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!

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