Author’s Note: This post is not offered as a scientific study of same gender loving (gay) attraction. It contains no empirical references nor evidence save that experienced within my own family. It is a personal perspective on being aware of same-sex attraction and is published here on my ReNude Pride blog as a way of celebrating the month of June as the traditional recognized Gay Pride Month here in the USA.
There’s no magical age when you suddenly realize that all those conflicted feelings that you’ve had mean that you have a homoerotic attraction. Life simply isn’t that uncomplicated and easy. It isn’t like becoming a teenager. You don’t go to sleep at night as a twelve-year-old and wake up the next morning as a thirteen year old and knowing that you’re attracted to men. For many, it’s a slow tedious process that for some takes years to acknowledge and for others even longer (if ever) to accept.
It’s not like puberty with outward, physical signs of development. It’s an internal process that may manifest itself physically but must be processed and dealt with internally. One of the major reasons for this is because our broader societies are largely homophobic (worst case scenario) or unable to provide any positive and affirming guidance to gay and or questioning teens. This void in information is further compounded by the fact that only rarely are young people ever exposed to any supportive adult same gender loving role models, either within their respective families or inside their immediate communities.
Many people don’t recognize or understand that the process of awareness and acknowledging being same gender loving is much more than a “eureka” moment in a person’s life. It isn’t that a light suddenly illuminates inside a person’s brain and they automatically realize that what they’re feeling is a strong emotional and intensely physical attraction to the same-sex. Most have to figure that aspect of their sexuality out on their own. Unfortunately, very few have a close friend or an older family member to engage as a confidant or a resource.
Having a physical and emotional attachment to the same gender isn’t a well-defined “rocket” science. It doesn’t come with an established timeline that is applicable to each and every one of us. My identical twin brother, Alex, and myself both recognized our being gay at roughly the same time – in our early teen years. However, our oldest brother didn’t discover his same-sex attraction until he was a student at university. There are some who aren’t aware of their being gay until much later in life.
As with most stages of human growth and development, discovery of a person’s being gay (same gender attraction) varies depending on the individual as well as the environment and circumstance. Twin and I have always been close (we’re identical twins, after all) and this probably accelerated and enhanced our awareness whereas our older brother, being the gay pioneer in our immediate family, had a later awareness time. Same family, just different ages of discovery.
Did our knowledge of our oldest sibling’s being gay help us in acknowledging our own same-sex affection? Probably. It definitely opened the topic for discussion between Twin and myself. It also made it easier for the both of us to “come-out” to the rest of our family once we accepted (internalized) that we are gay. It enabled us to communicate our own sexual desires and emotions among ourselves without fear of being judged.
Twin and I realized our same-sex attraction within several months of each other. I seem to recall being the first although Alex swears it was him. At any rate, our accepting this reality was almost at the same time. Both of us have same gender loving friends who claim that they “always” knew that they were different from other boys and attribute this to their being gay. Either way, this knowledge of sexual preference does come at different ages for different people. Again, there’s no magical threshold that is the same for everyone.
I’ve read and know that many believe that people “choose” to be same gender loving or gay/lesbian. I don’t accept this belief as being valid. With all the discrimination, hatred and violence directed against the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer) community, why would anyone in their right mind make a conscious choice to be GLBTQ? Modern life is a constant struggle as it is without the burden of being targeted, vilified and despised for being GLBTQ? It doesn’t make sense for any sane person to decide to join a class of persons who are discriminated against, feared and loathed.
A sexual attraction to another person isn’t a conscious decision. The emotional connection isn’t something that can be activated by using a remote control. There’s no “on/off” button or switch. Love is exactly what it is: love. It is a part of our psyche that goes beyond our consciousness, it isn’t a passing whim or fantasy, Love is felt deep within ourselves, our being, our essence. It is as much of who we are as any of our physical characteristics. For the above reasons, I don’t believe that any of us is afforded the freedom of “choosing” our sexuality.
Denying our sexuality is basically the same as denying our humanity. Suppressing our emotional feelings is not only unhealthy (both emotionally and physically), it is detrimental to our enjoying the fullness of our life experience. It retards our attainment of real happiness. If we as humans deplore the amount of violence prevalent in our world today, imagine the level of violence with all the frustrated individuals denied their emotional fulfillment. We’d all be overwhelmed by the brutality and savagery we’d witness happen all around us.
Fortunately, many societies today are vaguely, if not outright, supportive of their same gender loving constituents. However, “many” doesn’t constitute all. Until GLBTQ peoples everywhere are accorded the same dignities and freedoms that are allowed everyone else, the intolerable predicament that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer persons often face on a daily basis continues to serve as an injustice to us all.