Am I Gay?
There’s that big question: how do I know if I’m gay? Is there a list of criteria that I can check against to see if I’m really gay?
What if I’m the type of boy who prefers dance to sports or the type of girl who doesn’t like to wear dresses? Do my jealousies or sexual fantasies about my best friend (of the same sex) mean that I am gay?
Being gay is not about your hobbies or your preferences in dressing; it is about whether you are predominantly sexually attracted to people of the same sex.
You may not be sure what to call your sexual feelings, and there is no need to rush to decide how to label yourself. As you get older, you will figure out who really attracts you. If you think you might be gay, here are some questions you could ask yourself:
- When I dream or fantasize sexually, is it about boys or girls?
- Do I regularly have romantic crushes on people of the same sex?
- Does thinking of being in a romantic and sexual relationship with someone of the opposite gender leave me feeling uninterested or cold?
If your answers to these questions are not clear, don’t worry. Things will be become clearer over time, and they might even change at some point in time. There is really only one person who can answer this question, and that is YOU.
Some people who are attracted mainly to people of the same gender feel uncomfortable with some of the social and behavioural expectations that they feel come with terms like “gay” and “lesbian.” That’s okay too: you shouldn’t need to fit yourself into any single neat category or label – the more important thing is to be honest with yourself and your partner. It is also important to recognize that we don’t have to divide ourselves into binaries such as being either gay or straight. A person can be attracted to more than one gender of people, or the gender of your preferred partners might not be the same over the course of your life.
I THINK I AM GAY. SO WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Well, first, stay calm.
Remember that you are a beautiful and unique, and that there is nothing wrong with you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, no matter what others may say.
Yes, you might have to deal with major issues such as condemnation from your religious teachings, and coming clean with your family and friends. But many people have gone through similar challenges from not being straight and they have come out the other side happier; you are not alone in this.
Sadly, it is common for a younger gay person to feel shame, guilt and self-loathing. It’s understandable that one might feel this way, since relationships with our family and friends, and our religious and cultural beliefs, are important parts of our lives. If this sounds like you, the first thing you can do is to stop condemning yourself for being attracted to persons of the same sex. Of course, this is easier said than done.
But your acceptance of who you are and what you feel is the first step to being able deal with the issues of religion and social acceptance more effectively.
Dealing with religious perspectives on homosexuality can be complicated and it might be something that you need help to work out. Seek out religious leaders or seniors who are accepting of gay people and talk to them. If you don’t personally know anyone you can approach, try the Free Community Church (for Christians), or look for online support networks for gay people from your faith. There are many websites and books that can help, too. Gay people of faith can and do live happily, honestly, and proudly.
Telling your parents can frequently be a challenging thing. Yes, you could choose to hide it from them, but this could be very stressful. There is always the risk that they will find out in an unexpected way. Also, this secret may be a continuous strain on your relationship. If your parents are open-minded, you might be able to talk to them for support and advice about what you are going through. True, some parents’ might react negatively. But there are also many hopeful stories about how many parents come to accept their children’s sexuality in time.
How well your parents react depends on their beliefs about homosexuality in the first place. Some people who have come out suggest dropping hints over a long period of time, gauging their reactions in order to get a rough idea of how well they would take the news. In the end, some parents prefer to remain oblivious despite obvious hints, so if you want them to know, you have to tell them. Just make sure you’ve prepared them well. Sometimes your parents will have suspected it even before you tell them.
Give them time to accept the news, and try to be understanding about their reactions too. As much as they love you, they might have to struggle with damaging views about gay people that you, too, might have struggled with.
Some people tell their parents as soon as they are sure of their sexuality; others wait until they are financially independent or have found a longer-term partner. This is very much a personal decision, and you should be aware of the possible consequences before you come out, and be ready for them with a plan if needed.
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY FRIENDS, MY COLLEAGUES & THE REST OF THE WORLD?
It is said that it’s better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you’re not. Coming out is your way of taking a stand and telling the world that you do not want to continue to deceive those around you – society mostly assumes everyone is heterosexual even when that is not the case – and that you want to live your life honestly, whether or not your sexuality is a big part of your identity.
Coming out often requires loads of courage, but you will feel much more liberated once you’ve begun the lifelong process of coming out, and you might even be able to change people’s mindsets about gay people. Nevertheless, it’s always important to remember that you don’t have to tell anyone you don’t want to. Your priorities are the personal safety and financial stability of yourself or any dependants you may have. If you feel that you’re at risk of personal harm or financial consequences like losing your job, don’t feel pressured to come out.
Some find it easier to come out to their friends first. Although your closest friends might suspect your homosexuality before you even tell them, it might still come as a surprise. But often, given a bit of time, many of your friends will be extremely supportive of your decision to be honest with them.
Coming out is often a continuous process. As you meet new people throughout your life, you may find yourself having to come out multiple times. But this process will be easier once the important people in your life know, and many older gay people find that it’s no big deal to come out to new people when they want to. Always remember to keep your own welfare in mind: only come out if you feel it is safe to do so.
To find out more about “coming out” and how to handle the situation, check out Sayoni’s Coming Out Guide, the “It Gets Better” project and Ms. Magazine’s “How to Come Out in Five Easy Steps”.
IF I’M GOING TO FACE SO MANY PROBLEMS, WHY DON’T I JUST STAY IN THE CLOSET?
The closet can be a lonely place. You may want to have someone to confide in, or be able to talk to your friends about romantic interests just like anyone else. Building up a circle of gay friends is often very helpful but this could also be a narrow-minded, unhealthy kind of society; why avoid straight people on the basis of their sexuality?
Sure, you might face some discrimination, but things are getting better. Singaporeans are getting more open-minded. Yes, there are some homophobes around, but why deny yourself a chance to live your life the way you really want to? In fact, discrimination even exists within the Singaporean gay community, for instance, where people with certain body types, ethnicities and behaviours might have a harder time. Despite all this, remember to be proud of who you are. You are a beautiful person and support is always available if you need it. The more visible gay people are to the rest of society, the more straight people might change their minds and check their homophobic stereotypes.
While it might initially be difficult, it is completely possible to emerge from these struggles stronger and more insightful. No one should have to compromise their happiness and honesty just to fit in a mould of someone else’s design. Ultimately, many people feel better coming to terms with their own non-heterosexuality and living honestly and truthfully.
|Here at WTF!, we are by no means promoting a supposed “homosexual lifestyle.” We are well aware of Section 377A of the Penal Code. What we are advocating is for gay people to remain true to themselves and to not have to live life in fear and isolation. This is clearly in line with what Prime Minister Lee mentioned in his speech in Parliament on 23 October 2007 that “homosexuals work in all sectors, all over the economy, in the private sector as well as in the civil service. They are free to lead their lives, free to pursue their social activities.” PM Lee also recognised that gay people “are often responsible, invaluable, and highly respected contributing members of society” and that the authorities would “not proactively enforce Section 377A on them.”|