When I was a teenager, it was inconceivable to me that I was gay. It took me being in college and reading some books, seeing some gay porn, and eventually exploring the internet before I realized that: Yes, I am gay. When I look back now, it seems crazy that I did not know I was gay. I had “crushes” on guys. I admired good looking guys. Hell, I even masturbated to guys at night when I was alone in my bedroom. How did I not realize I was gay when I only really fantasized and dreamed about guys? It was never women. I dated girls and even had sex with a few, but it was guys that I to whom I felt any kind of attraction.
Looking back, I bought fitness magazines and International Male catalogs. I told myself that I wanted to look like those guys. I wanted to have their physiques, even though I never have achieved that. I still told myself that I admired their bodies, but that I wasn’t attracted to them. Even with the guys I had fantasies about (and thought about being naked with them and doing sexual things with them), it never occurred to me that I might want a boyfriend or that I was gay. No, I told myself that I liked the way they looked, and I wanted to look like them.
Obviously, I was deluding myself because I was always taught that the worst thing to be was a “faggot.” That’s how the bullies tortured me. They called me a “faggot,” “fag,” or “sissy.” I was so scared I was one, that I could not let myself believe that I was one. I was taught it was something wrong and dirty. God, how they fucked us up!
Anyway, I’m curious. For those of you who did not come out early in life, who came out in college or later, what did you tell yourself about your attraction to guys? How did you justify to yourself that you were “straight” yet had an attraction to guys? I was so far in denial that I deluded myself into thinking it was just the admiration for guy’s physiques. What was your reasoning?
December 9th, 2021 at 9:29 am
What a great question. I look forward to reading the replies you get. My own reply will be a long one. Feel free to not include it in your feed, but I thought you’d find it of interest.
In my case, I came out at 27. Mind you, I had been having sex with men, and not women since I was 17. But I kept telling myself that the “right woman” would come along and I would marry her, have my 2.5 children, dog, white picket fence, station wagon, and all the rest. I got the dog and the station wagon. This is all the more remarkable in that I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, just a short city bus ride away from the City itself. I went to Jr. High, High School and College all directly across the Bay from San Francisco. In retrospect, I can see that I knew I was “different” all the back to my early childhood, but in the 1950s and 60s I didn’t have the language or experience to know what it meant. For instance, I remember riding my bike downtown at age 8 (in Billings, Montana then) to pick up the brochures on the new car models. It made no sense to me that those beautiful Ford convertibles had pictures of women in swimsuits standing next to the cars. Wouldn’t men in trunks be much more interesting? Somehow I knew that this was not a question I could ask my Methodist minister Father.
My Father spanked me clear up into high school. He did it to punish and humiliate me. Since then, I have never been able to see spanking as sex play. It’s always about humiliation to me, and I don’t like to humiliate other people. The last time he spanked me, I ran away from home. I was 17. I hitchhiked all the way to Reno, roughly 200 miles away, arriving there at night. This was before Interstate 80 was completed across Nevada. The highway was constructed so that you had to drive through town–through every town in the state. I couldn’t get a ride east, so I got a room in a motel for the night. I only spent about 3 hours in that room, before deciding to return home. A fellow in a new Pontiac Firebird picked me up at a truck stop on the west side of town, and drove me to Sacramento. When I got in the car, he told me to put my bags in the back seat. I did. Between Reno and Donner Pass, he placed his right hand on my left thigh. “This is interesting,” I thought, but I made no move to get away from him. He moved his hand up my thigh, and still I said nothing. When he told me to open my jeans, I did, and he took hold of my cock. “Very interesting, indeed!” He opened the glove box, and showed me male/male pornographic post cards. I had no idea such things even existed. In short, in the 130 miles between Reno and Sacramento, he jacked me off three times. I was in lust.
I did a lot of hitchhiking after that, hoping for a similar experience, but no such luck. Somehow I made it to grad school without any more sexual encounters. I remember in 1969 when Louis Landerson, a classmate in my French Literature classes showed up wearing a “Gay is Good!” button. I panicked. I’m sorry to say that I never spoke to Louis again. He went on to be one of the editors at Boston’s Fag Rag. Similarly, in 1973, I was sitting in Berkeley’s People’s Park on a beautiful June Saturday. I was reading a play by Giraudoux which was housed in a lovely lavendar colored book. While I was studying, a group of people came dancing through the park led by two six-foot tall white rabbits (ok, men in rabbit costumes) with their cocks and balls exposed. I fled the park. (Today, I’d join them.) It was one of Berkeley’s very first Gay Pride Events.
Between 1966’s adventures in the Pontiac and 1973’s white rabbit incident, a former student (female) introduced me to nude beaches. At the time, before Title IX, Berkeley had separate men’s and women’s gyms. The pool at the men’s gym had a raised area for watching events, with a sand pit and rope set up for practicing diving, I think. Guys would go up there, lie on the sand and sunbathe–all wearing trunks. One day, when only five of us were there, I went around and asked every other guy if he’d mind if I removed my trunks. No one objected, so I lay out on the sand nude. In no time at all, everyone was nude, and it stayed that way until Title IX forced the University to integrate its facilities. But need I say, that when you have a bunch of naked guys laying around, other things happen. I don’t know how many times I got jacked or sucked on the sand at the men’s pool. It became so notorious that French gay author Roger Peyrefitte (France’s answer to Gordon Merrick) wrote about it in his novel Les Américains.
To close out this extremely long response, I left Berkeley in 1974 and moved into my parent’s cabin in western Montana. I still told myself that the “right woman” would come along, and I’d marry her. Never happened. When the “right woman” came along, (s)he had a cock and balls and became my first long-term partner. I came out, joined Missoula’s Gay Males Together group, and eventually became one of the founders and President of Out in Montana, the first gay rights group for men and women in Montana.
Well, you asked.
December 9th, 2021 at 10:31 am
Thank you so much for such a wonderful reply. It was definitely not too long, and it’s interesting to hear other people’s experiences.
Growing up in rural Alabama, I never had the “big city” experience until I was in grad school and went to a conference in New Orleans. I had only two people that knew I was gay, a fellow grad student and her boyfriend. I was at the conference with the female grad student who is come out to and she took me to my first gay bar: Oz New Orleans. I was fascinated and still love that bar. I came out to everyone at my grad school a week or two later.
December 9th, 2021 at 11:25 am
I’ve always known I like other guys, but I was born and raised in the Church of Christ in a small town in Texas in the 60’s. Being “out” wasn’t really an option for me. One summer day a group of us neighborhood kids were talking in the shade under a tree. I was about 12 or 13 and was the only guy present at this moment. The girls started talking about boys at school that they thought were cute. One boys name came up and I said “yes, Tim is cute.” The girls all looked at me and there was a deafening silence. Literally, crickets in the background. Finally one of the girls said she had never heard a boy say another boy is cute. I quickly changed the subject and none of us ever spoke about it again. I learned in this moment that I had to be careful about what I say. I was different and needed to keep some things to myself. I heard at church that homosexuality was a sin. I heard queer, sissy, fag, etc. at school directed at me and other boys.
I left for college as soon as I finished high school and only return to my hometown to visit my mom and other relatives who still live there. The saddest part about being gay in that place and time is that I couldn’t be true to myself and express my feelings to others. I was conflicted because I was told by church and society that my feelings were sinful and there was something wrong with me for being gay. Over time I realized that I did not choose to be gay. I was born this way despite what others say. It’s who I am and I eventually comfortable with that.
Though we still have challenges in society for acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and issues, I feel like things are better now than when I grew up.
Thanks for asking this question. I hope you get a lot of heartfelt responses.
December 9th, 2021 at 12:33 pm
Thanks for responding. Though you’re experiences were in the 1960s and mine were the 1990s, I basically had the same experience. The difference was that I never heard from any of our Church of Christ preachers about the evils of homosexuality. I’m fact, it was never mentioned in church until after the Obergefell decision was announced legalizing gay marriage. My preacher then preached a sermon about the evils of homosexuality and I lost all respect I ever had for the man. Partly because he took things out of context and used the Old Testament, two things I had always been taught were “no-nos” in the CoC.