And then there are those crazies out there who, even today in the light of readily available information from psychotherapist and other expert conclusions, claim that homosexuality or bisexuality is just a choice.
As the best friend I ever had said about his own homosexuality, "Who in their right mind would choose such a thing and give up almost all of everything he's worked for all his life?"
It's just not easy and even in spite of the continued progress that is sure to come in the next several years as gays and bisexuals continue to gain legal acceptance, I doubt that it will ever be an easy thing.
That said, my Dad taught me early in life (taught is a euphemistic word for "beat into me") that any thing that is worth anything is hard. He also taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Unfortunately, I know too many guys who didn't have a father like mine to compel them to learn those two vital life lessons.
|Two Men on a Road, One Prepared. The Other….|
These two guys were referred to me by mutual friends because they were having extreme difficulty accepting their homosexuality. Actually, neither man felt he could live as a homosexual man and certainly neither man wanted to live with it. One was depressed and withdrawn, almost incapable of functioning socially. The other was in a full blown panic attack which was interfering with his ability to carry out the demands of his job, interfering with his ability to sleep and causing him to think in circles which left him physically and emotionally exhausted and frustrated. Both men were in deep trouble and needed professional help at the time I met them.
It's been approximately 18 months since I met these two guys. The coincidence of meeting two guys seemingly dealing with the same problem yet affected in two different ways has left me with a striking opportunity to observe and compare their struggles and the resulting outcomes.
White these two guys have much in common, as I pointed out above, the way they have responded to their problems has nothing in common. Neither does the way they have responded to me as I attempted to intervene and get them pointed in a direction that would mitigate their current dilemmas and lead to a level of self understanding and self acceptance, allowing them to live active and productive lives.
I should add at this point that each of the guys are genuinely nice guys. Even though they are both doing well in their professional lives, each has the potential to do much more simply because they are so young and so new to their professions. Both are guys any one would be glad to have as a neighbor.
The first guy who is in the public service profession I will call Kyle. The other guy in the multi-national company I will call Dave.
When I first was introduced to Kyle, I thought he was a nice guy, too shy for his own good; but likable. He has boyish good looks and a pleasant though elusive smile. My first meeting with Dave was much different. Meeting him was an event, both a social and a physical thing. He was a physical and an intellectual force. He was not shy. He had a firm handshake, a pleasant but no nonsense manner about him and a first class ability to communicate. Physically, he was imposing. He had cold black hair cut short, muscled arms, wide shoulders and broad chest. I later found he works out every morning before work in the company gym and every afternoon after work in a commercial gym. He isn't muscled like a muscle man, but he is definitely defined and toned. This guy is very easy to like. He is personable and outgoing.
As my relationship began to develop with each guy there was nothing in common at all between the two. Kyle always said he wanted to get together and work on his problems, but actually getting him to commit to showing up or picking up the phone was another thing entirely. When he did show up or make a phone call, I supported the conversation. To simple questions he would take a long time to answer, "yes" or "no." To complex questions, he often wouldn't answer at all, until I could drag an answer out of him after pulling on it for an extended period. Even with his answer in hand, I never felt confident of the extent to which it represented his true feelings or paradigms. Working with Kyle was not easy and it was not something I enjoyed. I alternated between feeling sorry for him and being angry at him for being such a lump of negativity and indolence. It frustrated me that I could clear see that a life of frustration, pain and self hate lays ahead for him.
Dave is much different. He took complete charge or our schedule working out a day that was best for both of us, putting that day on his calendar and keeping his appointments without fail, even calling ahead to confirm the day before that the scheduled meeting was on. At first, he used these meetings to grill me about exactly who I was and what my background was. I could tell exactly what he was thinking and doing and I appreciated it. I liked the fact that he was careful and concerned about his safety and well being.
He knew he needed help in a very sensitive part of his life. He had a recommendation concerning me from a mutual friend; but he wanted to do his own checking. Establishing my background and my bona fides with him took several weeks. Once he was satisfied with the background check, he became an open book. I had no doubt in listening to him that he was telling me the truth as he knew it to be. He was also leaving no doubt about the issues that confused, frustrated and even angered him. He told me though he feared he was a homosexual man, homosexuality just didn't fit into the life he had planned; and he told me while he had always enjoyed looking at the male body, it had never been a problem until recently. He had had a string of young women through college and after, performed well with them and enjoyed heterosexual relations greatly. He was currently dating a young lady to whom he intended to propose to soon; but with that decision, it seemed his homosexuality had raised its head and began causing mental and emotional problems for him for the first time in his life though he had never personally acted on his same sex attractions.
After several months, Kyle and I were really getting no where. I had suggested he needed professional help on several levels and with several issues. I could tell making the suggestion was a waste of my breath; and now, after a year and a half, he has yet to seek professional help. His situation is steadily deteriorating. I think the only progress he has made is he now accepts he is a homosexual man and is not going to change. However, in spite of being with a great young man who is a Doctor and has much to offer, Kyle is not ready to commit to a relationship. I don't think he ever will be. There are problems with the relationship between the two of them as it exists in its present casual mode. Kyle is selfish and childish. He never gives anything to the relationship. It's difficult for his friend to even get him to take anything from the relationship. There is a sexual relationship of sorts; but Kyle seeming could take it or leave it, can't quite bring himself to make up his mind. His friend has talked with Kyle of ending the relationship. Kyle cries and promises to do better, but nothing changes. His friend is a great guy, but actually too kind hearted for his own good. He hates to hurt Kyle by ending the relationship.
At this point I need to mention, one of Kyle's several problems is he was raised in a particularly fundamentalist church by a particularly unyielding fundamentalist father who is still living. His father knows nothing of Kyle's homosexuality though his mother does. His mother's advice to Kyle has been that it is not a sin to be homosexual only to act on homosexual impulses. There is no doubt this is the cause of much of Kyle's inability to get off the fence and start living his life.
In addition to talking with Kyle myself, I gave him information on books he should read to help him understand himself and help himself to envision new paradigms of faith, hope and self-understanding. He never read a single book I mentioned to him.
In what tuned out to be a final attempt to help Kyle consider new ideas about faith and religious values, I had a long frank discussion with him about the Bible. I asked him to tell me what portions of the Bible made him feel homosexuality was a bad thing. He couldn't do that. I asked him if he felt alienated from God or if God was angry at him. He said he didn't. I asked him to describe to me what sin is. He could give nothing beyond what a six year old would say. I went though and read to him several parts of the Bible which assure the believer of the constant never ending love of God for all of his creation. I explained to him why one had to be very cautious in interpreting books like Leviticus which seem to condemn homosexuality. I explained carefully to him that I could not show him a passage in which Christ, himself, condemned homosexuality because Christ never did condemn it.
In the end, he saw all of this as just a challenge on my part to the literal word of God; and was offended by it. I suspect he was conveniently offended because it gave him an excuse to tell his friend why he would no longer be talking with me. Since that conversation, he has refused to talk further. I know his life continues to spiral downward from talking with his friend.
At this point, I'm not angry with Kyle. I feel sorry for Kyle and I am very concerned about him. He will not accept help from friends and he will not seek help from professionals. He cannot live as a straight man; He realizes that. But he cannot live as a homosexual man either; and so he just exists. From my own experience as a younger man, I am afraid he exists in a middle world of anger and self hate. He is in hell in this life; but sure, in his heart and soul, if he seeks happiness in this life through expression of his homosexuality, he will be in an eternal Hell in the next life. I am concerned Kyle will eventually turn to suicide; but at this point I know of no way to help him. He simply will not accept help. He refuses to consider that there is any kind of belief system other than his father's.
Fortunately, Dave is a completely different story. Dave too is a religious man. He was raised Catholic and is still a practicing Catholic. But Dave is also an intellectual. He is without doubt one of the smartest men I have ever known. Dave's faith is important to him without doubt, but Dave has the intellectual capability to see that faith has to coexist with reality. With a little help and a great deal of work on his part, he has been able to establish new paradigms which support both his faith, his sexuality and his psychological health. He's still working on caring for his physical health. He tends to be consumed by his work ethic, his sense of responsibility to others and his unquenchable desire for knowledge that he too often sacrifices sleep for work and reading. Recently we have been working towards his setting priorities and making difficult choices concerning which of his many interests are most important to him.
Because Dave has been so open with me, I was quickly able to see he was in panic mode. Several major issues had all converged and insinuated themselves into his life at the same time, and they had simply overwhelmed him. As intelligent as he is, Dave is quick not only to recognize issues to but recognize every possible adverse and/or beneficial permutation that might accrue to him from those issues. Add to that, he is somewhat compulsive; and there is an easy recipe for trouble.
Dave is eager to seek help wherever it can be found. He was quite happy to find my wife is a psychotherapist and asked me to get her recommendation for someone he could see concerning some of his issues. She listened to my thoughts about him and recommended a Doctor. Dave immediately made and appointment and has found the Doctor to be helpful in supporting him as he works to overcome some of his problems and issues.
As with Kyle, I mentioned books to Dave I felt would help him understand himself and his relationship to God and others. Not only did he read these books, he looked for other books of the same nature and he continues to read voraciously. He puts me to shame in the amount of reading he does. I simply can't keep up with him.
By listening to Dave talk about his past, his present and his hopes for the future I was able to see that more than likely he is not a homosexual man. He simply has none of the characteristics of a homosexual man other than the appreciation of the male body. He appreciates deeply and responds eagerly to the female body as well. He seems to have a quite healthy appetite for straight sex and to enjoy it immensely. At the same time Dave does not really seem all that interested in the things that male/male sex usually entails. As regular readers of this blog know from things I have written in the past, I believe that men are hard wired to engage in strong bonded relationships with other males. Such bonds are a biological imperative. Without them mankind would hot have survived its evolutionary period.
In today's America, such strong male/male bonds are discouraged and when they do occur, the are looked at with a suspicious eye. Men who have such relationships feel a very real need to explain them to their wives and friends. Worse, their wives and friends feel such explanation is warranted. These bonded relationships are often not sexual at all. Sometimes they become sexual in a way that has nothing to do with love as between a man and a woman. It is difficult to explain other than to say it is just a guy thing. By definition, such a bonded relationship that comes to have a sexual component makes a man bisexual. But often he is not bisexual in a way that would cause him to seek sex or even want sex with just any male. The sex such a man engages in is a result of the bond. At worst Dave is a bisexual male in this manner. But at this point I'm not sure even sure of that. He simply may, at this point in his life be bi curious.
Dave did propose to his young lady a few weeks ago. They will be married in the next few months. With a little help from me, from his Doctor and a lot of work on his own, he is again confident in who he is. He is confident in his ability to lead the life he dreams of living.
I have encouraged him to look to the future with confidence. I have also talked with him of the issues that might arise as he gets older. He understands those issues and is confident he can deal with them if and when they arise. In my opinion he's ready to scale the grand peaks of life and conquer them.
Two men, seemingly much the same, yet ultimately two very different men. One, like all of us, facing an unknown future full of challenges and opportunities confident in his ability to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. The other man much different, withdrawn, unable to meet even ordinary social obligations, stuck in a limbo world where he can neither step forward nor step back, facing a world of challenges and opportunities he cannot handle. Caught in a dark zone between the layers of his own life with no where to go.
Neither man had a choice about the issues that have confronted them at this point in life. Each man had a very real choice about how he would deal with those issues! The one man took the difficult road and faced his issues head on seeking help and guidance from any trusted source he could find. The other took the easy road, a road which has a bench on the side of the road where he can sit and do nothing. He doesn't go forward, he doesn't go backward. He just sits in his misery while his life runs out at his feet.
Which man are you? It makes a difference.