So, I’m gay.

During my 12 year marriage, my wife often tried to get me to admit I was gay.  I could not understand what she was picking up on, but I denied it every time–to her and to myself.  I still struggle with the label, but it’s hard not to logically conclude that I am gay when I compare my thoughts and experiences with other who have concluded they are as well.

One common sign is that of being awkward or unmanly.  I was, and still am, terrible at sports.  I can’t understand why people follow teams or can stand watching games on television.  I have no competitive streak.  Winning over others makes me feel conflicted.  Part of me rejoices because it’s so rare, but most of me feels guilty over not letting others experience success.  I was a sensitive child.  My favorite toys were stuffed animals and one of my favorite past times was cooking with my mother.

Another is, guy crushes while growing up.  My first crushes were when I was around five years old. Those crushes were innocent, of course, but from those days to this, blond haired boys still turn my head.  Into my teens, I felt a different kind of attraction.  I had various crushes on guys in school and at church.  Some of these came with very explicit, embarrassing dreams.

Gay guys say they had no interest in dating.  I never had a girlfriend until I met my wife and I was 30 when we married–she was 10 years younger.  I’ve only kissed two other girls.  In both cases, it felt like I was doing it just to do it.

Finally, same-sex attractions are persistentThroughout decades of life and years of marriage, my homosexual inclinations have not lessened.  If I see an attractive guy and attractive girl walking together, my eyes are automatically drawn to the guy. Embarrassingly, this is also true of any pornography I’ve seen.  I do find women attractive, but what draws me to them is mainly their eyes and their faces.  It’s rare that I see a woman’s body and think, “Wow!”  When I see an attractive male body, though, my whole torso feels like it’s burning.

Where did this come from?  I have no idea.  It hasn’t ever been fun, but I’m old enough now to call a spade a spade.

Church made me gay. 

I’m attracted to attractive girls. I can get lost in a pretty face.  To be honest, though, I’m more attracted to guys, especially in a more physical or sexual way.  I don’t think I was born this way, however.  I consider it a mental accident that happened when I was young.  Ironically, a lot of that accident is because of religion.

As a kid, I encountered pornography that included both men and women.  I think my attention gravitated a bit more to the men, which shouldn’t be a surprise.  After all, their bodies were like mine, so I could relate to what they were feeling. The problem is, I had already learned in my pre-teen social life that being gay was really, really bad.  The sheer fear of being labeled gay was enough to make me nervous about my sexuality.

I joined my church when I was 15 and what I learned there was enough to majorly inflame those nascent fears.  First of all, I took church very seriously.  I knew the gospel better than most of the boys that had grown up in the church.  I was determined to live the teachings, including the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity.  Because of this, I believe I suppressed my natural sexual instincts.  For example, I was extremely careful to avoid social situations that might involve alcohol or seriously dating any girls because I feared where it might lead.  I also felt I was doing a good job of keeping my thoughts and intentions pure by avoiding any fantasizing about girls. In fact, when I heard some of the guys in my congregation bragging about their make-out sessions, I was aghast that they would consider that was OK, let alone fun.

Secondly, I highly valued my new social group at church and desperately wanted to fit in.  The fear of being rejected made me begin to obsess over my fear of being gay.  In a way, those fears gave life to something that originally was no more than a notion and made it easy to see any hint of non-heterosexual interest as possible evidence that something was wrong with me.

Teachings from church leaders made this even worse.  For example, a church president, Spencer W. Kimball, wrote in a popular book that masturbation caused homosexuality.  It became clear to my shame-filled mind that I had caused myself to become gay.  The fact that I had been unsuccessful at stopping and that divine help did not come was proof to me that his words were true.  When I started to have sexual dreams about guy friends, I knew that I had brought a curse down upon myself and I had to live with that.

Now that I’m older, I better understand the connections. I realize that my gayness was something I manufactured out of my fears.  I think if I had not joined the church, being gay would never have occurred to me.

My neural pathways are fixed now. I don’t expect my attraction to men will ever go away. They are a remnant from my past–like weeds that I can’t get out of my garden.  If I do my best to ignore them, God will eventually take care of those—in the next life if not before.

I’m not gay.

I’ve always been nervous that someone might brand me as “gay”.  Yes, I have experienced attraction to guys for as long as I can remember, but that’s not who I am.  It’s just something that happens to me.  Even then, because SSA happens in my head, it’s only as real as I make it.  As Forest Gump might have said, “Gay is as gay does.”

And I don’t “do” gay.  I don’t look or act gay in any of the stereotypical ways.  In my life, I have found various women attractive on multiple levels: physically, socially, spiritually, and other ways.  I even got married and have four wonderful children. Although I am no longer married, I can say that having a wife made me feel complete.

It’s true that I didn’t do any serious dating in high school or college.  That’s mainly because I’m inherently self-conscious and my parents never set a good example of a loving, supportive male-female relationship.  I didn’t really know what I was missing or how to act, so I avoided relationships.

I finally broke through those barriers and got married when I was 30.  That might be late for Utah where I live now, but where I grew up, getting married at 30 was rather unremarkable.

Unfortunately, my marriage ended after 12 years.  My wife tried to get me to admit I was gay many times, but the truth is that I just didn’t know how to be a great husband.  It’s not that I did anything particularly wrong, but she didn’t feel valued.  When she left, she said, “You don’t love me.”  I protested and insisted that I did love her.  Looking back now, I realize we were just too different.  If I had more dating experience before hand, I probably would have realized that from the very beginning.