I find it strange the way I can so deeply identify with a song. There’s something almost mystical about hearing the words written by someone you don’t know and likely will never know and it strikes deep at your soul. Such is the nature of the song, “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith. A buddy of mine sent me the YouTube link to the song earlier this week and I listened – mostly just to get it out of the way, I thought it was a joke at first. Each word struck my soul like a gong with a resonation that can only be found in that of a shared experience.
The lyrics are simple:
Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a one-night stand
But I still need love ’cause I’m just a man
These nights never seem to go to plan
I don’t want you to leave, will you hold my hand?
Oh, won’t you stay with me?
‘Cause you’re all I need
This ain’t love it’s clear to see
But darling, stay with me
Why am I so emotional?
No it’s not a good look, gain some self-control
And deep down I know this never works
But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt
Chorus repeats three times.
This song is full of frustration, pain, longing which is apparent in the music video accompanying the song. The video starts out with Sam picking up his things as the camera pans over a bed with a man in it. We aren’t left to assume the details as the song indicates Sam’s not being good at one night stands, but that he needs love because he’s just a man – these words spoken as he’s walking down the road from his lover’s apartment. The chorus rings out, “….Won’t you stay with me?”
It’s not hard to see the writer’s desire to have companionship. I suppose that this is something that every man desires, but for those men who experience same-sex attractions there’s more than meets the eye. The need for companionship is often never met or is met for a season until that source is exhausted. Those who enter into same-sex homoerotic relationships are even less likely to have their needs met.
Let’s delve right in, shall we? The basic nature of homosexual attractions is a need to fill a gap in the person that they feel they are and the person that they are (i.e. to feel like a men among men). As I’ve stated before this is temporarily facilitated by homoerotic interactions or fantasies that provide a means of feeling close to and a part of another man. But once the feelings of attraction subside (largely due to the removal of the element of the mystery of “otherness”) the source is exhausted and another one needs to be sought. This is the life of many in the gay community (despite popular opinion) going from one encounter to another seeking to fill a basic human need for belonging.
So, how is what is in the song a shared experience? If you’ve read my blogs you’ll know that I’ve remained celibate through my life and haven’t ever had this one-night-stand experience. But I have experienced the longing for companionship that is expressed in this song. I have experienced on several occasions thinking that I’ve met the perfect person who is going to be my life-long companion later only to realize that this wasn’t the case. I know what it means to desire to be with someone so much and know that that desire isn’t returned. The maddening part of it all is that much of this desire to be near is never expressed or worse I assume that the other person doesn’t desire to be near, but in reality it’s simply something they never expressed. There have been times when I, too, have inwardly cried, “Stay with me!”
“Well, Aaron, why don’t you find yourself someone who’ll stay with you? I’m sure you could find a man who would love you and you could get married… yada yada” Says the ill-informed person. It’s one of those commonly repeated, seemingly helpful things that one hears whether directly or indirectly. But in reality, it’s damming. What this “helpful” person is doing is telling me to attempt to find water in a dried up well.
What if this person were to actually do more than shove the problem off on someone else? What if this person were to encourage me to find companionship among men and to find love and affection from other men without sexualizing the interaction? What if this person were to grab me up and hold me until I felt like I belonged? What if this person did something that helped?
That’s some of my reflections on this song.
Blessings in Christ,