Tuesday, March 9, 2010

GLBTQ Encyclopedia: Coming Out to Oneself

By Mister Curie

The GLBTQ Encyclopedia has an interesting observation on when a gay or lesbian is most likely to admit their homosexuality to themselves.  It states:
Women repress their homosexuality more than do gay men. Though they may engage in homosexual activity, gay men often do not label themselves as gay until they fall in love with another man, whereas women tend to discover their lesbianism when they experience sexual desire for another woman. The crisis of identity felt by gay men in heterosexual marriages usually occurs when they become emotionally involved with another man as opposed to merely engaging in homosexual sex.
I thought this was an interesting observation and entirely counter-intuitive.  We are raised with the stereotypes that all a man thinks about is sex and that women are primarily interested in emotions.  Perhaps that is why some men are able to compartmentalize and have sex with other men without believing they are homosexual.  It only being an emotional attachment that suddenly convinces them that they are gay because it is so out of the ordinary.  Likewise, a woman who feels lots of emotional attachment to other women may not recognize her lesbianism until she feels unmistakable physical attraction for another woman, again because it goes so far against the cultural norm.

Given this information, there are probably several times I should have recognized that I was gay.  Perhaps most obvious in retrospect was one of my mission companionship.  My relationship with my mission companion had as much of an emotional component as a physical component and my mission journal contains some surprisingly candid observations about my feelings for my companion.  But the mission was probably also the least safe time emotionally for me to be able to recognize my homosexuality, with such a personal price of public humiliation and the dedication I felt toward exact obedience to the church.


  1. That seems about consistent with my experiences. physical needs are skewed towards women, while my emotional needs are skewed towards men.

  2. Interesting. I hadn't really thought about this before. And I'd like to see excerpts from that journal... :-)

  3. This is very interesting. This might be at least one of the factors that contributes to why we see fewer women coming out of the closet. I also have a theory that women stay in the closet more often because though they are attracted to other women they still want kids and a family. I think sometimes the desire to have a family just outweighs the desire to be in a relationship with another women... I could be totally wrong, just a thought that was kind of spurred by what you posted.

  4. That's fascinating. That idea fits for me and my experience. I'm not sure though if it was purely a result of falling in love or just that the guy I fell in love with was much more comfortable with his homosexuality and self identifying as gay. I had admitted to myself long before that I was attracted to men, but it was only after the experience of falling in love and experiencing the emotional side that I was able to admit to myself that it was something that wasn't going to change and when I started being ok with that.

  5. This is a very insightful post. Thank you for sharing it. :)

    I know as a gay woman, who also served a mission, that I could echo exactly what you wrote, about your missionary companion(s). My ENTIRE missionary journal, from the time I met her, has something about her EVERY day. I look back and wonder if I did missionary work. LOL (I did- I was VERY foucused on the mission, worked VERY hard, did my best, but she was always on my mind, somewhere, some how. )

    Happy day!

  6. Ha, fabulous!!!

    It's one of those "counter-intuitive at first, but make perfect sense when you think about it" ideas.

    Girls are taught that they don't want/like sex, but they'll do anything for a relationship. Guys are taught that they only want sex -- that they hate being tied down and will fake a whole relationship for sex. So you buy into your given story. For a while.

    But then, you're a gal and you find that -- strangely -- you can't stop reveling in this one sensual fantasy. Or you're a guy -- and in love -- and you realize that you can't live without him, just being with him, even, talking to him, spending time with him, etc.

    It's not what you were taught to expect, and it's then that you start to think about it... :D