Why are people afraid to be known as gay?

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    Sep 10, 2008 2:05 PM GMT
    I have a feeling this forum may solve, or at least shed some light on, issues we've all been bitching over in other forums. Im not going to give my opinion on why I was apprehensive to come out for the first 20 years of my life but i do want to know yours if you so wish to share them. I wont give mine because it will most likely set the tone for the forum and the last thing i need is guys gettin their calvins in a knot right off the bat.

    Im starting this because i feel bad for boys/guys that do not ever accept themselves and thus live a sad life of denial and shame. We most likely see these people every day, guys that are so ashamed of themselves and do not come out for reasons all of their own - or are they not feelings of their own, is there an underlying universal reason?

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    Sep 10, 2008 2:26 PM GMT
    rowerboy saidI have a feeling this forum may solve, or at least shed some light on, issues we've all been bitching over in other forums. Im not going to give my opinion on why I was apprehensive to come out for the first 20 years of my life but i do want to know yours if you so wish to share them. I wont give mine because it will most likely set the tone for the forum and the last thing i need is guys gettin their calvins in a knot right off the bat.

    Im starting this because i feel bad for boys/guys that do not ever accept themselves and thus live a sad life of denial and shame. We most likely see these people every day, guys that are so ashamed of themselves and do not come out for reasons all of their own - or are they not feelings of their own, is there an underlying universal reason?



    Cultural expectations that you will marry and have kids one day are pervasive. In western society these expectations are not as strong as more conservative cultures in other parts of the world.

    Also gay men have traditionally been viewed by society as un-masculine, weak, effeminate, etc.. The range of behaviour that is acceptable for men is pretty narrow (compare how people react to an effeminate man versus a masculine woman).

    All these influences in our environment, convince many gay people very early in life that there is something "wrong" with them. That if they are honest with their loved ones they will be shunned, ostracized, unloved. Sadly some gay people's fears are founded in reality.

    Recently my mom was staying with me. She told me that she could not understand why I didn't tell her I was gay much earlier. I did not say anything, but I thought "if I told you I was gay at 13 you would have had no issues with it?" Maybe I am wrong, but I have a feeling they would have had problems accepting what I was feeling.
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    Sep 10, 2008 2:34 PM GMT
    Society encourages conformity.
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    Sep 10, 2008 2:39 PM GMT
    Not all countries have decriminalized homosexual behaviour. Then, there is also the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" type employment policies...icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Sep 10, 2008 3:34 PM GMT
    Because in some places they could still be bashed or even worse KILLED.
    I have been lucky to never haved lived in any of those places.
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    Sep 10, 2008 3:38 PM GMT
    I think things have changed dramatically in the last 25 years. I think it is much easier than it once was. Much of the fear that still exists, I think is simply in the minds of those that allow it.

    If you are "out" and you just put it out there as matter-of-fact, not a big deal, most people aren't too shocked by it anymore. People can sense when YOU are worried about... and if YOU are worried and uptight about it... then those that would discriminate grab onto that... and give you grief.

    I have never had any problem or really any fear about being "out." I've been out since I was 16 and no one has ever said anything negative to me.
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    Sep 10, 2008 3:47 PM GMT
    For some reason, even though I live in a big city, often people think I am straight. So in a certain way, I have numerous "coming outs" all the time.
    With women, straight and gay men.

    Sometimes the reaction is fine, sometimes not so good. I think straight men and women get a little awkward at first. Women may get a little defensive and feel stupid. Straight men like to play cool about it.

    My point is that sometimes I just play along with them thinking I am straight because I don't want to deal with the awkwardness.

    Some people then start to treat you differently when they now you are gay. In fact, they walk on eggs not knowing what is PC and what to say.

    It's a crap shoot.

    You guys in smaller cities, towns or farms probably have it more difficult. I've never felt personally threatened...never felt my job or safety was in danger. You guys have it harder and you guys are brave and courageous.
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    Sep 10, 2008 3:57 PM GMT
    I'm not in any way "camp" however, one of my best friends is very camp. I have always said to him that I wish I were camp, because it would be far easier for him to come out than me.
    my reasoning, is that he would get less of a social reaction than myself when we come out, because people are in a way kind of expecting it. As with me, people wouldn't particularly be expecting it... I dunno. I guess I'm wary about telling people, because I'm not sure of what that social reaction would be.
  • Barricade

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    Sep 10, 2008 4:06 PM GMT
    Ducky44 saidBecause in some places they could still be bashed or even worse KILLED.
    I have been lucky to never haved lived in any of those places.



    technically, it could happen anywhere.
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    Sep 10, 2008 4:09 PM GMT
    rowerboy saidI have a feeling this forum may solve, or at least shed some light on, issues we've all been bitching over in other forums. Im not going to give my opinion on why I was apprehensive to come out for the first 20 years of my life but i do want to know yours if you so wish to share them. I wont give mine because it will most likely set the tone for the forum and the last thing i need is guys gettin their calvins in a knot right off the bat.

    Im starting this because i feel bad for boys/guys that do not ever accept themselves and thus live a sad life of denial and shame. We most likely see these people every day, guys that are so ashamed of themselves and do not come out for reasons all of their own - or are they not feelings of their own, is there an underlying universal reason?







    My reason for not wanting to be known as gay is because the word gay could mean any number of things that do not represent me. You can say it doesn't matter all you want but that just isn't the case. The way people carry the gay label today make it out that they are some how NOT really men, but some sort of seperate type of human. That doesn't quite fly with me because i'd rather not be seperated from the sex I find attractive.Ergo the new term g0y.
  • SoDakGuy

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    Sep 10, 2008 4:37 PM GMT
    I was brought up that being gay meant that you're swishy, you're gonna get AIDS and you're gonna die.

    Boy! Thank God I was wrong! icon_biggrin.gif
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    Sep 10, 2008 4:49 PM GMT
    I was brought up in a very religious Mormon family and was taught very early that homosexuality was wrong and was very shameful.

    When I did choose to come out it was at a point in my life where I was able to look in the mirror with pride and know for a fact that I am an amazing man, a great father and a good son, regardless of the fact that I am gay.

    So when I came out it was with pride and an attitude that I wasn't coming out for acceptance, it was only to let me family and friends know. And if they didn't like it, it was their problem not mine.
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    Sep 10, 2008 4:52 PM GMT
    On of the most influential books in my day was Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) by Dr. David Reuben, first published in 1969. I found it in my parents' closet and would secretly read it when they were out of the house.

    Wikipedia notes
    Although considered revolutionary in its day, the book contains many outdated notions and outmoded methods, as well as significant inaccuracies. Reuben writes of homosexuality as a mental disorder and a "striving for the impossible", that male homosexual encounters are entirely impersonal, and that through therapy, a gay man has "every chance of becoming a happy, well-adjusted heterosexual." Reuben wrote the book at a time when the American Psychiatric Association declared homosexuality a mental disorder; today, such views are rejected by the mainstream psychiatric community. He also wrote that prostitutes and lesbians were one and the same, that Coca-Cola makes an effective douche (despite the risk it poses of encouraging yeast infections), and that circumcision improves sexual pleasure. The book includes some very pronounced strict Freudian analysis by Reuben and addressing "problems" like frigidity in women.


    I remember the book saying that gay people were not able to have successful relationships and could only have furtive sexual encounters. It also talked about gay men shoving things such as light bulbs up their asses and winding up in the emergency room, especially when they had been drinking. Wikipedia said the book was translated into 54 languages and sold into 52 countries.

    So, even though deep down I knew I was gay, I thought I could change it or that it was a psychiatric disorder. I grew up in a Midwestern town of 25,000, so you can imagine being gay wasn't too popular there. At one time, I became very religious and thought God would take away my homosexuality.
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    Sep 10, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    Let me make an analogy.

    When I'm out driving on the road, I have no concern whatsoever that I'm going to cause a wreck. But there are hundreds of other drivers around me and I can't control their actions. But their actions could affect me, could hurt me, could kill me.

    In psychology speak, I have no cognitive dissonance about being gay. I have no maladjustment or self-loathing. But I also live in a state that just voted to amend its constitution to bar gay marriage, which passed with 81% of the vote. I also work with children. People who don't live in the Bible Belt may have a hard time imagining the level of hysteria and vitriol still directed toward gay people.

    Given the circumstances, my being open to some people is on a need to know basis. Many people are like me - open with friends, more reserved at the workplace. I can live an honest life without living in a fishbowl.
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    Sep 10, 2008 9:16 PM GMT

    > Why are people afraid to be known as gay?

    Insecurities and fear of rejection (by someone or by society).

    And in some places, still, physical security.


    If being gay were totally acceptable and there weren't all the old wives tales surrounding the matter, I think few would have issues. Likewise, if some wealthy benefactor gave out $1 million for people coming out (not just a toaster oven), I'd bet people would get over their fears and line up.

    While it's easy to see the value of a $1 million "reward", the irony is that many deeply closeted people can't see the benefits gained by coming out (i.e. not living a semi-miserable life) and thus justify and maintain their status quo.

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    Sep 10, 2008 11:40 PM GMT
    As already mentioned, common obstacles to coming out can be family, community, friends, employment, religion and other things most of us already know about. But in my case, the greatest obstacle was myself.

    My problem was that I believed in erroneous male stereotypes regarding the outward behavior of gay and straight men. Since I mostly behaved like the straight male stereotype, and not the gay one, I concluded I couldn't be gay, despite my sexual attraction to men, and my lack of any similar feelings towards women.

    Growing up in the 1950s and '60s, I was exposed to the myth that all "queers" are effeminate, swishy cross-dressers who speak with a lisp. Since that wasn't me, I failed the gay "test."

    And based on the very low esteem in which queers were held by society, I knew it wasn't something I'd ever want to be. I was highly motivated to believe I was straight, and also to conform to the example of my male peers, and not make myself an outsider who didn't "fit in" with the guys.

    So that when I'd have to fight against getting aroused in the high school locker room gang shower, for instance, I'd try to rationalize it as being nothing more than a self-induced reaction to the very fear that I'd have a reaction. It was merely a case of worrying about it too much, and thereby inadvertently making it actually happen, that had nothing to do with seeing the other guys naked. Nice theory, but not in my case.

    And I also had lame theories about why I wasn't attracted to girls. Mostly it was their fault, because it was they who weren't interested in me. I might show some interest if they'd show it first. In the meantime, I was just too busy with other things, and I interpreted the obsession young men my age had for females as immature passion overriding underdeveloped intellect.

    What finally brought an end to this absurdly delusional thinking was seeing the reality of masculine gay men. And being told that sexual orientation is more about gender attraction than about behavior. Once my stereotypical image of gay men was invalidated, my entire denial mechanism collapsed.

    The existence of butch gays allowed for the possibility that I might be gay myself. And as I thought back on my life objectively, without the biased insistence that I must be straight, every indication was gay.

    Because although I may act straight on the outside, I think gay on the inside. And that, I've found, is how the majority of the gay men I know behave. I actually know very few "flamers" despite how TV & movies often portray us.

    Leading me to believe that one way to remove the kind of obstacle to gay self-awareness and acceptance such as I experienced is the promotion of the image of gays as ordinary men, rather than as maladjusted pseudo-women. We need more public role models of gays who defy the swishy stereotypes.

    And this has several benefits. One is to the closeted or denying gay, to help him overcome his fears, confusion and doubts about himself.

    Another benefit is that the straight public sees a more realistic image of us, that refutes some of the slanderous propaganda our enemies spread about gays. They use the old stereotypes as weapons against us, but the reality of the more typical gay man disarms them.

    Fortunately this is already happening today to a greater extent than ever before. But TV is still full of "Jacks" and the likes of that femmy assistant on "Ugly Betty."

    I find them funny, but I think we're better off with role models that are gay more in sentiment than in superficial attire and mannerisms. And when the spotlight moves away from the more flamboyant end of the gay behavioral scale, then all parts of the scale will be better accepted by the general public, and more men will be willing and able to identify themselves as being gay.
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    Sep 10, 2008 11:50 PM GMT
    I couldn't agree more with Red Vespa. He sums up quite eloquently my feelings regarding my sexuality.
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    Sep 11, 2008 12:40 AM GMT
    RyanReBoRn said The way people carry the gay label today make it out that they are some how NOT really men, but some sort of seperate type of human.


    This is authentically nuts.
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    Sep 11, 2008 12:59 AM GMT

    Red_Vespa> I also had lame theories about... denial mechanisms

    Amazing what lies we can tell ourselves. As Carrie Fisher once said on an NPR interview:

    "Don't live the fictions; change the facts".


    RV> We need more public role models of gays who defy the swishy stereotypes.

    Definitely. It's so easy to fall into the trap (even for us before we come out) that we can identify the swishy types as gay (even if false positives) while the butch guys never show up on the radar (false negatives). They are out there (going at least as far back as NFL player David Kopay who came out in 1975), but so rarely in the spotlight (let alone on TV, be it the news or sit-coms).


    RV> But TV is still full of "Jacks" and the likes of that femmy assistant on "Ugly Betty."

    Granted he's a bit swishy, but I think he's adorable!! (:

    Oddly, when there are butch gay characters, they are often peripheral and 1 dimensional and only there to provide the "shock" that they are also gay. For example, the tough bodyguard in Victor Victoria.
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    Sep 11, 2008 1:13 AM GMT
    caesarea4 said
    Red_Vespa> I also had lame theories about... denial mechanisms

    Amazing what lies we can tell ourselves. As Carrie Fisher once said on an NPR interview:

    "Don't live the fictions; change the facts".


    RV> We need more public role models of gays who defy the swishy stereotypes.

    Definitely. It's so easy to fall into the trap (even for us before we come out) that we can identify the swishy types as gay (even if false positives) while the butch guys never show up on the radar (false negatives). They are out there (going at least as far back as NFL player David Kopay who came out in 1975), but so rarely in the spotlight (let alone on TV, be it the news or sit-coms).


    RV> But TV is still full of "Jacks" and the likes of that femmy assistant on "Ugly Betty."

    Granted he's a bit swishy, but I think he's adorable!! (:

    Oddly, when there are butch gay characters, they are often peripheral and 1 dimensional and only there to provide the "shock" that they are also gay. For example, the tough bodyguard in Victor Victoria.


    I completely agree with you on the role model aspect. i want to be that masculine role model for gay kids growing up in the future so they would never have to go through the confusion, self hate, and insecurities with their masculinity like I still have today. I hope I can get over them one day so I can be that person that one kid would say kept him going and showed him you dont have to be a fashion designer or on the Fucking E! network to be gay. I till this day struggle with my insecurities and my fears of people seeing me as weak and not masculine and even though I am out of the closet I truly dont feel out because I am still struggling with it myself..... and its been 2 years now
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    Sep 11, 2008 1:13 AM GMT

    They are afraid because of social stigma. I sense this has been a method of attacking a person for a very long time: you downgrade them and label them something less than a person. People do this to lower others in level to make them worthy of attack because deep down , I think most people can't hurt other people unless they psychologically downgrade them to a thing that isn't human or less than human first.

    The point of such psychological warfare is to make the victims of such attack feel less than human to weaken them and strengthen their attackers.
    Gay men who are afraid to be known as gay , I believe, are victims of this attack. They don't want to be called a fag, an outcast, a pervert, queer, or a freak; etc. They don't want to be automatically labeled with negative traits. They want to be recognized and appreciated as a human being with talents and abilities so they choose to hide.

    I wish they would realize that their worth as a human does not rest with society or anyone's view of them. This is where true strenght lies: looking inside yourself and determining your own worth.

    .......................................................

    Gay men who do not choose to be known as gay thrive on a false acceptance by society that they wouldn't have if they were free and open. It must be a very oppressing life: always watching yourself, always telling lies to cover yourself, always hiding to earn acceptance.

    For example: Straight Guilty can spend the weekend with his girlfriend and when asked, can tell the asker "I spent the weekend with my girlfriend." On the otherhand, GAY Guilty can have had the time of his life that weekend, but if asked, has to either omit information about the identity of his company or lie about that company's identity all together.

    Straight Guilty, as an American citizen is guaranteed the right to persue his own happiness and it is logical to assume that happiness includes a lover and a family. Gay Guilty, as an American citizen is guaranteed the same rights only if they don't include a samesex lover and a family.
    ...................................................................................small star Pictures, Images and Photos
    Straight Guilty can enjoy the freedom, whenever the desire strikes, to kiss his female lover in public without fear of undue judgement. Gay Guilty had better look around for a gay flag* first to make sure he is in friendly surroundings before he'd ever dare.
    ....................................................................................small star Pictures, Images and Photos
    Straight Guilty and Gay Guilty can celebrate this one commonality: if either gets AIDS for whatever reason, society will brand them both a fag and turn its back on them.
    ....................................................................................small star Pictures, Images and Photos

    Social stigma, ladies and gentlemen, this is why "coming out" is not a silly and obnoxious term as it was called in that other thread. It allows people to accept themselves first and live in society inspite of society. They can live free of the social stigma.

    I've come out. It's very freeing. There is no need to wear a rainbow on your shirt or paste one on your car, but it works wonders knowing you could if you wanted to instead of thinking you simply can't do anything that might out you. Most importantly, you can enjoy a very genuine acceptance from your gay community and from the open minded portion of society. The closed minded side, you are better off without anyway. Atleast this way, you don't pile everyone in society into the same grocery cart as a defense mechanism.

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    Sep 11, 2008 1:21 AM GMT
    caesarea4 said

    Granted he's a bit swishy, but I think he's adorable!! (:

    Oddly, when there are butch gay characters, they are often peripheral and 1 dimensional and only there to provide the "shock" that they are also gay. For example, the tough bodyguard in Victor Victoria.


    Yeah, I gotta admit I find him cute. As for Alex Karras, he had some funny moments in the movie. There are some good comments by director Blake Edwards about Karras in the extra-features of the DVD edition I have.

    When he starts crying and hugs James Garner, whom he thinks he's accidentally uncovered as a fellow gay, is hilarious. Not the most perfect way I might want to portray gays, but to general audiences 25 years ago (GASP!) the very idea of the tough-guy gay was radical, and at least might have gotten them to think twice about some of those stereotypes we've mentioned.
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    Sep 11, 2008 1:57 AM GMT
    Red_Vespa> to general audiences 25 years ago (GASP!) the very idea of the tough-guy gay was radical, and at least might have gotten them to think twice about some of those stereotypes we've mentioned.

    Indeed, that is one of many great scenes in the movie, but such tokenism is lost on me. There are so many other non-butch gay characters, they get developed, they have lives... and then we have the token butch guy. It's more like the "exception that proves the rule" than actually challenging the rule.


    ItsMyLife> I till this day struggle with my insecurities and my fears of people seeing me as weak and not masculine and even though I am out of the closet I truly dont feel out because I am still struggling with it myself..... and its been 2 years now

    We all struggle with all sorts of things (many not gay related and which also date back to childhood and growing up). It's always going to be there for us. But the good news is that we learn to tame it, to control it rather than let it control us. Society had its way with you for ~20 years... don't expect that to all be undone in a mere 2 years. But it does get better from year to year and one day not too far off you'll look back and smile (this statement comes with a money back guarantee. Look me up if it doesn't come true). By then (if not already) you'll be serving as a great role model for someone.


    GuiltyGear> Gay men who do not choose to be known as gay thrive on a false acceptance by society

    True. If you have to pretend to be straight for some guy to be friends with you... what's the point of having him like you? This is as absurd as posting someone else's pictures in your profile. (Then again, maybe they post such pictures also because they're too closeted to post their own.)

    Not that one has to go overboard. Matt and I aren't out to most of our clients (though many know and the rainbow flags on our cars could also confirm or provide a clue). But I can't imagine someone who can't tell his closest friends that he's gay. What kind of friends are those?

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    Sep 11, 2008 2:11 AM GMT
    rowerboy saidI have a feeling this forum may solve, or at least shed some light on, issues we've all been bitching over in other forums. Im not going to give my opinion on why I was apprehensive to come out for the first 20 years of my life but i do want to know yours if you so wish to share them. I wont give mine because it will most likely set the tone for the forum and the last thing i need is guys gettin their calvins in a knot right off the bat.

    Im starting this because i feel bad for boys/guys that do not ever accept themselves and thus live a sad life of denial and shame. We most likely see these people every day, guys that are so ashamed of themselves and do not come out for reasons all of their own - or are they not feelings of their own, is there an underlying universal reason?



    My guess is that the most common answer is because daddy disowned his gay boy, and that's a powerful thing to overcome.
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    Sep 11, 2008 2:43 AM GMT
    I'll explain it all later. Right now I have to go eat pizza with friends icon_lol.gif