|Am I Gay?
I guess this is a question a lot of young men will have asked themselves during their confusing adolescent years; it's certainly one that every gay man will at some time have had to tackle, and come to terms with on discovering the true answer. Of course, there are the lucky ones - the majority - those people for whom their sexuality has never been in any doubt. They are the very people who, by their heterosexual appetite and acknowledged prowess with the opposite sex, may have initiated that desperate question in other minds. But to not be one of that majority, to not have the same appetite for the opposite sex, does not immediately make anyone gay.
Times are changing slowly, perhaps too slowly, for most children still grow up in an overwhelmingly heterosexual world - a world that will by its very existence from an early age have instilled expectations and preconceived ideas in every boy's mind - so should the time come that he reaches puberty, and his juvenile years, and he finds that those expectations are not being met as they are by his friends, he becomes concerned. He begins to suspect that he is different to the mates that he grew up with - and it troubles him. But trouble is too weak a word. At this stage of human development to suddenly not be ranked along with one's peers can be devastating. The questioning and gnawing fears in a boy's mind may remain closely guarded secrets - because they have to be.
Faced with this feeling of being different, young men may react in many different ways. Only a few will cope with the situation easily. Some may become reclusive; some may turn to bullying others; some to drink and drugs; and some may undoubtedly turn towards criminal behaviour to gain their much needed kudos - however, most will try to maintain an act: an appearance of being perfectly "normal". This act, and the feeling of a need to prove themselves to their family and friends, will often only exasperate the problem. And when thoughts for the same sex enter their minds, thoughts that they may believe to be bad or wrong, a great feeling of guilt can engulf them. It can be a very desperate time in a young man's life. It is a time when some may even come to consider suicide - and that, purely the result of the failings, the teachings and the expectations of a mainly ignorant heterosexual world, should never be!
Puberty, and the working of the sexual equipment, arrives at different times for different people. There is nothing wrong or untoward about being a late developer - many races are won by those who had a poor start. And even once everything is found to be in working order, it is quite normal for the feelings and the desires that arrive around this time to be "strange", to say the least! The sudden explosion of hormones the body has to try to make some sense out of can for some bring forth quite peculiar urges, fascinations, and attractions. At this time it is not uncommon for those who will later be "normal" heterosexual men to have "a crush" on someone of the same sex. It may be a schoolmaster; it may be a friend - it could be anyone, there are no rules, and it may not just be the one person - it may be many. There is nothing wrong, and this is not the time to fear one's sexual orientation; more a time to consider its possibilities.
For most who have arrived at this stage, they will have had no preparation for the alternative sexual orientations that life can deal out. Such is the failing of society, for around one in ten males will turn out to be gay, and around one in five males will at some time in their lives have gay sex. Each one of these people will be some proud parent's son. They could be anyone's son. These are facts that may be hard to accept by some people, but to life itself they are the "normal".
Sexual orientation is not hereditary, neither can it be instilled by corruption, persuasion, lifestyle or by any other means - and no matter what anyone may tell you, or claim, it most definitely cannot be changed. It is what you are. Were it to be any different, then in a vastly heterosexual society, and with few gay people actually reproducing, by long before now there would have been no gay people left in the world. But it is a known fact that the percentage of homosexual people in the world has varied little throughout all history, and although we may yet
not understand the reason for it, nature has seen fit to maintain this status quo.
We now come to the crunch question: how do I know if I am gay? I suppose the simple answer is - you just know. But you do need to wait until all those hormones have settled down a bit before asking the question. Once that has happened the sexual desires and urges will be noticeably better fed and nourished by the thoughts and fantasies of either one or the other of the two sexes. Crudely put: whatever makes you "cum" the easiest and the best will give you the answer. For just a few people this may be equal, or it may alternate continuously throughout their lives, and they are what we term as being: bisexual.
Gay, straight or bisexual, it matters not - you are you, and you are unique. Whatever sexuality you may be, no two people are ever exactly the same - not even identical twins. Be proud of who and what you are, and if you find that you are gay or bisexual then remember that that is quite normal in the great scheme of things, it is only some areas of society that still have a problem with this - and the problem is theirs, not yours.
One of the biggest mysteries in the world today is why some people have a problem with another person's sexuality when you consider all the great names there have been throughout history that have been known not to be heterosexual. Great emperors, kings, war-lords, painters, writers, poets, musicians, composers, pop singers, fashion gurus, astrologers, philosophers, architects, engineers and many, many others all enjoying pride of place in history have been either gay or bisexual - the list is almost endless, and it even includes a pope or two! Their sexual orientation never hampered these people - it need not hamper you.
Judy Garland is reputed to have said: "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." There could be no better advice. Another quote I love came from the late, great, and still sadly missed Dusty Springfield: "My sexuality has never been a problem to me but I think it has been for other people."
There is nothing at all wrong with being gay, however it does come with some burdens that heterosexuals never have to face. There is the gay scene - known by all to be notoriously promiscuous - and although it is representative of less than a quarter of all gay people it is what a gay person will always be seen as being a part of by many uninformed heterosexual people. Then there is the whole "coming out" saga. Should you come out to family and friends, at work, to all and sundry, or not do it at all? Facing up to this issue can be traumatic for some people - and whatever you finally decide on as being best for you, even staying "in the closet", it will not be without some implications. These issues I will cover in separate articles - look out for them!
Copyright Michael Knell.
About The Author
This article has been written by a gay man, one who has been out to all for most of his lifetime and during which time he has been a supporter of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, a (committee) member of National Council of Civil Liberties (now Liberty), a founder member (positions of convener, editor, committee member, and a columnist over twelve years, then remaining an avid supporter) of the Swindon Gay Community Organisation, a (committee) member of the National Gay Community Organisation, a member of the Thamesdown Voluntary Services Centre, an active member of the Swindon Project for Aids Counselling and Education, a (committee) member of the Swindon Gay Men's Health Project, and co-owner of Bona Discos which later became the Junction 16 Roadshows and Entertainment that raised much-needed money for worthwhile causes both gay and straight. Today, semi-retired, he passes his time in Blackpool writing articles, books, and he maintains three popular web sites: http://www.astabgay.com http://www.astabgay.co.uk http://www.michaelknell.com
Quote: Gay is not a choice but, having now lived a gay life, had I had to choose all those years ago - with hindsight, I hope I would have chosen to be gay. It's been fun!