The First Steps to Getting Out of the Gay Life
The following is a short list of the steps or phases I went through in my own personal journey out of the gay community and gay life. I don’t claim they will work for you. I know they worked for me.
1 Get to know and approve of yourself
Psychologists, clergy and various activists are certainly right about that. Accept yourself; don’t hate yourself for who you are. In fact you can’t move on until you have learned who you are and to accept yourself with faults and all.
2 Be one hundred percent deadly honest with yourself
Be honest about what you see going on, what you yourself and others do, what you’ve been told and what actually goes on around you. Make a note of it, however painful and embarrassing it may be. Ponder the things that just don’t add up. It’s ok. Nobody is going to spy on you or read your journal notes (if you keep them in a good secure place). This is your own private and secret process. Ponder questions like: “why does my partner say they are faithful when it’s been proven that he/she has been unfaithful numerous times?”, “does he/she know that he/she is lying?”, “is he/she in control of his/her own actions or being controlled by his/her own compulsive behaviour?”, “how long has my longest relationship lasted?”, “are there things that just don’t add up about what I am being told and what I see going on?”, “do I find myself saying one thing and then suddenly, often impulsively doing another?”, “am I in complete control of my own actions?”.
Your Working Motto: “Words are cheap. Actions speak!”
3 Compare what you thought it would be like with how it actually has been
Life hardly turns out exactly as one has expected or dreamt. But what is meant here is that while we may have convinced ourselves that one day we would find warmth and companionship, we find that relationships have been short-lived (over and over again), purely sexuality-based and chaos has been the norm (together with extreme turmoil and pain). Have relationships consisted of pure infatuation (“limerance” to use a term from Dorothy Tennov’s very good book) without progressing to genuine friendship and companionship?
It may help to write down a scenario of how you perceive your life would be if you could have a good relationship. What does this partner do? Where do you live? How do you live? Do you find yourself only capable of writing a “shopping list” of physical characteristics? What about the personality traits or values? Is this person a fantasy figure or characature of a certain type of person or possibly a real personality type from the real world?
If you are only capable of infatuation and experience that you loose your attraction to a person once you get to know them with all of their quirks and flaws, if you notice a pattern of being more physically attracted to strangers than to someone you have gotten to know, then this could be a sign of inability to establish real intimate relationships. In other words, if you need the other person to be “bigger than life” or a “completely unknown quantity” in order to be interested in them, then this is likely not a real relationship.
4 Shop around and compare values
One activity that woke me up was to look at heterosexual personal ads in various media (men to women and women to men) and then compare the content with the “men seeking men” ads. I found a world of difference and experienced that although not heterosexual, I identified with and could relate to the content of the heterosexual ads (about family, living, companionship and shared interests) much more than to the homosexual ads I viewed (shopping lists of physical characteristics, explicit sexual references). Note, however, that I am referring to ads and venues that are known to be more upscale and reputable; not simply any internet dating site.
If you find yourself in arguments defending monogamy, stable relationships, varied interests and other subjects against those who officially represent you in the community, then chances are there is a values-related conflict. If most people there do not share your values then at least in that sense you are probably in the wrong crowd.
5 Take responsibility for yourself
Unfortunately, we have an innate tendancy to blame nearly all relationship failures and unhappy events directly or indirectly on society (specifically the “heterosexual society”). Let’s face it: never has there been such widespread legalization and acceptance in western society of same-sex relationships as there is in many western countries today and yet relationships (both heterosexual and homosexual) are short-lived and turbulent with most same-sex relationships ending after only a very short time. Statistics from countries with some form of registration of these relationships (insomuch as the local law requires immediate registration of changes) are alarming, as are those kept by police and social services agencies.
If we cannot even take responsibility for our own actions and must blame our own blunders on others, then it’s probably no wonder that we can’t make relationships work! A sign of maturity is being able to step up to the plate or look at oneself in the mirror and say those three words that are so difficult today: I screwed up!
6 If it doesn’t work unplug it
In engineering we often have to record various things we’ve tried out to fix or make something work, measures that have failed (in order not to keep repeating them). My sister was the one who probably spoke the wisest words related to my personal growth and transfer out of the gay life many years before it happened.
She sent me a paper about viewing one’s life as a series of drawers or compartments. If one’s life is made up of many compartments and one or two of them turns out to be bad or a failure, then there are still many functional compartments left and no major harm is done. If, however, a life is made up of only a few compartments and even a couple of these modules turn out to be poor, then proportionally speaking, one’s life is largely in trouble. Sexuality and the longing for romantic relationships are at the very most a couple of compartments. Many other interests, activities and aspects can make up parts of a successful life, like friendships, community activities, educational edeavours, some important life quest, religion, family and maybe even belonging to the local Masonic lodge!
I found that one or two “compartments” were for me a source of nearly constant turmoil, upheaval and negativity in life from my middle teens onward until I was thirty-five. The best thing that ever happened to me was to turn away and leave behind those two rotten tomatoes!
To my knowledge (and that of most scientists), there is no proof that anyone has died for lack of sex. In fact numerous books have been written by authors who claim that life can actually be better “without sex”. And for those who are afraid of ending up “alone”, let me assure as one who has walked the path before, that I would much appreciate more time alone than I have today! The house is full of guests much of the week. Family calls or writes with questions and advice and friends make demands that I immediately come out to a cottage to talk into the wee small hours on a summer night.
In 2003 my life took a dramatic change- a change for the better. And for the past six years, after having followed the steps above, my quality of life has been much better than at any time since I was fifteen years old. In fact, looking back on those years of looking for my happiness in the gay life, I have never been so alone as I was during those darkest years of my life.