It took me 20 years to realize I was not sexually interested by men. And retrospectively, it has been quite an interesting journey around denial, shame, anxiety, self-introspection, and self-realization.
When the question of my sexual orientation popped up the first time, I was in my late teenage years, when I realized that sometimes, my attention in public places was directed to men’s crotches. I just wanted to look there as if an unconscious drive was pulling me to do so. I interpreted this behavior as a sexual attraction for cocks brought to my consciousness. In addition of these new “impulses”, I had also a history of what I believed to be “homosexual behaviours”. Indeed, when I was a kid, at many occasions, I had sexual encounters with boys, when I was around 5 years old, and later on, on a more regular basis, when I was around 10 (I also had such an encounter with a girl when I was 7, but only once). In addition to that, even though I had already had sex with women before my twenties, I had been stuck with erectile disfunctions and premature ejaculation in my early adult life for several years. So, it all seemed to make sense, I thought I was finally not sexually attracted by women and that my so far unconscious sexual attraction for men was strongly brought up to my consciousness.
I felt lost and isolated
It created quite a turmoil in my head to say the least. I remember that it made me kind of panicking sometimes. I simply couldn’t handle the fact that I could be gay, and when the thoughts were popping up, I had to repress them as much as I could not to feel completely overwhelmed. The best way I had found to numb myself was to spend hours playing video games. When my attention couldn’t go back to the anxious thoughts, I could finally relax a bit, until the next crisis.
Being gay meant that my core identity would be falling apart. People would most likely reject me (which was a very scary thought for the Nice Guy I was). It meant that I had to completely reinvent myself by taking steps I wasn’t prepared for at all. I grew up in Western Europe, in a big city where gays would come out freely and easily. Even though my family was quite open-minded on these topics, I surprised several times my parents subtly shaming gay behaviors at that time. And it somehow kind of reflected the limited openness of the whole society.
Talking about my issues to my girlfriends or close friends, even though some of them were out of the closet lesbians, was still a too scary option either, and Internet was not broad enough at that time to inquire on how to deal with my strong emotions. I felt isolated.
Repression, my best friend
Since it turned out to be impossible for me to explore the idea of potentially being gay, the only strategy I could implement was to put my head in the sand. So I kept the box closed, in denial that it could be a truthful direction to follow. And even though anxious thoughts kept coming back from now and then, the “gay part of myself” stayed well repressed and dormant most of the time throughout the years. It is also worth saying that after some struggling early years with my straight sexuality, I finally reached a stage from which my sexual life with women started to become richer and more and more satisfying. In this new light, the question of being only gay shifted towards the idea of being bi-sexual since it seemed very clear that women were strongly turning me on. It allowed me to become a bit less rigid, and I experimented masturbating with gay fantasies in mind. I also played with my fingers and my ass in order to experiment how my body would be feeling about it. But these steps were the only ones I could afford to take at that time to fight against my rigid mindfucks.
But I finally had to do something about it
The idea of going down the rabbit hole came to hit me hard again when symptoms of my long-lasting chronic disease worsened. I had to be mindful of all its possible root causes, and a repressed sexuality was of course amongst the top items on my list. Even if exploring the idea of being gay was still super scary at that time, I was now living abroad, and therefore much less under the burden of my home country’s social conditioning. I felt freer to explore, even though I still kept this endeavor secret, without taking the risk to share it to anybody. I went several times to gay clubs on my own, signed up on a gay dating website. I wanted to test my potential horniness towards men by finally diving into their world. The peak of this personal quest was reached when I joined a gay exploration workshop at one of these co-creation festivals. Manly nakedness, cozy touching, and blowjobs all over the place. It was interesting, and I was glad I finally stepped out from my comfort zone on this sensitive topic of mine. No big deal eventually.
And was it turning me on?
Nope, I was actually far from being horny as fuck with men, and I realized first-hand that it was actually not my thing. But the very last strike to the idea of being gay occurred when one of my friends and mentor told me that my interests for men actually came from a longing to connect with my brothers. Not in a sexual way at all then, but simply a strong willingness to establish deeper emotional connections with men. It made a lot of sense to me, the more so I had recently initiated an exploration into brotherhood and men’s work, and considering that bondings with men and male figures were actually critically missing when I grew up. I also read that early sexual encounters in childhood between kids could be simply interpreted as an act of curiosity from individuals with high sexual drive in order to prepare themselves for their upcoming mature sexual lives.
As it turned out, the whole story of being gay was completely made up in my mind, and got stuck there in the background of my head for more than 20 years.
Even if throughout these years I discovered and explored consciously and healthily with my straight sexuality, this deep questioning about being gay bothered me on a regular basis with anxiety, helplessness, and feeling of isolation. What a waste of time and energy, which actually makes me feel sad. How come the teenager and young man I was ended up lacking support and guidance from his environment to help him out dealing with his fears on such a basic questioning of his core self, even though he was growing up in a country quite tolerant about people’s sexual orientations? How come he didn’t find the internal strength to face his own shit and not giving a fuck about his peers’ judgment? So baffling when I think about it.
I am also thinking about my gay brothers all over the world who might be struggling in their lives with such boiling questions, and unable to come out peacefully because of their inner struggles and adverse life environments. Repressing and denying such core aspects of oneself can have disastrous consequences in men’s well-being. In my case, I believe that my own deniability significantly contributed to numbing my feelings and disconnect myself further from the wisdom of my body over the years. Which most likely might have been a significant co-factor in the downward evolution of my chronic disease.
This story also makes me feel so amazed about the power of my own mind to hold me back, and how it prevented myself to take constructive actions to break through such a personal challenge. Even though my own story of being gay was completely made up in my mind from an initial misunderstanding of my own feelings towards men, exploring this idea with a non-judgmental and open mind just remained impossible for many years. When I am thinking about this long journey today, it seems crazy and now discharged from any overwhelming emotions. However, the obstacle was very real in my mind, like a huge mountain impossible to overcome. At that time, I was only aware of the visible part of it. Its unconscious roots were about subtle dysfunctional social conditioning around gay men in my surrounding, fears of getting rejected by my peers, and feeling shameful about my own sexual desires.
Therefore, it also becomes now my responsibility as a man, knowing how such inner questioning about oneself can impair growth, to help out younger men potentially struggling with these issues. It is about willing to explore and embrace one’s sexuality without feeling shameful. It is about understanding the need for gays from an evolutionary perspective bridging the gap between the matriarchy and the patriarchy in nomadic tribes. It is about rejecting any harmful social conditioning towards sexuality, preventing men to truthfully being themselves.
And I strongly believe that shedding light on all the “dark corners” of your sexuality and kinks is a must for becoming an integrated man. It might be a challenging journey because of strong inner and outer hurdles on your way, but there is no shortcut on this one. You need to do the work and expose yourself with curiosity and openness.