Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gay, Straight or Bi?

Hi Bill
I've been reading both your blogs recently, and would really interested to hear your opinion concerning my sexuality.

Hi, I'm going to answer you within the body of your email in bold like this. 
I am a guy in my mid-thirties, gay-identified and have been since I was a teenager. I first realized I was strongly attracted to men (both sexually and emotionally) when I was in my early teens. I have only ever had crushes on men, never on women.  I have not come out to my parents or any members of my family, though I've told almost all of my friends that I'm gay. I have two brothers, one of whom is gay and is out to both my parents. I feel a lot of shame and sadness about this, because I feel like it would be a double blow for my mother if I came out also (no grand kids, etc). Gay couples can adopt children so your parents can have grand kids.

I have always had an inferiority complex about my sexuality, never truly feeling like I'm a "real guy". I definitely feel inferior in social situations where I'm around 'manly' straight men, particularly sporty ones. I don't always feel this way, sometimes I feel proud and confident to be different, but quite often I give into feelings of inferiority. This is not unusual. Even today, society spreads the message that gay men are not really men. Even straight men can feel "inferior" if they aren't into [stereo]typical male pursuits, such as sports. The thing to remember is that the gay male community [not to mention the straight male community] is very diverse, and you are free to make your own choices based on what you like and don't like. If sports aren't your bag, who cares? Do what you enjoy. In any case, as we used to say in New York's Gay Activist Alliance -- the country's first militant [non-violent] gay rights group -- "99% of gay liberation is in the head."

When I was around 16 my parents started buying a right-wing newspaper which regularly featured negative articles on homosexuality. Perhaps I should have just stop reading it, but I was fascinated by what these journalists were saying; that homosexuality is a perversion, that it's a some kind of distortion of natural sexuality explained by the Freudian principle of over-attachment to the mother and envy of the father's penis or whatever, or that many gays are that way because they've been molested. [these are all out-dated and completely discredited theories that SCIENCE has proven incorrect.] 

 I felt angry at the hateful tone of the articles, but also vulnerable and afraid that maybe they were right, maybe my sexuality is just a sham. I started to question my upbringing "Maybe I was overly molly-coddled because I was the youngest?" "Did I have some trauma that provoked it?" "Was it down to feeling inferior to other kids at school?" and so on. I became desperately insecure, starting to feel like I was a freak. I felt so cruel, you know?, because at school I constantly heard guys make horrible remarks about fags and homos, and there was this national newspaper, written by adults, seemingly backing them up.All the latest research pretty much indicates that gay people are born that way. There is a wonderful organization called TRUTH WINS OUT that deals with the groups that spread the homophobic lies you're referring to. You might check out their website.

Then when I was 18, my closest gal pal, to whom I had recently come out, started an argument with me when we were out one night. She very forcefully argued that I couldn't possibly know I was gay because I hadn't had sex with a woman. Jeez, this is the hokey old argument: a man is only gay until he meets the right woman. It is not to be taken seriously. She said she she had worried that she might be a lesbian when she was younger, and that she had slept with a woman once and that it helped her realize she was heterosexual after all. If she actually had sex with a female she is at least bisexual and is kidding herself and you can tell her I said so. She kept angrily saying that heterosexual sex is the most beautiful, natural thing and totally superior to anything a man could do with a man or a woman could do with a woman (just to make it clear, she wasn't offering to sleep with me, just her opinion). Her attitude is entirely homophobic. [Perhaps fueled by her own homo-erotic feelings and her guilt over same.] There is absolutely no reason to think love between two men or two women is somehow inferior to love between a man and a woman. This is just religious-based prejudice.

I went home that night feeling crushed. Though I was angry at what she said, at the same time I was terrified she was right. What if my whole sexual identity was a total sham? I felt like a failure (and still do) because I was a heterosexual virgin. I started to look at images of straight sex on cable channels and found, to my horror, that some of the images turned me on. Even a particular image of a woman's breasts turned me on. I thought "My God! They were right after all!" I suddenly remembered a few times in my childhood when I was aroused looking at a woman's breasts in pictures, though these were far outnumbered by memories of very intense same-sex desires. I felt sick, like I was a total fraud, and fell into a deep depression that took months to recover from.Listen, being gay doesn't mean you find women repulsive, or can't sleep with women, or can't on occasion find a woman or breasts or what-have-you somehow sexy. As people used to say, "flesh is flesh." The whole thing has to do with preference. More on which in a moment.

Since then, In have only had sexual encounters with men, and still have no desire to pursue a sexual relationship with a woman; I just don't desire them sexually and romantically. But the old thoughts of "nothing is as good as straight sex", "women's bodies are built for pleasure, guys' aren't" still haunt me, and I still feel turned by thoughts or images of straight sex, particularly when the focus is on the guy instead of the woman, and I occasionally feel turned on by looking certain types of women's breasts, but never women themselves, like the whole person. Part of me thinks "this is crap! you're gay and just fetishizing 'normal' sex, you don't have to sleep with a woman if you don't want to!" I think you've hit the nail on the head here! while another part of me thinks "sleeping with a woman would "turn me", placing my penis inside a vagina would make realize I'm straight after all because the feeling would be so pleasurable, that a gay man who hasn't had sex with a woman doesn't have the right to call himself gay. That last thought really gnaws away at me.

Okay, I know a lot of gay men. Some of them have never slept with women because, like you, they honestly have no desire to. Others slept with women before they accepted their homosexuality, even got married and had children or went through a period when they thought -- hoped -- they were bi. Now they all identify as gay. The latter group may be glad they have children, but they also spent years if not decades with the wrong partner [wrong sex], hurt the women in their lives very badly when they finally came out, and wasted years being in the closet and having casual encounters instead of a full relationship. Surely that isn't what you want?

Also, sleeping with a woman does not turn a gay [ or legitimately bi] man straight. It just doesn't work that way. There are what we call "ex-gays" [again, see Truth Wins Out] who pair up with members of the opposite sex, have children, but in their heart of hearts they are still homosexual and generally lapse. They have NOT turned straight; all they've done is given in to society's negative attitudes. It all has to do with self-hatred instead of self-acceptance.  

What do you think Bill? This whole thing has really affected my self-esteem, and is ruining my ability to go out and find a nice man! I feel like a fraud, like gays are made not born (surely the times I got turned on by the breasts proves that?! not really ) that I don't have a right to a gay identity because one time with a woman would make me straight? Again, it just doesn't work that way, even if you have successful intercourse with a woman as many gay men have had.

I really don't want to have sex with a woman, the thought upsets me, but these thoughts keep coming back to me. If you don't want to sleep with a woman -- which could simply turn out to be a embarrassing, unfair situation for both you and the woman -- then don't. [Frankly, it's not that big a deal.] You've got to get over this whole notion that a man isn't really a man unless he's fucking women. It's out-dated and simply untrue. I mean, if it matters to you, I know a macho fighter pilot who had five children and then came out as gay, totally gay. And other gay men who never slept with women, yet distinguished themselves in such butch professions as firefighter and police officer. Having sex with women is not what makes a man a "man" and you have absolutely nothing to prove. I know that some essentially gay men pursue and sleep with women just to feel more manly, but all they're really doing is denying themselves, cruelly using the women in their lives, and being totally delusional about themselves as well.

Do you think I'm gay, bi or straight? And whatever I am, how can I boost my self-esteem and find peace? Would really value any advice you can offer.

Here it is: Based on everything you've told me, I would say you're definitely gay. Finding women's breasts aesthetically pleasing or even sexy in some way does not make you heterosexual or bi, not when you have no real sexual or romantic feelings for women but only for men. Sexuality can be very confusing and complicated. A man can be essentially gay and occasionally find women attractive without necessarily being bisexual, and even if he were, there is still the question of overwhelming preference. I would say your overwhelming preference is men. I believe you have been surrounded by homophobic attitudes and anti-gay "friends" with extremely negative opinions. You say your gay brother is Out, but is he also hung up about his homosexuality?

Stop hating yourself for being gay. If there's a gay/LGBT center in your city get some counseling or therapy from a gay or gay-friendly individual. 

As I have said for many years now IT'S OKAY TO BE GAY!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Woman, Boyfriend, and Gay Pal

Dear Gay "Dr. Bill",
I found your extremely interesting blog today and read through quite a few of the questions and your answers to them.  I am a 59 year old woman who has been going with a man 'Nick' for the last 4 years. He was very understanding and let me be me and have my space for the first few years and then became quite demanding and possessive, especially of my time. He started asking questions about what I was going to do that day, what I was doing at work, who I had seen and/or talked to the day before. My best friend is a gay man 'Mark' and Nick kept trying to break up our friendship. We went around and around about the demanding attitude Nick had and the need he had to see me break off contact with Mark. He said it hurt him that I did not take his feelings into account. It got so bad that I felt every time Mark and I talked or did anything with each other I had to keep it a secret, because if I was honest and told Nick about it he would get upset, angry and act hurt. This continued to the point where I felt I was being stalked because Nick would check up on where I was by driving around our small town trying to find my car! If he couldn't find it he would call or text and ask where I was. I started to feel that I had to look over my shoulder, because he was always checking up on me to see if I was seeing Mark. I broke off contact with him because of this behavior and told him I would not give up my best friend for him nor would I be controlled or intimidated. We were apart for about 2 months and then he wrote me a letter and said that he was seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist and was dealing with his problems and had changed. I agreed to go for coffee with him and he met me with flowers. We spoke both on the phone and by email several times after that and had lunch together and went to a show. Things seemed to be good between us again and he continued to see the doctors and we even went to a couples therapist for a while. He was doing well as far as not asking about my job, what I had done that day and whether I had seen or talked to Mark for about 5 months. Now he has gone back to wanting to know if I have talked to Mark, if we have been out to lunch together or if I have gone to his house for coffee. I feel like I am going around and around on the same carousel over and over again and I don't know what to do. What is your take on this behavior? Is this a control thing, a homophobic thing? My heart wants to believe that Nick can change his way of feeling about Mark, but my gut tells me to run like hell. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated, or if you need to know more about this situation in order to get a better grasp of it let me know. Thank you!

The first thing that strikes me about this is that "Nick" is jealous of "Mark," but it's difficult to tell if it's because he's envious of the closeness the two of you share as friends, or if he's paranoid about the truth of your relationship with Mark; in other words, he may be afraid that Mark is really straight or bisexual and the two of you have or want more than a platonic relationship. If Mark is stereotypically gay -- that is a little "queeny," [not to put him down for that]  -- the latter possibility is fairly unlikely. If Mark is a more or less masculine guy, than Nick may be afraid he's not totally gay [people do tend to think in stereotypical terms]. If this is the problem, having you and Mark sit down with Nick and tell him that your relationship is, and always will be, platonic, could be a big help. But first of all ask Nick if that is what he's afraid of. [The stalking business and the need he has for you to break off with Mark does indicate a kind of pathological jealousy.]

Gay men and straight women can have very close friendships, and Nick may feel as if he's on the outside looking in, that you share more of your inner feelings and desires with Mark instead of him. He may fear you are simply closer to Mark than you are to him. There's also the possibility that Nick may think, rightly or wrongly, that Mark doesn't like him, doesn't approve of him, thinks you could do better, or has some negative opinion of him for one reason or another. While it's rare, some gay men have negative attitudes toward straight guys [sometimes because they perceive the straight guy as being disapproving of them; sometimes not]. Nick may fear that when you and Nick are alone, the two of you are putting him down.

Then there's the simple possibility that Nick just doesn't like Mark because he's gay. Did Nick make any negative remarks about gay people before he found out your best friend was gay? Something about Mark may make Nick nervous; he could be dealing with sexual identity issues of his own [not to necessarily say that he is gay or closeted].

You might bring this all up with Nick and see what kind of reaction you get. If the two of you can have a meaningful dialogue and come to some understanding, so much the better. If he can accept that Mark is a good friend and will always be a part of your life, all three of you will be much happier. If you just can't get through to him, if he over-reacts or rages, then he is dealing with issues that you probably don't need to deal with.

If you have any follow up questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

Help for Gay Seniors and Caregivers

I have a gay uncle who is in his seventies and whose partner died some years ago. I am also gay and have become his part-time caregiver. Do you know of any organization that provides help, advice and resources for seniors and caregivers in the LGBT community? Many thanks.

Yes, SAGE [originally Senior Action in a Gay Environment] provides help for LGBT seniors and their caregivers. Their website can be found here I am a caregiver for an elderly gay man myself and will be reporting more on SAGE as I explore their services and resources in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Boyfriend with Secrets

I have been with my boyfriend for almost three years, we recently had a baby girl in November. We have plans to get married and he seems excited about it, we even got the ring together. But I had snooped on his computer and found that he had been watching tranny porn, and found a video in his trash can of him masturbating. Furious, I texted him all upset and he left work to talk to me. He said he was just super stressed and it wasn't anything. He even told me that he joined a gay dating site back in February. But he deleted it after I found out about the porn. So even more curious I looked in his email and found a email between him and some guy talking dirty to each other and exchanging numbers. He felt like crap after I confronted him about it and said if I left he wouldn't have a reason to live and that he'd want to die. But every time I ask why he made a profile for a gay dating site he just says he doesn't want to talk about it. He told me he always liked watching tranny porn because it's like a girl being in control. But I don't understand. Is he hiding something? He won't open up anymore but I don't want to waste my time if he is gay. It's not fair to me. He even said he's not attracted to men at all. What is your opinion? What do I do?

Well, he's definitely hiding something. He refuses to talk about something which is of obvious concern to you -- his joining a gay dating site, among other things -- and the erotic emails with another guy are another red flag. A guy can have fetishes, and a man can be attracted to transsexual women -- who are, after all, women, regardless of the biological state they were born in -- without being gay, but often an attraction to trans women ["tranny" is no longer considered an acceptable term], many of whom still have a penis, and especially transvestites/drag queens, is a cover-up for an attraction to men. It sounds as if your boyfriend is in a very confused state of mind and could use some counseling. Men don't join gay dating sites or send sexy emails to guys because they're "stressed out." It sounds like he has an attraction to men that he is ashamed of and fighting, but if he thinks a heterosexual marriage will change him he's being delusional. Many guys in this position are scared to death of their feelings and cling to women as a lifesaver, at the very least hoping a marriage will lend them a heterosexual facade. [His threatening suicide is probably his way of expressing panic over the possibility of being outed, or of definitely being gay.] But you're right that this isn't fair to you -- or to him.

Tell him that the two of you have really got to have a talk. Don't be judgmental. If he wants to jerk off over certain fetishes it isn't the end of the world. If he's gay, it's a lot more problematic. Be cautious if he suggests that he's bisexual, as this can often be a convenient term and a cop-out. In any case, if his preference is men then he will eventually feel quite stifled in a marriage.

This is a difficult situation which requires patience, a lot of honesty, understanding and conversation. If there is a gay or LGBT center in your city, it might be a good idea for him to drop in and discuss his feelings and various issues with a sympathetic and knowledgeable counselor.

Casual versus Anonymous

I came across a post where you answered a question about casual sex. Isn't it true that casual sex and anonymous sex are not the same thing? 

Absolutely true. Casual sex is a one night stand, a bar pick-up, or it can refer to sleeping with a person you are acquainted with, maybe even friends with [a fuck buddy, or as straight people say "friends with benefits"], but aren't in love with. There's no romance, no angst, no jealousy, none of the tortured, joyous emotions of a full-fledged love affair. Just good, clean sex.

Anonymous sex, on the other hand, is where you not only never get to know the person with whom you are having sex, you may not even get to see what they look like, and there's definitely little, if any, conversation. This is --in my opinion -- old-fashioned sex, more prevalent in the days before Stonewall, where gay men would meet anonymously in dark parks, men's rooms ["tea rooms"], movie theaters, and other trysting places where there was not only no wining and dining or cruising before sex, there was no anything -- the two would just get right at it for instant gratification.

Before AIDS, there were many darkened back room bars where anonymous sex would go on. Men would follow a guy they saw and liked in the [brighter] front room of the bar and hope that if they hooked up with him in the back room they were getting the right guy! But with all those bodies, and shadows, who knows?

Frankly, in my opinion, sex is a much more satisfying experience in a bed and after getting to know someone even a little bit. Still there are people -- gay and straight -- who like the no-frills action and slight edge of danger to anonymous, often public sexual encounters.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Crossdressing boyfriend

I was with my boyfriend for a year when I began suspecting him of cheating when I found women's clothing that was mine. Long story short, I found out through extensive Internet searching that he owned a porn site where he is the main attraction as a cross-dresser and people pay to watch him have sex dressed up in MY underwear and dresses in my home. I had no idea and was shocked. I found out next that he was advertising himself as a hooker who cross-dresses and caters to men for $200. After I moved out and confronted him he said he wasn't gay and was just interested in making money. The thing is, he has his masters degree and he lives off his rich parents. He had the gall to tell me that the fact that my daughter who is disabled stresses him out caused him to snap and "indulge in selfishness". He had the website for a year before I met him and admitted to paying very passable pre op transsexual hookers for sex up to three years before we met. He tried to explain since he had sex with them while he was dressed as a man and they looked like beautiful women it was not "gay sex". Furthermore he said when he was prostituting dressed as a woman having sex with men that also did not constitute "gay sex". In the past two months since I've left he has been actively trying to get back together with me saying all that was a phase and he was over it. I then found out he got arrested 30 min. after we got off the phone for prostitution by Vegas vice. He was still doing it! And now he's a " changed man" and is livid that I won't accept he's straight and move back in with him. I am heartbroken, and confused. But I also know I can't get back with him obviously. What I want to know is if he has a severe disorder, if he's delusional, and why he is adamantly denying being gay and is he typical of "closeted men"?

Also his particular obsession in dressing was thigh high boots which was consistent through out. I am so confused why he'd pursue a serious relationship with me when he was doing all of these secret activities? Should I try to help him....? Forget he existed?? Help. 

My advice is to probably forget he existed, and not because of his extra-curricular sexual activity, but because he's involved in criminal activity, is a liar, used your home and clothing for porn activities without your knowledge or permission -- the yuck  factor goes on and on. I'm a pretty open-minded guy but this character sounds pretty unsavory in many ways and, yes, delusional. 

Now on to other specific points:

Cross-dressing men can be and often are heterosexual. [Most gay men have absolutely no interest in cross-dressing.] However, the fact that he's advertising for sex with men [and whether for pay or not for pay is irrelevant] is an altogether different matter. Also, most pre-op transsexual men still have penises, and I doubt if a 100% straight guy wants to have sex with a "lady" with a dick. [Let me make it clear that I believe post-op trans-women are definitely female -- and perhaps even before the surgery -- but most genuinely straight men would be turned off by the male genitalia and other biological factors.]

So this guy can argue that he wasn't indulging in standard male-male sex and therefore it wasn't gay, but it was decidedly "queer" [queer now being another acceptable term for the LGBT -- or Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community]. And I find it hard to believe that a man who has no attraction for men would want to have male sex partners even when he's dressed up as a woman. At the very least, he's bisexual [which doesn't mean his preference  can't be men, making him essentially gay] and he is being disingenuous, or, as I said, delusional. It's also possible that he's transsexual himself, which can be very confusing for someone who hasn't yet accepted or acknowledged it, and he may honestly be confused as to his basic orientation as well.

While it's perfectly okay for you and others to be compassionate for and understanding of his confusion and "kinks," it does sound like he has a lot to work out in his own mind before he's ready for a relationship, and it may be that it would be more natural for him to be with a man. He's typical  of closeted men in his denial of obvious homoerotic acts with other men, although the porn web site and cross dressing is not so typical.

In conclusion, let me just say this guy has a lot of issues -- and not just the sexual ones -- and it doesn't make you a bad or bigoted person if you don't want to deal with them. Relationships are tough enough without adding quite so much drama.  

"Bi" Boyfriend or Closet Case?

I am a 33-year-old gay man and I am currently dating a man of the same age who identifies as bisexual. He is attractive, and I enjoy our sex life, but I have worries. When we go out to dinner, he will frequently flirt with the waitress or other women in a way encouraged to make them think he is available, even though he is sitting with me. He will not act romantic until we get to a gay bar. Of course, I wouldn't like it if he flirted with other men either but I notice he never seems to do this, just women. I find it distinctly uncomfortable and wonder if he is capable of sustaining a relationship with another male. 

To be blunt, probably not. I won't even get into whether or not this guy is actually bisexual or what his preference is, but it definitely sounds like he is dealing -- and not at all well-- with internalized homophobia. I will just say that a lot of men who are embarrassed to be gay/bi and full of shame need to have women in their lives even if only as a beard or front. They have to exude some kind of heterosexual persona even when they're out with another man. The fact that he flirts with women but never men indicates that he is uncomfortable being out in public with a man except when he is in an all-gay environment like a gay bar. I have no doubt that he is the kind of "bisexual" who tells gay men he likes women but never tells the women whom he gets involved with, if any, that he also digs guys.

Frankly, as far as I'm concerned that is not being bisexual, it is being a closet case.

Your friend needs some counseling and a good dose of gay pride, but you have to accept that for one reason or another he may never feel comfortable in his own skin. Just the very idea of his hitting on women when he's on a date with you is rude and insulting and a little outrageous. And desperate. Like he's trying to prove something to himself.

My advice. Fuck 'im and forget 'im!