When I was a child, I enjoyed taking my clothes off with friends – other boys. As I grew older, still pre-pubescent, I would fantasise about taking off my clothes with girls in my class. When adolescence came, I would have intimate feelings towards both boys and girls. In late adolescence, I accepted the label ‘bisexual’, at least as far as my close friends were concerned. I wasn’t sexually active, but still enjoyed feelings of attraction to both genders, though I wasn’t prepared to share this with the world.
Due to some childhood trauma, I was terrified of intimacy. Getting close to anyone caused immense, intolerable distress. I lost my virginity (such a silly phrase – where did it go?) in my 20s. In the same month, on separate occasions, I had sex with a man, and with a woman. Emotionally, I found it incredibly difficult to deal with. Early relationships are bound to be met with problems, but I was an adult, and felt like a failure.
I was also resistant to the side of me that was attracted to men. Although homosexuality was becoming increasingly accepted in society, I didn’t want it in myself. I didn’t want the stigma. I didn’t want to relive that childhood trauma. Denying part of my sexuality meant denying all of my sexuality. Attraction to men and women were embroiled. I remember thinking I’d rather not have sex than be gay. Emotionally, I was still ill-equipped to cope with relationships, whether brief or long-term. I was celibate for many years.
Sexuality is not fixed. If it were a scale where 1 is heterosexual and 10 is homosexual, some days I might be 3, some days I might be 7, some days I might be D, where I felt more asexual, which makes the scale more two-dimensional than a typical one-dimensional scale. Various labels have been created to try and identify these different states, but my old-fashioned view found it difficult to comprehend. I was content with the idea of varying degrees of bisexuality while still finding it difficult to countenance in myself.
But what is a natural aspect of every living creature is impossible to ignore. I never considered myself to be homosexual, yet when I heard the word ‘gay’ I would turn scarlet. In fact, if I heard mention of sex at all I would turn scarlet. I was ashamed of how I felt, what I had done. The childhood trauma still loomed large in my psyche.
Counselling did, to some degree, help me accept these feelings, albeit with some reservation. I was able to move forward emotionally a little. But I don’t think any amount of psychotherapy could really delve into the depths of my mind and resolve deep-seated issues.
By some chance, I had the opportunity to take changa, a psychedelic substance comprising of DMT and psychoactive herbs. I didn’t know what to expect. What did happen was profound. I had several hits of changa over the evening, each lasting just a few minutes, and each being different. Essentially, what it did was allow me to experience pure emotion, without the baggage of a story or narrative, without associations with other people, society, or my own preconceptions. All of that was stripped away for the duration of the trip.
With some hits I would find myself staring at a psychedelic painting, amazing at how the image appeared to move and resemble other things. With other hits I would be curled up in a ball, face-down, hands over my face. I experienced raw emotion and nothing else. I would be laughing and crying at the same time, the two states overlapping. There was laughter, there were tears, and where the two states met there was outward expression – the typical shaking of the chest and tears one might associate with extreme sorrow or extreme joy. The distinction was blurry.
Life carried on after that evening. Other aspects of life still had to be attended. After a while I realised something. I had absolutely no attraction to men. It’s gone completely. It’s as if it was all just an emotional hang-up from childhood, the unresolved trauma expressing itself in ways as complicated as the adolescent mind, never really moving on, and never dealt with as it should have been in childhood – with understanding, acceptance and love. The experience of feeling the emotion pure and raw, with absolute acceptance, and no unnecessary narrative, allowed it to be fully expressed without the involvement of anyone else. My psychedelic experience was truly liberating.
So I no longer consider myself to be bisexual. I have no attraction to men, other than for friendship. I am still as attracted to woman as I have always been. So I suppose I am heterosexual. Or I would be if I had a girlfriend. That’s not to say I can’t be aroused by the sight of an erect penis in pornography. Just as when reading a novel or reading a book one might empathise with a character and put oneself in their shoes, another man with an erection is quite easy to empathise with. But I could ask myself some simple questions. Do I know what that feels like? Yes. Do I want to touch or be near that man’s penis? No. Would I even want to be in its presence in a heterosexual orgy? No. So while it might arouse me, I then want to find a woman to truly engage with that arousal.
Some might argue that I have been ‘cured’ of homosexual feelings, but this is bullshit. I have released long-held emotional trauma. This experience could have entirely different effects for someone else – they might release similar emotional trauma and be ‘cured’ of heterosexuality. I am more in touch with myself. A phase which maybe should have lasted just a few years in childhood, or be expressed with sexual experimentation in late adolescence, has been dealt with, the emotion processed. I am left with complete acceptance of anyone’s sexuality. I no longer blush when I hear the word ‘gay’ or any mention of sex because these things no longer form part of my emotional baggage. But my dad said the word ‘spliff’ the other day and I blushed and had to move the conversation on quickly.
I still struggle to understand transgender issues. Having never had personal experience of this it’s difficult to grasp except intellectually, and even then I cannot possibly comprehend what these people go through. Currently, I could never advocate hormone treatment or surgery, as self-acceptance has been part of my credence for a long time, even as I struggled to accept aspects of myself. But there is acceptance of one’s body, and acceptance of one’s mind, and where these are at odds, I have no answer. But I’d happily give them some changa to see what effect it would have on them.