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Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a teen?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by I am straight, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. I am straight

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    Before I found this message board in early 2013, I did not think it possible for someone to not know that they felt attracted to the same sex when they were teenagers and then later find out that they're gay. I had read before that sexual orientation is more fluid for females, but I thought that for guys it was: Once gay, always gay. Once straight, always straight.

    There are men here who have said that they didn't know that they were gay until they were in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. What I suspect is that these guys who said that they did not know that they were gay until they were middle aged is that they always knew that they felt some physical attraction to some people of the same sex, but they did not equate that physical attraction with being gay or bisexual.

    This is a question for people who didn't realize that they were gay until they were middle aged. Did any of you not know that you felt physical attraction to some people of the same sex until you were in your 30s, 40s, or 50s?
     
  2. Katchoo

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I'm a 31yo female. I don't exactly fit what you're asking for, but I think I'm close enough that I can speak to it.

    I grew up in a really rural, concervative area. I was really committed to the only life narrative that my community and culture presented to me, that I would go to college, immediately get married to a guy, have kids, stay home with them. Like, home schooling them would have been the big concervative dream. I was so sold on this that it was my filter for how I was experiencing my life. I remember thinking that my friends' taste in guys was really weird. They liked athletes whose necks were thicker than their heads. I usually picked out gay guys. :wink: I think I had feelings and attractions for a lot of women as a teen, but my brain had no categories for that. I just assumed my experience was the same as everyone else's, because I was very committed to fitting in and being the same. I was really good at denial. I could explain away a lot to myself, and not having a place to file and organize and make sense of my feelings made them easier to ignore. The only person I knew who was probably a lesbian was the butch softball coach, and she was super closeted as to keep her job, so I just didn't have a frame of reference for labeling myself. "In love" got mis labeled as "best friends" pretty often.

    It also may have helped me stay in the closet a little longer that I do have a little bit of capacity for guys. Like, occasionally there's a guy I could see myself with. They're just few and far between. So, I could tell myself that I just was picky or hadn't met the right one yet. I don't know if my experience would have been different if I had absolutely no desire for guys.

    Also, growing up in a really uber concervative Christian culture came with all the messages about abtainance. So, having very limited attraction to guys just kind of felt like I was doing it right and wasn't something that sent up red flags that things were different. There was kind of this church fairy tale floating around that you would magically want to have sex with them after saying, "I do." Now as an adult, that sounds pretty ludicrous. But, at the time, not having a big drive to have sex with guys made me feel like I was doing a really good job following the church rules.

    Yeah. I have a lot of processing to do about religion. Still. Ugh.
     
  3. AndyG

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I found this board on my 50th birthday because I was ready to admit to myself that I was gay. As a pretty sheltered teenager in the late 70's and 80's, no internet, no other friends who would be openly gay, all I can ever remember hearing about gay people was through the media and other ignorant people I grew up around ... The message was that being gay meant at best your were a freak living on the outside of normal society. At worst, you would die of some terrible disease.

    I have memories back to about the age of 10 where I would see a girl and dream/fantasize about being in love, getting married, having a family like my own. At the same time I would dream/fantasize about playing baseball with the guys and for some bizarre reason no one was wearing shirts. :slight_smile: I did not know anything about gay people at that point so whatever... Maybe it was REALLY hot outside.

    In high school, on my first date, I sat on the girl's couch with her late at night, no one home, flipping through TV channels because her dad had the biggest fucking TV I had ever seen. I remember every detail about his entertainment center... I can't recall what color hair she had or her chest size. Though I do remember a look of frustration on her face as she kept nudging closer and closer. Of course, I was frustrated as well because there was nothing good on TV that night. So I left.

    I honestly never thought about it, other than to think that she was just not attractive to me. I don't recall ever wishing it was another guy. Nor do I remember seeing other guys at school and having any gay thoughts at all. Looking back, of course it was there, but it was repressed to the point of non-existence. I was fairly a-sexual through the rest of high school.

    At 20 I found a girl who I thought was a rock star. She loved all the things I did, she was geeky like me, but also beautiful and incredibly sexy. She met every qualification of "perfect wife material'. After all, a major goal in life was to have a family. So she was the conduit. I was focused on the goal and insanely happy.

    Our sex life was turbulent... One week I was a heterosexual god, the next ... well maybe I was just tired or anxious we thought. Didn't matter, we were in love and we got married. I figured sex would just get better because I could ditch the condoms finally. It was OK for a while. Then the stresses of homeownership, money, and kids came into the picture. At the same time I had 2 close friends come out to me.

    Around the age of 30 I brought home some porn to get the sexiness on track. One of the tapes had a bi-sexual scene! WOW. That night we had the best sex ever... The next day was the first time I thought... "Holy shit! I must be GAY!" By then, I had 2 kids, a successful career, and was a well respected "pillar" of the community (ha); I simply figured I had too much to lose. I weighed the options and my family easily came first.

    On my 50th birthday (as recounted on these forums then) my kids no longer needed my daily attention and my wife and I were living as close friends who loved each other... just not physically. I felt alone, lost, and way too late to do anything about it.

    If I had those experiences today as a teen, I have to think that identification of my sexuality would be a no-brainer. I wouldn't blame a millennial for reading my story now and calling BS on my "repressed feelings". It's very different now... However, that is not to say that coming out has gotten any easier. My heart breaks when I read some of the stories of younger gay people on this board. Life is too short to carry so much baggage for so long.

    I'm sure that was more than you wanted to know but in a nutshell, the answer to your questions is; Maybe? ... NO! ... A little
     
  4. Chip

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I didn't have real awareness until my mid-20s. That said, looking back after the fact, I can look at certain behaviors that show I had attraction to guys... but denial can be pretty powerful.
     
  5. guitar

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I believe something like this is the case for me. In hindsight it seems so obvious to me that I was attracted to guys and just tried really damn hard to repress that because that would make me gay. I certainly didn't want to be that. Gay people talked effeminately, flicked their wrists, got made fun of, listened to dance music, were beaten up, not allowed to marry (at the time), seeing two dudes together was weird.... So I very much didn't want to be gay and sort of forced myself to be with women when I really wasn't into it. You'd be amazed what social norms and conditioning can do, even when you are attracted to one sex and not all that attracted to the other.

    In my early 20s I was at the beach with my then-girlfriend and it was like a lightbulb going off in my head. It suddenly hit me: the entire time I'd been checking out the good-looking dudes and hadn't so much as glanced at any of the girls, even though there were many there who were good looking.

    Regarding your line about women being more sexually fluid, that's absolutely correct and what the science shows us. That doesn't mean men can't be fluid, but it's far less common for men. Men's sexually tends to be binary - either straight or gay, with a very small percentage of bisexuality.
     
  6. Bunny45

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    Looking back I wonder why I didn't notice in junior high that I was in love with a girl. I guess I thought I just admired how pretty she was. My freshman year of highschool I sat up suddenly out of a deep sleep and a very intense (sexy) dream. I knew right then that I definitely liked girls, I think I had a small panic attack. It took a while to figure out that I was bi, because I didn't know bi existed, I just thought something was wrong with me. To this day I'm thankful that my subconscious likes to scream at me in dreams, it saves a lot of time figuring stuff out.
     
  7. I am straight

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    It sounds like you were almost asexual in high school, rather than a closeted homosexual. I mean, a closeted homosexual would have gay thoughts about other guys but just never consider acting on them. You're saying you didn't have any gay thoughts at all. Before I found this message board, I would have thought experiences like yours were unheard of. I would have thought that if you are gay now, you would have always known that you felt attraction to some (attractive) guys once you were a teenager.

    For me, the heterosexual physical attractions I felt towards attractive females was so unmistakable and so painfully strong, I have a hard time imagining someone not knowing these things.
     
    #7 I am straight, Apr 20, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
  8. Katchoo

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    There's usually not a process of "coming out to yourself" when you're straight, because the default assumption (by yourself and by everyone else) is that you're straight. I thought I was straight in high school because I just barely knew that there were other options & because I was told in many ways that anything else was bad. Coming out to myself was really difficult. Even if your attractions or feelings are really strong, if they aren't accepted and represented in your culture, it's often tough to understand yourself and realize what is going on.
     
  9. baristajedi

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    Hi and welcome. This is a very supportive board, if you're looking for support we'd all be happy to extend it to you. If you don't mind sharing, what prompted you to post this question? Are you questioning your sexuality?
     
  10. wanderinggirl

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I second Chip; denial can be very powerful. Looking back I probably knew I was queer before puberty, but in my teen years I kept it very much under wraps from myself. I think the big thing keeping me from "knowing" was that I had a lot of misconceptions about what it really meant. As a speaker (who is trans) put it to a bunch of my coworkers today during a sensitivity training seminar: just because we are queer doesn't mean we know what it means. Just because you have cancer doesn't mean you're an expert: same with gender and sexuality. Just because you "knew" you were queer doesn't mean you KNEW knew. This is where you really just have to go off gut instinct, let it develop over time, sit with the idea for a little while.
     
  11. AndyG

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I completely understand you having a hard time imagining the situation. I was in the process of protecting my psyche and it's truly unbelievable what a person can convince themselves of when we need to. Being "in the closet" is a reference that would have never occurred to me back then. I would have suspected I was from another planet before identifying my behavior as being gay. I'm not saying I was never attracted to other guys ... I simply don't remember specifically struggling with it through high school. My comments are really based on my perspective at that time because the more I talk about it in therapy, as well as here (thank God for HERE!), I do have "a-ha!" moments where I recall acting out in some very odd ways. Additionally I'm sure I was depressed and/or anxious ... yet more foreign concepts at the time, especially for kids. "You're a teenager, you're supposed to be miserable!"

    It's a good thing people your age don't understand how stories like mine are possible.
     
  12. afgirl

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    Is your user name an affirmation?

    In response (I know I'm not specifically who you asked, but...):

    Nope, not really an inkling until my trigger crush.
     
  13. cakepiecookie

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    Yep, this is true for me as well. I was attracted to girls, but I interpreted it as admiration because me being attracted to females was just not something that was on my radar as a possibility. Also, it didn't really occur to me to check women out or consider them as romantic prospects in any way, so that lead to me developing fewer crushes than I might have otherwise.

    In addition to that, I tend to go for people who are visibly queer/androgynous, and there isn't much exposure to that when you're a kid.

    I did figure out I liked women well before my 30s, so can't really speak about figuring it out later than that, but I can imagine it happening if you grew up in a very conservative environment and were partnered for that time. Being partnered was pretty effective at stopping me from considering other possibilities. I was just too focused on other things.
     
    #13 cakepiecookie, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  14. looking for me

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    well.... for me, looking back i did have same sex attractions but as a survival tool i buried it deep, so deep that i never consiously was aware of it till i split from my ex (for other reasons). we were seperated for almost a year before i had my 'light bulb moment' once i accepted that, the whole gender thing came up haha. an interesting road to say the least.
     
  15. brainwashed

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    My answer. Many ways to answer this. No I did not know I was gay nor did I consciously know I was attracted to guys.

    My explication. 3 simple words. see, feel, reflect. I could see guys, but most to the time I couldn't feel. Sometimes feel would show, but I didn't have any idea what that meant. Disclaimer: Feel is not what happens to your penis. Feel is that "warm" feeling inside you. And I was not able to reflect. Ever.

    So how does this happen? (my theory) The emotional part of your brain, that part you do not have direct access to, it's this part that contains your core being. Oh this core talks to your conscious but not in language your conscious/logic part of your brain understands. I've spent a lot of time researching this.

    Got to run. Post to my wall if you want to talk about this.
     
  16. I am straight

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    Baristajedi.....I'm just the type of person that gets curious about things if I see evidence that something is not what I thought. I'm not questioning my sexuality. When I first joined this message board 3 years ago, I joined to make a post about my father. I suspect that my father is a closeted homosexual. I posted here about the reasons that I think this, and I asked the message board if they agreed with me.

    I grew up in the Deep South of America in a very homophobic area. I'm a heterosexual, but a lot of my classmates when I was in middle school and high school thought I was gay. Therefore, I was stigmatized a lot for being gay even though i'm not gay. I was stigmatized for other reasons as well. I was a total outcast in school. Therefore, I have always felt a sense of shared experience with gay people: We're both stigmatized.

    ---------- Post added 21st Apr 2016 at 10:08 AM ----------

    Afgirl, if by an affirmation you mean is my username something I made to convince myself i'm straight when i'm not fully straight, no. I'm not questioning.

    ---------- Post added 21st Apr 2016 at 10:13 AM ----------

    Wow. Lots of you did not know that you were not attracted to the some people of the same sex when you were teenagers. I thought it would be fairly rare. Maybe you "Later in Life" people are not a random selection of gay people though.
     
    #16 I am straight, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  17. AndyG

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    You have to be able to appreciate the societal differences between then and now, especially for those of us 50+. At the high school where my kids went just a couple years ago, it felt like every other teen male or female who walked through my door was anything but straight. Being gay for many of them was part of their popularity. It is a different world... thankfully.
     
  18. rachael1954

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I didn't know what I was thinking/feeling as a teen. I thought everyone felt that way, since society tells us women's faces & bodies are sexual and to be desired. I thought I was normal (i.e. 'straight') having those feelings.
     
    #18 rachael1954, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  19. confused04

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    I 100% thought I was straight in my teenage years, still thought it after a friend kissed me my senior year in college. I maintained my straight-ness until I had a depressive break, and realized I only looked forward to coming home and talking to her. Then I was confused. What did that mean? I couldn't handle that confusion on top of everything else, so I pushed it away.

    Dated a guy for a few months, but the actual intimacy part freaked me out, so I broke it off. That was 13 years ago. My friend stopped talking to me, and I am only now starting to deal with what that friendship possibly meant. I still have no clue what my sexuality is.
     
  20. greatwhale

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    Re: Did any of you not know that you were attracted to the same sex when you were a t

    Well, it's complicated...I was attracted to guys, I remember that in retrospect...but did I know then? Without a frame of reference to tell me what these feelings meant, no, I can't say that I ever "knew"...