“Guys, at your age, are often confused about their sexuality”, he said, folding his arms over his chest & leaning back into his chair. This is a gesture I would find out later revealed his apprehension of the subject. I was instantly crushed. My wonderful guidance counselor hadn’t mentioned anything of my confusion. I wasn’t confused, damn it! I was here simply to discuss how this was going to change my life…not to mull over the possible mystification of my feelings.
It was at that moment that I decided to indulge this man, even thought he seemed to know nothing of my “Gordian knot.” I would listen to what he had to say & maybe even comply with some of his recommendations, but he was definitely not to be taken too seriously.
I won’t bore you with the psycho-babble that ensued. I’ll just tell you about the stereotypical antiquated solution I was provided:
“Do you masturbate…you know, play with yourself?”, he said semi-blushing.
“Do you look at pictures of men?”, he asked.
“Do you get excited by these pictures of men?”, he said, almost glaring at me at this point. He almost looked as if he might even be at least curious.
“Oh, yes.”, I said smiling.
“Here’s what I want you to do…” You’ll notice that he said “want you to do”, not “would like for you to do”.
“…the next time you masturbate, I want you to reach the point of orgasm & right before you do, look at a picture of a woman.”, he instructed.
What!!! You have got to be f***ing kidding me. This is absurd! It’s beyond absurd. Are you really just a bumbling incompetent!
“Now each time you masturbate, I want you to increase the amount of time you look at the pictures of women & decrease the time looking at the pictures of men”, he said so confidently.
“Eventually, you will be turned on by the sight of women more than men”, he alleged.
I am getting fired up just relating this story to you. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed the term "homosexuality" from the official manual that lists all mental and emotional disorders. I’m going to give my age away here, but this story took place in the mid ‘80’s, and this pompous, sanctimonious hetero was a certified degree-toting Psychologist.
Well, needless to say, I was hardly in a position to argue. I was, after all, only 11 years old & my mother, the conservative, Republican, active in the community, elder in the church was going to make sure that I “did my homework.”
I did try this horrid aversion therapy & did find the vaginal labia to be erotic, but still…I couldn’t seem to get my mind off the jocks in the locker-room.
After almost a year of seeing this moron after school, I was finally released, cured even. According to him, I had responded very well to the therapy. Of course, we all know what really happened. I simply started telling this educated man exactly what he wanted to hear.
As for the rest of my coming out process, there was the usual taunting & occasional violence up until freshman year, when I transferred to a private school that finally appreciated my unique pedigree. I did eventually come out when I went to college…hence, the title extension “: A Reoccurring Story.” And now, I am a well-adjusted happily gay American male in a healthy loving relationship with my first love.
Now, you get to hear my opinion. It was, in fact, one of the primary reasons for relating this story to the vast expanse of the internet. The Ex-Gay movement with its reparative therapy, aversion therapy, radical religious verbosity, & pseudo-scientific theories is a danger to itself, as well as the GLBT community. These practices are unethical. They don’t work and are dangerous and destructive. The damage that can be done by these practices is real. It can destroy someone's self esteem and faith and may lead to self-destructive and suicidal behavior. Pretty scary, huh.
On the other hand, why are coming out stories so important? While I was in college, I started a gay student organization & also belonged to a gay youth group in which I had the opportunity to counsel many young people about coming out. Sharing that aspect of themselves with others is important to their mental health. In fact, the process of identity development for lesbians and gay men, usually called "coming out", has been found to be strongly related to psychological adjustment -- the more positive the gay male or lesbian identity, the better one's mental health and the higher one's self esteem. In other words, my dear queers…Walk the Talk with Pride. Or, in a FABULOUS quote from my favorite Queer As Folk character, Emmett (Peter Paige): “I’d rather my flame burn bright, than be a puny little pilot light!”
So, there you have it! A good story with a sound moral ending & maybe even a little TMI from moi. I await your comments.
Much Love & Light, Cian
DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that if you rely on your parents for support or any kind of financial help & coming out may jeopardize that support, wait until you are more independent.