There are many what’s when’s where’s who’s and why’s to being gay. Because there is a neverending parade of questions that we begin to ask ourselves. We make speculations but all that does is raise more questions. It is a time marked by fear and pain that we carry with us. But it is also a time of strength and empowerment. So many vacillating emotions go into this process because it is an ongoing process. Through progress and setbacks these moments define our lives. But these five types of questions are the stages we face when we are gay. When I write about these experiences and stories I have only one goal in mind and that is that the more we share the more we grow. That the more we discuss in detail our processes of accepting our sexual
Now this has been written about before but it’s not enough. Even though we have resources like PFLAG that gives an objective and well versed PowerPoint on this process it is still not enough. Because to me, it reads more as an instruction manual rather than really delving into the emotions of what it’s like to be gay. There are so many emotions and questions that seem to lack answers. And while they give a general overlook for the LGBT community, I am focusing specifically on the gay community. Makes me think that we also need to hear more about the other aspects of our community but I can only do it justice if I speak from my own experience.
5 Stages of Being Gay
Discovery/Questioning This is the beginning. The first moments when you realize that you’re not like everyone else. Like most of us this happens at an early age. We notice how we may interact differently than the other guys around us. We may not be into the same things or play the same way. We may not want to dress like our other male classmates or prefer the same music. We have our first evidence of our differences in random encounters and innocent kisses. We may like the same things that girls like. Or we may do the exact same things as our male counterparts but almost like a sixth sense we know we aren’t quite the same.
Then as we progress into adolescence, we develop but in body and in mind. The awkward stage of being between a child and an adult. By now most of us know what’s different. When we aren’t trying to get the cute cheerleader’s phone number or going out for the position of quarterback on our high school football team. When we may have higher voices than all the other guys. When we might walk and move differently too. In a time when we want to be just like anyone else we can’t help but feel the most different and even more alone. Because by now we’ve recognized on some level why we’re different. When we know that we are gay.
Anger/Confusion And as a result of this discovery comes more questions and no answers. This goes on throughout all but the final stage of acceptance. This can last for years. Constant never-ending questions about why we’re different We’re angry because we aren’t like everyone else because we just want to fit in. We are angry at everyone else for not being like us. We seek out the answer from our elders. Needing to find clarity of why we think about having sex with guys. Why do we dream about it almost every night. Why do we always have all these feelings when we see a guy we find attractive.
Why do we think of his shape; his hairy arms, his thighs, his strong hands and legs, his furry chest and chiseled abs, his beautiful eyes. Why do we dream of his hands encapsulated in mine as we gaze at the stars. Why can’t we think of something else. Why can’t we think of girls like everyone else. Why can’t we be like everyone else. We can’t stay this way. Why does God hate us. Why can’t we be this way. Why do we have to try to be like everyone else. Why does it feel like everything about us a lie. We do we have to pray this away. Why are we so stressed that we make ourselves sick. Why can’t we stop lashing out at the ones trying to help even though they don’t know what’s wrong. Why do we have to let go of everything we thought we’d be. Why can’t we stop crying. Why do we keep thinking about his eyes. Why are we so damn afraid.
Admittance That moment when not only do we know but still may not know why. We are going through what feels like an emotional rollercoaster and there are no signs of it ending. For whatever reasons, while we may not be willing to accept it but we can at least admit it to ourselves. It may take years before we full accept it, if ever. We will always be different no matter how hard we try or hide the truth from everyone else. We know that we will never be like everyone else. And the dreams that our parents had for us will never turn out the way they planned. And it is a time where we are relentlessly contemplating what our next step is and where that may lead.
Where do we go from here. Where do we get the strength to accept that we are gay. Where did gay come from. Where will I learn how to be gay. Where can I go to stop being so afraid. Where will we go if our parents kick us out of the house. Where do we go to fix this. Where do I go to learn how to hide this. Where is the explanation why we were made this way. Where was God when he made us.
Fear and Doubt More and more questions with still no clear answers. And like confusion/anger, we go through this during most of the other stages. Constantly afraid to even think about what being gay could mean for us and how it will impact the rest of our lives. Terrified that we are being judged for every single thing we do. Fear that we will never be able to be like everyone else. Always fearing we will never be happy. And we doubt that we will ever be able to come out. We begin to doubt our judgment in all other areas of our lives. We even begin to doubt the few answers that we are able to find.
What if everyone else finds out. What if everyone else hates us. What if people tease us. What if God hates us. What if we can’t be saved and we burn in hell. What if they were right and we are wrong. What if there is something wrong with us. What if my friends start hating me. What if I never find anyone that can love me for me. What if I’m alone forever. What if people try to beat me up or try to kill me. What if I just give up end it all. What if gay is wrong. What if our mothers stop loving us.
Acceptance Then to us what appears as some miracle, things begin to change. Maybe an event or person has entered our lives to show is that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Maybe it was just time we needed to accept the truth. But we reach a moment. A pure, crystalline moment that frees us from all other thought and reason to the contrary. Because we have finally began to accept us.
We have finally accepted that we’re gay and admit. No longer do we think about being like everyone else because we like who we are. As we have accepted and embraced our sexuality we are finally able to do the same in the other areas of our lives. We realize that being gay is not the only thing we are. We don’t care about being different anyone. So many nights we wondered would we ever feel better. It got better. We can sit back and let our fantasies run wild because it is natural. It is okay. We will be okay. To hell with trying to convince everyone else okay because we are not living for them, we are living for us. We are free.
Who knew we were this strong. Who knew that we would realize that there is nothing wrong with us. Who knew that our friends and family love us unconditionally. Who knew that even though some may have turned their backs on us that we are still okay. Who knew that we could like being gay. Who knew that gay isn’t much different than being straight. Who knew that we can still have all the things our parents dreamed for us. Who knew that we would love ourselves again.
You see, all of these who what’s whens where’s and whys are about me and you. These stages aren’t all linear and we go through some longer than others. I searched my journals for days and these were the things I asked. Even though they are all the personal questions I asked, these are the questions that we all ask. Because even though monumental events like this are hard to forget they are always a series of questions and answers. Even though I had admitted to myself when I was still a child I had not yet accepted it until I almost died. And then learning about a friend who took his own life because he was gay was enough for me. If ever there was a time to believe in signs to change my life those were two of the most defining moments.
I thought about the mothers that have lost their sons and daughters too soon and how my silence was suffocating my own life. Their pain was too powerful for me not to reflect upon my life. I gained the courage to fight back all the fears and doubts and face that this was who I was always meant to be. I searched for all the questions I had about being gay but the most freeing thing I have ever felt in this life is when I discovered the answers lay within me. It is an extremely empowering moment.
When we share our stories it helps others dictate how they want their story written. Our lives all different but our questions are the same. The more we share the better the make it for those that go through the same way. We show that it’s normal to feel this way and that it is okay to be who they are. Because we are tired of seeing people being so bullied and afraid that they feel like the only way out is to end their life and that has to stop. When we talk about our paths, our stories, our lives and how our questions are the same. it shows how the process of accepting things as they truly are frees us. I only hope that it leads to those still afraid to do the same and answers some of their questions.
Special thanks for the twitter friends Tony, Jim, Mark, Colin, Christopher, Roy, and Mike D that helped inspire this article, and to my journals for being there for me during a time when I feared no one else would be.