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Am I Gay?


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Am I Gay?

Many boys and girls ask themselves that question during adolescence. It’s widely believed that one in ten will answer it with a definite "yes." But for some others, the question lingers long into adulthood.

How do you know?

For some of us, there is no doubt. We know. Our attraction to members of the same gender is too intense to deny, and it’s not strictly sexual, but emotional and romantic, as well.

But sexuality is a complex matter. A person’s sexual orientation doesn’t always reveal much about his or her sexual activity. It ’s not necessarily what we do, but what we wish to do that determines whether we are straight or gay.

A man who has sex with a woman but can only reach orgasm by fantasizing about having sex with a man is probably gay. His dalliances with women may be a symptom of denial, or possibly a necessary step to self-discovery. Then again, for some men, an interest in other males may vanish if a real-time opportunity presents itself. The latter man is probably heterosexual, but with bi-sexual fantasies that are a turn-on only when confined to the imagination.

Is effeminacy in boys or masculine behavior in girls a sign of a developing sexual identity?

In less sophisticated times, it was taken for granted that the sissy boy who played with dolls would grow up to be gay. The girl who shunned dresses for blue jeans and preferred football to baking cookies would have been less likely to be pegged as a burgeoning lesbian because society has always been more tolerant of tomboys than sissies.

We now know that many sissies are transgender whose identification with females may lead to gender reassignment surgery in adulthood. Many transgender persons are as baffled by homosexuality as the more conservative heterosexuals.

Many gay boys are effeminate, but many are as macho as his straight peers. Mannerisms do not, in themselves, give much of a clue to sexual orientation, but many effeminate boys do grow up to be gay, and the tomboy often concludes that she is a lesbian.

In the book When I Knew, edited by Robert Trachtenberg, many of the gays and lesbians interviewed conform to the stereotype.

"I knew I was gay...when I outgrew my mother’s high heels," said one respondent, while another gay man describes the moment of truth as occurring at age eigh t when

"I began hiding a purse under my bed."

I knew I was gay shortly after becoming aware that my genitals had more than one function. The first sexual fantasy I remember masturbating to involved a boy and girl in my ninth grade art class. As I imagined the girl performing oral sex on the boy, it didn’t take long to recognize that the girl was present because the only lovers whose passions I witnessed (in movies, of course, and on TV) were heterosexual. I was conforming to society’s expectations.

I soon realized that it was the boy who ignited my passion, and the girl was substituting for me. Following that epiphany, my sexual fantasies, like virtually all of my future real time sexual experiences, were faithful to my orientation as a homosexual man.

If you’re still questioning your sexuality, let your defenses down and examine your true feelings without r egard to what others think. Shut out the dissenting voices and listen to your own. All gay people are subjected to the pressure to be straight. Sometimes that pressure keeps us questioning long after we know the answer.

by Brian W. Fairbanks

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