#sexual orientation
15 August 2018

I try to be honest with myself but I really wonder whether I could have repressed my homosexuality...

Elizabeth Parenteau

Hello and thank you for giving people like me a chance to ask questions and share their inner thoughts with you.
I’m a 38 year old man. I had strong attraction for boys when I was a teen, never really romantically but I fantasized about other boys a lot when I was between 13 and 16. I had a handful of sexual experiences like mutual masturbation with kids my age and liked it.
Gradually, I also fantasized about girls more and more but I don’t know whether that was 100% natural or partly forced as I didn’t want to be different. but clearly there was some sexual attraction there. between 16 and 18 I fantasized about both boys and girls.
When I was 18 I started feeling anxious about the possibility of being gay and while I recognized that I had some attraction to guys I thought that it wouldn’t be a great option and that I didn’t want to be gay if I could avoid it. I never really wanted to be in a relationship with another guy. I idealized being in a relationship with a girl but found it hard to really care that much about my successive girlfriends.
Things changed when I fell in love with a girl, I was obsessed with her, massively attracted to her, the anxiety eased and I felt I could stand reassured about being attracted to girls for real. By then I didn’t fantasize about other guys anymore but questions and anxiety remained.
After her there were many short terms girl friends and I gradually gained in confidence sexually.
To this day I almost never fantasize about guys, on the street or on the beach my eyes are always caught by women, I have fallen in love twice and had long term relationship where sex has been great, when I”ve had too much to drink I become flirty with women never with guys.
Still every now and again the questions and the anxiety come back. I find myself visiting your website and reading stories of married men coming out in their 30’s or 40’s. I ask myself if I’m not repressed or dissociated, I try and force myself to look at guys and even watch gay porn. Each period of anxiety I tell myself it’s ok if I’m gay I should let myself be and not keep on asking myself the same questions again and again. But then as I feel attracted by women and fantasize almost exclusively about women, the anxiety goes and I get on with my life until it comes back again often when I feel a bit down, a bit weak or triggered by a film or a book on the subject. I try to be honest with myself but I really wonder whether I could have repressed my homosexuality and not have access to some thoughts/fantasies. Would they come back as a boomerang some day? for that reason I’m not sure about committing to having children with my current partner even if it is something I’d love in theory but I don’t want to then realize I’ve been in the closet to myself all this time and ruin her life.
How do we know whether repression is involved here?
Sorry for the essay long question

Hi Bob,

Thank you for taking the time to write to AlterHeros. If I understand correctly, you are asking yourself a few questions regarding your sexual orientation. The situation is confusing and a source of anxiety for you.

In your message, you bring up a few different situations during which you were comfortable and attracted to both men and women. As much as I would like to help you figure out your sexual orientation and if you’ve been repressing it, it’s also important to position yourself on how you feel about these interactions with both men and women. You can find men attractive and friendly without wanting to pursue something more than the attraction and the same thing with women. It’s completely normal to be attracted to people from the same gender and both genders. Would you be confortable to identify yourself as gay or as bisexual? Would bisexual (romantic or sexual attraction to people of any gender identity) reflect better your orientation? On top of desire, orientation is also based on feelings and conduct. You don’t have to identity yourself to one category or another. The most important is that you are comfortable with your own thoughts and actions. Are you attracted to any other characteristics in people, other physical traits, humour or intelligence? Do you think you could try to focus on other attractions that you might have? Maybe you can try to focus on these characteristics instead and see if you are getting more comfortable with those thoughts. Knowing where your own limits is also super important and I think it’s important to respect it. Your orientation might eventually chance and evolve and that is okay, as long as you are comfortable with your decisions and your choices. You seem to know how you position yourself on how you feel about the interactions you are having with the women and men in your entourage. Everybody has their own rhythm when it comes to orientation and relationships and you shouldn’t feel rushed or pressured to do something you are not comfortable with at the moment. You might realize that you don’t want to be sexual with anyone and that would be okay also. Just like gender, your orientation doesn’t have to fit in a specific box. You can make it your own. You seem to be quite honest with yourself and aware of how you feel. You are asking yourself the right questions and only you can really determine if repression is involved.

Would you be able to talk about it with someone close to you? You could contact your local and national LGBT organizations such as the LGBT National Help Center (https://www.glbthotline.org/) and they could get you in contact with people that could help you explore your thoughts more deeply. You can also communicate on our forums with the members, and it would be a pleasure for them to support and guide you. I hope this short answer will help you a bit.

We thank you for your trust and please don’t hesitate to send us a message if you feel the need to!

Elizabeth, for AlterHéros