Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nature vs Nurture

What kind of self-respecting, gay, Mormon blogger waits this long to pontificate about the age-old question:  Why do I like penises despite having one of my own when I am supposed to be drawn to their counterparts?  Wow, that sounded really gay.  Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, I am that kind of gay.

Was I born this way? Maybe.  Did I make a conscious decision to be attracted to men?  Hell No.  Did I experience some things that well-meaning-but-oh-so-presumptuous mental health professionals might point a finger at? Yes.

I did some pretty "gay" extra-curricular activities growing up (not always of my own choosing), so that's probably why I am gay, right? :)

  • I was in a singing group called Kids Konnection, or something like that, at a young age.  The girls wore pink and the boys wore purple tie-died shirts with sparkly letters and I think there was a show choir aspect to it.  If that's not enough to make someone gay I don't know what is!  I sang a lot growing up and still love to sing to the radio.
  • I was fascinated by the piano, ended up taking lessons, really hated my first teacher (who made me cry on multiple occasions), eventually got a new teacher, did not practice very much, but continued to take lessons for years, and would love to compose my own music some day.
  • I played the gayest "real sport" that you can play in America: soccer.  I started at a pretty young age and my mom did not want me playing other sports.
I was involved in some early male-male sexualization.  I was 6 or 7 at the time when a neighbor boy (probably only a year or two older than me) introduced me to my genitals in new ways:
  • He taught me and a couple other boys how to stimulate ourselves and measure our erections.  He created a sort of competition:  You guessed it - who has the longest penis?
  • He later taught us to put our dangling participles in each others mouths as a way to derive pleasure.  We were not sexually mature but I remember the practice creating an urgency to urinate.
  • This all happened in our backyard, behind an old wooden gate that had been leaned against the block fence that surrounded our yard.  I know that at least two of the other boys involved have since had some uncommon sexual manifestations: one seeking early heterosexual encounters and one with homosexual orientation.
I reached puberty pretty early, and was fascinated by the male body from then on.
  • There was a guy in 6th grade that I really wanted to be close to.  We talked and were friendly and joked together from time to time.  But there was something different about him, something I wanted to have or to be.  He was athletic, handsome, and funny.
  • I am not sure how old I was when it started, but I remember keeping the cardboard inserts of the boy models from the new packages of underwear I got periodically.  I must have had some sense that this was not normal because I would hide them at the bottom of my drawer.  I really liked those perfect bodies - I wanted mine to look like that and I wanted to be close to boys like that.
  • In junior high school there was a guy in my gym class who had the most chiseled body I had ever seen.  Our lockers were at opposite corners of the aisle that was assigned to our class, but at least once per class I would try to catch a glimpse of his perfect body.  I envied it, wanted to touch it, I wished it was closer so I could get a better look.
  • My parents had a very rudimentary home medical book.  It had the most simplistic outline sketch of a male body that was so scandalously interesting to me that I would often take a peak telling myself that I was researching some symptoms that I had.
My family relations were not ideal.  Don't get me wrong.  I definitely had the things that I needed and for the most part we seemed like a functional family, but we were all affected in ways that have only become recognizable in recent years.
  • I had an overbearing mother (she definitely wore the pants in the family).  I am torn, looking back, as to whether I was emotionally close to her or not.  She had a temper.  She only seemed to point out the things we did wrong.  She also did a lot for me and cared for me and my siblings, but we all grew up in an atmosphere of guilt.  It seemed there was nothing I could do right and having fun was a necessary evil.  Somehow every day was cleaning day, yet the house was never clean and we were consequently rarely allowed to play.  When we did go on vacation or enjoy other types of entertainment we were constantly reminded about how expensive everything was, how late we were to the planned event, how we should be home saving our money, etc, etc, etc.  I love her, but she is a very difficult woman.  She definitely got her worst traits from her mother and is almost completely blind to how these traits affect others.
  • My dad was/is not a weak man, but I gather that he just kind of gave up after a few years of marriage.  My mom is great at manipulating everything in to be his fault.  He has told me in recent years that he regrets not standing up for us when my mom was being unreasonably harsh for very minor offenses.  He says that the following example illustrates a frequent theme in our home:  He was working out of town, I had loaded the dishwasher and included the can opener, my mom was irate that I had put it in there because doing so would cause it to rust, I called my dad sobbing, he tried to get the Relief Society President to just stop by, she did not understand what for and did not end up going, and life went on like always.  I would always say I felt closer to my dad because I was not afraid of being yelled at by him.  But I am not especially close to him either.  I feel this complete emotional neutrality when it comes to my relationship with him.  I found out that when I was like four I always wanted to hold his hand and do what he was doing, but he would push my hand away because he did not want me to grow up to be gay. . . go figure!  I have no conscious memory of this but the thought of it makes me ache inside.
I was going to write more but my mind is turning to mush.  I guess I did not do much analyzing.  But these are the types of things that shrinks like to find out about.  There are probably more that I am forgetting.  If I was not born this way it certainly developed at an early age.  I have no recollection of being attracted to a female, despite having many female friends.  In fact, as a boy scout I remember helping with a service project to clean up trash that had blown away from the local garbage dump.  I found a page from a porno magazine and it totally grossed me out.  I can recognize a beautiful woman, but that is a far cry from being attracted to her.


  1. I can relate to many aspects of your blog post, except I am a gay woman and you are a gay man. But, change the appropriate body parts or pronouns, and our stories are eerily similar.

    I used to spend agonizing hours wondering what had caused me to be gay: the sexual abuse, needing and wanting to be protected by someone, having emotionally distant parents, etc. etc. I finally came to the conclusion that, short of driving myself nuts in trying to answer this question, I was never going to REALLY know. So, why would I worry about it? (This after, like I said, COUNTLESS hours thinking about worrying about it.)

    My thought then became, "Doesn't matter why I am gay. I am. SO, now what? What am I going to do with it or about it?" THOSE became the earth-shattering questions and path for me.

    I enjoy your writing. You are a very thoughtful and smart young man. (In comparison to my being 198, you, in your mid 20's?, are a very YOUNG man. LOL) I was too naive at your age to have the myriads of things figured out that you do. I applaud you on your self knowledge.

    Happy night! Duck

    1. Duck,
      Thanks for your insights, continued readership, and kind words! You are right. It does not matter why. In the beginning I really needed something I could blame it on. For that reason, it was very useful for me to start examining things through the lens of Evergreen's reparative therapy workbook. It pointed out things that I could blame it on and gave me (false) hope that I could change it. The workbook kept me from completely falling apart in the beginning but required that I come out to myself twice - on two different levels. My first coming out to myself was acknowledgment of a disease called "SSA." It was not until after I got married that I saw that I was plain, ol' gay and that there is not anything I can do to change it.

  2. Your story, though uniquely yours, is not unique. We share multiple similarities in our early childhood development, as we probably do with most of this reading audience.

    This exercise is good to get it down, to think about it some, but like Duck said, to then move on with the "now what?" forward probing questions of where do you go from here.

    1. Yes I agree. And after reviewing the links that Anonymous left below, maybe those things have absolutely no bearing on the causality of my homosexuality.

  3. I never comment on these blogs, especially yours because my advice would probably be counter to what everyone in your life would have you do. And I'm sure that you will probably delete my comments which is fine but I do hope you read them. This post and the few preceeding posts have been kind of heartbreaking to read. You already know the majority of claims made by Evergreen are false and dangerous. Perhaps what is most dangerous is the "hope" they are selling that you can go back in some way and undo whatever wrong was done and make you un-gay. The stereotypes they use for the reasons we turn out gay are also complete bullshit. Millions upon millions of men have overbearing mothers and the only way that would make you gay is if you were already gay.

    My father is a very kind hearted and strong man, and he rough-housed with me and tickled me all the time growing up. He spent a lot of one on one time with me through childhood all the way until I left for college. He was also very tender with me, and still is, I believe because he had innate knowledge that I was different from my brother. When I was 15 I went into my parents bedroom and told them I was gay, the first thing my father did was to come over and pull me from the floor from where I was sitting into his arms to comfort me. Those are not the actions of a disconnected father...nor did the hugs and extra time with him ever come close to making me straight.

    In the end the "why" we are gay does not matter as much as accepting that we are gay. The Church and Evergreen would have us spend our whole mortal existence chasing the cause instead of living so we won't actually have to make decisions about our lives. Chasing the cause is nothing more than an institutionalized avoidance! It takes focus away from what is really important.

    Please listen to:



    One last thing, if you have not watched Angels in America I think you should watch that mini-series just for an example of the marriage relationship between the gay mormon charachter and his wife. The wife spends her days in depression and valium filled haze, because instinctively she knows something is wrong and can't face the truth. Once she realizes that being married to the gay guy is what is making her crazy, insecure, and depressed she begins to make choices to make herself happy. Staying in a marriage because you feel you have to do so will not work long term. Staying in a marriage where you are afraid to make choices will only waste time and in the long run it will not work. If you can't be there 100% for your wife then you are doing her more harm by staying than you will do by leaving.

    1. Anonymous, please do comment on my blog. I will admit that your comments might not have been received very well by me in the recent past, but at this point I am really interested in just figuring all of this out and welcome comments that make me see things differently.

      You are right - the "why" really does not matter at all. This post was more an exercise in me telling my story more than an attempt to figure out why I am gay. I listened to all of the second link and the fourth segment of the first link and was joined by my wife for part of it (which lead to a good discussion between us that I have just posted about) and found the info very interesting and compelling. I probably would have even watched Angels in America already if there was a convenient link to it. I have not yet figured out where to find it.

      Please read my most recent post and let me know if you think we are addressing the things that you seem to be pointing at in your response.

  4. Like the others, growing up it is not much different--we can exchange stories about over-bearing or absent-minded parents and they all end up pretty much in the same place: "doesn't matter how we got there--rather where we are". I also never bought in the entire evergreen mentality that if only I had genuine friendships where I did butch things with other males I could feel more comfortable with myself, it is what it is...

    I do believe it does help to understand that at least at the time I thought I was the only kid in the world who got excited watching other guys change in the locker room, or that I crushed on that one jock at school--it made a pretty lonely existence, but that's all over and done with, now I celebrate being different and enjoy the parts that once used to make me cringe at the risk of being found... This is a good thing, grow and move along in your journey.

    1. I don't think that I am at the point of celebrating being different, but thanks for your comments.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I had a different childhood and youth. I did not come to the realization I was gay until counseling after my divorce. Even then, it has only been recently that I understood the impact that being gay without realizing it had on my marriage. As much as I loved my ex-wife, I could never fully emotionally connect with her. She did not realize I was gay, either. When I came out to her a few months ago, she was deeply appreciative because now she, too, could understand why we could not make our marriage work in spite of her love for me.

    It is more than a love for a penis. It is the emotional connection. At least those are my thoughts.

    If you have time, here are a few of my posts that elaborate on the above items:

    Did God Make Me Gay? http://www.deanscottwritingandphotography.com/did-god-make-me-gay/

    My Coming Out Story... http://www.deanscottwritingandphotography.com/my-coming-out-story-as-of-july-16-2012/

    The Story Behind My Guest Post on "Doves and Serpants"

    Best wishes, Dean

    1. Thanks for the links. I enjoyed reading from your blog! I know it is more than than a love for penises :) That was my weak attempt at a writing device - whatever the opposite of hyperbole is. I think I do have some trouble fully emotionally connecting with my wife as well. Not sure what to do about it. I am trying to hold on to my faith in the church but it has been very difficult in recent years.