**In case the title isn’t enough, this post has some content that may not be suitable for all audiences. **
It’s weird to me how long it took for me to realize and accept that I was gay. I even spent all of my adolescence fervently denying that there was even a possibility that I might prefer women. I know that came from the shame imposed upon me religiously and socially, though. It was “unnatural” and “wrong” for me to like women.
I dated boys in high school and wondered each time why I couldn’t stand them after about a week. They were alright from a distance, but as soon as they were close, we were close, I couldn’t stand them.
Kissing was outright disturbing. By adulthood I had just accepted that I was strange and didn’t like kissing. I had no idea why everyone liked it so much. My friends in school wanted details and wanted to know how “great” it was kissing whichever guy. I lied to them. I pretended I was “normal” and I gave them details that I thought they wanted- I basically repeated what they’d said about their boyfriends or what I’d heard people say on TV or in books.
Funny thing is, most of my female friends in school were bisexual. It’s not like it was their judgement I was afraid of. They would have accepted me as gay or straight or bisexual. No one else would have, though.
I was raised in a religious family. The religion itself was fine. My family didn’t impose any fanatical rituals or outlandish religious expectations. It’s just religion in general does not accept homosexuality. I was taught that I was inferior and should beg God for forgiveness if I didn’t fall in line with what was normal and expected. I’ve always taken issue with certain aspects of religion, but religion is not the topic of this post. Just to be clear on the note of religion- I accept everyone’s personal beliefs and do not judge. If anyone religious is reading this, just know that I’m not intentionally bashing religion; I’m merely being honest in its role in my life.
Back on topic…
I remember at age 12 trying to play a game with a couple girl friends. I don’t remember the name of the game, but it was about boys and crushes. The board was round and there were pictures of boys lining the rim. My friends were trying to teach me how to play. They told me to pick the boys I liked. My response was “How am I supposed to know if I like them? I don’t know them. They are just photos.” My friends, getting frustrated, said to pick the ones I thought were cute. That just made it even harder for me. I wanted to know how to figure out if they were cute, handsome, whatever. My friends grew so annoyed that they weren’t even going to allow me to play the game, so I finally just chose a few guys randomly.
I encountered things like this constantly. I would go to the movies with my friends and they would swoon over the men in the films. Then there was me. I was either faking it and just copying them so I wouldn’t seem weird while secretly enjoying the women in the films, or if I couldn’t be convincing enough I would say the men weren’t my type. Of course they weren’t my type, they were men!
I think most parents try to prevent their children from being sexually active for as long as possible. My dislike of men and being close to them didn’t keep me from dating, but rather made me want to date even more in order to “get used it” and be normal. I didn’t actually lose my virginity until I was an adult, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything in the meantime. I had it in my mind that the more I kissed (etc.) guys the quicker I would “get over” my aversion and be like everyone else.
I suffered depression in high school and spent a lot of time with doctors and therapists. I discussed dating and boys with them. I remember one doctor specifically who really angered me. He told me all I needed was a boyfriend and that would solve all my problems. I was enraged (overreaction much?). I had told him that I was taking a break from dating because I wanted to focus on my mental health, school, family, etc. His response was to tell me to get a boyfriend?! I may have cursed at him…
I don’t think some people realize or think about how deeply it affects someone to be denied the right to be attracted to whomever they are attracted to. In recent years with the anti-bullying campaigns it is being talked about more and more, but I know there are still straight people who just don’t understand that even without bullying there is a deeply internal struggle going on that actually has an impact on one’s life.
Since most of my friends were bisexual, everyone else assumed I was, too. That didn’t bother me at all. I never ridiculed anyone for being gay or bisexual, but I also never admitted that I might not be straight. My parents were nice to gay people and never put them down to their faces, but as soon as they weren’t around my parents would ridicule them and rant about how disgusting and sinful they were. They would pray for their souls and try to get me to agree with their opinions. No matter how much I denied that I was gay, I would never say I believed it was wrong, disgusting or sinful. I was actively standing up for gay rights and equality long before I was even remotely willing to admit to myself or society that I was gay.
I had those little kid crushes just like most people did when they were young, but I never realized they were crushes because they were all on girls. Everyone just assumed I was a “late bloomer” because I showed no interest in boys until I forced myself to find some sort of attraction so that I could fit in. Being gay was just out of the question.
I lost my virginity at 21 to my best guy friend. Shortly after that I began dating another guy and even moved in with him. I never kissed either of those guys. I tried kissing the guy I moved in with, but he clearly wasn’t going to kiss a girl who cringed every time.
I never enjoyed sex, kissing or any physical contact. I have to wonder why that guy stayed in a relationship with me. He knew I was never aroused my him. He tried everything from experimentation to pills. Nothing worked.
I went to another doctor and explained that I could not enjoy sex or any physical contact with my boyfriend. The only thing they could think of was that I must have been sexually abused. Well, I have been sexually abused, but I probably wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been having all these issues with sex. My inability to enjoy any sort of contact with men came long before any sexual abuse. In my attempts to be “normal” I ended up putting myself in compromising situations where I could be hurt.
I often imagine how much different life would have been for me if I’d been allowed to just be myself and be accepted. Homosexuality is still so “different” to people that my doctors couldn’t even think that maybe I just don’t like men! It must be that I’ve been abused. That’s the only option they could come up with.
Now when people try to tell me that I just haven’t met the right guy (I truly despise that statement), I tell them to imagine making out with their grandparent and see if they could just find the “right” grandparent. Disturbing, I know. That is how I feel when I consider being with a man. It’s so disturbing and uncomfortable for me that consensual sex with my boyfriend felt like rape. No one should have to go through that just to be accepted by society.
The first time I kissed a girl I realized that I did in fact enjoy kissing. I had always thought that kissing a woman would be the same as kissing a man. I don’t know why I thought that, but I did. After that, I decided to identify as bisexual because I still wasn’t fully ready to be 100% disgraced by society. I know this may seem dramatic to some people, but my locale has a lot to do with it. The people in my area are not at all accepting of homosexuality. There are some places in the US that are more accepting and my area is just not one of them. So, it truthfully is “that” dramatic.
Coming out to my mother was the hardest part. I didn’t want her to try using an illogical argument based in religion, so I sort of laid it out twice as hard on her by also telling her that I no longer believe in the religion and God that she raised me with. Her life revolves around her religion, so she was incapable of finding any other reason than God saying homosexuality is wrong, despite my personal beliefs and my requests to leave religion out of it. She said it’s disgusting for two women to be together. I told her it was disgusting to me to be with a man but I don’t judge her or any other straight couple. She told me that I needed to just marry a man and get over it. I called her a hypocrite because she has always preached true love and finding the right person who makes you happy and fulfills your life and needs.
It has been a few years now since I came out to her and she has put in the effort to understand and accept me. She likely won’t ever fully understand or accept me, but I know she is trying and I appreciate her efforts.
I no longer deny who I am or who I’m attracted to. I refuse to be degraded or disrespected for being attracted to women instead of men. And after several long years, I am finally completely “out of the closet.” Anyone who doesn’t know I’m gay just simply doesn’t know me very well. It’s not like I begin every conversation with “I’m gay, just so you know.”
I suppose being openly gay is still fairly new to me. It was only this year that the word got out. My mother has tried very hard to show me that she accepts me and to not be ashamed of me, so this year she started telling everyone she knows that her daughter is gay. She even started calling my distant relatives around the country and telling them that I’m gay and in a relationship with a woman. This seems wrong to some people, but I don’t mind. I certainly won’t be calling people just to tell them. I only discuss it when it’s relevant. It became more relevant when my relationship became more serious.
I’m still scared that my sexual orientation will affect something important like my job, but so far it hasn’t come up. I guess I’m sort of hoping it won’t come up because I don’t want judgement at work. I will be honest if it does come up, though.
I look forward to a day when people won’t have to worry about judgement or possibly even losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation, but I fear that day is a long way off. As one national community we are making progress in acceptance and equality, but there is still so much hatred, ignorance and intolerance.
Whether someone is gay, straight or bisexual shouldn’t garner judgement from anyone. People are just people. We’re going to be attracted to whatever attracts us. If sexual orientation was a choice, I would actually choose to be bisexual. It makes the most sense to me to just like “people” regardless of their gender. It is not a choice, though, and I am gay.
On a final note I would like to say that I am not someone who actively protests in rainbow colored clothing. I’m all for gay rights and equality, obviously, but I mostly just want to live my life. I stand up for anyone being degraded or abused, but I don’t seek out opportunities to wave a flag or hold a sign. “Gay pride” is something I don’t understand. Are straight people “proud” to be straight? Being gay doesn’t define me, it’s only one part of who I am. It’s a big part of who I am to other people, but that’s because they find it strange to see me with a woman.
Thank you for taking the time to read a bit about my personal life.