Young Gay Men Talking – So am I gay Or not

“You’ve probably been brought up thinking that everyone, including yourself, is straight.” – Phil

“Being gay is something you might discover about yourself as you grow up – it’s unlikely to be a sudden feeling.” – Andy

“Working out you are gay will probably take a long time, and may involve very difficult feelings.” – Howard

“I guess from a young age I knew I was different from the other guys.” – Steven

“…And wishing that you could be the same as everyone else.” – John

“And you’ll probably discover that many people don’t seem to like people who are gay, so it can be very difficult to like yourself if you think you might be gay.” – Tim

We’ve all experienced many of these feelings. It hasn’t been easy, but it does get better.

The information here is put together from the words of some young gay men who have agreed to share their stories. Hopefully, what they say here can help you if you’re wondering whether you’re gay or not, and help you to deal with your feelings if you decide that you are. We also hope that their words will give everyone else who reads them a better idea of what it feels like to be a young gay man.

Loads of people will be attracted to someone of the same gender at some time in their lives. Some people might act on this, some people don’t even admit it. But it’s a very common thing – so don’t worry, you’re not alone!

“I always thought I was the only one who felt like this.” – Martin

“I felt there was no one who understood, and that I would just keep it to myself.” – Dave

“What does it mean to be gay?”

A man who identifies himself as gay is usually someone who only fancies other men. Some guys will be attracted to other men and be attracted to women – many of these men see themselves as bisexual.

There isn’t any ‘right’ age for someone to decide or realise that they’re gay or bisexual – for some people it’s much later than for others. So there’s no need to label yourself right away, and it’s okay to change your mind!

“I was married for 30 years before I came to realise that I was gay.” – Joel

“I’m 18 and I have always known that I am gay since I was 13” – Gary

“Well I have known since I was 6 that I was gay, all the way through primary school and especially secondary school” – Chris

“But I’m not sure – how do I know?”

Being a teen can be a really confusing time for all sorts of reasons. You start thinking you’ve coped with puberty – and then all of a sudden, you get these new feelings. You start wondering – could I be gay?

There isn’t a questionnaire you can fill in or a test to take! While your sexuality is developing, many teens will become attracted to someone of the same gender – it doesn’t mean that you’ll always be attracted to people of that gender. Some people can be quite old before they have their first same-sex attraction. For some people, the only way to know for sure is to wait and see. Other people seem to have known they were gay since they were really young – everyone’s different.

“I have always known I was attracted to boys. I didn’t quite know what it was, or that it wasn’t something most boys did. But I always knew. I can remember back to 1st grade playing ‘kiss chase’ with the girls. Yet I was chasing WITH the girls after the boys.” – Cody

For many people who were brought up thinking they were straight, it can come as quite a surprise to realise that they’re attracted to people of the same gender. Sometimes something might happen to make you suddenly aware of these feelings – or you might have become aware of them slowly, over a long time.

It can sometimes seem like there’s just too much to deal with – but don’t worry, you don’t have to make any decisions right now, and feelings often make more sense after some time’s passed.

“Is it just a phase. . . ?”

This can be the reaction of some people who might not want to accept how you feel. While it’s true that some teens might have same-sex feelings for a while, and then stop having them – for other teens it’s not a ‘phase’ at all, but an important part of your life.

“My therapist also told me that I wasn’t gay. It was the drugs, the new freedom, me not partying enough in high school” – Joel

“All the way through primary school and especially secondary school I knew although at first I was sure it was all a phase and that I would eventually meet a girl and my life would go ‘normal’ that wasn’t the case, now I’m proud to be gay, it’s part of who I am,” – Chris

“It was pretty obvious by 6th grade that my ‘I am curious and this is only a phase’ excuse was obsolete, so I decided to consider myself a bisexual, an orientation that still left some hope of marrying a girl and having a family like ‘everyone else.’ Having low expectations on the romantic theatre by my peers (I am a nerd) helped a lot, and gave me breathing space for my exploration of the ‘homosexual taboo’ online before I finally accepted the reality: I was gay.” – Christian

“But I just wanna be normal!”

Well, that’s normal! Everyone wants to fit in – but really, everyone’s different anyway. There’re loads of gay people – and now there’re gay people on television, in music, in the media and in every country. Being gay is ‘normal’ – even though it might seem like you don’t know any other gay people at the moment.

“That’s what you’re supposed to do, I thought, find a nice girl, settle down, have kids, retire and die. It was all I’d ever wanted since being a little’n. To be ‘normal’.” – Pete

“I would like to suggest to anyone, the feeling never goes away that being gay IS normal and it allows for a fulfilled life and a new found self pride that you don’t have to hide and pretend to be something you aren’t.” – David

“When I was a kid I would occasionally try and will myself into being straight. I know now that it is impossible and I don’t want to anymore. Even as a child I saw that there was benefits to being gay. I know this may sound wierd to some of you but I always knew it would help me see the world in a better way. By better I mean without crude judgment of people. By being oppressed yourself you are less likely to do the same to others.” – Roger

“Was I born gay?”

This is a question that’s been asked for years and years – and it’s still being asked now. No-one knows what makes someone gay. Some people (like some religious groups) say that being gay is a choice, and that you can decide whether you want to be gay, bi or straight. Most gay people would disagree with this, and say that they’ve always been gay.

“I didn’t have a bad childhood, so I do believe that I was born with my homosexuality, and I’m fine with that!” – Jason

Some people suggest that people ‘become’ gay as a result of something to do with the way they were brought up, or because of something that happened in their childhood. This is also something that parents of gay people seem to worry about.

“You see, as a father he felt as if it was something he did or didn’t do.
Not realizing it was a personal characteristic I was born with and there wasn’t anything that he or I could do about it. Other than accept the truth and deal with the fact that his son was gay.” – Javier

Other people say that no-one can choose their sexuality, and that whether people are attracted to someone of the same gender is genetic – that they inherited being gay, that they were made that way.

“Because my brother is gay I think there must be something linked, genetically somewhere…” – Michael

Generally, though, most people agree that, whatever is responsible for making someone gay, bi or straight – that’s just the way they are.

“Being gay is not a decision, like I said. It is a way of life. It is same way straight people are born straight. Now there are some people, guys and girls, who just jump up and decide to have sex with the same sex and the opposite sex, just for fun. But being truly gay isn’t like that, as a matter of fact, most people that are gay, when they meet someone of the same sex that is gay, the first thing in their mind isn’t, ‘ooh, they are hot, I want to have sex with them’. – Notice I said most, some people though, that IS the first thing in their mind. Anyway, my point is, this is your life, and although some of you said that you may decide to live out your life ‘straight’, you can’t change who you are, though you can fake it, marry a women, have kids, you will still never truly be happy, and you will still have thoughts about the same sex.” – Jason

“When should I tell people?”

The first difficult thing for you to deal with is realising and accepting for yourself that you’re gay or bi. Once you know – you might want other people to know, as well. But this should be something that happens in your own time, when you feel ready.

“I’ve told three friends that I’m gay, but one of them told a few more people. It took some serious talking to clear that one up, he doesn’t understand that I’m not ready to tell the whole freaking school that I’m gay… I mean what 15 year old would want to tell a whole year group of mostly straight homophobes!” – Phil

If you know that you’re gay, and no-one else knows, it can be really difficult. Some parts of the world are less accepting of gay people than others are, and so are some families. This means that many gay people grow up with their friends and families thinking that they’re straight – and the pressure of keeping your sexuality a secret can get really stressful.

“Finally, I could no longer take it, and decided I needed to tell my family on my twenty-first birthday. But that day came and went just like any other. I wasn’t able to bring myself to tell what I thought was such an awful secret.” – Dave

But if you’re not ready, you don’t have to tell anyone – there’s always plenty of time in the future, if you don’t want to do it now.

“I do plan on coming out, just not yet. I’d rather wait until I’m comfortable. Wait ’til you’re ready. Don’t feel pressured to come out right away or even at all! After all, one of the last things you want is to lose a friend or distance yourself with a family member. Or even worse, if you’re young like I am you may find that you really are just going through a phase and you find out that you’re not gay after you’ve told everyone and their mother that you are.” – Graeme

Sometimes, the feelings of having a secret and not being able to tell people about it can really build up inside. Working out your sexuality can be a difficult process, and these things are usually easier to deal with if you’ve got someone to talk to. The process of telling people that you’re gay or bisexual is known as ‘coming out’.

“When I was 19 I could no longer keep it to myself, I told my brother and sister in-law who have a few gay friends and they were like ‘hey it’s no big deal’ they love me for who I am and I love spending time with them. Now I’m 20 and I need to tell my parents, although I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to.” – Chris

There’re no right or wrong ways to come out to people, and you should only do it when you’re ready. It can be really scary telling people if you’re not sure how they’re going to react – especially your family. Often the hardest people to tell are your parents. But you can make it easier for them and for you by waiting until you’re sure you’re ready. If you do decide to come out to them, choose a good time to tell them, too – they might need to have some space to think about what you’ve told them, so a really busy time like Thanksgiving or Christmas might not be best! Some teens find it easier to write their parents a note or a letter.

“Telling my friends was the easy part – not fun – but they have all been okay with it. Telling my mum was hard but do-able, but telling my dad was just impossible. I spent ages agonizing about it and worrying and thinking about letters or just blurting it out, but in the end I realized the easiest thing was not to tell him at all but get someone else to do it for me.

“I know not everyone has someone willing or able to do this for them but I got my brother to do it for me – and instead of the really negative reaction I expected from my dad nothing has changed. Coming out doesn’t have to be on someone else’s terms. If you need to, then be manipulative – not nastily – but just doing things in a way so that people will react better to them.

“I thought my dad would be really pissed off but because my brother told him he had space and time to think it over and decide how he was going to react he wasn’t that bad. I’m not saying this would work for everyone, but if you think about it, there are ways of softening the blow – or even taking away the sting altogether.” – Hugo

Many people find that the best thing to do is to tell just one or two people first, people who they really trust.

“When I first got away from my old school, I emailed all of my friends. I told them all I was gay. Not surprisingly, 2 of them said it was wrong and gross. I wasn’t that close to them anyway. The others supported me, told me that kind of figured it out on their own, and wished I would have told them before. I was in shock. I made my first huge step in the direction of being myself.” – Cody

So try to think it through, think what you’re going to say, and how they might react. You don’t have to tell anyone, unless you want to! If you’re starting to realise that you’re gay or bi, you’ll already have a lot to think about – but don’t worry – it’s something you can come to feel proud about.

“If you know that you’re gay, be proud. Don’t let it hold you back. If you’re on the fence, that’s okay too. But the sooner you’re certain what you are and are comfortable with it, the happier you’ll be.” – Graeme

“Everyone round here hates gay people. . .”

This sort of prejudice against gay people is called homophobia, and unfortunately, it’s quite common in some parts of the world.

“Because I live in a small town which is mainly homophobic I wasn’t the most popular guy around. I kept myself to myself so I got the grief of being bullied. I twice nearly killed myself cos of the bullying.” – Gary

Sadly, many people use religion as an excuse to be homophobic. There’s sometimes nothing you can say that’ll change some people – try not to let it get to you too much. And if pe

ople in your area are making life difficult for you, try to just stick with any friends who are on your side. You don’t have to stay in the area when you’re older – there are many parts of the world that are much more tolerant.

“I do believe that I was born with my homosexuality, and I’m fine with that! A lot of people think being gay or lesbian is a sin, and we will go to hell for it, but this is how I look at it… God makes everyone right? God made me, God made you, God made and continues to make everyone. Therefore if God made me gay, because this isn’t some DECISION that I made up one day, then this is how I am suppose to live, and die; and I am proud to be gay.” – Jason

If you’ve been brought up to think that gay people are bad in some way, or that there’s something wrong with them, this can make it really hard for you if you realise that you, too, are one of these dreaded gay people… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can make you think again about your prejudices and wonder whether people who say negative stuff about gay men and lesbians are wrong, after all.

“I used to think being gay was terrible, but I have come to see that while it offers many challenges, it still offers much opportunity and hope. It also gives me a different perspective on things, and overall, I believe it has made me a better person. I wouldn’t change that aspect about myself for the world.” – Dave