The Residual Shame of Being a Gay Man

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    Nov 18, 2013 3:35 PM GMT
    Hi all,

    In many ways I've done pretty well up until now. I've freed myself from toxic religion , I've walked out of dangerous ex gay therapy, and I'm in a committed relationship with a man I love and he's wonderful. In many respects, he's totally different from what I envisaged for myself and it seems to work !

    Under all of this, I feel a sense of being a freak because I'm gay. I feel like im having to be careful who I tell I'm gay to at times ( not all the time ) because I'm aware that they may react badly. The sense of being a freak, of being somehow "against nature ", and all of that still lies under the surface.

    I've read The Velvet Rage and it seems to help but I think most gay men are pretty much all dealing with this issue.

    How have people processed through it?
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    Nov 18, 2013 3:42 PM GMT
    In my case I was able to let go at two key points - when the subterfuge became exhausting and when I became too distracted getting caught up in other peoples' drama to dwell on myself.
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    Nov 18, 2013 3:58 PM GMT
    I see that ex gay therapy probably had a lot to do with this- when youre told at a deep level that you're "fundamentally broken" and that the Divine sees you as an aberration - its probably understandable that one feels this way.

    Thing is that I'm actually not a self absorbed person. I care about others, am there to help others in many different ways - ironically I always am able to help others through their issues and crises- but I'm not so good at dealing with my own "stuff".
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Nov 18, 2013 4:20 PM GMT
    I grew up in a deeply conservative, rural area with pious parents, but never really felt bad about myself; more restricted and denied of life. One of the things that helped greatly was meeting an older, openly gay, friendly, and confident boy at college when I was sixteen. I suddenly realized I was not a uniquely strange or bad person.

    I still had a long way to go to develop any confidence about my sexuality, but his example said far more than words and affected me strongly.

    I think it`s an example of how higher education can be liberating without needing the lecture room.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Nov 18, 2013 4:23 PM GMT
    Only when my mother calls...icon_confused.gif
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    Nov 18, 2013 4:32 PM GMT
    I think the environment has a lot to do with our self acceptance. Our generation was continually told how bad they were, wrong they were, unaccepted they were and even to this day, we struggle with acceptance of who we are. This is the reason so many of my generation came out later in life and some still struggle to accept who they are. I'm not sure we'll ever get to the point of full acceptance but I think many of us, as we age, will get to the point of 'I really don't give a crap'.

    Years of being kicked when you're down takes it's toll. The entire gay community has faced this from the organized religious community and just now they're starting to change that attitude but you can't expect that you can turn it off like a switch.

    The way I process it is that I surround myself with the ones that love me for who I am. I'm lucky to have an ex-wife and 3 kids that love me regardless of my being str8 or gay. I see 3 grandchildren starting their lives with a gay grandpa and I know that someone being gay will be the norm for them and they'll be able to share that openly with their generation of friends. I have friends from before coming out that are supportive and loving. Those that don't accept me, I just don't socialize with. As for society in general, I'm conscientious of where I am and what I do but I refuse to remain in the closet. I don't shout my gayness from the mountain tops but I don't mind mentioning my partner either. I work in a very masculine profession and guys I work with come to me because of my knowledge and experience and I've found that most could care less that I'm gay (if they even know, which many don't). I think we cause more fear in ourselves than what's really there. Just be yourself at whatever level is comfortable for YOU and you'll do just fine icon_smile.gif
  • Oceans_of_Flo...

    Posts: 393

    Nov 18, 2013 4:37 PM GMT
    Uh, I feel like we should switch screen names - hehe,huh,huh - ok that was my first and last attempt at humor...on this posting.

    I just dropped an all gay man's therapy group because it was equally toxic. It definitely was ok to be gay there, but every man is disheartened and angry about other men so all I heard session after session was about how terrible and not worth ones time gay men are - except in the sack of course, there they are worth something. It is such a load off to watch project Runway Thursday nights now instead of going there.

    The shame I think is permanent. My shame stems from believe it or not, the pleasure. After I busted a nutt, I used to turn into the most depressed little man for at least twenty minutes. But now I see things different: a divine being would want me to be happy, if it even cared first most, and so would my mother, and so would society, if society were taken over by platinum blonds with advanced intellect. In a perfect world, it wouldn't matter and the world is not perfect, but little sections of it are.

    Your front porch for example - nobody sets foot there you won't invite and if they do, the law can be called to remove him or her. Inside your homes various rooms like the bedroom - can be a hot bed of perfection. The toxic thoughts and viewpoints of others don't need to be all0wed inside and if there is a force inside that is toxic, it can be shown the door. Most importantly, your mind is your own and while sometimes it seems less fortified than a house, nasty thoughts can be expelled just as easy as an unruly houseguest.

    The key is just practice, which while we expunge negative people and practices, we try to practice positive ones with all the extra free time.


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    Nov 18, 2013 5:32 PM GMT
    blactor saidHi all,

    In many ways I've done pretty well up until now. I've freed myself from toxic religion , I've walked out of dangerous ex gay therapy, and I'm in a committed relationship with a man I love and he's wonderful. In many respects, he's totally different from what I envisaged for myself and it seems to work !

    Under all of this, I feel a sense of being a freak because I'm gay. I feel like im having to be careful who I tell I'm gay to at times ( not all the time ) because I'm aware that they may react badly. The sense of being a freak, of being somehow "against nature ", and all of that still lies under the surface.

    I've read The Velvet Rage and it seems to help but I think most gay men are pretty much all dealing with this issue.

    How have people processed through it?



    I thought Velvet Rage was the worst gay book I have ever read. The author's problem was not that he is gay. He is insecure to the bone. He could have just as easily blamed his anxiety on skin color, height, weight ,IQ, wealth or religion etc.

    It's cool being you! It's that simple. Some peeps set themselves up as losers because they believe other people opinions supersede their own . Perhaps one needs to do that as a child but after a point it becomes self destructive .

    I used to be down on gays but now that I am gay I'm superior to straights....it's all on your head.
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    Nov 18, 2013 5:35 PM GMT
    I just learned to love the little freak in me. I embrace the little freak in me. I indulge the little freak in me.

    Freak does not equal bad or not good enough. Different does not equal bad or not good enough.

    It was easy once I discarded the Judeo-Christian concept of god as the boogie man. Although I will admit there are times that concept returns to haunt me. I'm sure I may struggle with that off and on for a long time.
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    Nov 18, 2013 5:35 PM GMT
    I'm completely comfortable with myself as a gay man but I think I will never be completely comfortable with myself in this heterosexual world.

    Study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness about being black in America and then apply that to being gay in heteroville.

    "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."~~W. E. B. Du Bois
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Nov 18, 2013 5:36 PM GMT
    UndercoverMan saidI just learned to love the little freak in me. I embrace the little freak in me. I indulge the little freak in me.

    Freak does not equal bad or not good enough. Different does not equal bad or not good enough.

    It was easy once I discarded the Judeo-Christian concept of god as the boogie man. Although I will admit there are times that concept returns to haunt me. I'm sure I may struggle with that off and on for a long time.

    Can't you just sacrifice a goat, or something?
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Nov 18, 2013 5:39 PM GMT
    theantijock saidI'm completely comfortable with myself as a gay man but I think I will never be completely comfortable with myself in this heterosexual world.

    Study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness about being black in America and then apply that to being gay in heteroville.

    "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."
    ~~W. E. B. Du Bois

    It works both ways. If you really steep yourself in African American history you learn more about the truth about white culture, and mob mentality, and economic greed, than if you just look at the whitewashed history, as it's taught in schools.
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    Nov 18, 2013 5:40 PM GMT
    blactor saidHi all,

    In many ways I've done pretty well up until now. I've freed myself from toxic religion , I've walked out of dangerous ex gay therapy, and I'm in a committed relationship with a man I love and he's wonderful. In many respects, he's totally different from what I envisaged for myself and it seems to work !

    Under all of this, I feel a sense of being a freak because I'm gay. I feel like im having to be careful who I tell I'm gay to at times ( not all the time ) because I'm aware that they may react badly. The sense of being a freak, of being somehow "against nature ", and all of that still lies under the surface.

    I've read The Velvet Rage and it seems to help but I think most gay men are pretty much all dealing with this issue.

    How have people processed through it?


    I'm still a work in process. I have been through all those things also, counseling, religion, support groups. If anything it's gotten me deeper in being gay. I'm still in the "closet" to coworkers and family. I guess I don't want my accomplishments to be clouded by who my sexual preference is. I still feel shame and fear of being rejected by family and friends. Mostly always will to some extent I guess. Please don't give me some pep talk how gay is so great. You will be waisting your typing!
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    Nov 18, 2013 5:53 PM GMT
    You have every right to feel shame and self loathing. Wallow in these feelings of disgust as long as you like.

    It can be a great distraction while you're avoiding doing something useful with your time.

    Or you can get on with participating in Life. Do some good for yourself and others when you can. Be kind to animals and try to recycle.

    You are imperfect and that has nothing to do with your sexuality. Don't let imperfection stop you from experiencing joy whenever you find it.

    You seem like a good soul. They tend to have the most doubts about their worthiness. Sad, silly irony.
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    Nov 18, 2013 5:58 PM GMT
    I have no shame..those days are long gone..the problem for me is most if the time the guy im with is still dealing with his shame and there's nothing to be ashamed of
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    Nov 18, 2013 6:11 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    theantijock saidI'm completely comfortable with myself as a gay man but I think I will never be completely comfortable with myself in this heterosexual world.

    Study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness about being black in America and then apply that to being gay in heteroville.

    "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."
    ~~W. E. B. Du Bois

    It works both ways. If you really steep yourself in African American history you learn more about the truth about white culture, and mob mentality, and economic greed, than if you just look at the whitewashed history, as it's taught in schools.


    I've not studied in depth black history in particular though I have studied social movements so I probably know at least the typical stuff. But I'm not sure I know what you mean by "it work(ing) both ways". I think Du Bois was getting at effects of hegemony.

    Of course the influence of each is felt both ways to whatever degree, some positive (great music) some negative (fatty foods or flashy fashion) but I think the point of the concept of double-consciousness, which I definitely find myself experiencing, is that judgmentalism is more one directional such that a black man in white world or a gay man in str8 world will likely be made to feel more self-conscious in having more eyes upon him then would a white man even when in a situation of being in a minority: carryover entitlement.
  • BuggEyedSprit...

    Posts: 920

    Nov 18, 2013 6:15 PM GMT
    it just plain sucks.icon_evil.gif
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    Nov 18, 2013 6:30 PM GMT
    I'm the first to admit that being a gay man has its challenges .

    A lovely director I worked with in a Shakespeare play I was cast in last year, was stunned to see the ghettoisation of the gay and straight communities . She was from Sweden where there is no gay scene. Everything is integrated and it's normal to be gay or straight . She was troubled by the divide in London.

    Somehow I suspect Europeans are far more evolved than much of the rest of the Western World.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Nov 18, 2013 6:38 PM GMT
    theantijock said
    HottJoe said
    theantijock saidI'm completely comfortable with myself as a gay man but I think I will never be completely comfortable with myself in this heterosexual world.

    Study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness about being black in America and then apply that to being gay in heteroville.

    "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."
    ~~W. E. B. Du Bois

    It works both ways. If you really steep yourself in African American history you learn more about the truth about white culture, and mob mentality, and economic greed, than if you just look at the whitewashed history, as it's taught in schools.


    I've not studied in depth black history in particular though I have studied social movements so I probably know at least the typical stuff. But I'm not sure I know what you mean by "it work(ing) both ways". I think Du Bois was getting at effects of hegemony.

    Of course the influence of each is felt both ways to whatever degree, some positive (great music) some negative (fatty foods or flashy fashion) but I think the point of the concept of double-consciousness, which I definitely find myself experiencing, is that judgmentalism is more one directional such that a black man in white world or a gay man in str8 world will likely be made to feel more self-conscious in having more eyes upon him then would a white man even when in a situation of being in a minority: carryover entitlement.

    I'm talking about looking at white culture from the perspective of black history. I get the sense that I'm one of few white people who have done this. You should read the book 12 years a Slave. It's the single most important book about America ever written. It's not an easy read, but it is a frightening real life account of white power from the perspective of a black man sold into slavery. After I read the book I started looking at the reconstruction period, and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hadn't realized. It's shocking how ignorant educated white people are about how we were the animals, we were the thugs who put bling over human rights. And it wasn't just a fringe cult. It was the whole cult. There's no white pride, because there's nothing to proud of. We would need to show humility before pride, but that won't happen as long as denial about what really happened continues.
  • LEANDRO_NJ

    Posts: 1116

    Nov 18, 2013 6:48 PM GMT
    blactor saidHi all,

    In many ways I've done pretty well up until now. I've freed myself from toxic religion , I've walked out of dangerous ex gay therapy, and I'm in a committed relationship with a man I love and he's wonderful. In many respects, he's totally different from what I envisaged for myself and it seems to work !

    Under all of this, I feel a sense of being a freak because I'm gay. I feel like im having to be careful who I tell I'm gay to at times ( not all the time ) because I'm aware that they may react badly. The sense of being a freak, of being somehow "against nature ", and all of that still lies under the surface.

    I've read The Velvet Rage and it seems to help but I think most gay men are pretty much all dealing with this issue.

    How have people processed through it?



    Residual shamed, you!? just look back at all that you and others put your true nature through, and yet here you are today alive and well; in the sense that you are in a much better place today. You should pad yourself in the back for having made it sanely this far. I see far too many gay men, totally out or closeted, that have wasted a whole life trying to be proud or accept something so basic as being one's self, sadly through sexual identity exclusively; when in reality being who you truly are is so much more then that, when as humans we are three dimensional beings.

    I may not know you personally but from having read and follow your personal struggles here on RealJock, I can honestly say that you have my respects; for having the courage and integrity to embrace the unknown, and the integrity to never let go what you already know or is familiar to you. I admire anyone, from any sexual persuasion, who knows are so much more then who they or what others think of them!

    No need to waste time at pointing fingers, as to who or what is to blame for the struggles we go through as gay men; because regardless how influential these entities are in our suffering and struggles to be who we truly are, ultimately our inner strengths and the awareness of our inner qualities IS what defines us as a whole, and not just through the other partial sides of ourselves!

    How does it feel now that you are loved vs when you were too busy being in love with yourself? do you see now the huge difference! you are in a much much better place now, that I know. Gay Love when shared is a very powerful force that awakens sides of strengths, weaknesses, and sensitivities that as straight male you would never have known; at least that have being my experience!! just be glad your heart is in that place, and don't let anyone in, much less feel ashamed if outsiders criticize you because they can't be as happy as you are.
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Nov 18, 2013 7:12 PM GMT
    GuiltyGear saidUh, I feel like we should switch screen names - hehe,huh,huh - ok that was my first and last attempt at humor...on this posting.

    I just dropped an all gay man's therapy group because it was equally toxic. It definitely was ok to be gay there, but every man is disheartened and angry about other men so all I heard session after session was about how terrible and not worth ones time gay men are - except in the sack of course, there they are worth something. It is such a load off to watch project Runway Thursday nights now instead of going there.

    The shame I think is permanent. My shame stems from believe it or not, the pleasure. After I busted a nutt, I used to turn into the most depressed little man for at least twenty minutes. But now I see things different: a divine being would want me to be happy, if it even cared first most, and so would my mother, and so would society, if society were taken over by platinum blonds with advanced intellect. In a perfect world, it wouldn't matter and the world is not perfect, but little sections of it are.

    Your front porch for example - nobody sets foot there you won't invite and if they do, the law can be called to remove him or her. Inside your homes various rooms like the bedroom - can be a hot bed of perfection. The toxic thoughts and viewpoints of others don't need to be all0wed inside and if there is a force inside that is toxic, it can be shown the door. Most importantly, your mind is your own and while sometimes it seems less fortified than a house, nasty thoughts can be expelled just as easy as an unruly houseguest.

    The key is just practice, which while we expunge negative people and practices, we try to practice positive ones with all the extra free time.

    QFT So MANY good points in what you've said. Wow, very impressed! I'm also very appreciative of the honesty in this thread. This is one of the reasons I keep hanging out on RJ. We need more threads like this (as well as the fun ones)!
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    Nov 18, 2013 7:19 PM GMT
    No, Sorry; like eb said, 'just don't give a shit,' didn't give a shit 20 years ago or at least 15 years ago and didn't need to read about it.
    My dislike of women is as important to me as my dislike of Eggplant.
    The Velvet Rage had it's time and place, something to relate to for some men.
    Now we have 10 Smart Tings Gay Men Can Do To Improve Their Lives--little more up to date at least in excepting of straight men who like dick; moreover, to help me with my anger issues than anything else.
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Nov 18, 2013 7:22 PM GMT
    OP, "shame" is a huge issue. After being in therapy for many years it was a revelation to realize that all my problems (shame being just one of them) were *not* centered around my sexuality. I'd grown up feeling shame, having low-self-esteem, negative self-image, etc. And, yes, of course, my sexual attractions were apart of that, but there was way more to it. Being very *different* (in the way I felt and thought about things in general) from my parents and siblings, and the rural society I grew up in, also played a big part in it.

    I don't know how it is these days but when I was growing up, being "shamed" was commonplace. Sex, of course, is one of the biggest "taboos" there is. The heterosexual normative puts it in a very weird box where we learn sexual feelings and stimulation are 'ok' in certain predetermined instances but not in others.

    But the question I began asking myself, even as a kid, is "what is the big deal?" Ok, so certain thoughts or fantasies or touching myself in certain ways leads to a change in awareness, excitement, stimulation, arousal and ultimately a brief moment of 'curl your toes' ecstasy. So, how come this is a big deal? Clearly *everyone* has these feelings one way and another and clearly people enjoy sharing these feelings. How is it (my young mind wondered) this natural, human instinct (one of the few we have) gets so twisted up, convoluted, put in a socially prescribed box of what is acceptable and not?

    Obviously this is a huge question that has to do with the history of human socialization (controlling the herd), human psychology and the depths of what it *means* to be human. Volumes could be and have been written about it.

    Long story short, my 'theory' is that we (meaning human beings in general) don't really understand ourselves at the most basic and fundamental level. Sex is a 'big deal' because it is one of, if not THE, most powerful forces driving human behavior. It's right up there with 'the survival instinct' and intrinsically coupled to it on the species level.

    But there is more to it than just propagation and the existence of homosexuality is evidence of this. I believe there is in us a deeply seated 'wish' for union; to become 'one with' a transcendent force. That is, a state of consciousness that transcends our human limitations.

    If I'm at all right about this, what we find sexually attractive, what draws us, stimulates us and brings about a craving for sexual union with 'an other', is a kind of 'projection'. Speaking in religious/mystical terms, what the soul longs for is union with the Divine. But at the level of our physical attractions this manifests as a strong magnetic force drawing us toward an 'other' that embodies these pre-conscious "Divine" qualities. Thus, for example, we speak of "muscle worship" or what have you. Speaking allegorically, what we desire is union with "Apollo" (the perfected figure of a male God) or (if we are heterosexual, perhaps) "Venus."

    So where does "shame" come into all this? Why is it "shameful" that I, being physically male, am drawn (allegorically) to "Apollo" and not "Venus"? Why does it matter what "figure" or "form" stimulates in me the desire for union, gratification, bliss and even love?

    I think the simple answer is, it doesn't matter. The "form" is just a carrot on a stick projected outward onto the 'other'; what we truly desire is union with the transcendent, which is beyond any form. Sexual attraction is simply an externalized, physicalized manifestation of this inner desire to *become one with* something we don't understand and don't even know how to talk about. These brief moments of ecstasy we experience during orgasm are just intimations of a far more profound possibility: Becoming Eros, the body of Love.

    Cf: Life Against Death and Love's Body by Norman O Brown.

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    Nov 18, 2013 7:40 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidI'm talking about looking at white culture from the perspective of black history. I get the sense that I'm one of few white people who have done this. You should read the book 12 years a Slave. It's the single most important book about America ever written. It's not an easy read, but it is a frightening real life account of white power from the perspective of a black man sold into slavery. After I read the book I started looking at the reconstruction period, and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hadn't realized. It's shocking how ignorant educated white people are about how we were the animals, we were the thugs who put bling over human rights. And it wasn't just a fringe cult. It was the whole cult. There's no white pride, because there's nothing to proud of. We would need to show humility before pride, but that won't happen as long as denial about what really happened continues.


    I'm just now reading an article but had to put it down a few times like when I read of the Aw√° tribe of Brazil: "...The government dropped bombs on them and fed them sugar laced with arsenic...".

    Too see how poorly blacks have been treated by whites in America you needn't even go back as far as slavery to find atrocities: Tuskegee, et al. And then going back to the colonization of this country. I recall from I think it was in Librarian of Congress Boorstin's The Americans series learning how the US Government utilized Native Americans by corralling them in territories strategically to maintain the density of white America in order to build an economy, that had the invader-Americans spread too far too fast the economy would have never congealed and developed.

    There's a whole history of human atrocities perpetrated in the name of progress and under many guises be it maternal/paternal, supposedly loving but only to offer the opportunity to abuse, whatever the case might be. So of course, as you note, the pride in that is questionable but continuing benefits to the powers that be are undeniable so I'm not sure how you are tying your point into the idea of residual shame or for practical purposes a facsimile thereof.

    I think your saying that the larger group has more to be shameful for (whether whites for what they do to blacks or str8s for what they do to gays, etc.) but the fact remains that they get to continue enjoying those benefits while the victims of hegemony continue suffering deprivation of mental well-being.
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Nov 18, 2013 7:49 PM GMT
    To HotJoe and theantijock: I think it is very interesting that our society instills in us shame where there need not be any and no shame where there perhaps ought to be. "Shame" being a twisted seed of what we all need, genuine "conscience."