Low Self Esteem, Insecurity and Homosexuality

The following question was recently entered into a search engine and directed a visitor from my home state to this blog:
Lowselfesteem“Does low self esteem and insecurity have anything to do with homosexuality?” Well, sorta…… but not in the way you may be thinking.

Here is my perspective, and explained more thoroughly on this older blog post titled, “Do Insecure Guys Turn Gay?

Boys and men who are gay — homosexual — are very frequently made to feel inferior. Alpha males or stronger guys (however you want to classify it) react rather strongly and negatively toward another male who is weaker, quieter, uncoordinated, and/or has characteristics that are observed through stereotypes as gay — high-pitched voice, disinterest in women and sports, interest in things that “girls like,” and so forth. The ongoing posturing and positioning for male dominance, especially within a group of peers, causes some members with gay stereotype behaviors to feel inadequate, which leads to feeling insecure and having low self-esteem.

On a comparable matter, a male who is homosexual frequently is treated as inferior by heterosexuals — both male and female. I can cite many examples of parents (both men and women) who treated a child who was gay in ways that contributed to the child feeling inadequate, inferior, and having low self-worth. Some of these kids commit suicide — their anxiety becomes so real and fearful. (Suicide is NOT the way to deal with these feelings. Get help. It gets better, believe me … it really does.)

A gay friend also shared with me about how gay athletes who compete in the heterosexual world sometimes have low self-esteem, too. He said, “For these men, low self esteem doesn’t grow from being treated poorly by others, but with the feeling that there is something about themselves that is not like the others and knowing that society disapproves of it. Although nobody makes the individual feel inferior, he does so because of his own perceptions about this thing that makes him different and how others might react if they knew his secret. Although highly successful on the playing field, low self-esteem keeps them in the closet.

“The low self-esteem manifests itself in a way that drives them to be the best athlete they can possibly be with the hope of building a stronger sense of self. Yet, this feeling of higher self esteem can only occur on the athletic field and I would imagine its difficult to carry over to life off the field. My theory is that athletes who wait to come out of the closet after leaving the sport do so because without sports, they’re forced to deal with this aspect of their lives.”

Kevin brings up a great point, and I appreciate it. There are many reasons why some gay men have lower self-esteem than their straight peers.

However, there is no direct correlation that if you are male, are insecure, and have low self-esteem that you are gay. What I am saying is that often gay people tend to feel insecure because of the way they are treated as well as how they feel about themselves — not being made to “be gay” because they are insecure. It doesn’t work in reverse.

Thinking through this, once again, I remind myself how very fortunate that I was when I was growing up. My parents loved me for who I was — not for what they thought I should or should not be. My parents never once compared me with my brothers, and never said things like, “can’t you be more like him?” In reverse, they never told my jock twin brother to be more like me in academics, where I earned better grades. Our parents supported each of us for where we excelled and we were never made to feel inferior in comparison with other males in our lives — most importantly, our brothers and cousins.

My twin brother, Mr. Jock, loved me regardless of my physical and athletic incapabilities. My siblings loved me, too, and they demonstrated their love by helping draw out the good characteristics that I had and never ridiculing me for my inadequacies (although I have learned to accept some good-natured kidding about what a klutz I am). I truly am very fortunate, because I know or have read about other gay guys who didn’t have it as good as I did with my parents and family. (I was going to say “lucky” but luck has nothing to do with it. My siblings learned from the most intelligent, thoughtful, fair, and respectful people we ever knew — our Mom and Dad.)

It is quite possible — and I am an example — that gay men can be strong, secure, and have positive self-esteem. Gay children — like any children — need to be nurtured in an environment that brings out the best they have to offer. That’s that — same-sex or opposite-sex orientation aside; when a child is brought up to believe in himself, it does not matter if he is gay or straight.

Life is short: build self-esteem by understanding external forces and learning to manage them.

4 thoughts on “Low Self Esteem, Insecurity and Homosexuality

  1. BHD, your theory about gay athletes coming out after they stop playing is timely. Today there is a news story about a pro-soccer player who has just come out, but only now, after he left the sport. The soccer player’s name is Robbie Rogers and despite the more open attitude many pro-sports have towards gay men and lesbian women, he didn’t feel comfortable stating his sexuality until after he no longer would be playing professionally. I have long wondered why no one would come out while playing and the more skeptical – (or is cynical?) – side of me thought fear of losing endorsements and financial opportunities were the chief reasons why. But your theory may be the more accurate and fair explanation and the articles about Robbie Rogers seem to validate your thesis.

    • Thanks for your comment, Bill. I credit my friend Kevin (see comment below) for the content of this blog piece about gay men who play professional sports. I do not know anything about that, nor even their names. Kevin brings up great points that add to this discussion, and I value contributions from you, Kevin, and others who know more about these things than I do.

  2. We might be able to learn from examples like that of Orlando Cruz, the professional boxer who came out in October. He came out while still in the sport and I would venture to say that the challenges of doing so in boxing are just as great if not greater than those found in the team sports. He had the support of his family and is at the top of his game. The same can be said about Gareth Thomas, who came out as the first gay rugby player in 2009. He is the 3rd most capped Welsh rugby player and won four rugby league caps for Wales.

    There’s also the example of Brian Sims who came out to his team while playing college football at Bloomsburg. He was able to do so because of the support of his teammates.

    But, unfortunately, there’s the example of Jamie Kuntz that keeps most gay athletes in the closet. He was kicked off the team when it was discovered that he is gay. He had no other team members coming to his defense.

    I would venture to guess that one of the differences between his outcome and that of Brian Sims was the degree to which Sims was able to distinguish himself as a top athlete. The same can be said for Cruz.

    Perhaps the key to being able to come out is the strong support of family, that adds immensely to a greater self image and athletic success that exceeds their peers in the sport.

    I believe that at the end of the day, every team will support its champions, regardless of sexuality.

    –Kevin

  3. Thank you BHD for creating this forum and such great opportunities to discuss such important issues. We all continue to learn from each other and for that I am grateful!

    Kevin

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