This post is not explicit, but deals with topics that may make some uncomfortable.
Last night I bought gay conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan's book on the politics of homosexuality, Virtually Normal. Although I am not very far into it, I can tell that I am going to like it, and that some of you may be interested in it, too. Some of the points he brings up have been discussed on this and other MoHo blogs, such as the Bible's stance on homosexuality and the paradox of how the Church (Sullivan refers to his church, the Roman Catholic Church, but it applies to the LDS Church as well) says/has said that being a homosexual is not in itself a moral wrong, but carrying it out--an extension of the former--is.
It's a very interesting read so far. In the book's introduction Sullivan speaks of homosexuality in general, and reading it brought up my own uncertainties about my orientation. Says he:
"Although there is an understandable desire to divide the world starkly into heterosexual desire and its opposite, most of us, I'd guess, have confronted the possibility at some time in our lives of the possibility of our own homosexuality. [Is that all this is about? I wonder. Am I not gay after all, but rather going through a normal and probably common part of adolescence by merely confronting a possibility?] There is something of both attractions in all of us, to begin with. [Or is this why I still wonder if I might be bisexual or even straight?] For the majority, it is resolved quite early; our society forces such a resolution. Except for a few who seem to retain throughout their lives a capacity for attraction to both sexes, for most of us the issue is largely resolved before the teenage years set in. On this, both experience and empirical study agree." (Emphasis mine.)
The last bit really capped it off. In my case, since I am still trying to figure my sexuality out, the issue of knowing whether I am gay, straight, or bisexual was clearly not "resolved before the teenage years set in"...or was it? I am not a Kinsey 6 guy who can honestly state he has never felt romantic--perhaps even sexual--attractions to a female. I have never claimed to be 100% gay, and have made mention of the fact several times. Furthermore, when I first began puberty, I didn't think of guys in a romantic sense at all, nor was I nervous around them--no sweaty palms or increased heart rate that I can recall. Still, this was more or less true with both genders--I was generally comfortable around boys and girls.
I remember the first time it even crossed my mind that I might be gay: I was in junior high (between about 13 and 15 years old--certainly not "before the teenage years [had] set in"), and had just left choir (oh, the irony!), making my way to the cafeteria. I arrived at the end of the lunch line in time to hear two guys--whom I had never hitherto met or known--whispering, "Frank Scarlet is gay" (except, of course, that they said my then actual name). They didn't know I was there, and when they realized I had heard them, they turned around and continued in line. I didn't think anything of it--I dismissed it in the same moment I heard it, much as I would have had they suggested I had wings or a third arm, and the 'accusation' didn't bother me at all.
Later, a couple months before turning sixteen years old, I was at Scout Camp talking to a guy whom I had been drawn to since moving into the ward several years earlier. We were talking around the campfire when all of the sudden, something clicked in my head and I realized, "I'm flirting with a guy." And I more or less was, in my own pitifully lame way. It's clear in hindsight that I had been attracted to him from the very start.
As I began to wonder if I were gay, I considered the sexual thoughts I'd had. Certainly they were heterosexual in nature--I really didn't know about gay sex, nor did I have any real concept as to what a physical union between two men might be like--but I remembered that in these thoughts--I hesitate to use the word "fantasies", but that's basically what we're talking about here--the male involved was usually not myself. In fact, I realized (or rationalized?), I tended to focus more on the male, who was usually one of the muscular young men that I was friends with or knew from school--boys, I later concluded, that I was attracted to (though I didn't realize it at the time).
That was my thought process. As for my previous crushes (or pseudo-crushes) on girls, I determined that though gay, I was not blind, and I had merely construed the girls I thought cute as objects of my affection. I told myself that I had not really had feelings for them, or if I had, it was the tiny bisexual part of myself, which was nothing compared to the gay part of myself.
Looking back, I'm not sure how valid this was. Was I simply making sense of reality, or was I bending and twisting reality to accomodate what I wanted? When I read the above quote in Virtually Normal, I thought that if I really am gay, then perhaps homosexual attractions would have manifested themselves long before I was 14, 15 or 16 years old. On the other hand, in hindsight I think there were several boys to whom I was attracted even though I did not realize it.
Is that even possible?
Or do you agree with Sullivan?
Some of you, I'm sure, will take issue with Sullivan's claim (which he claims "both experience and empirical study" back). In our community in particular, it is not uncommon to remain closeted--even to oneself--for several decades. But is there, perhaps, an awareness somewhere between complete obliviousness and full consciousness? And must someone attain at least this level of awareness--of having "the issue...largely resolved before the teenage years set in"--in order to truly be gay?
Or am I, as usual, grossly over-thinking this?..
Thanks in advance for anything you would like to offer. I look forward to reading any and all comments--please don't worry about being scorned or sounding bad. All ideas are welcome, and I hope that, like this blogging community at large, this blog is a place where you can feel safe sharing your thoughts. :)