Wednesday, April 2, 2014
"What Went Wrong?"
I remember feeling attracted to boys and spending time thinking about them in a sexual context for as long as I have been conscious of my existence. Some of these memories date back to age two or three. While the intensity of the attractions has ebbed and flowed over the years, it has always been there.
When I told my parents in my early twenties that I experienced same-gender attraction, they were compassionate and loving, but very sorrowful. They blamed themselves for various reasons; I adamantly denied that either of them had anything to do with it.
I think we have a tendency when we face a trial as daunting as same gender attraction to ask "what went wrong?" Looking back over the last thirty years or so, it is possible for me to identify a few possible culprits.
The Nonathletic Boy
That's one theory.
When I was young, I often found myself at the doctor's office due to a minor medical condition that affected me over the course of several years. As part of my visits, I was subjected to various examinations and tests, including physical examination of my body. I remember enjoying the sensation of being touched on my private parts by the doctor. At the age of five or six, I took an extended visit to a doctor in a neighboring state. I was anxious about the visit but secretly looked forward to being fondled by the doctor.
I have no reason to believe that I was touched inappropriately - even though I was young, my memory is relatively clear. Based on what I know now about ethics in medicine, I believe my doctors were competent and performed all examinations according to applicable standards. Also, one or both of my parents were usually in the room for the tests. Nevertheless, the sensations I experienced during these visits stuck with me and resulted in fantasies and dreams for years afterward. Did this later cause me to experience same-gender attraction as an adult?
The Overly Chaste RM
In junior high and into high school, I had crushes on the cute girls and did what I could to get close to them. I developed relationships with a few of these girls which were bordering on if not outright romantic. Though sex was far from my mind, I felt the desire to kiss them, cuddle them, and hold their hands, and in some cases I did. There were even two or three girls that might fall under the definition of "girlfriend." But I was a good Mormon boy preparing for a mission, and I knew that romance was distracting to a missionary, so I avoided letting any relationship become too serious.
By the end of my mission, I had lived 19 years with very little experience with romance or physical relationships with girls, and another two years with none whatsoever. My lack of experience led to lack of confidence, which might have increased the confusion I felt and led to strong, ingrained attractions to other men, especially in light of the time I had spent in close proximity to attractive guys.
The Indulgent Teenager
Yet another idea dates back to my high schools days when I was just beginning to recognize that the attractions I felt might be described as "gay." When I made that realization, I was afraid. So much of what it meant to be gay was repulsive to me. But after the initial shock sank in, I had a decade or so to mull it over and get used to the idea. By the time I was in my late 20s, almost nothing shocked me and I was actually quite attracted to almost all aspects of the gay lifestyle, even those aspects that had disgusted me before. So even if the initial spark of same-gender attraction came from nature, did I "nurture" these feelings through my thoughts and actions, effectively choosing to allow them to take hold within me through long-term exposure, rather than turning from the idea in the beginning and staying away from influences that might exacerbate my feelings?
All of these theories have some basis in reality, and it might be tempting to "blame" my homosexuality on these events or circumstances. However, I find that spending too much time analyzing the past is counterproductive. The fact is that I am standing here today having lived a significant portion of my life worrying about, dealing with, or accepting same-gender attraction as a reality. It has impacted every day of my life, sometimes causing pain and grief, others leading to peace and happiness.
What is important now is not only for me to learn from any mistakes I have made along the way, but to live my life today in such a way that the path I have taken to get here will have been worth the effort.
In my next post, I will focus on today and how I am striving to live the life that will bring me the greatest joy.