Why is it that some of us do not realize we are gay or lesbian until midlife? It seems like a pretty basic thing to know about yourself: are you attracted to men or women? End of story. Unfortunately is not that simple. Some of us are attracted to both genders, but mostly to one or the other. Some of us enjoy sex dating with both genders and that is confusing. But mostly, the confusion comes because of the way we are raised.
Parents start training us in the ways of our gender before we are even born. Most parents now know the gender of their unborn child in the first few months of pregnancy. This means that before the baby is born, the walls can be painted pink or blue, gender specific clothing purchased, appropriate toys, etc. I was recently in the baby section at a department store and I could not believe how difficult it was to find gender-neutral clothing, for instance.
In the same way we are conditioned to our masculine and feminine roles, we are also conditioned to be heterosexual. Straight parents do not socialize their child to be homosexual. Everyone in our society is assumed to be straight at birth and is raised as such. When a child hits adolescence, parents expect the child to start sex dating the opposite sex. The “birds and the bees” are explained by parents and homosexuality is not part of the discussion. As a young adult, many times parents will start to make comments about marriage and grandchildren. The assumption is always that their child is straight.
Furthermore, we are conditioned not to be homosexual. Religious training is one factor many of us face. We are conditioned to believe that being homosexual is abnormal and even a sin. This is true despite ample evidence that homosexuality is a normal state, apparent in many species. For those who believe in creationism, this should make it obvious that homosexuality is part of the plan. Plain ignorance is another factor. For over 30 years, the American Psychiatric Association has asserted that homosexuality is a normal state. Yet the negative attitudes persist.
It is always up to the individual to discover the fact that they are homosexual. To do this you must not only be in tune with yourself, but you must exclude these messages from society and from your upbringing. It is not an easy task for some of us. For one thing, we do not want to believe we are different. For another, we are not conditioned to accept it. That is what leads many of us to ignore the attractions we feel early in life and enter heterosexual relationships and marriages. At some point, our homosexuality catches up with us and we become depressed and overwhelmed at the situations we find ourselves in.
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