Welcome to "Ask Joe," our RealJock advice column, written by our regular contributor, Joe Weston. Joe is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate with a deep commitment to the possibility of individual personal fulfillment. Looking for some clarity on tricky issues in your life? Share what's on your mind with Joe—concerning work, personal awareness, love and romance, meditation and spiritual exploration, or just about anything else that's getting between you and your life goals.
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I am a 22 year-old gay guy just graduated from college. Unfortunately, I am still in the closet. While I was in school, no one knew I was gay. Some of my friends started questioning my sexuality because they never saw me dating girls, but I played straight darn well. Now I am still in the closet although I know for certain that I am gay.
I started exploring the gay life, mostly the sex life, about 2 summers ago. When you are in the closet, there are not that many options of meeting other guys except through online profiles and stuff. Gotta admit I have had intercourse with guys quite a few times now. Nevertheless, I have never been in a relationship, a true relationship.
Every time I meet guys, sadly the first thing came across my mind is getting into his pants. I have to admit I'm horny a lot of times. I seem to not be able to control myself, even just meeting for the first time. These one-night-stands seem to get boring now. I kinda want a relationship. I feel bored all the time and have no motivation to do anything. I feel like I need more gay friends and a potential date.
What would be your advice into getting in a relationship? No sex on first date? Or until when? And given that I am not out, I also worry about going on dates in public or picking up guys in bars and stuff.
I now feel so lost in life. Being gay, being in the closet, and being single. Lost!
—Alone and Desperate
Hello Alone Guy,
First, I want to say is that you are not so alone. There are many people going through the same thing you are. Next, you are 22 and you are just beginning to explore sex. Of course it's the only thing you are thinking of! Your body is raging with hormones, desire and curiosity. Act on it—safely, of course. Like everything in life, this will pass. As you get older, you may not feel the passion and excitement of having erotic contacts as you do now. Don’t hold them back, explore it; enjoy it while you can! The third thing I want to say is that life is all about choices. And with choices come consequences. Your decision to stay in the closet is your choice. It is not right or wrong. No one else can determine for you what you should do. You are the only one who can do that.
With that said, I feel I should also say that the consequences of not coming out as a gay man can include not feeling totally at home with the world, with yourself, and with others. This can lead to feeling lost. And I guess since I said that, I have to say that if you are lost and not totally feeling at home with yourself and others, if you are keeping a part of yourself hidden, then it will be very hard to be in a relationship. Being in a relationship means being able to offer all of who you are. You are still trying to figure out who you are. It would be a shame to expect someone else to have to help you figure out who you are and even more so to expect someone else to have to “keep your secret.”
So, I guess my advice would be: don’t concern yourself with being in a relationship until you have had the time to fully explore who you are, to fully reconcile all the parts of you and can be fully present to another. In the meantime, find ways to connect with other people who are in the same boat. With them, you will find community so you won’t feel so alone.
Remember, Alone, this is just my opinion. Someone else may give you different advice. So take it for what it’s worth. I can only tell you that I’ve encountered this a lot with colleagues, clients and friends. The bottom line is asking the question: “Whose life is it anyway?” Who are you making your choices for? You? Or others?
Think about it,
I'm a 21 year old recent college grad, recently out to a few close friends, though I've always known I'm gay. And I'm still a virgin. I had one hell of a senior year in college (not in a good way) and with all the adjusting to life after school, I'm just not sure what my next steps should be. First, I fell for a straight guy, a very supportive friend. I ultimately found out from other friends that I "propositioned" him a couple times while drunk, though we've never talked about it, and now that it's been a while since, I'm not sure I should. Still, a part of me really wants to, though I'm afraid it'll be awkward bringing it all up. We've continued to hang out, and while I think I'm getting over him a little voice still tells me to talk to him about all this. Also, sometimes I think I'm just obsessed with him (and he's not the first) because he's been so great at accepting and, frankly, dealing with my crazy self. He really is a great guy and friend, so I'm afraid by talking to him about it I'll lose his friendship. Should I leave well enough alone, or try and talk things out with this understanding guy?
Another issue I can't deal with is just accepting who I am and getting out there to have a life and potentially meet someone. I haven't ever had a relationship, and I'm not sure how to go about finding someone. That I'm sexually aroused by guys is definite, but at times the mechanics, if you will, of sex with a man can be a bit... off-putting. My friends say I should just go out to bars and meet people, but I'm a broke recent grad. Also, I'm not out to friends from home and my family, and I'm afraid more people will find out about me. I'm nowhere near being ready to come out to my family—not sure if I ever will be. Part of me wants to wait til I start law school somewhere far away to be free and start anew. Is putting off my life worth avoiding a double life? I'm not sure if I can wait that long, but I'm clueless about how to get myself out there. I'm not into effeminate gay guys either, so I'm afraid I'll just end up falling for straight guys.
Hoping you can help me sort this out,
—Afraid to Confront Life
I'm glad you used the word “confront.” Yes, you seem to be afraid to confront parts of your life. Not all of them. You seem to be doing pretty well in some areas. You have succeeded in school, and you have a desire to be a lawyer and are planning on pursuing it. You seem to also have good friends, so you seem to have some level of assertiveness in that area too. I have developed a process of communication called “Respectful Confrontation” where I teach others the skills to be able to speak their truth in a way that doesn’t lead to a fight or harm anyone involved. Ultimately, confrontation is the best tool to avoid conflict, pain and living a lie. Ultimately, when you confront, you are opening to your vulnerability. And one of my basic philosophies is that it is only in your vulnerability that your true power is revealed.
You have been able to assert yourself and confront life in the areas of school and vocation and with your close friends. Great. Do you feel how much richer and alive that makes you? And it is clear that, at the moment, you are not ready to confront other areas of your life. Like your personal identity, expressing your desires, living your full truth and speaking that truth to your family. That is your choice.
You don’t need to ever do anything that doesn’t feel right to you, Afraid. But you can, in the meantime, take the time to confront yourself and see what it is that is keeping you from living your full truth. What are you afraid of losing? What are you afraid of gaining? Are you afraid to be happy? So, that’s what I would suggest you do to start sorting this all out. If you take the time now to confront yourself and seek some clarity on this, you will know when and if the time is right for you to come out to your family and friends.
Since I was able to explain to you what a confrontation is, and that the purpose of a confrontation is to show compassion to yourself and to others, I’m going to confront on what I think about you pursuing your straight friend: stop it! First of all, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Second, think about how he may feel. He is not into guys, and you pushing him could be seen as abuse.
With deep compassion,
About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supporting them on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He is currently writing a book entitled “Respectful Confrontation: the Path to Compassionate Engagement, True Power and Personal Freedom.” He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit www.joeweston.com. Joe leads lectures and workshops in Respectful Confrontation around the world. He currently has spaces open for new coaching and bodywork/erotic healing clients. For more info, click here.