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Coming Out to Yourself

When I started to come out to other people, I really thought that I was beginning a short process.  It was only later–after I had gained some perspective–that I realized that my assumption was wrong on two counts:  1) It was not going to be a short process.  2) The coming out process for me had actually started many years before.

The first step of coming out is “coming out to yourself.”  What I (and others) mean by that is simply that we must first recognize our own sexual identity before we can share that information with others.

In a way, heterosexual males go through the same thing.  If you think back to your early childhood, it’s likely that many of your male friends said that girls were “yucky” or had “cooties.”  As they grew older, they recognized that girls were neither so yucky, afterall, nor were they infected with whatever kind of creepy, crawly beasts that cooties are imagined to be by little kids.  Indeed they developed some sort of pre-romantic relationship with girls…or tried to…or fantasized about it.  That self awareness was their first step in their process of coming out as a straight person.

We experienced similar sorts of growing feelings.  Those attractions we felt toward other males may have been apparent to us at five years old, or at thirteen, or at twenty-seven.  But we had to go through the same self recognition process as our straight friends and family.  The difference–and its an extremely important one–is that our society has a presumption of heterosexuality.  That is, people assume that we are straight until something happens to make them question that presumption.

Let’s not be too angry at society about that assumption.  After all, the people are correct an overwhelming number of times.  Most people do find members of the opposite sex more attractive than members of their own sex.  Most people are not interested in forming romantic relationships with members of their sex.

Although that presumption of heterosexuality is understandable and not inherently biased, it does present some difficulties for those of us who are not in the sexual majority.  Often we begin to assume that our feelings of attraction toward other males is just a phase that we’ll soon outgrow.  Or we may begin to feel that their is something wrong with us, since we don’t seem to be like all those other boys or men.  Often, being part of a minority that is largely invisible, we tend to feel isolated as if there must be nobody else who feels the way I do.  In other words, we don’t receive much external validation for our feelings.

How do I know if I’m gay?  Chances are good that, if you’ve asked yourself that question, you are.  But just asking the question won’t be enough evidence to convince you of that liklihood.  Some may tell you that you should have sex with a male and a female, and then compare your reactions to the experiences.  I believe that such experimentation at this stage is unethical and counter-productive.  It is not fair to your would-be sexual partners.  It is possible to never have sex with anyone and still know your sexual orientation.

If you want an experiment to verify your identity, don’t involve others under false pretenses.  You only need to rely on yourself.  Your fantasies…and your reaction to them…will tell you. 

Whichever result you find at the end of your self-exploration, you will be able to live a fully satisfying life and make meaningful contributions to your community and yourself.  There are millions of us out here who have.  We will welcome you.

Only after you are fully confident that you have an answer for yourself can you really begin to explain to others who you are.

 

 

 

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