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#267866 - 12/19/08 12:42 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: Danbuff]
ericc Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 1955
I think the issue here is related to how things were worded. I agree that wanting to defend ones sexuality against the possibility of being gay makes it sound like that is a terrible thing. I would just like to say that if someone identifies with being homosexual, that should be okay and accepted here. I personally do not try to think too hard about anyone's identified sexual leanings on this site, or at least base judgment upon that, but instead judge people by the content of their word. I know things are harder out in the bigger world, but I do think as a whole most people here are pretty accepting given what everyone has been through, and are just looking for some support and healing.

But I think it is healthy and helpful for people to have a conversation about this stuff because issues with sexual identity seem to be pretty common with those that have been abused; hence the purpose of this specific forum I assume. If you have been violated sexually, it seems pretty normal to have some doubts no matter what your "true" underlying sexuality is. I'd actually like to convey a story from last year that happened in a general issues therapy group I was in. I told my story about what happened to me. Every one was very supportive, and told me I was brave to share. That sort of thing gives other the impetus to open up as well. There was a guy in the group I had a lot of respect for who some weeks later told a story about how he and a friend made out once in the back of a car. It was near the end of the group and it was like the session didn't get resolved. I felt bad because I thought I should have said something, but I didn't. But the next week I made a point of mentioning that I thought a lot of friendships and relationships are based on some sort of attraction. It may not be sexual, but there is still an attraction there, and that it is no big deal. Actually I don't think he thought it meant much either.

My point is this, if you do not have abuse issues, it is a lot easier to go through life not questioning some of these attractions because these attractions are part of life and are no big deal. But as soon as abuse gets put in the picture, everything gets analyzed through the distorted lenses of the abuse. I am not passing judgment on anyone sexuality here, I am only saying that someone who would probably identify as straight without the abuse ends up questioning things that otherwise would not even be thought about. I have a feeling that is what is being explored here. But again, I like the idea that "labels are for cans", and I'm not too up for soup at the moment.

Eric


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#267868 - 12/19/08 01:12 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: Danbuff]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 300
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
That's a good point. The couple of friends I have who are gay or lesbian though have both told me that they very clearly knew they were gay fairly early on in their lives, at least by 11 or 12 if not earlier. The ones who were in the closet for a long time said to me they stayed in because it was easier to "fit in", not be persecuted or tread upon, but they were absolutely not in denial to themselves, they were in denial in a sense that even though they knew it they couldn't accept it because of friends/family/environment etc. That aside though they told me they knew what they wanted for themselves clearly, but the conflict for them in coming out and truly allowing their identity to just be was inhibited because of the way society was. Many of them felt that they had to act to please every one else and deny themselves of what they wanted. On the flip side of that coin, there are people who are able to easily realize their sexual identity without complications and can fully accept who they are.

Personally, I think that after a while, however long it takes, society isn't going to keep on labeling sexuality and expecting people to either be "this way" or "that way". Why should gay or bisexual people have to come out in the first place? I watched a very close friend of mine struggle while dating a girl we knew he didn't want to be with, just because his father was so strictly conservative. The rest of us more or less had a feeling he was gay when we were in middle school, and we didn't stop hanging out with him because of his orientation, he was still the same friend we had known for years. He wasn't truly open though until about halfway through high school though.

Another friend who was a drummer in a band I was in identified himself as bisexual when he was 12 years old. The rest of us were at least 15 or 16 at the time, and this guy would hook up with more girls in a weekend then the rest of us could combined in a month. One day we asked him "Are you really bisexual? You're always making out with girls but we've never seen or heard of you being with a guy". He just told us "Yeah, right now I'm attracted to both, definitely. I don't know any other gay or bisexual guys around here though, and I'm perfectly happy being with girls, so I don't worry about it." And that's just how he was until he got serious with a girlfriend of his, and now he identifies as straight. That definitely had the rest of us confused though, especially because at the time we were all so convinced that sexuality was such a rigid, fixed, categorized thing.

Straight people don't have to go through that process though, they just keep on with their lives and take their identities as they are. Personally I doubt I ever would have questioned my orientation if I had never been molested. I wouldn't have been sexualized as a child to react to nudity by getting an erection. I wouldn't have associated being well endowed and being able to ejaculate with being a "real man", and tried to masturbate compulsively while imagining I was my abuser to feel like a man. I wouldn't have had somebody who was a friend and almost like an older brother to look up to and admire (which I always wished I had) take a relationship and sexualize it, making me wonder if that was normal behavior and if I should engage in it with my other friends. If I had stayed an outcast, I doubt I would have thought to myself "maybe I really am a fag" when other kids harassed me for being a loser. Instead, I wondered if they were right because they somehow knew about what had happened to me at the hands of my cousin, which was by definition a series of years of homosexual acts. Maybe then I would have actually had the guts to take a leap and ask a girl out who I thought was pretty and not have been hung up because I thought I wasn't good enough because I wasn't enough of a man, or that there was something wrong with me that I wouldn't be able to make a girl happy, since all I thought about was sex. Perhaps most importantly, I could have actually had the capacity to feel and develop love for somebody rather than just assume that sex was about nothing more than making babies or getting pleasure, and that marriage was the only way to obtain that. That's all just pointless questions though, I know nothing can change my past and that all I have left is the right now and the future it leads to. But god damn I still wish I could have undone all that so I could have just lived and grown up however a "normal" kid grows up. Those questions are questions that no man, whether they're 13 or 47, should ever have to think about. Whenever all of this goes away and I finally find peace for myself, I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure no small child ever has to deal with shit like this, at any age, and to be there to support the people that I can't save.


Anyways, I know from working with a lot of kids and also talking to their parents that times are changing and people are becoming a lot more progressive with issues on sexuality, as in they're not making issues anymore over whether somebody is gay or bisexual. I realize that these past few paragraphs are somewhat of a blanket statement, and I certainly acknowledge that the 6 or 7 gay, lesbian, and bisexual people that I know represent a miniscule amount of the GLB community, but even if I seek information detailing that process I find the same responses whether it be through books, the internet, or on TV.


Again, I realize that some of what I've said is a blanket statement, but that's only what I've heard from people who I know personally. I can't fully understand what they went through; I'm not gay. I may be questioning or confused, but deep down as much as I allow for it to happen and leave room for that identity I've found that it's just not there.

Again, I don't think this thread was meant to gay bash. To a lot of people here, CSA has maybe turned their sexual identity into something they feel is bad or sick, regardless of their orientation or the gender of their molester. I think a lot of people are afraid of being gay because of family or religious reasons. If you were afraid of something or you felt like it was wrong and you didn't want it to be a part of you, doesn't it make sense that when you felt depressed you would start fearing that you were what you were afraid of or what you didn't want to be? These people in their lives might have absolutely no issues or prejudices against homosexuals they know or are involved with as friends or coworkers or family members, but when it comes down to their personal lives and their own personal being, it's something that they connect to fear or depression or any other number of negative emotions.


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#267887 - 12/19/08 07:11 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: AndyS87]
Danbuff Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 249
Loc: NY state
It is good to have this discussion but I hope I did not imply I felt there was gay bashing...I never said that nor wanted to imply it. My point was to highlight the struggles gay people have disclosing their identity because so many still see it as shameful or holding a negative connotation. If that were not the case, no one would struggle with emotions like feeling sick if they might be gay. People defend homosexual involvement only in the context of being abused. Either way it is tragic for the victims as well as the the homosexuals because the message conjures up negative feelings and associations that are distasteful or just bad for same sex attractions.

I completely understand the struggles men have over their own sexual identity though and especially CSA victims. Trauma is trauma. It is the same for everyone in how it affects us. It is painful. I simply wanted to highlight the point that it is still a taboo in our culture. In other words I don't want to be that way but I guess it's okay when others are...as long as it is not me. Gay people see and live in this culture and it makes coming out all the more difficult.

This thread is a great education from my perspective and I hope it helps the reader see it from many perspectives. I appreciate the struggles each of us have in this arena. There are some excellent statements made in this thread that are hopeful about how the future could be for our own ability to heal,our children and our culture.

_________________________
When you stumble, make it part of the dance.

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#267902 - 12/19/08 09:55 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: Danbuff]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 300
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
well I think for a lot of people it's not that being gay holds a negative connotation. Sure, society at large is resistant to gay people. But I think even if it had a positive or NO connotation there are people who for whatever reason just don't want to be gay. If you talked to an openly gay person who knew they were gay, I don't think you'd find many who wished they were straight. They don't want to be, they're happy, why would they want to change that.


It's funny though, when I first started questioning all this from a sexual standpoint without bringing the CSA into the picture it led me to a forum on the discussion of a certain form of OCD that leads people to worry compulsively about whether or not they're gay, they call it HOCD. Homosexuals can also develop this and be afraid that they're not actually gay, and bisexuals can get it and start to fear that they're no longer interested in both sexes which can be alarming for them. That's just one example, but I think there are tons of different circumstances that lead people to not want to be gay, and not all of them have anything to do with homosexuality having a negative connotation in the eyes of society. That's my view on it anyways.


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#267903 - 12/19/08 09:59 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: Danbuff]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5773
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I don't see this thread as gay bashing but it is an excellent discussion of some of the complexities about how we self-identify our orientation. A couple of points to consider:

Someone earlier mentioned gay friends who knew they were gay at 11 or 12 or even earlier. That sense of identity, if not complicated by an abusive experience, is likely the natural recognition of one's orientation.

Add to the mix the abusive experience, the attrations and confusion are no longer a natural development but have been contaminated by premature sexual experience for the survivor.

So, the boy who is abused by a male experiences feelings and physical sensations, and visual associations with the abuser's penis, his touch, etc. The pleasurable feelings are complicated by the visual and touch experiences which are new for him.... perhaps scary, confusing, arousing, etc. Add to that the messages that the abuser gives directly ("see, your penis is hard, so you must like it, you must be gay") or the indirect messages that the victim gives himself with the limited understanding he has of sex, sexuality, relationships, physiology, etc.

No wonder the kid is confused and for many survivors, the later intellectual understanding is mangled with the emotional experiences and beliefs of the child. An example.... I am working with a young man who was abused at age 6 and later by an older man when he was 17. He experienced an orgasm when initially abused and later had a similar feeling when wrestling with his father. At first, he did not know what had happened with the abuse but it felt good, even if it was connected with the abuse/abuser. For years he wondered if his father (who did not touch him sexually but the physical contact with his father caused him to experience an orgasm) had also abused him. He did not know that he (or any child, male or female) could have an orgasm before puberty. (They can and do).

Getting the information that he had indeed experienced the orgasm as a result of the first abuser and "normalizing" the experience with his father (normal parent/child horseplay) gave him a great sense of relief.

This discussion is really good and the more info you can share with each other to get rid of misconceptions and false beliefs, the closer you get to fuller recovery.

Knowledge is power.

Keep up the good work.


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#267916 - 12/19/08 11:53 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: nonchalant]
Morning Star Offline
Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1124
Loc: Home
This feels like a coping mechanism, as sex in this case would mean some sort of soothing the pain of emptiness/loneliness/powerlessness etc, you feel in the moment. Someone with a memory of 'acting out' would know about this.

The only way as I see to overcome this, is to learn to self sooth yourself - by pacifying yourself in the moments you are feeling low. Sometimes all you need to tell yourself is, "Its OK!", and allow the pain to ease out!

What helped me is to remain 'mindful' in those moment as it is in those very moment the wounded self is coming out, expecting us to heal it, before it sets out on its rampage!




_________________________
~ It's over!...Let go of Thy Past, Remember Thy Self ~

Why Don't People Heal, by Caroline Myss; 30 days to clean up your vibrations - Abraham-Hicks

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#267948 - 12/19/08 01:56 PM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: AndyS87]
nonchalant Offline


Registered: 11/17/08
Posts: 42
Loc: Northern Ireland, UK
Originally Posted By: AndyS87
well I think for a lot of people it's not that being gay holds a negative connotation. Sure, society at large is resistant to gay people. But I think even if it had a positive or NO connotation there are people who for whatever reason just don't want to be gay. If you talked to an openly gay person who knew they were gay, I don't think you'd find many who wished they were straight. They don't want to be, they're happy, why would they want to change that.


It's funny though, when I first started questioning all this from a sexual standpoint without bringing the CSA into the picture it led me to a forum on the discussion of a certain form of OCD that leads people to worry compulsively about whether or not they're gay, they call it HOCD. Homosexuals can also develop this and be afraid that they're not actually gay, and bisexuals can get it and start to fear that they're no longer interested in both sexes which can be alarming for them. That's just one example, but I think there are tons of different circumstances that lead people to not want to be gay, and not all of them have anything to do with homosexuality having a negative connotation in the eyes of society. That's my view on it anyways.


I actually have been diagnosed with HOCD, but i no longer post on the Neurotic Planet forum because the people on there are so closed minded. I sympathise with them greatly as i am suffering the same illness as they are, but they infuriate me greatly with just how little they do to try and help themselves, and their narrow-minded and often bizarre theories on sexuality. For example, a member on the forum told me i was clearly gay in denial because i said you didn't have to be disgusted by homosexuality to be straight. After that, i decided to no longer talk to other HOCD people

Naturally i am also slightly different to most HOCDers as i accept a level of homo-sexual desire within me, but i still fit the criteria for an obsession with my sexuality, as i have thought about nothing else in almost a year



Edited by nonchalant (12/19/08 01:58 PM)

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#267958 - 12/19/08 02:44 PM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: nonchalant]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 300
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
Nonchalant, I think you might find things a little different there depending on when you left. Mark and Monnica are doing a great job watching the forums for stuff like that, but sadly the majority of people on there are reluctant to seek therapy or do anything other than sit around and write on that forum as if they're going to get free professional diagnosis, which just does not happen. I occasionally visit there to lend a voice of support but I've found that with the exception of talking to Mark and Monnica via private messages there's not much help that place can offer. My therapist didn't outright diagnose me with HOCD, but she said she definitely sees small OCD patterns in my life, especially when I'm bothered by something, whether it be something like poison ivy or not being able to figure out my sexuality. That in turn led her to tell me that although I have some HOCD like symptoms, my major problem with them is from a larger anxiety order and not HOCD itself. She has since then sent me to a trauma therapist who I have been working with on EMDR to try and normalize my past. It's going very slowly but it's definitely helping.


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#268253 - 12/21/08 09:43 PM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: AndyS87]
nonchalant Offline


Registered: 11/17/08
Posts: 42
Loc: Northern Ireland, UK
Andy

Having read through your posts, your situation is almost virtually like mine, it's uncanny in some parts

The whole 'having to prove that i'm straight' thing has been ruining my life for about 9 months now

As for Neurotic Planet, Mark is a good guy and it was very surreal to find me PM'ing a gay man telling him how i'd watched gay porn for 7 years, and him to tell me it DIDN'T make me gay. However, it's basically just a site for terrified teens to be constantly reassured that they aren't gay. They all seem to be terrified about whether or not they would like sex with another man, whereas i'm past that stage and am worried about the emotional/romantic side, and why i don't feel this way about men (weird huh, that i don't feel romantically for men and yet i'm terrified about why i don't and whether it might just be denial)


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#268286 - 12/22/08 10:24 AM Re: Sexuality and self esteem [Re: nonchalant]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 300
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
Yeah, at this point I've chocked up all that anxiety to something bigger than my sexuality. There's something else at work there, and I'm asking my therapist about it today. But yeah, most of the people on neurotic planet right now range from 14 (new user who signed in like twice) to I think the early thirties. Most seem to be in their 20's. Either way, they're all trying to use that board for therapy which is dangerous since nobody there with the exception of one of the moderators is qualified to help. But yeah, it is weird. I don't wonder about sex with another man because I don't think I'm ever going to try it personally. If I did I'd probably be too anxious to enjoy it and wouldn't do it again, but who knows. I have a lot of friends and the only ones I ever wanted to date have been the girls so idk why I always worry so much but it's there, and it's like I'm chasing my tail over it. Effin' frustrating.


Oh yeah as far as denial goes, and it might not work for us cause we might be too confused, I've heard from Mark and many other gay people that when you're in denial you know what you are. You aren't in denial to yourself, you're in denial to friends, family, etc. because you don't think they'll except you, and that's why you deny it. Anyways, good luck sir, this certainly is a bitch to think about isn't it?


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