You are not alone in puzzling over these questions.
Human sexuality is complex and fascinating; it is also very fluid and can change from person-to-person throughout a lifetime. However, there are some indications that may help you determine if you identify as gay.
According to Dr Alfred Kinsey’s research in the 1960’s, up to 10% of the population is homosexual. However, these findings are not absolute, and Kinsey himself avoided and disapproved of using terms like homosexual or heterosexual to describe individuals, asserting that sexuality is prone to change over time, and that sexual behaviour can be understood both as physical contact as well as purely psychological phenomena (desire, sexual attraction, fantasy).
Am I Gay?
If you’ve been wondering if you are gay, here are some of the signals to be on the lookout for:
- You are attracted predominantly (sexually and/or romantically) or only toward the same sex.
- Your sexual fantasies typically concern the same sex. Have you attempted to fantasize concerning the opposite sex?
- You typically fantasize concerning the same sex as you masturbate, and this has been going on for a long time. You do not or will not or cannot fantasize concerning the opposite sex.
- Having sexual intercourse of some kind with the opposite or same sex just one or two times does NOT make you straight or gay. It’s usual for people – and especially teenagers – to experiment with sexual intercourse. What will matter is how you feel in the long term.
The important thing to remember is there are many variations of sexuality and some people – particularly women – may even change their attraction/sexuality throughout their lifetime.
Learning the “coming out” stories of other people can help you as you contemplate making that announcement yourself. The R U Coming Out website is a great resource with true life stories of both lesbians and gays sharing their experiences of coming out of the closet.
What Stops People from Coming Out?
Spend some time browsing the R U Coming out website, and you will find there are many fears and barriers that prevent people from coming out:
- I did not want any straight girl friend to think that I fancied them.
- I was brought up to believe that homosexuality was wrong. It was an abomination in the eyes of god, the church and my parents.
- I once overheard a conversation … about how someone used to go out purposely gay bashing.
- The reaction was exactly as I predicted – not good.
- I was convinced that if I told (my friends) I was gay, they would distance themselves from me.
- My dad told me he was disgusted and he would never accept this … he told me not to tell any of our relatives as he was embarrassed to have a gay son.
- (I thought) If I tried hard enough I could be straight. I honestly believed I could choose the life of a straight man.
Reading comments like these, it’s not surprising to learn that professionals state that around a third of gay teens will eventually attempt suicide, which is four times the median of heterosexual teens.
However, there is hope. Here are some of the positives that gay people discovered once they had come out:
- I think (coming out to yourself) is the most important act of all, the admission to yourself that you are different, and for me when I did this the world seemed to open up.
- I have released the energy I used in hiding myself away into developing my career and have gained success in doing so.
- You know what, nobody cared less. I am treated no differently to how I was before. What was all the fuss about?
- A weight off my shoulders.
- Being honest about yourself is something to be proud of.
- If you are considering coming out, no matter what, I would say DO IT!! It was the best decision I have ever made and you will never look back. There are thousands of us that love you for who you are and we haven’t even met you. WE LOVE YOU!! You are beautiful just the way you are and no one has the right to tell you otherwise.
Here are a few tips to help make your decision to come out as gay, slightly easier:
- Try to avoid presenting your partner as “only a friend” at family get-togethers because later on, when you do come out of the closet, everybody will feel that you lied about your gay relationship.
- Don’t put yourself upon a deadline for coming out of the closet. Gay partners who are already out might pressure you, but you should wait until you’re actually ready.
- Chat to a trusted friend first if you are unsure how your family would receive the news. Your real friends will like your honesty and will likely be touched that you wanted to share with them. Those who make fun of you will eventually come around, and the ones who do not were never truly your friends to start with.
- Giving the news via a third party is not the best idea. Your family wants to directly hear it from your mouth and will resent discovering it from elsewhere.
- Do not come out in a defensive or angry tone, as it creates conflict in which nobody is actually listening.
- Give your loved ones the opportunity to absorb this revelation. If you had a great relationship with your parents before you came out, they will potentially accept it. It may be instant or it may take a bit of time. Be patient.
- Also, don’t be shocked if one parent, particularly your mother, states she knew about it already. Mothers watch for signals and can be very intuitive, no matter how many dates you go on with the opposite sex!
If you are struggling with your sexuality or coming out, then you may benefit from the help of a trained counsellor or psychologist at Vision Psychology to get support for this challenging process.
Author: Linda Thomson, B Arts, Social Science, Human Services, Masters of Counselling, Master Social Work Studies, Social Work, Member – AASW.
Linda Thomson has many years of experience in different fields of counselling, and has also managed counselling services in the not for profit sector. She has extensive training in and a passion for helping people with sexual issues, such as coming out – as she believes sexuality is such an important and often misunderstood part of our lives.
Please call 1800 877 924 or book online to make a confidential appointment with Linda.