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Being gay is okay: Information and advice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and unsure under twenty-fives.

Problem page > Archive > January 2012

From [Laura] Age [20] Gender [F]

I'm pretty confused about my sexuality...

I've always pictured myself in a relationship with a guy but for the past couple of years I've started having feelings towards other women as well. I fancy guys but i know i would never be sexual with a guy, just the thought of it grosses me out. But i fancy women and the thought of being sexual with a woman doesn't 'gross' me out but i can't see myself being sexual with a woman....
does that sound confusing because it does to me :S

any advice or thoughts you can give me would be so much appreciated

Hi Laura,

It's pretty normal to 'assume' that you are straight, because we're brought up in a world that very much assumes - and even expects - that you are. So same-sex feelings can come as a bit of a shock in a household where homosexuality may never have been acknowledged in any meaningful way.

You say that you fancy both men and women, but that sex with men doesn't appeal to you. In terms of figuring out what shape your sexuality is going to take, you seem to have a pretty firm foundation to build from. It doesn't matter whether you have had any sexual experiences until now, because you don't have to have sex with anyone to know that you want to or, at least, that it has some appeal and doesn't make you feel grossed out.

It's important to recognise the different between liking the way someone looks and actually fancying them. Do you find men and women both sexy? This could be a key point, because it does seem unusual that you'd find men sexy but the thought of being intimate with one is a turn off. Real physical attraction, and being turned on by someone, goes hand in hand with sex. Do guys really turn you on? You're not turned off by sex itself, because the thought of being with a women doesn't disgust you, so I don't think there's a fundamental problem here with the idea of being close to someone.

Put aside ideas about what you expected to be doing at 20 and with whom, and really look deeply at how people make you feel; the responses of your body and emotions. Only by listening to the information your body is giving you will you get clearer answers. If things seem muddled now, then give yourself time. Don't try to force yourself into a tidy identity box. Be completely honest with yourself and see what happens.

From [Sid] Age [15] Gender [F]

Dear Jason,

Okay, I'll just come out straight with this. I'm an Asian Muslim girl living in England and I think I may be bisexual, because I have a huge crush on this girl from my class. However, I have not told anyone, not even my mother. She is homophobic, and I'm pretty sure she will lash out against me completely. As most of my friends are Muslim as well, I cannot tell them either, as they may start to ignore me. At this moment, I don't know what to choose or accept- my religion or my burgeoning sexuality? Please help, I'm desperate for advice. :(

Hi Sid,

It's not easy to reconcile religion and sexuality, especially while younger and living at home. As an independent adult you can find ways of practicing your religion while also being true to your sexuality. There are different ways of interpreting a lot of religious messages, and it's sad that often I hear from young people who are being given the most negative interpretations and condemnations. But I don't know very much about Islam and it's not something I'm qualified to comment on. You may find Imaan: LGBTQI Muslim Support Group helpful with specific religious concerns.

The fundamental issues you are facing, though, are similar to those of many young people who email me, regardless of religious background: the feeling that the people around you are homophobic and will likely react badly to a family member being anything other than heterosexual. Ultimately, I think coming out is a healthy and liberating thing for any gay person to do. As an alternative to a life of secrecy and dishonesty, there's no doubt that coming out is preferable. But it's often not as simple as just making the announcement and waiting for the dust to settle. People who are financially dependent on family members need to consider what they might do if the reaction to their news was particularly bad and whether they have enough money to get by and somewhere else to live. It's not nice to think about such extreme possibilities from the people you love, but sometimes it's prudent. Only you know your Mother and friends, and you can much better guess how they might react than I can.

On the other hand, could there be a chance that you're letting your fears get the better of you and that the people around you may not react as badly as you imagine? What sort of behaviour has your mother shown to make you think she's homophobic? Did she make thoughtless, throwaway remarks at a gay person on TV or did she show genuine hatred toward a gay person who you know? Think of evidence to support your worries before letting them carry you away. There's more food for thought in the coming out section.

The decision to come out while still living at home and financially dependent on family boils down to how keen you are at this time to share your news, offset by the risks. It shouldn't be that way and you shouldn't have to wait to be honesty with the people close to you. But sadly other factors beside honesty need to be considered, especially in households that are more strictly religious or where there is particular reason to suspect a negative reaction.

From [Sammy] Age [16] Gender [F]

Hi so.. dunno where to start really, but i think i'm gay, i've always looked at girls differently but ignored it i thought it was some sort of faze probably is, a few months ago one of my close friends kissed me, i didnt have a clue what was going on in my mind, but i dont want to be if i'm honest, i dont think my family will accept it if i am completely honest which really scares me cause i no i dont like guys i've had plenty of boyfriends but never really felt anything, i just need a bit of advice?.

Hi Sammy,

It's normal to be scared. You have had boyfriends and just assumed that you were straight, even though you didn't feel anything or enjoy these relationships in the way you felt you should. Just facing up to the truth is a big step, so you should be proud of yourself for admitting the situation here.

What happens now is entirely up to you. Try not to get worked up and panic about it. I think it's very important that you stop getting into relationships with boys, because it's not doing anything for you and is also unfair on them. It's also much easier to take time to figure out how you feel if you are single. Being on your own allows you to see more clearly how you feel about boys and girls and to clear your head, without either a boy or girlfriend hassling you for your attention and to make decisions.

Simply choosing not to have a boyfriend doesn't mean you have to come out, so don't worry that being single immediately means some big statement about your sexuality. Give yourself plenty of time and see how you feel about what you want as you move forward. Do you have a close friend you could share your concerns with? My being gay FAQ and coming out sections might give you some useful things to think about.

From [Gavin] Age [24] Gender [M]

Jason,
I am a 24 year old man from Northern Ireland. Around the age of 12 I started getting sexual thoughts about guys. This completely freaked me out as I was terrified about being gay. I didn't know anything about being gay at the time. I immediately started to repress my emotions because of it. This went on until about a month ago when I had sort of a mini mental breakdown but I'll come to that later. I have had girlfriends over the years in an attempt to ignore these thoughts that I had. But I truly never really felt anything for them. I was perfectly able to have sex with them but felt more like a chore after a while.

I have been with my current girlfriend for 4 years now. I also realised lately that I had been depressed for a long time. When you're struck in a rut for a long enough time you don't really notice.
To cut a long story short I got a pounding headache at one point, which stayed with me for weeks. I started in my head to believe that it was related to me suppressing my homosexual thoughts. By this time I had met many gay people. I had never any problem talking to or hanging out with gay people. I reached a point when I said enough is enough and stopped trying to control my thoughts. When I let them go I found myself getting turned on by sexual thoughts I was having about guys. What came completely out of the blue were the sexual thoughts I was having about women.

I had always assumed that I was attracted to guys but I didn't want to accept it. It never occurred to me that I might be bisexual. Anyway, I let the thoughts flow freely for a few weeks. I wanted to be sure before I told my girlfriend anything. After a night out drinking we came back to my house and over a kebab I told her I was bisexual. It came as a shock to her but she was really happy I told her.

The following night we had sex for the first time. Unfortunately I don't have the necessary skill with the written word to describe how incredible it felt. I felt more emotionally and physically connected to her than any person I had ever met. I still have my bad days though, which is why I'm writing to you now. My mind seems somewhat conflicted in that when I have sexual thoughts about either gender I am generally at ease. The day after I have sex with my girlfriend I feel really anxious about what turns me on first, if you know what I mean. The fear that runs through my head is, this is too good to be true you're actually gay, these thoughts about your girlfriend are just a blip. I worry that one day I will wake up and I will no longer feel the attraction to my girlfriend. I obsess about it to the point where it starts to affect me in work.
Another odd aspect is that when I think sexual thoughts about a guy in my head he is always faceless. It's never about celebrities or gay people I know. With the exception of one time I don't get any strong feelings when I meet or see guys in public. The same is true of women; I only get turned on with my girlfriend. But I can get aroused when I think about other women in my head.
As you can tell from the disjointed way I have written this my emotions are a bit of a mess. I guess the question I am trying to ask: Is any of this behaviour normal for a bisexual or should I ask Santa for a strait jacket this Christmas?

I have been referred to a counsellor by my doctor but as of yet I haven't been contacted. I think holding back my emotions for so long has done more to my mental health than just make me confused over my sexuality.

Hi Gavin,

I think, as you suggest, that trying to control your thoughts and feelings, or holding or hiding them for so long, has meant that you've lost touch with your true feelings and the simple act of just getting on with life without constant self-analysis. It's very hard to know how you're feeling if you're always studying your responses to people and events; questioning your feelings and making constant value judgements on them.

Sometimes it's good to be able to simply enjoy the beauty of a sunset... instead of thinking about the chemical reactions that make it possible or worrying about it not lasting forever or whether it will seem as beautiful the next time you see it.

It sounds as though you just need to relax and allow yourself to reconnect with your true, natural feelings. I think counselling is a very good idea. Be patient, but it's typical for a waiting list of 3 months on the NHS.

Your life doesn't have to go on hold in the meantime. Practise brushing all the junk aside and simply experiencing things in the moment. For example, when you're next out for a meal with your girlfriend, try not to analyse the situation and your feelings for her. Simple being happy and attracted to her is enough; enjoy the food, the sights and sounds of the restaurant, and accept them as pure, simple things that make you feel good. You don't need to measure the experience against what happened the last time you went out, or think about how you might feel later that evening or tomorrow. These thoughts are needless and they rob you of your ability to enjoy good life. Enjoy your girlfriend's company and have fun. When the negative, complicated thoughts start popping up, literally tell them to sod off (but not our loud, or you might be removed from the restaurant!).

Amid the muddle that you sometimes find yourself in, you also make some clear statements about how you feel. You clearly had a wonderful time with your girlfriend after you told her you though you may be bisexual. Everyone could worry about falling out of love or attractions changing, and such fears would stop many people bothering to get involved at all. All you really have is how you feel right now, so try to enjoy it. The information that our emotions and body gives us is very useful and a great guide about what makes us feel good. Try to listen more to that information, and analyse less. Clear the fog away and just experience the moments. It's the only way you'll truly come to know yourself properly.

From [Harvey] Age [24] Gender [M]

Hi Jason,

Huge problem, ive been in denial for some time now, i think maybe since i was 17, so around 6 years. I have a girlfriend who i have been with for 4 years and have had another relationship with a girl for 2 years. During this time i had two encounters with men i know, this 'just happened' how it happened i couldnt tell you but it felt right.

It has got to the stage now where im being pressured by friends and family to pop that all important question to my girlfriend, i cannot think of anything worse, i dont think i want children, i would not mind at all if i was to never have a relationship with a woman again. All i know is that i am really comfortable around guys, physically and mentally.

Ive left it all too long, i dont want to see the hurt on my girlfriends face nor do i want to face the music by telling my family and her that i want to be with men.

Please help...

Harvey

Hi Harvey,

I can't tell you that you're going to have an easy time of things. Your options are:

Stay with your girlfriend. You continue to lie to her and put your own needs into a box for however long you stay together. You deny her the opportunity to meet a straight man who can desire and love her honestly and fully. You also deny yourself the same fulfillment with someone who can give you what you want. Eventually your girlfriend may decide that she'd like to start a family, so you could find yourself deceiving your children too. Each year you continue to lie to her makes it tougher to come clean and makes it harder on her when she finds out. You'll likely become lonely and tired of playing a part instead of being the real you. You'll long for the connection you find with men though, should you meet someone and fall in love, you'll be a cheat too. Anyway, I don't need to lay it on any thicker! I think this way of living isn't an option at all for a happy, healthy life full of love, honesty and respect for yourself and other people. You can't be a gay man and have a heterosexual relationship unless you're lying to yourself and others and putting all your true desires in a box under the bed.

Or you start telling the truth. You aren't a bad person and you didn't decide, all those years ago, to deceive and manipulate the woman you are now in a relationship with. The road to self acceptance is different for everyone and can take some people longer than others. You've reached a point at 24 where you know yourself better and you no longer want to try to hide or force yourself into behaviours that are expected of you. There is no getting around the fact that the truth will hurt your girlfriend. This is a lady who thinks she knows you and is in for a shock. Not only is she losing the man she loves and imagined a future with, but she's also discovering that you weren't what you appeared to be. She'll reassess the time you've spent together and likely be confused. There's no letting her down gently, but there is perhaps some comfort for her in the truth. You can tell her that you do care for her and didn't set out to hurt her. It's taken you time to figure out who you are. You were afraid. She did nothing wrong and it's not her fault; you are what you are. There's nothing malicious or planned in what you've done. Had you been a confident, happy gay man before you met your girlfriend, you'd have done the right thing from the start.

I think you know it's time for the truth to come out or you wouldn't have written to me. You know I wasn't going to tell you to lie to this lady and whisk her down to the nearest registry office. The near-future won't be the best time in your life, but in the long run it's fairest and best for your girlfriend and yourself to have the freedom to find what you both want and deserve from life and from partners. This is a trap that you made. Time to leave.

From [Hazel] Age [22] Gender [F]

Hi Jason,

Firstly thanks for this problem page even existing, its so difficult to know where to turn.

I have recently come out to a few of my friends at Uni as being Bi/Gay and no one back home. Despite having had mainly positive reactions I still feel very overwhelmed with the idea of actually being gay. I just want it to be a normal part of my life but I'm struggling to adjust to it and the fact that this part of me is just out in the open now, is a bit scary. I feel like im redefining who I am.

My current problem is that I have had a love interest from one of my closest friends and housemate, Tracey, who I would prefer to remain platonic with. Very awkward. Unfortunately for her, I actually feel very attracted towards another friend, Katy, who I doubt is even interested in me in that way. I think she identifies with being straight so I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable by my affection cuz I know what that's like. Yet I still think there is a possibility that something could happen so I do want her to know how I feel.

I really want to tell Katy that I like her but I feel like even if she did like me, nothing could happen because it would hurt Tracy and that would hurt me because I care for her alot.

Its awful, I don't want to hurt anyones feelings, I also dont want to be hurt. A part of me does not want to be involved with people I am friends with as it is too risky.

I have had bad experiences of being honest about not liking someone that has liked me so I'm really worried about telling Tracey that I don't feel the same.

I would be very grateful for any advice on this issue.

Thanks

H x

Hi Hazel,

Give yourself time to get used to things. Reassessing yourself and making an announcement about it by coming out is a big deal. You're learning about yourself all the time, and juggling other peoples' expectations too. The rules are all up to you though, so do what feels comfortable and right and don't let peoples' expectations of what a bisexual or lesbian woman should be up to throw you or make you feel pigeonholed or trapped. Labels can be useful but they can also be restrictive. Your feelings about other people will guide you.

You're obviously a person who cares about how you actions affect others and make them feel. This is a great quality, but be careful not to let your determination to do the right thing by everyone censor how you really feel, and from hindering you in getting what you want.

You don't feel the same for Tracey as she feels for you. At some stage - better sooner - she needs to know so that she can begin to move on and, hopefully, arrive at a friendship with you at the end of it. It's not good for her to be hanging on if she thinks there's a chance or romance. It's very important not to give out mixed signals, so that she always knows where she stands. So don't be more flirty or tactile than you normally would be with other friends, and watch how you behave when you're feeling a bit lonely and she's around, or when there's alcohol involved. You may find that there's no need for a big announcement about how you aren't interested if you make sure you are consistently sending out clear signals that you are just friends.

As for Katy, it would be a shame to miss out on a chance for something to happen, but it is wise to consider the friendships that you already have and value. It sounds like all these romantic feelings buzzing around in a friendship group could potentially cause plenty of problems and awkwardness. Still, if you're close then perhaps a discussion about it and an answer one way or the other would mean you could move forward onto a new chapter and not be stuck guessing.

Not that I'm suggesting that you would, but there's certainly no point in punishing someone for not being interested in a romantic relationship. Much better to work through the disappointment and make the most of the friendship.

From [Unknown] Age [16] Gender [M]

I have recently found out that I am actually gay, I have been in denial for a while due to thinking I wont be accepted and unsure if I was actually gay. I have been in relationships with girls, but the problem was, I felt close to them, but not sexually attracted to them.

I have not yet told anyone that I am gay, due to not being ready. However, I have been unable to find support, and have been going around in circles trying to find a place to stand and think properly.

I live in a house where my parents are unpredictable if I came out to them, My mother will probably be more understanding, and hopefully my sister too, but my father will probably not talk to me ever again, or threaten to attack me. (I see him as homophobic, and overall against gay people)

Is there any advice you can give me for this situation.

Hi Unknown,

Well done for facing up to the truth of who you are. It takes courage.

When you think about coming out, do you think you are imagining the worst case scenario and panicking? Are your guesses about the reactions you may receive based on calm analysis and looking back at how family members have behaved in the past?

If you really do think there's a good chance that your father may be physically violent at the news of your homosexuality, then I strongly advise you not to share until you have moved out of the family home. If you don't want to wait that long, then make sure you have someone else to stay and suitable financial backup in case he reacts badly and you have to leave. If you think your mother and sister are likely to understand, then perhaps you could confide in them, on the understanding that your father is told at a later date. However, this isn't ideal. It means a level of secrecy that can create a sense of division in the family, or of your father feeling excluded but not understanding why. Only you know your family well enough to make a decision on how to proceed. My coming out section may give you more food for thought.

Have you tried looking for a local gay youth group? It sounds as though you have been looking for support, but give the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard a call and see if they have any information on a group that's near to you. If not a youth group, there may be other resources in your area. What about confiding in a close friend? It can make life much easier and these big issues easier to cope with if you have someone to talk to.

From [?] Age [20] Gender [F]

Thanks for your website, I've found it really helpful. I've recently come out as bisexual and found that people have a lot of issues with it (a lot more, I suspect, than if I had just said that I were gay - which I am definitely not, because I know that I like both sexes equally). Your page on bisexuality has been reassuring, but I still feel that my friends and family are waiting for me to pick a label, and also that many people refer to me just as a 'lesbian' (if they know that I have dated a girl in the past - they then just ignore that I have also had boyfriends). Do you have any more advice on how to explain to them how I feel? I feel like I don't really fit in with the gay community at university either, because I can't choose.

Hi,

You don't have to choose. I think it's a terrible shame that you feel you don't fit in at the gay community at university and that people seem to have such a problem getting their heads around the concept of bisexuality.

People love labels. They love things to be black and white: absolute. Shades of grey upset peoples' neat ordering system and create unknowns and possibilities. Labelling someone as lesbian makes things easier to understand and predict, but a bisexual simply has to be someone who can't make up their mind or is confused - even greedy.

You may have a slightly frustrating road ahead as people get used to the idea of your bisexuality and it's likely that some may always label you for their own convenience rather than yours. Be assertive and politely correct and educate them when they say something that offends you, but the blinkered labelling system of your friends and family doesn't have much bearing on your being happy with a man or woman at any given time.

The day to day realities of being in a relationship with someone doesn't have to be affected by your Mum - for example - thinking you are gay or straight depending on the gender of your partner. Would it be important, do you think, to your partner that everyone is reminded that you also still like the other gender? Don't let labels prevent you from doing what you want to do and seeing who you want to see. You know who you are, and that's the most important thing.

From [Mark] Age [20] Gender [M]

Hi my names mark, and I think I maybe gay. I've had girlfriends in the past but iv also looked at men as very attractive, does that make me gay?? I like all men and fantasise about making love to them. At home I use my parents Internet to search and explore this. I work as a paper boy in the mornings and a part time shelf stacker at my local happy shopper. I worried that I'm not much of an appeal for men?? Please help x

Hi Mark,

Noticing good looking men doesn't mean that the person doing the noticing is gay. A straight man may notice another man because he is good looking; he may admire that person or simply appreciate how he looks, similarly to how you might notice anything else in your daily life that you find visually pleasing or beautiful. I'm gay and I notice good looking women. That doesn't make me straight.

But actually fancying men and getting turned on by the idea of being intimate with one is very different, and it means that you aren't heterosexual. I think you realise that and you're not really asking me to identify your sexuality. You don't need to have had actual contact with either gender to know what you want.

As for your appeal to potential partners, the gender of the person you are hoping to attract has no bearing at all on whether they might find you appealing or not. A man or woman who isn't interested in you solely because you have particular part-time jobs really isn't worth your time. Real attraction and love aren't based on a check list of extraneous things. Best to live life pursuing your own interests while just being yourself, and see who comes along in the natural course of things. There's no point styling your life around an idea of the sort of person you want to attract. It's not a good basis for making big decisions about career choice, for example.

From [Emily] Age [15] Gender [F]

Hi Jason,
I am a lesbian, well i think i am but i get a lot of remarks and it says in the bible that it is wrong, my vicar even told me that i was part of the devil. I don't know what to do.

Hi Emily,

Please read my religion section where I go into detail about the issues raised in your email.

From [Sonni] Age [17] Gender [M]

hi jason im 17 years old and live in aylesbury bucks. i live on my own now but i lived in the family home untill 4 weeks ago. i have kept a secreat for over a year from my family. im bi and i have a partner who is 34. he is is older then me but as i see it age does not matter i want to tell my family about him and that we want to get married next year when im 18 but i need to tell then befor i lve like 2 hrs on the train fromm him and i use to secreatly go and see him when liveing at home now im on my own do u think it be easy to tell my family now or im really confused what do i do i feell like telling them but dount know what and how to do it. i lovge your help and i be happy if it was a small info u gave me. i also feel like there is nothink for gay bi and lesbians in aylsbury and it be nioce if there was a group but never mind thanks for takeing your time reading my weried email all the best sonni x

Hi Sonni,

As you are no longer living in the family home it may be an ideal time to come out. You don't have to worry about things being difficult or uncomfortable, since your family can have the space and time to digest the news without the pressure of you all living under the same roof. I've written a good deal on coming out in the dedicated section. I recommend you read that for ideas on how you might proceed.

Regardless of how your family take your coming out, they may take issue with the age of your partner. I think it's a fairly typical reaction for parents to be suspicious and worried if one of their children, gay or straight, has a partner who is significantly older. It's important to remember that legally you were considered a child only a year ago. There may be questions asked about how long you've been involved and if you were under 16 when the relationship began. It is unusual for a 34 year old man to even be in a position to meet someone so young for a relationship i.e. people usually socialise and date within their own age group. There could be big implications if your parents decide something happened between you and your partner while you were underage. Your parents may also worry that your sexuality has been influenced or steered by this man. Hard to believe, but a lot of people still think that 'gay' is somewhat contagious and down to the influences of the people you mix with. While I don't think someone else can change your sexuality at any age, sexual experiences while under 16 are not only illegal but can confuse a young person and deny them the time to figure things out at their own pace. Though it's possible none of this will come up, I think it's best to be prepared for the sort of things your parents may say.

Essentially, we're talking about two people in a relationship, with an age difference. You are over 16 and not breaking any laws. I can't claim you'll be any more or less successful in your relationship than anyone else I've met or heard from on the website. Be happy and do what feels right. But it would be remiss of me not to tell you that you may face some tough questions and hurdles that a 17 year old without a 34 year old partner wouldn't face when coming out.

From [Sean] Age [21] Gender [M]

Can someone please help me, i'm not sure if I am gay, bi-sexual or if I have "HOCD". I have been unsure of my sexuality for the last four years. I was teased and called "gay" when I was in 7th grade so i'm not sure if that made me afraid to be or repress my true emotions. I have always been attracted to women but over the past four years I have been unsure what I am. I had a girlfriend for almost 2 years who I loved more then anything but I was still unsure if i'm gay (we recently broke up). I am desperate to find an answer and some self-identity. Can someone help me figure out if this is "HOCD" or if I am truly gay. If I am gay I will accept it however something doesn't feel right. I just need to be at peace with myself. Please help

Hi Sean,

HOCD (homosexuality obsessive compulsive disorder, or homosexuality anxiety) is when a person worries about, and fixates on, the possibility of being gay. A person suffering from HOCD has intrusive, frequent and unwanted thoughts about being gay. There's a big difference to actually being gay and suffering from HOCD.

A gay person (even one who is not out and who would rather be straight) is aroused and gets pleasure from the idea of same-sex contact. They will find themselves attracted to members of the same sex, while lacking sexual interest in the opposite sex. The body and emotions of that person constantly remind them of what they like and want. It's the same for heterosexual people.

Someone who is suffering from HOCD does not find members of the same sex attractive, but they worry that they are, or will become, gay. These ideas conflict with what that person knows to be true about their heterosexuality i.e. a man is attracted to women and perhaps even has a girlfriend, yet still worries constantly and has intrusive thoughts about being homosexual.

Certainly, being bullied at school can leave emotional scars. Since these children chose to call you 'gay', you may worry that they knew something you didn't, and it planted a seed of doubt that's followed you into adult life, even though it goes completely against the evidence provided by your two-year relationship with a women.

It sounds as though things have become very cloudy for you and its hard for you to separate the truth of your sexuality from your anxious thoughts. I think professional counselling will help you to beat your negative thought patterns which will enable you to see things more clearly. Be sure to find a therapist who doesn't have an anti-gay agenda (i.e. avoid church groups) or they may confuse things further. In the meantime, you can practise getting back to the truth and focusing on the facts.

You were with your girlfriend for two years. Did you find her sexy and a turn-on? Did you have a good, enjoyable sex life, where you felt happy and fulfilled? Were you engaged sexually in body and mind, or did it feel like going through the motions? When you see good looking guys in the street, do you find them sexy or do you simply think they look nice? Perhaps you don't generally notice guys at all when you're having periods of not worrying about homosexuality so much. Do guys 'turn you on'? If you watch adult material, what sort do you prefer? Not what sort you think you should watch and make yourself sit through, but what actually causes a pleasant physical response. Listen to your body, and try not to get tangled up in complex and confusing thinking; how does your body respond to men and women?

For many, knowing that they are straight, gay or bisexual becomes clear when they first start finding people attractive and having sexual feelings. They listen, often unconsciously, to their emotions and body without being hyper or obsessively aware of either. It's this simple, natural truth that you need to find your way back to.

Focusing on the facts of who you are and discarding unwanted thoughts, with the help of a therapist, is the way forward.

From [L] Age [16] Gender [F]

Basically I found this site a little while ago and it is really great. Thank you so much for making this site.
My problem is this: I have known I was bi for a year and a half, my parents know, most of my close friends know and they are all fine with it. After such positive experiences with them I felt really good and started to feel like I was tired of keeping myself hidden, so I wanted to come out. However. I then started testing the water with people in my classes, subtly or in a roundabout way asking them what they thought of gay/bisexual people. I was then horrified when a boy who seemed really intelligent, compassionate, etc., said to me: "I think all gays should burn in hell. I can handle anyone, murderers, paedophiles, just not the gays." A few days later I was sitting with two of my male friends (both straight) and some random guy in another year just said: "why are you sitting with him? He's gay. He doesn't like women. He's disgusting and wrong."
It seems like some days I don't care what people will say to me. But other days I just worry for my own mental health and what it could do to me if I stopped saying "no" when people ask me if I'm bi, and they take it badly. ( There are a lot of rumours flying round town about me - I don't really know why.)
Also, I have a close female friend who is straight and a few people have called us a lesbian couple. I just laugh it off and I know she tries to, but I think she doesn't want me to come out as she thinks it would make people say bad things about her
Thank you for your help.

Hi L,

I think anyone would be hurt and offended on hearing the sort of comments you have shared here. It's very strange to find such apparent hatred from such young people, when you may well find that they have never knowingly even spoken to a gay person. They don't know it, but they're being very loyal puppets to whatever influences have produced these 'opinions'. Nobody is born with hang-ups and hatred. These young people who say they can tolerate murder and child abuse but not two people of the same gender being together are just echoing things they've heard elsewhere; they don't have the life experience to truly justify their hated of gay people and have never been given a real reason to feel that way. Besides, an intelligent and compassionate person knows full well that you can't brand a whole minority group because of a bad impression one member may have left. That doesn't make it any less hurtful to hear, and it's sad that this type of thinking may grow with them and pass to their children.

So you're dealing with adult topics that not all your contemporaries are equipped or mature enough to discuss in a balanced and sensible way. It's a blind spot for some of your classmates. Still, people do change, as do opinions, and you shouldn't be any quicker to write them off as they should be to dismiss homosexuals.

Perhaps it's best to view each day as a new challenge. You don't have to try to change the school on your own or be on a constant equal rights rally. If someone says something that you find offensive, or plain wrong, speak up. If you aren't feeling brave today, then promise yourself you'll speak up next time. You have to think about your own wellbeing as well as upholding the standards that you believe in. You may find that some of your actions don't always get the reaction you'd like, but it's important not to hide who you are to keep other people happy. It's a pretty miserable life when you try to be what other people expect you to be, but self assertion and building the confidence to be yourself is a gradual thing that you can work on in steps. You could start by disagreeing with Mr Intelligent and Compassionate the next time he expresses something that makes him appear anything but.

Each battle makes you a bit stronger, and you can bet that gay and bi people who aren't as brave will get something out of it too, whether you know who they are or not.

From [Andrew] Age [19] Gender [M]

I feel like such an idiot. I'm so confused and upset and I don't know what to do anymore. I came out to my mum and dad a few months ago now and a few other people found out against my will. But recently iv been thinking that it might of just been a phase because I find myself now saying that I like girls more than I do boys.
When I came out I was in a really low point in my life and things haven't gotten any better since. But I now find myself just wanting to give up and saying everything would be so much easier if I just didn't bother with love at all.
I don't think I would be able to go to my mum and dad now and be able to tell them that I'm not gay because it was so hard telling them and I would just feel like I'm just doing all this just to get some attention.

Hi Andrew,

I think it's always too soon to give up on love! You did a very brave thing by coming out when you felt that you were gay. Nothing can take that achievement away. Sexuality isn't always clear for everyone, and you now feel that you find women more appealing than men. It would be unusual for someone to claim that they have become completely straight at 19, after feeling strongly that they were gay until recently. It's certainly not uncommon though to hear of people who may have assumed they were gay or straight only to discover that same or opposite-sex attraction has a part on their lives too.

You're very focused on how you define your sexuality, and quite concerned about what label other people give you. You're worried about 'coming out' as someone who actually, having has more time to get to know yourself better, likes women quite a bit too. Labels can be liberating for someone who's been hiding their homosexuality or bisexuality, but they can also be restrictive and make you feel that you don't have room to manoeuvre or redefine yourself once you've made one announcement.

But really it's not important whether other people think you may end up with a man or a woman, and you shouldn't let other peoples' expectations restrict you. Whether you meet a guy or a girl, you should allow yourself to enjoy it, even if that experience falls outside of the label you've used to define yourself until now. Be honest with yourself about who and what you want and remember that there's no rush on any of this stuff.

If it makes you feel better, tell people that you prefer the label 'straight' or 'bisexual' (or even 'unsure'), but I get the feeling you need more time to work out quite where you fit. Perhaps, right now, labels aren't very helpful.

From [Stacie] Age [36] Gender [F]

Hi,

I have a 17 year old son with Asperger's Syndrome. I always wondered if he was gay, and regularly told him that if he was I wouldn't be bothered, it wouldn't effect me and that if somebody is Gay, then they are Gay. He has never shown any real sexual signs that you get with teenage boys, and although has had a couple of "girlfriends" they rarely saw each other outside of school, the relationships didn't last long and he refused to "snog" any of them as the thought of putting his tongue in somebody else's mouth repulses him! I then began to think he was asexual, and has he does not have close relationships or friendships and HATES being touched, hugged etc, I thought that was that. But I have noticed an internet history to Gay sites, so made a few jokes and again reiterated my vies on being Gay, and he denied it, until yesterday when he wanted to tell me something, but as usual couldn't. I guessed and asked was it that he was Gay, and he said yes - it looks that way. I acted as I should, did not judge or criticise and told him that it's fine and not an issue. I later broached the subject and mentioned his repulsion to "anal sex" as he has mentioned this before, and he again said that he finds that "gross", does not have any interest in "that" and that made it confusing. I mentioned his attraction to certain girls, and he said that he thought he was attracted to both sexes since the age off 11, but over the past few months thinks it seems to be more men than women. I think he is still very confused, and as he has a lack of intimate relationships with either sex, does not know for sure if he is straight, gay or bisexual. I have tried researching the internet but cannot find anything that would be of specific help that deals with BOTH the fact that he is Autistic and already views things differently, and does not understand his feelings, emotions etc with regards anything anyway combined with Sexual Confusion. Do you have any advice I could pass on to him, any advice as to what I should do to help / guide him and any idea how we are supposed to know what his sexual orientation is? This is all very confusing to me as I have never had a question over my own sexuality, and have not even had fantasies about the same gender that could have confused me, so I do not know where this all comes from and what to do about it! I am not prejudice against gay / lesbian / bisexual people, but wouldn't want to offend anybody through my pure lack of understanding of this whole issue. I also want to do the right thing for my son, but have no idea what that is either, other than to always offer support and not judge or criticise etc. I feel it would be easier for him if he were not Gay, but I also feel it would be easier for him if he just knew for sure what he was as then we could look into how to deal with the way it makes him feel.

Hi Stacie,

Firstly, I want to say how great it is to read about how you have handled your son's coming out. It sounds as though you have strived to create an environment where he has been free to be open and honest with you without fear of a negative backlash. I wish more young people had parents with this attitude.

I need to address a few myth here. It's not true that an indicator of someone's homosexuality is that they want to have anal sex. A man can be gay and have no interest in anal penetration (either role). I've met men who felt this way. Your son's reaction to the thought of it is a separate matter to any desire of his to be intimate with a man. Also, your son doesn't need to have sex with either gender to know what he wants. Certainly, heterosexual people are not expected to sleep with both a man and a woman to be sure that they are indeed heterosexual. A lot of people have these misconceptions. Don't be embarrassed about it or worry about offending gay people. You haven't offended me. Asking questions, like you've done in your email, is welcome, and most gay people are used to a few strange ideas that they have to dispel! Really, being gay is pretty much the same as being straight: same feelings, same capacity and need for love, same heartaches, same desire to be physically close to someone etc. It's easy to think it's a whole new world to understand, but often the only thing that makes being gay such a big deal is how some people seem to behave abysmally at the very idea of same-sex love.

I'm sorry, but I don't have any specific information that applies to young people with Asperger's Syndrome and sexuality uncertainty, but it sounds as though your son needs time, like a lot of young people.

Like many others, your son is desperate to define who he is and make sense of his sexuality; to give himself a label. But neither of you can rush this process. Sexuality is crystal clear for some from the moment puberty kicks in, but for others it can be a much longer process of smaller discoveries. I think you're doing all you can by providing love, support and acceptance. Remind him that he isn't expected to have all the answers, and that there's no time limit or pressure to pin a label on himself. In fact, it may be helpful to simply decide that labels are forgotten for the time being: he's simply 'unsure'. It may be a relief to use that word, and it frees him from pigeon-holing himself. As long as doesn't have a problem with any potential outcome - gay, straight or bisexual - the answers will slowly take shape.

With your support as a foundation, your son can slowly get to know himself as he meets new people and has new experiences, much as for any young person.

From [Ben] Age [15] Gender [M]

Hi Jason,

Although I think I've only realised very recently, I think I may have known that I'm gay in the back of my mind for a very long time now. I'm only 15 years old and I live with both of my parents.

My problem is that, despite being quite certain that I'm gay I've been full of doubt (as in since considering telling people I'm now starting to question whether I actually am gay) and worry ever since considering coming out to my first person. I was wondering is it possible for me to know I'm gay when I've never had any romantic experience with either gender? I haven't had any experiences because I've been confused for quite a while and because of this I've never had the confidence to 'go for it'. I decided that the first person I want to come out to is my aunt, as she is a lesbian and also works in equality and diversity in the police, so I know she will be very supportive and understanding.

I'm just not really sure what to do or how to handle this though. I've read through LOADS of advice on the internet, but none of it seems to suit me. I'm very different to most of the classic gay stereotypes and most advice seems to be centered around these stereotypes. This is a stupidly general question, but I'm wondering how do I actually know if I'm gay at my age? All websites say the obvious - which gender do you fantasize about, etc, but when you're unsure and you're doubting surely you try and force yourself to be straight by trying to fantasize about the opposite sex? This is what I think I've been doing. In the past I've forced myself to fantasize about women because I guess I thought this is what is "right", whereas now I've began doing the opposite and I feel far more comfortable.

I'm sorry this email is so long, I'm just quite confused and have a lot of questions. I look forward to hopefully hearing from you soon! Thank you.

Ben

Hi Ben,

You should never try to force yourself to feel anything, because any results you get - such as they are - won't be real. You can't force arousal at the thought of someone any more than you can force genuine happiness. If you don't find yourself particularly lusting after anyone at the moment, then so be it. All the answers about who you are and what you desire are locked up mysteriously in your body and mind and will reveal themselves when they are good and ready.

As I've said to a few people in the problem page recently, you don't need to have had a romantic encounter with anyone to know what gender you are attracted to and, as I've said, if nothing much is exciting you right now you just have to be patient. If you were 30 years old I may be worried that by now you should have some sense of what you like, but you are far from being alone when it comes to be an under 16 who's not quite sure whether he is gay, straight or somewhere inbetween. There is nothing wrong with you and you haven't expired any time limit on self discovery.

I know it's frustrating, especially when it seems as though everyone just knows the score the moment puberty kicks in, but sex and sexuality are different for everyone. Some people have a firm sense of what they want from an early age, while others find matters cloudy and uncertain. Try to go easier on yourself. You're focusing so hard on wanting to label yourself that you're actually trying to force feelings to happen and that's only going to make you stressed out and more confused.

Give yourself a break, think about something else, and don't get involved with anyone romantically unless you are genuinely attracted to that person. Any other reason is wrong.

From [Jack] Age [17] Gender [M]

Hi.
My sexuality is seriously bugging me. I just can't relax or be content.From a very early age I knew I was attracted to men. I was only attracted to men. I'm talking about being 10-13. However, I got so stressed and embarrassed about it that I put it too the back of my mind and pretended to be attracted to women. I really hid from the truth. Well time went by and I didn't really think about my sexuality. And then I realised one day that I can't go on the way I was and I needed to accept it. But after the years of holding back, I'm actually genuinely confused. I am attracted to men - its just standard but I never really fantasise about them. But I've developed an attraction to women also - I think.. the body of a woman fascinates me but only sometimes... It's so bizarre - and annoying! I just want to know what I am now, fed up of being unsure.
Any advice is much appreciated.
Jack x

Hi Jack,

Like Ben and other people who've written in lately, you are very keen to label yourself and get that secure sense of what you are. It's normal, but it also means you're so busy analysing how you feel and how you respond to either gender that it actually makes it harder to figure things out. I know you want answers, but you can't force them. What makes life harder is trying to hide from the truth, but this is something that you no longer do. It's clear from your email that, after a time of denial, you are now open to the possibility of being gay or bisexual. An open mind is the best place to start. A bit of patience is essential too.

Don't spend hours on end trying to figure out whether you like guys, girls or both, and never try to force yourself in a direction because it feels convenient to do so. It might be comfortable to call yourself gay or straight, but not if you've shoved yourself forcefully into either box. You may find that having a toe in several boxes is a more natural fit, and it might feel hard to deviate once you've defined yourself openly to the people close to you (as Andrew is finding, also on this page).

So, same advice as usual I'm afraid: take your time, don't obsess and over-analyse yourself, and simply see how you respond to people as you go about your daily life. You're a young man and the answers will come; not from analysis, pressure or the opinions of others, but from an open attitude (as you have), good old biology and time.

The Samaritans (UK and ROI) provide emotional support, 24 hours a day, by email and telephone for people in distress.

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