If you’re curious or wondering whether you might be gay – and this can still be a troubling question – you may be closer to sexual fulfillment than you might think. Keep an open mind and you can readily discover your true sexuality and reap the rewards.
Homosexuality – nature or nurture?
While many people, some research suggests half, will experiment with homosexuality at some point in their lives, particularly during adolescence, the incidence of homosexuality in adulthood is likely to be in the range of one in twenty to one in thirty. These are the people who identify or can be identified as being gay.
In evolutionary terms, quite why this has come to pass will probably always be a matter of speculation. Perhaps homosexuals were the shamans of ancient times. Perhaps the homosexual perspective provided a competitive edge. Or perhaps homosexuality proved merely not disadvantageous – and so it’s there because it’s there because it’s there.
As to the causes of homosexuality, differences in the brains of straight and gay people have been identified – in the hypothalamus, for example, and, in men, in the corpus callosum, the main connector between the cerebral hemispheres, this supporting the view that gay men are more ‘bilaterally’ minded than their straight counterparts.
It seems such differences have been influenced by genetic factors and by the pre-natal, uterine environment. This, though, is not the whole story: while, for example, around 50% of the monozygotic (identical) twins of homosexuals will themselves be homosexual, 50% of them won’t. Our earliest experiences seem to play their role – unless the children’s experience in the womb was subtly different. It seems it is nature and nurture – or something else.
Are you gay?
Thankfully, an increasing minority of people will not need to ask this question. They are aware of sexualities – they have the information to hand. They realise they’re gay during early adolescence and see no particular obstacle to being so. For others, due to ignorance, homophobic surroundings, a conservative religious upbringing, or fear and denial of sex generally, the question may indeed be fraught and consciously resisted. After all, in many parts of the world, even in great swathes of first world countries, it is difficult to live a happy, fulfilling and open life as a homosexual. Some, such as the children of Jehovah Witnesses, know that their parents categorically will never speak to them again if they come out as gay.
If you are troubled and are asking the question, ‘Am I gay?’ you’ve taken a big step already to finding happiness. Ditch the stereotypes, forget for a moment any thoughts you might have about what it might mean to be gay or about how your lifestyle might change, and concentrate on your feelings – about other women or other men.
It does not mean you are homosexual if you have same sex fantasies or if at some point you’ve ‘experimented’ with someone of your own sex. Many, many people do so, particularly during adolescence, though sexuality remains fluid throughout life and we may be said to define our sexual identities upon a deeper bisexual continuum. Nor does it mean you’re gay if you like a bit on the side every now and then with someone of your own sex – though we might question the ethics of doing so if this means you’re cheating on a partner.
You might decide you are gay if you are consistently drawn to the same sex – if that’s what turns you on, if that’s what you long for – and the opposite sex, no matter how pretty or handsome or beautiful – really does nothing for you. You might also decide, especially if you’re young or if your (homo)sexual feelings have only of late developed, that you are gay for now and might become straight or bisexual later. Or it might be that you decide you have little use for labels or categories and just get on with loving men or women.
Can homosexuality be ‘cured’?
Some groups do claim to be able to offer therapy to ‘cure’ people of their homosexuality. They offer to strengthen men’s ‘masculine’ side – to provide positive masculine role models they see as having been missing from childhood and adolescence – or, frequently, to use God to drive out the ‘sin’. Indeed, they are often religiously motivated.
Their claims should be treated with extreme caution. Their views as to what homosexuality is are grossly prejudiced – fundamentally, they see homosexuality as an evil – and the ‘therapy’ they offer can severely damage their subjects’, or victims’, psychological health, even leading to irreparable breakdown and suicide.
As a general rule, such counseling as you might wish to seek should be decidedly gay-friendly and should aim to overcome any negative thoughts about your homosexuality and any damaging experiences of homophobia you might have had in the past.
So, what happens next? Firstly, it is important to say that there is no one route to homosexual happiness – or to satisfying love and relationships. Forget clichés about the ‘gay lifestyle’. There are certainly plenty of those who’ll don their skimpiest, tightest tops and dance the night away every night. There are those who will adopt a particular look. And there are those whose sex lives are highly promiscuous, their relationships ranging from open to casual to nonexistent. This could be you, but it needn’t be. For better or worse, most gay people really are much like everyone else – except in terms of who they love and fancy.
You will probably find you want to go out on the local ‘scene’ to meet other gay people. This can be daunting at first, but most people there will be welcoming. You can also use the internet to meet other people, or get in touch with local social groups. Of course, gay people are not now ghettoized and forced to live in secret: you’ll find other like-minded people pretty much everywhere.
For more information and advice – on coming out, finding love, having safe sex and great sex – browse the Gay Lovers’ Guide.