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Behaviour when you were in the closet/in denial

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Pole star, Feb 14, 2018 at 11:47 PM.

  1. Pole star

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    Over the past few weeks, reading some of the posts here on EC made me analyse my own behaviour when I had not accepted my sexuality. It is only now that I am beginning to even comprehend what I did. I used to be wary of someone who was stereotypically gay (possible homophobia) although I have never ever passed any homophobic remarks.
    Once when we were discussing our marriage plans at the work place, one of my female co-workers asked me 'who is the lucky man'? it should have opened the doors right away but instead I was angry with her and began to ignore her and ultimately cut off all contact with her. It was very unsettling. I also distanced myself from her friends. Looking back I can't understand this extreme reaction from me.
    I guess I am somewhat numb emotionally and I wonder if this is also a defense mechanism to the relentless bullying I experienced as an adolescent. Even now I don't feel any joy in my achievements and just feel I can't celebrate any sort of achievement. I reason that if I enjoy it will be followed by grief.
    I was interested what the experiences of others are regarding their behaviour when they had not yet accepted their sexuality.
    Do any of you remember something that you used to do to hide your sexuality?
    Or you may have acted in some way to conceal your same sex attraction?
     
    #1 Pole star, Feb 14, 2018 at 11:47 PM
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018 at 11:50 PM
  2. I'm gay

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    There are literally thousands of things I did to hide my sexuality.

    I fought to neutralize my voice and prevent it from going high pitched when excited.
    I paid attention to my hands to keep them from being too expressive.
    I was very careful to avoid staring at men I found attractive.
    I tried to learn about sports so I could talk the talk with the manly men.
    I participated in stupid locker-room talk about women. (I still can't believe I did that.)
    Early on in my marriage I over-compensated sexually with my wife - I guess to convince myself I was really straight.
    I avoided all things gay. I refused to watch shows with gay themes, gay-centered movies, and anyone I thought was gay.

    Those are just a few of the things I did off the top of my head. I could probably name more if I thought about it more. The basics is that I simply shut off any connection to the gay community and worked hard to "be straight."
     
  3. Toromova

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    I’ve done a lot of things the opposite. I’ve taken the approach that “I’m secure in my heterosexuality” so I can watch Will and Grace, my wife an I could go to a gay club because I liked the music, I can admit when a guy is good looking, and all kinds of things like that because “only guys who worry they may have something to hide get self conscious about those things”. I’ve played it off that I was “flattered but uninterested” if a gay guy hit on me. I always acted like it was no big deal any time we had any kind of gay subjects come up in any situation because “I had nothing to worry about”. I think it works with most people & my libertarian streak of “live and let live” has convinced many people that I have no fear of but no real interest in things that are gay.

    Over the years, I still haven’t come out to my wife, I don’t know how well it’s worked on her. She’s known I was bi but doesn’t know I lean so much more gay now (to the point I need to come out to her). I wonder how many of these times have not fooled her. I’ve always been careful not to immerse myself too deeply into any gay matter. So as not to arouse too much suspicion, but she knows me better than anyone. Sometimes I have to wonder if my ambivalence to being bothered by gay matters has outed me to her? Is she just waiting for the day when I come out?
     
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  4. Totesgaybrah

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    I used to spend all my time and money on cars and trucks, which is a great excuse for always being single.

    I also did pretty much everything that “I’m Gay” did, plus more.

    Looking back it feels like someone else’s life that I can’t relate to at this point. It’s weird.
     
  5. OnTheHighway

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    Sounds like you both have built an emotional wall to hide behind (which has yet to come down) and your dealing with Internalized Homophobia (and shame). Both are very common for those working their way out of the closet, and both can be worked through on your journey towards self actualization.
     
  6. smee

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    (Unfair - this should be an anonymous post! :slight_smile: )
    Back when transgender issues weren't nearly so known or defined, I drove home from work one morning and sat, crying and paralyzed by fear of being outed, as the public radio DJ played this song (which doesn't even accurately apply to me!)

    On a sadder note, one of the last things that my mom told me was, "(smee), find a woman. Love her and marry her ...or perhaps, you might find a man that you love...", to which I snapped at her and insisted that I was straight. You win, Mom. I'm not sure if there's a coherent, functional orientation in this mind of mine, but whatever is there, straight isn't the word for it.
     
  7. Pole star

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    Thanks for the replies. Reading through the posts, it is all coming back to me.
    Have done that!
    Feel bad about the way you felt. Good it is all in the past now.
    I used to be very conscious of the way I walk, talk and appeared. It was plain torture. There were guys I liked to be around and would rationalise it as just being friendly(!) or admiration. I even held hands with one as we were walking! I saw him last year (after nearly 15 years) and was so embarassed. He is now married with kids. Later on if a guy showed some interest in me I would be very insecure and distance myself from him.
     
  8. Pole star

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    I guess a lot of us used to over-compensate.
    I came across this:
    According to the 2012 study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there are higher levels of homophobia in those who have unacknowledged feelings of attraction towards the same sex.
    These levels were exacerbated when the parents of the individuals also held homophobic attitudes.
    Lead author of the study, Netta Weinstein, wrote:
    ''Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves''.
    According to co-author Richard Ryan: "In many cases these are people who are at war, with themselves, and they are turning this internal conflict outward."
    ''Those people who have such discrepancies, who have really a split between their unconscious attraction and what they consciously say about themselves, are more likely to come from authoritarian homes.
    If you are a parent who really believes your child should be straight, and when you use whatever means you can to convince them them that they’re only good and worthy if they are, that would be very controlling and it creates a lot of conflict in the child.''

    Some parts of this do apply to me. But I didn't come from an authoritarian home. My parents were very loving and gave me freedom to make my choices. But in the social environment I grew up in there was no sexual identity other than heterosexual. Everything else was an abnormality. It is now that I understand the internal conflict I went through. In the years before I accepted myself, I was constantly stressed, anxious, unhappy, short tempered and would easily get angry. I put it down to everything else going wrong in my life and not on the failure to accept myself. So different now. Like a different person.
     
  9. PatrickUK

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    Avoidance was the thing I remember most of all. If the subject of girls/women, dating or sex came up, I would leave the room, make my excuses or attempt to steer away from the subject altogether. Even if a conversation seemed to be moving in a uncomfortable direction, I would get out or try to head it off. For a long time, I thought this was perfectly okay because it stopped me from doing a worse thing... telling a bare faced lie. It's only when I accepted that I was living a huge lie every single day, that things began to change. Avoidance stopped me from cultivating real friendships and relationships with so many people and I still regret that.

    It's only when I came out that people told me how obvious the avoidance was and that they'd put 2+2 together because of it. One of my good friends at work described it as agony to see me go through it. She noticed how I'd quickly grab the coffee mug and go to make a drink, or place an urgent phone call, or take a toilet break etc. Bad, bad times!
     
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  10. Pole star

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    I am glad you brought this issue of avoidance. It really hampered my ability to get close to people for fear that they would say something I am not prepared to hear or would be hurt. So I would appear unfriendly and avoid them.
     
  11. Jackie Ray

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    I didn't have much of a personality when I was in the closet. I guess I was agreeable enough, but I was like a robot. I was an easily forgettable person. When I came out it was like an awakening, I can't even remember much about my likes and dislikes before coming out. I'm not sure what music I even liked, being in the closet was like being in a haze.
     
  12. Jackie Ray

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    @PatrickUK Wow, you touched on it, I think we all avoided real relationships. I avoided friends all together and did make any until I was my true self.
    When did you know? Did it stop you from making buddies?
     
  13. Pole star

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    We make friends most easily when we are young and that is something I avoided then. That haunts me even to this day. I feel I have lost the natural ability to make friends and it is an effort now. Being somewhat shy does not help either.
     
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  14. angeluscrzy

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    I always found myself policing my behavior when I was younger. How I walked, talked, hand gesturing, all of that. Tbh, I still occasionally have those thoughts of if I'm coming across "gay".
    As others have stated, it has also kept me from developing any meaningful friendships because 1) I'm very shy as it is and 2) the thought that people would think differently of me if they knew.
    Now, just having turned 41, I feel almost incapable of making friends because I feel I never really learned/developed those skills.
     
  15. smee

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    Oh, I was laughing at myself as I wrote that. I'm embarrassed as hell by it, but the memory of me sitting in my car, in front of the house, too terrified to cry, seems hilarious in retrospect! :grin: