I'm amazed at how many things we hide from the people in our lives for fear that we'd be judged, completely unaware that these are things we'd have in common. In this case, this isn't my struggle that I'm writing about, but it's one that's been divulged to me multiple times by multiple people, and at this point I'm just shocked no one has thought of mentioning it to another one of their peers. The conclusions they drew, how the individuals were shaped from their experience and their overall opinions vary, but the root experience, which I promise I'll get to in a moment, was the same. It's also one they generally felt *very* uncomfortable sharing.
Since this isn't something I ever dealt with, let me preface this with the closest experience I have. While I was in late elementary school, I thought I might be a lesbian. I had no concept of sexuality at this point; I hadn't developed feelings for either sex and I wouldn't have had a clue what to do about it if I had. I thought I was a lesbian because I wanted to be a writer, I didn't wear girly clothes or makeup, and I preferred dogs to dolls. Based on what I learned from my peers, TV and whatever other sources of social control I had, these things would mean that I'd grow up to like women.
Again, I didn't even really know or understand what it would involve to "like" a girl or a boy, at this point. I was developing my assumption of sexual orientation strictly because of what kind of attributes and gender role was assigned to it.
Thinking I'd be a lesbian wasn't an opinion I expressed out loud because it seemed like a moot point. Firstly I was too young to be attracted to anybody. Secondly, even at that age and despite having a pretty conservative upbringing, I didn't think I'd have a choice. I like what I liked, and if that meant I'd end up liking women, I didn't see the point in trying to be somebody else for the sake of being straight.
I didn't look for women to be attracted to, either. Most of my preteen and teenage years lacked development of sexual desire. The reasons for that are pretty complex, but for brevity's sake, I can say that I didn't really feel attraction in any understandable form until I was 16, and I wouldn't do much about it with anyone until I was in college a year later. I just didn't understand how it worked, and at the time, I didn't place a lot of importance on it. Maybe I figured that the "right person" would be the one I'd work it out with, so I didn't have to worry about it.
Eventually, when I started getting crushes on boys, I didn't feel conflicted about it; and I certainly didn't feel like I was forcing myself to. It felt normal. I experimented with girls a little in my early 20s, but this had a lot more to do with problems I had in my relationship at the time. I was drinking a lot at that point, too. I don't devalue those experiences, but they didn't influence or change my orientation, and I didn't do them because I had questions about my sexuality.
I knew I was straight regardless of how I was perceived or thought myself to be perceived. Again, this wasn't a huge deal for me, although, maybe it wasn't a big deal because I didn't have to wrestle with my sexual identity. I imagine if I were gay, it would have been a whole other experience, and I would have gone through a lot more turmoil based on my exploration with those women. In the end, it was shits and giggles, stories for future parties, bucket list entries...
So what's with the personal exposition? Hang in there kids, this is armchair psychology day. It's also the moment I remind you I didn't graduate college, so take this all with whatever serving size of salt you require. This is all observational on my part. This observation also applies to something I'm not: a guy.
Recently, another male friend of mine confided in me that earlier in life, he had thought he was gay. That in itself isn't shocking; and while homosexuality is real and often times poorly misunderstood or mishandled in early years, that wasn't his case.
My friend believed this about himself because from what he understood, his personality "was gay", and not because he felt attracted to the same sex. He was artistic, perceived as more sensitive, slighter in build, and overall lacked the brutish, testosterone fueled stereotypes of masculinity that he perceived in his peers. In some cases, it was assumed for him, regardless of how he handled himself. So my friend experimented, felt unfulfilled, and struggle with his sexuality and his identity for years. It would be a few years before he worked out both his orientation and masculinity, all of which happened years before I met him, but left him with some downright bizarre ideas about relationships, and relationships with women in particular.
I'm not sure why he felt the need to tell me about it. I'm doing my best to keep any him as well as anyone else who's revealed this to me as anonymous as possible. I need to stress I wouldn't have any opinion were it not for the fact that I've heard this story a lot. This turned into a "tell me once, interesting story, tell me ten times, why the fuck does no one know this about each other?"
My friend was surprised to learn that I'd heard his story before. None of the guys I've talked to, to my knowledge, felt comfortable telling their friends or girlfriends, or felt misunderstood if they brought it up. This might be because the confusion and mixed feelings appear related to messages other people give you about what you're supposed to be. It's a strange kind of vulnerability to have with people whose opinions of you matter so much. It's mind blowing to me that these men could feel so deeply affected and completely terrified of the effect that they refused to tell anyone, opting to quietly deal with it alone. I guess they didn't feel like they had any alternative.
This article is written on the slim chance that someone else doesn't know how to work out what they're feeling, and they don't have anyone they trust to tell it to.
Firstly, you're not alone.
Secondly, you're not even a little weird.
Thirdly, even though this one doesn't really matter, I doubt you're actually gay. A lot more on this later.
This has taken me a long time to write, and I've split it into sections in hopes that it will be a little easier to read. If you have some insights that I missed, feel free to express them. This is a pretty complex issue and I don't claim expertise. This is only what I've learned from the people I've seen go through it, and I hope it's helpful to somebody.
Briefly, here's the overview of the next few sections.:
1. Your sexual orientation isn't a choice, but your idea of what makes you a man, to a degree at least, is.
2. In this case, the latter is what you're struggling with. This has a lot to do with the absolutely bonkers way we view masculinity in our culture, in addition to the amount of emphasis we place on that bonkers view.
3. The emphasis we put on this ideal descends further into madness because we have no real methodology or belief system for attaining masculinity, which makes it an even more vague quality.
4. We don't really understand or acknowledge the parental role, mother or father, that is embedded in our self-perception, particularly in our fulfillment of gender ideals.
5. Finally, the ill-defined, seemingly unattainable but ultimately prized sense of what it means to "be a man" is directly correlated to an also ill-defined, albeit much more attainable sense of "being a woman" (or a pussy, as will usually be used in this case). This fear of femininity, implicit or expressed, both comes from and causes a great deal of misunderstanding between sexes. I'd also argue that homophobia comes more from this quagmire of misconception than it does from any latent homosexuality.
Feeling unsure about this? Don't worry, we'll get there, bud. Read More Here -->>
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.