Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Okay to Be Gay

I am a 32-year-old man and have had the same girlfriend for many years. During our time together, I have had sex with several men. I have never considered myself gay or even bisexual. Some men wanted to date me, but I was only interested in sex. The thought of a romance with a guy made me nervous. My family is very narrow and religious, although I have tried all my life to be more open-minded than they are. Although I have tried not to think about it, recently I have come to the conclusion that I am much more turned on by men than women. My sex life with my girlfriend and the occasional other woman is not that satisfying, except for the orgasm, but I often find myself thinking about men or I can't shoot. There is a guy I really like and might love, and I think he really goes for me, and not just in bed. But I can't see living my life with him instead of with a woman, even though I admit I'd rather be with him than her. Should I just accept that I'm gay? Anon.

Yes. With all due respect, you could be the poster boy for "internalized homophobia," the term we use to describe the often subconscious feeling that some homosexual people have -- a kind of self-hatred -- that keeps them in denial and in the closet and prevents them from having fulfilled sexual and romantic lives. People like this prefer their own sex but live with and marry the opposite sex because they're just too ashamed to have anyone think of them as gay. It's obvious that your background -- the religious and narrow-minded family -- have done a lot to create your negative impression of homosexuals and your fear of seeing and accepting yourself as gay.

Not only are you not being fair to yourself, but you're not being fair to your long-time girlfriend. She has a right to have a boyfriend who isn't thinking about men all the time, and who may be in love with a man.

It's the 21st century. Millions of people are perfectly happy being gay, and gay men come in all shapes, sizes, attitudes, and modes of expression. Anyone can be gay. At thirty-two you have to ask yourself if a fear of your family's reaction should keep you in a false relationship that in the long run will only hurt yourself, your girlfriend, and the men you get involved with.

I think it's important for you to get counseling or therapy. preferably from an openly gay or at least gay-friendly therapist. Look at all the gay men who love each other and live together openly as domestic or (where it's legal) married partners. Some of those men may have once had the same feelings of dread and shame that you're feeling now, but they got over them with a little help from their friends.

Focus instead on the good feelings you have when you're with a man, especially the man you say you'd prefer to spend your life with. This man will want and deserves a partner who can be fully committed to him, to your life together, and who will not be ashamed of the love that the two of you share.

Get the help you need so you can deal with all the issues you're facing. You can do it. It's okay to be gay. You can probably get information at a local gay/LGBT center or gay helpline.

Good Luck and stay in touch!

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