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14 Apr 2006

Please help!!
Hi Expert

I have got a problem which is bothering me for a long time already. I am 18 years old, still with my parents, in high school (matric) and doing well at school.

My problem is that I have got this habit of always wanting to look at other men and always find them attractive. I feel the need to be with someone of the same sex.

I really want to make a success of my life and I know that I can, but if my parents have to know that I have got an interest in men, they will never want to see me again, and my life will be ruined. I don't know whether it is stages I am going through, but I find other men so much more attractive in comparison with women.

I really feel the need to have a male partner. When I go on holiday with my family, all I can do is to check out the other men and wish they were mine, when I see the sexy ones, of course. And, if I cannot have them, I feel so sad. It is a truly weird, but kind of sad feeling.

What advice have you got for me? Is there a place where I can chat to guys my age?

Thank you for your time.
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Expert
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
gay, lesbian and bisexual expert

01 Jan 0001

Hi Sad Guy, welcome to our forum and thanks for your post.

It does sound as if you aren't straight, in that you're both sexually and romantically attracted to men. You're gay. It also sounds as if you're in the process of coming out, which consists of two phases: firstly, the increased awareness of being different to the heterosexist norm upheld by society, and coming to terms with this in the face of your having been raised and socialised to believe that heterosexuality is 'normal' and homosexuality is both 'abnormal' and frowned upon. Emotions you may have experienced could include fear, concern, guilt and shame, insecurity and isolation, self doubt, anxiety, sadness and even clinical depression. These emotions are often accompanied by efforts to hide or mask your true sexual orientation from others. With time you begin to enter the second phase of the coming out process which relates to disclosing your sexual orientation to others - a friend, a sibling or a parent - and culminates in your being comfortable being completely out as a gay man. When we talk about gay pride we invariably refer to someone who has successfully resolved both phases of the process and who is both proud to be gay and able to have a high level of self respect in the face of society's prejudice against us.

The most important thing for you to know is that you are not abnormal in any way - for example, it is as normal for gay guys to look at men as it is normal for straight guys to look at women. Your sexual orientation will not have any impact on your making a success of your life - most gay men are very successful at they do. Being gay does not mean that you’ll run around in a dress and it doesn't mean that you want to be a woman, it doesn't imply you can't be in an enduring and loving relationship, it doesn't mean you'll become HIV positive and it doesn't imply that your life will be in any way different - you'll simply be a man who happens to love men.

The anxiety about coming out to your parents is normal. In reality it is extremely unlikely that they'll reject you - your belief that this is possible is most likely a projection of your own anxiety, doubt and guilt at being gay - but there is no reason for you to come out to them yet. Wait a while, until you're more confident of yourself and their reaction to this. There's no need to rush coming out and you're very young. On the other hand, it is possible that they suspect this anyway. Parents (mothers in particular) are seldom surprised.

Don’t worry about not having a male partner - your time will come, there'll be plenty of opportunity for that later. Not all straight guys your age have a girlfriend. For now, focus on your education and your personal development.

If you're in or near Cape Town you can join Triangle Project's support group for young gay guys your age, facilitated by a gay psychologist (call 021 448 4812 for more info). I’m not aware of any other groups for gay youth in South Africa. Try to find a copy of Exit (the national monthly gay newspaper in South Africa) at your local CNA - it will be folded and sealed in plastic - and look for the excellent features for young gay men written by Robin Malan.

I hope you’ll post again and tell us how you’re getting on and you’re welcome to ask questions - there are other gay guys your age visiting our forum.
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