Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've spent the majority of my life fighting the notion that I am gay. I've spent my entire life living within the heterosexual community, and the majority of that as a married man, sporting the facade of being a heterosexual.

When I finally accepted myself for who I have always been, I started to take upon me the concept that I am a homosexual, a gay man. Though I have used those terms to describe myself in the last five years, even then, it has been a battle and a slow process to truly come to the realization that I am gay - in the sense that I am attracted physically, emotionally, romantically, and sexually almost exclusively to men - and that this has always been who I have been.

One of the first exercises I did when "coming out" to myself was writing my SSA / SGA life history, stitching together scenes, events, thoughts, emotions, occasions where there was no doubt as to where my attractions focused. It was very revealing and healing to do so. I recommend that exercise to anyone who may read this.

I had a gay friend instruct me to stand in front of a mirror and look at my reflection and say "I am a gay man!" That was very hard to do, but it got easier as time went on and took upon me this "identity".

Now, I find myself five years later going to therapy and as I'm accounting certain recent events and struggles, I happen to naturally describe myself to my therapist as a "gay man" and he abruptly corrects me and pronounces that I am a "bisexual man". This perplexed me and even put me off. It was as if my entire identity was wrong and I had to do another mental exercise to shift to the "bisexual" label. I confronted him on this and he led me on a discussion of where most of us are really bisexual and very few are exclusively heterosexual or homosexual.

But, I'm now struggling with this concept of "bisexuality". I don't know whether I feel I have earned the reward of being a "gay man" and now someone of authority is telling me it isn't true, or whether I'm not "worthy" to be a gay man because I have not had a sexual relationship with another man, or because I have been able to stay "happily and faithfully" married to a woman for 28 years. Either way, as funny as it sounds, particularly with years of denial and avoidance of the very subject, and refusing to even entertain the thought of seeing myself as a "gay man", I feel betrayed, hurt, unwanted, undefined, and lost.

I feel lost.

This bisexual thing sounds so iffy, so uncertain, so undefined. If almost everyone is mostly bisexual, I guess I should look at myself as being quite normal. And, one could look upon this, I assume, as being a blessing to "go either way".

But I don't "go either way". I have never been attracted to another woman but my wife. And as difficult as it is to admit it, our relationship takes a sincere amount of work, and the intimacy elements are often extremely difficult and never spontaneous. It doesn't come naturally, and has been a huge source of pain for my wife, even to wonder out loud numerous times why I even married her in the first place. Upon which I answer that I was and am attracted to her in many, many ways, but sexually being attracted to her has been difficult at best.

So, am I really bisexual? Should I worry so much about these labels? Why am I somewhat offended that my therapist corrects me and strips me of my hard earned, life-long struggled and acclaimed self-proclaimed identity as a "gay man"? Where do I belong? Where is home? Who is like me?

If I have one woman who I am attracted to does that make me bisexual? To really be a gay man, one must be exclusively attracted to men? And even one drop of attraction for one woman disqualifies one of being gay?

I am not attracted to women. I do not often even notice women in movies, in media, in real life walking down the street, particularly when a good looking man is in view. I love women, don't get me wrong... I hug and adore the widows in the ward, I am friendly and open to women at work, in the community and as neighbors... but attractions just aren't there... never have been, and at this point after five decades, I think it is safe that in this life they never will be. I am romantically involved with my wife. I have never desired a romance with another woman. I have, however, desired, sought and found bromances all through my life.

I don't see myself "going either way"... this sounds foreign and not a "good fit" for me.

Haven't I earned my merit badge yet? What else do I have to do? Do I have to go sleep around to find out for sure? Why do I now WANT to be considered by others as a "gay man"? It's like my whole life is continuing to be a lie... I mean, why is this bothering me so much?

Any thoughts?

I know the answer should be to just live my life and not worry about such things, but why does this bother me?


Philip said...

I am one woman short of being gay.

I love my wife but I very rarely am physically attracted to her or any other woman.

So, like you, I am almost exclusively gay.

Your therapist woud be right to say I am bisexual but I would not feel comfortable identitying that way because I am primarily gay and only slightly heterosexual.

I feel sexuality is complex and labels like gay or bi are shorthand anyway but, for the vast majority of the time, gay is what closest matches what I am.

Now tomorrow if I started being attracted to women on a regular basis then I would have to reconsider but until that day happens I am gay.

So I would tell your therapist...

I am not confused about my sexuality. Technically I am bisexual but I feel more comfortable identifying as gay because technically I am primarily, almost exclusively gay.

I am one woman short of being gay.


Hidden said...


Thanks for this. I'm kind of going through the same thing, but in an opposite way. I've come out, accepted myself as gay, been okay with that, gotten my friends okay with that... and now I'm dating a woman. Thinking about marrying her actually, but that's a secret and something that I'm taking very, very, very slowly. Not going to rush into this by any stretch of the word.

And so, I'm now faced with redefining myself from gay to liking a woman, and the heterosexual (appearance and otherwise) repercussions of said decision. See why I stopped blogging? :P

Philip said...


This is a touchy topic for me...

In my opinion,

It's not a therapist's job to tell you how to think or feel.

It's a therapist job to help you sort through your feelings so you can arrive at your own conclusions.

It is your identity and you, not your therapist, should get to decide what you are comfortable with and how you wish to identify.

I have learned the hard way that when it comes to important life decisions, like how to sexually identify, a person should trust their gut over logic even over what the experts have to say because logic can be incomplete, experts can be wrong but your gut always tells you what is right for you.

Leastwise, that is how it is with me.

If you don't feel comfortable identifying as bisexual because you are only incidentally heterosexual, only technically bisexual and primarily, almost exclusively, gay then your therapist should respect that.

If he or she can't respect that then I would seriously consider finding another therapist that is more nuanced and wants to help you arrive at your own answers instead of steering you toward certain answers.


Kengo Biddles said...

I would say that I'm slightly gayer than bisexual, but the important thing, rather than classing myself by a category is just accepting me for me.

I firmly believe sexuality is a lot more fluid than people are willing to allow for. Yes, in our four cases, we prefer the thought of men to women, but we've all fallen for a woman and have made (or are making) strides toward making that our life choice.

Just love you for you, Beck.

Sean said...

You are who you are and that's all that matters. You don't need definitions to define who you really are. Sure, it makes it a lot simpler to put yourself in a nice tightly defined box, but life isn't that simple. There are plenty of gray areas in the world; this just being another case of the gray area.

My counselor told me that attractions are always changing developing. You might be attracted more to a man at one time, and then find him repulsive at another time. Then in the "bisexual" situation, you might be more attracted to a man at one time, and then more attracted to a woman at another time. It is exactly how crushes work. Am I right?

My advice is don't worry about definitions and be who you are because definitions do not define you. Only you can define yourself.

Philip said...

Abe and Beck,

I responded to your question in "Touch Celibacy". I hope you are not disappointed.


MoHoHawaii said...

Here's the nice thing about therapy. You get to push back.

If I were you, I'd go to my next session and say something like, "I've thought about the label that you use for me, bisexual, and reject it. When I look inside myself deeply I realize that my sexual and romantic leanings are 100% toward men. I have absolutely no interest in women other than as friends."

If he challenges you, push back harder. The resulting "argument" will be very productive.

It's okay to insist and even argue. It won't threaten the relationship with your therapist. I would not view him as an authority figure. Imagine instead that he's a facet of you, a part of yourself that is both analytical and loving. A diary that can talk back.

P.S. My own opinion of you is that you are gay as a gazelle. I think calling you bisexual is a gross distortion. If you are just speaking of sexual history, we'd call you heterosexual, not bisexual. (And that's absurd, too.)

MoHoHawaii said...

One more comment-- the acid test is what you think about when you masturbate. Without being indelicate, my guess is that your masturbatory fantasies are not co-ed.


Beck said...

PHILIP said: "I am one woman short of being gay".

When I read this, it reminded me of my friend who says of someone not quite all there: "He's one taco short of a combo plate..." :)

I like your definition. It fits me well... I am one wonderful woman short of being gay!

HIDDEN: It's wonderful to meet and be attracted to "one woman". I'm excited for you. If I were to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I'd be as open as possible with her about my sexuality, but if that attraction and interest and excitement were still there, I would still go forward.

My situation was such that I didn't know (or even accept) that I could be gay and so, as best as I could, I told her about my non-sexual relationships with guys and their importance to me, and she accepted them, and accepted that who I was was part of what she found endearing - and so we went forward.

Best of luck with the reverse identity path you're on.

Beck said...

PHILIP: Regarding my therapist, I am thinking of pushing back a bit, but also demanding his response to where I stand. He seems to be very caring and accommodating of my feelings, but I don't need someone just to listen to me. I need someone to push me and move me along to thinking differently and challenging me.

This bisexual comment wasn't challenging me, as much as it as a "statement of fact" and I didn't challenge it. It's bothered me moreso since my last visit than during that visit.

I think my therapist and I are coming to a cross-roads. I need to make some progress or else why am I dishing out the dough. I want him to define me so that I can respond and challenge back. I don't want him to just be a yes-man, who simply says "uh huh... and how does that make you feel?"

Beck said...

KENGO: I accept that I am me. And I know that is the important thing here - but somehow I need some kind of official validation or professional confirmation, and his declaration of bisexuality doesn't feel right and I'm struggling with why this continues to bother me. Why is it not good enough for me to just be me? Why do I need validation and confirmation?

SEAN: I have always been attracted to guys - that's why I always have a crush going on. I know these things can be fluid, but seeing myself through the years, I don't see the fluidity that bisexuality implies... and so I reject it. I want to just be me but I feel the need to be clinically defined in a way that allows me to be me. I wish I didn't have to worry about definitions - but I've been fuzzy for so long (living heterosexually while desiring emotional / romantic male relationships) that it would be nice to just once be able to fit in a box. Do you know what I mean?

MOHOH: Thanks for the inspiration to "push back". I don't challenge him and he doesn't challenge me much and he just listens. I need him to voice his opinion about me and let me challenge it.

As for being "gay as a gazelle", this makes me laugh! Thanks for that. Somehow this is the most reassuring comment I've ever heard expressed about me! :)

As for my masturbatory history of fantasies, it has been exclusively homosexual-based... I guess that puts an end to this subject!

Sean said...

Beck, I can see that. Personally, I hate boxes and definitions. I love to create my own definitions. :) Anyways, good luck on figuring things out and just remember that you are you an that's all that matters!

Beck said...

SEAN: I want to be me. It's just that I've spent my whole life trying to fit into what others want me to be (my therapist says that I'm a "pleaser"), mainly living the "perfect" heterosexual married active-Mormon man life, and now I admit that I don't fit there, so I try to accept this gay-identity of my attractions and "fit in" here, and then to be told I'm neither makes me feel empty, even unwanted or unaccepted.

I should say "to hell with everyone" and scream "I'M JUST ME!!!" and to a certain extent, I'm at that point, and your encouragement is gratefully appreciated and accepted.

I just want to be me, but be accepted as me as well.


Philip said...


I concur with Beck about being forthcoming about your sexuality with the woman in your life.

I am dying to give some advice so please humor me...

Couples can use the same words to mean very different things.

For instance, the word "love".

For years, my wife and I said "I love you" but meant very different things.

I meant she was my very best friend and I would do everything for her.

She meant if I was trapped in a burning building that she would risk her life to save mine.

Each of us thought the other felt exactly the same but we didn't.

Had we gone into specifics then we would have known that.

The devil is in the details.

I want to say something else...

The biggest surprise for me in my marriage was not that I was gay but that I loved but was not "in love" with my wife.

I thought I was in love with her even though there were signs all around me to the contrary.

And I am not alone in making this mistake.

I have met several gay married men that did not find out they were not in love with their wives until they fell in love with another man.

If you know the difference between love and being in love then you are way ahead of the game.

But if you don't know the difference then you have never been in love because being in love is not like anything else in the world.


MoHoHawaii said...

I need him to voice his opinion about me and let me challenge it.

I think the key here is that you should engage your therapist. Confront him, challenge him, question him. He should be very capable of engaging you.

The key is to argue for your *emotional* truths, not ideology. He should be prepared for this and able to help you work through your tangle of conflicting feelings.

You get to call him on his bullshit, and he should return the favor. You could say "I think saying everyone is bisexual is simply a convenient evasion of the issue. I feel angry when you use this label for me, especially after I've tried to be clear about my orientation."

I hope I'm not giving you bad advice (I don't know what the dynamic is between you and your therapist). I'd encourage you in general to dig in and talk about things that truly scare you and in the process *don't* spare his feelings or yours. There's nothing more useless than therapy that remains "polite." I think it's perfectly okay for you to challenge him for answers. He won't have them, but the discussion can become very focused on clarifying the options so that you can make changes that make sense. At first therapy is about understanding. Then it becomes about change.

(I'd be happy to talk to you by phone if you'd like.)

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm kinda late to the discussion here; but, I thought I'd add my own $0.02 :)

First off, I will admit that I don't really understand bisexuality. I understand that sexual orientation is a continuum and that there are people who have nearly equal homosexual and heterosexual attractions. What I don't understand is why a truly bisexual man would choose to be with a man instead of a woman given that there is so much social stigma against same sex relationships. It just seems that it would be so much easier for a truly bisexual man to suppress his homosexual attractions and live a happy heterosexual life.

But, I guess it depends on how you define bisexuality. I tend to go with a very narrow definition (i.e. a 3 on the Kinsey scale). But others may go with a more broad definition (i.e. 2, 3, or 4 on the Kinsey scale.

Given that your therapist said that most people are bisexual suggests that he has a very broad definition (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 on the Kinsey scale. A question that might be interesting to ask him is: Does he identify as bisexual or heterosexual? It just seems that he may have an inconsistent standard. For example, using the Kinsey scale, does he equate

0, 1 or 2 as heterosexual
3, 4, or 5 as bisexual
6 as homosexual

In any case, how we identify our sexual orientation is a very personal decision - and it's foolish for someone to try to define you other than how you identify yourself. Seriously, why would a heterosexually married man identify himself as gay if he weren't truly gay? We do not come to these decisions lightly.

Ned said...

Abe, you said: "What I don't understand is why a truly bisexual man would choose to be with a man instead of a woman given that there is so much social stigma against same sex relationships."

Interesting that you mention that. I consider myself to be bisexual and I did choose to marry a woman and live a happy heterosexual life, and I made that decision partly because of the social stigma and my own homophobia.

Like many others, I thought that once my sexual needs were being met by my wife, my homosexual desires would diminish. This was somewhat true in the early years of my marriage. What was also true is that my homosexual desires never entirely subsided, and as I hit my thirties and forties they increased.

For the last decade or so, I've usually been 4-5 on the Kinsey scale. I've been as low as 2, but that was decades ago. I have never considered myself exclusively gay or exclusively straight. (Is it any wonder then that my favorite times of day are dawn and dusk and that my favorite seasons are spring and fall?)

I do agree with you that how we define ourselves is a personal decision. Someone else with my exact level of desires might just round the numbers up to 6. Others might say, "Well I experience desire for my own sex, but because I am exclusively heterosexual in my behavior, I identify as straight." Seems to me both views are understandable given differing personalities and attitudes.

Beck, you haven't weighed in on this discussion lately. What's your opinion? Are you at least somewhat bisexual in the sense that you are heterosexualy married? Or for you is sexual identity more a function of desires rather than who you've chosen to sleep with for the last few decades? Or is it yet something else? Do you like the way I've adopted your style of asking multiple questions? I think it's kind of amusing, but what do you say?

Beck said...

My follow up response:

1. My therapist is gay. I think he knows what a homosexual is. I just think he's too clinical in his definition.

2. My therapist is trying to help me meet my goals of staying IN my marriage, while embracing my attractions and their needs. By calling me "bisexual" may try to provide a statement of fact that my goals are realistic and can be done.

3. I personally believe that I am "one woman short of being gay". My attractions, fantasies, desires, erotic dreams, etc. are ALL male oriented and NEVER female oriented - EVER! In this sense, I am completely 100% a 6 on that Kinsey scale.

4. I have only had heterosexual sex, so in practice, I am 100% sexually heterosexual. It is difficult to be sexually active - it takes work, and a lot of focus and "help" to get it done - but I can eventually get it done.

Thus, I consider myself gay in my attractions, erotic desires and fantasies. I consider myself bisexual in my sexual activities, particularly since I'm married to a woman.

So, in the end, I believe I am as Philip is: "one woman short of being gay".

Bravone said...

Sorry to laugh, but getting caught up in labels is just something that I refuse to do.

I do like Philip's 'one woman short of being gay' idea.

I am much more attracted to men than women - by far, but I am not blind. Sometimes when I see a hot female body, I say to myself, "Damn, that's sweet!" Of course I don't swear much.

I yam who I yam and that's all I yam.

Beck said...

BRAVONE: I'm not blind either and can certainly see and appreciate a beautiful woman as much as a beautiful man... but the lingering thoughts and fantasies never seem to linger with hot women as they do with hot men.

Labels are great to ignore and I'd like to think that I defy any label, but I don't. I still want to fit in somewhere, be part of something, be accepted. Even in church labels, I was the "good boy", the "good scout", the "morally clean teen".

What this post was trying to say was how hard it was to move from those labels of my adolescence and adulthood identity and accept myself as being "gay" and then being told that I was not... it bothered me.

I am fine, really. I am fine with who I am and I know that I defy labels and I'm moving toward caring less of what others think and not worry so much about where I "fit"... at least I hope that's where I'm heading...

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm not blind either and can certainly see and appreciate a beautiful woman as much as a beautiful man

I think there is a difference between recognizing beauty and being attracted to beauty.

For me, women are like flowers - they're pretty and they smell nice. But, gazing upon a beautiful woman does not create the same emotional response that gazing upon a beautiful man does. I recognize the beauty of the woman - I'm attracted to the beauty of the man.