Let me share some of my thoughts on this subject, which include reflections from a fellow gay man who reviewed this post for me and shared great insights. I preface this post a statement that I have no professional, medical, or academic background on sex, sexuality, or sexual identity. My background is from these sources:
- personal experience in living as an open gay man in a committed relationship
- having loving, caring, and supportive family and friends who helped me along the way to become a well-adjusted and socially responsible man
- knowing gay men who have shared their experiences and outlooks. Much of how we view ourselves is compared and contrasted with the viewpoints of others. Even the things we might flatly reject leave an impression on our outlooks.
I realize that if my family were not supportive during my “coming out” process, or if my friends abandoned me, or if I were in an environment at home, school, or work that was restrictive, demeaning, or socially isolated, then things would have turned out much differently. If, for example, my father were a James Dobson-esque closed-mind religious zealot filled with hate, or my mother a Regina Griggs-like ultraconservative bigot, then I probably would have become a nutcase suitable for long-term lockup.
I have stated in previous blog posts that I was born gay, but didn’t know it. I think that’s fairly true of most gay men. Males behave as they are expected to behave by society: that is, go out on dates with girls, have sex with women, talk and think about women sexually, and things of that nature. Men who possess feminine qualities, whether gay or straight, have a much more difficult time in society than the stereotypically butch male.
The problem is that a guy usually goes through puberty and is able to be sexually active before he comes to terms with his sexual identity. I don’t think I am any different from a lot of others — I experimented sexually (with females, males, myself, and fetish interests) long before I accepted the fact that I was gay.
When attempting to think of women sexually doesn’t work, as with me when I realized that I was looking more at the guys than the girls and discovered that my plumbing worked in a particular way… then a guy figures out he is gay and works through a whole lot of “attitude adjustments” both internally and with those around him. That process, often called “coming out” is, to me, a process of coming to terms with one’s sexual identity.
My family always loved me, even if they didn’t understand what “gay” meant. That love was the foundation that made my “coming out” process easier since it lead to my family’s support. Coming out wasn’t easy, and took many years. In many ways, given the closeness of my family, my coming out process couldn’t have occurred in any other way since my family’s love for me wasn’t contingent upon my compliance with a certain set of imposed rules and obligations.
It all boils down to the fact that yeah, I like guys. However, I have to say that sex is not the driving factor for my being gay. Sure, I enjoy sex like any other guy. But there’s more to my sexuality and my gay identity than sex. It’s how I look at and think about my partner. It has a lot to do with love.
Sex is about biology and mechanics. Sexual organs respond favorably in certain conditions whether or not the same or opposite sex pushes those buttons physically. Self-identification as gay, straight, or somewhere in between is more than just who one sexually responds to…it involves the total package of feelings and other issues that attracts us to each other as human beings.
I am so in love with my partner, that being intimate with him is one way that I can demonstrate to him that I love him. Intimacy is a private thing, but an important factor for an ongoing, long-term relationship. But it’s not all sex. There are other things that my partner knows about me that no one else knows. There are fundamental things that we agree on without even having to talk about it. That’s part of intimacy. It’s a deep, abiding bond that holds us together.
I like guys, but since I have been in a monogamous relationship for so long, I’m not interested in sex with anyone else. I might find some guy attractive – after all, just because I am monogamous doesn’t mean that I am blind. Straight guys who I see socially or at the office or around my community or with whom I interact on-line have nothing to fear by interacting with me as a gay guy — I’m not interested in having sex with them. I am interested in what they have to say as a person, and how we might share something together, like go on a motorcycle ride, craft testimony for a public hearing, repair something in an older person’s home, or talk about boots and leather. It is my commitment to my man that that prevents me from having sex with anyone else. It’s no different than any other couple who makes that vow and truly honors it.
In summary, to me, sex, sexuality, and sexual identity are different things. They are related, but not one and the same. I’ll always be more attracted to men than women, but I’ll only have sex with one guy. Does that make any sense?
Life is short: be who you are.
Thanks to “K” for his invaluable insights and ongoing friendship