apparently have a two degrees from you! I'm friends with your Sister in Law (Kammie) and my husband and I were friends with Ben and Whitney at BYU! They are pretty awesome!

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    1. No way Savanna! Now THAT is awesome! Miss you guys a ton!

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  15. I totally get this post! I had a friend like this. Almost like an instant BFF! Then one day "I Am Not Gay I Just Have Really Great Hair And Like To Sing And My Name Is Ben" came along and I got left behind....

    Ok, Ok, all sarcastic (slightly jealous) joking behind, I loved this post. Lolly and I were just talking about this and reminiscing about the first time we met in the Mother's Lounge. I feel like I have been truly blessed with dear friends. Like you and Lol, and Ashlee, and Lisa (who is the Bestie that can never be replaced that we always pick up where we left off and laugh our heads off every time) and even great mission companions. I really am SO glad that you have Ben. After lots of talks about how hard it is to find this type of friend, I am happy for the Tender Mercy. He is a friend that can never be replaced. And his wife is pretty awesome because she makes you look cool.

    I was a little surprised today, that you mentioned this Friendship Blog to me, and then I saw a giant picture of Ben... just sayin.

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    1. Katie

      I'de like to respond to your comment by telling you that when we met I was nearly blinded by your sheer awesomeness. True story. You are totally worthy of admiration and friendship...and your comment was hilarious.

      Basically, I'm trying to indicate that my admiration for you should totally make up for any hurtness toward Josh.

      Love,

      Ben

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  16. I SO pray for my husband (who is also attracted to men/gay/SSA) to have a friend like Ben (did anyone get my Michael Jackson reference there? Anyone?). I am ridiculously outgoing. I have hordes of friends all over the world. It really is sort of gross. The I would give you kidney/1st born/right hand friend, I need someone to commiserate with me friend, I need a pep talk friend, We're not really close want to go to lunch? friend, Needy but sweet heart friend. I've treasure and make time for them all. (While, of course, making time for my family) And it PAINS me to no end to see my husband go without this fundamental need being met. Yes, we're best friends, blah blah blah. But we're all enlightened enough to know that I can't meet all of the social needs of my spouse. It just isn't right.

    No one invites him anywhere. He doesn't play sports. Doesn't go to a gym. Is much, much younger than colleagues who are on the same "pay grade" so that's a no go (socializing with those lower 'ranked' is not ok). And when he leaves for work at 4:45am to come home at 6:45pm---where is he supposed to find time to make friends? At church on Sunday? HA! Don't make me laugh. Church is work, work and more work on Sunday. (And we are okay with that...we signed up for it)

    I think The Good Lord is tired of me petitioning Him to send my brilliantly funny, smart, big hearted, uber talented husband of mine a good friend! (a la 116 pages style)

    All that to say, I'm so glad you have Ben. It is a huge blessing. Knowing that this has happened for you brings me a small, very tiny, measure of hope.

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  17. I have multiple best friends. Actually, I go into a friendship thinking, "She is going to be my best friend." Then usually I either back off or whatnot because I feel like I'm bothering them too much lol. I love having people to talk to because I felt like I couldn't express what I really wanted to my parents so I looked to my friends for emotional support.

    I have best friends at different times in my life. So I guess I have about 4 or 5 and counting since I plan to live for a long time. I still keep in touch with all of them at different frequencies. One is serious, another is goofy, one is very wise and gives me hope, others are there just to be there when I need someone to talk to. Is it weird that my mother-in-law is one of my best friends? I love her to death. She is freaking Awe-Some.

    Thanks for the question. It made me think and i learned something new about myself that I need to record in my journal.

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  18. I totally agree that sometimes you meet someone that just gets you and you get them. It's awesome and a little freaky when it happens. I think it's fantastic that y'all are friends now because I think you're both pretty amazing. I feel so blessed to have your loving and energetic influences over me as a missionary in the land of the valienetes and consequently my life. Your FB posts make me smile and you guys both give me hope that maybe there's one more good guy out there to be my best friend. :)

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  19. My true best friend is my husband. I don't have a best girlfriend unfortunately. I've always wanted one! Makes me wish I had a sister. But I have many girlfriends that I see regularly. Park days, coffee GNOs. I feel like my friends fit different facets of my life. But they aren't so close that they feel like true family. Maybe it's me? Maybe I keep people at a slight distance? Or maybe I just haven't fallen in love! Friend-love that is.

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  20. (this is also totally not weird or gay) have you read Anne of Green Gables? Kindred spirits, man. Kindred spirits. You and I (I'd venture) have similar personalities (I'm INFP, I'd venture to guess you're ENFP) and Anne in the story is a raging E/INFP and our need for "kindred spirits" is huge, simply because we don't often find people we click with, and often feel strange and apart from the world, like people don't understand us. That "click" is rare and incredibly precious to us.

    Anyway.

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  21. I have known my best friend for years. We met when we were 14 years old, I am now 39 years old. We have been through a lot, from moving away, returning and losing touch. We always ended up finding each other. She is my Beastie, we are like a pair of magnets it doesn't matter how far we are we end up stuck together. Whenever I needed her she was there. A couple of years ago my apartment was robbed, she moved in with me because she didn't want me living alone. She is my sister, we can fuss at each other and know that it is out of love. I know that God put us together to help one another grow and learn. It is hard to find friends like that, that are willing to have your back. A little over a year ago I joined the church and she told me that even though she doesn't agree with my beliefs she will always support me. She has never taken it back. She even testifies to the church to other people because of how happy I am and being involved. I believe that God always has a hand on pick people to put in my life. I also think also when we get married are we going to be as close as we are now. When we have husbands and children are we going to have time to hang out? We will find out because we are friends.

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  22. I have a couple of best friends and each of our relationships are a little different. I think the one thing that ties them all together is that they're all ridiculously independent people and I gravitate to that. I might not see them in a month, but when I do, it's like nothing's really changed for us and it just is what it is. So I don't know what keeps us entirely connected, just this general sense of love and gratitude for an individual. My closest is probably my cousin. She and I are somewhat like odd kindred spirits (minus on politics....polar opposite on that) and we end up talking about everything under the sun with no shame about where the topic leads us. But there was always something that just seemed so....I don't resonating about us.

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  23. Josh this made my heart so happy to read. I think you wrote a blog a while back about how you felt really lonely regarding male friends as obviously there are a lot more factors involved for you than heterosexual men regarding friendships with men. I remember feeling so sad for you as I'd never thought about that before and to read this immediately made me think how God was listening to you and responded in this way. So happy I could cry! xxxx

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