How my sexuality has evolved

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.

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Despair, Loneliness, Denial, Celibacy, Bisexuality, Acceptance, Lust, Relationship

Long periods of time I spent alone, nursing my sorrows, yearning for someone I would never have, lamenting the missed opportunities, misspoken and unspoken words, hating myself, hating my family, hating my friends, hating the world, blaming my parents and God (if ever I thought of its existence) for traumatic childhood events. My identity was locked in the past and it took me a long time to bring my consciousness to the present moment, to take responsibility for my life, my emotions, my thoughts, my urges.

Lonely as I was, my heart and mind were too fragile to risk being hurt again, so, moving on from love lost, I had to rebuild the foundations of my psyche, to become strong enough to face the trauma from the past. I stopped wishing for someone to solve my problems and be my light. I had to find my own way. I decided I didn’t want anyone until I had myself sorted. It wouldn’t be fair on them and would likely hurt us both. Still, I tried to deny aspects of myself. I thought I could embrace my heterosexuality while denying my homosexuality. I told myself I’d rather be single forever than gay. Well, being single is easy when you know your head is too messed up for a relationship and porn is readily available, but denying half of your urges (more like a quarter, really) is an exercise in futility. It’s like banging your head against a wall while wishing you didn’t have a headache.

Technically, true celibacy is abstaining from all sexual activity, including masturbation, but I’ve never been an ascetic. I needed that time not pursuing, wishing for, hoping for any kind of intimate relationship. I was afraid of intimacy and yearned for it at the same time. To overcome both states I had to transcend the whole concept.

It seems a little odd to think that in my late teens and early twenties, being bisexual was something that didn’t really matter. It took an unpleasant homosexual experience to turn me off for so long. Women simply felt more natural. But still, I could not cope with relationships. Things always got dug up from the past.

It was my latest depressive episode that led me to seek professional help. This had recurred so many times, and though I had made progress on my own, it was slow and my stagnation was getting to me. I needed help to free myself to be who I am. NHS waiting lists for counselling are abysmally long, so I contacted a counsellor for private sessions. That sounds really simple, but making that call took me a couple of months of deliberating, debating, too afraid to face my own shadow. Making that call was a big step forward.

Along with all the other help she gave me, a phrase my counsellor used a number of times which stuck in my mind was ‘self-acceptance’. Eventually, free from past events that used to plague me, I got to a point where I could stay in the present moment more, not dwelling in the past or being anxious about the future. I could take responsibility for my own life and accept who and what I am.

I am bisexual, amongst other things. It’s one part of my identity, not even a major part really, for all the headfuck and heartache I’ve allowed because of it. I feel no need to shout it from the rooftops and more than I would shout about picking my nose or eating chocolate (not at the same time). I don’t particularly like when someone makes their sexuality a massive part of their identity, being really camp, misogynistic or womanising. From my point of view, it degrades themself as a person. It’s like saying, “I’m an accountant. Everything I do is about being an accountant.” Substitute ‘an accountant’ for gay, bi, straight, depressed, spiritual, happy, nationalist, politically affiliated – you get the idea. Every person is so much more than one part of their identity. The idea of coming out is, to me, more a statement of how intolerant and gossipy society is that people are initially afraid of their own selves, and then have to categorise themselves in order to fit in somewhere, than of accepting oneself and just living.

I got to the stage where I could almost convince myself I was ready for a relationship. I wasn’t really quite there, but it was a start. I began flirting with someone online, took her out for lunch, but there were no sparks. More recently, an old friend kept cropping up in my mind – the other man in the homosexual experience I mentioned earlier. I looked him up – one thing social media is actually useful for. It was so strong in my mind that I knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t make contact, so I sent a request. After a bit of online chat we arranged to meet up. I didn’t really know what to expect but was prepared for anything – friendship, dislike, casual sex, relationship. After not much time and a few meetings, it was obvious those old feelings were still there. Years ago it was the wrong time for both of us. Now, it all seems to fit into place.

So now I am in a relationship. It still seems a bit weird to say that after 12 years of not being in one and thinking I’d be more likely to have killed myself by the time I was 40. We’re both very independent, so used to being alone and happy with that. The phrase ‘other half’ makes me gurn as it implies that you are not a complete person on your own. ‘Boyfriend’ is just as abhorrent – we’re not boys, we’re in our 30s. ‘Partner’ seems best. We’ll go with that. He says he’s fallen for me but I don’t feel it so deeply. I can’t say what the future holds, how I will feel in months or years to come, so this might last a few months or it might last a lifetime. Whatever happens, I know I am strong enough to deal with it. And so is he. We’ll take it day by day.

Here’s to the present!