Growing Up Gay

 


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Why Am I Gay?

Nobody knows for sure why some of us are gay and some of us are not. Lots of theories have been put forward ranging from genetic differences to overbearing parents. The evidence so far suggests that random genetic factors play a part in determining our sexuality in the same way they play a part in determining, for example, lefthandedness.

One thing we do know is that no-one chooses their sexuality. Some gay people knew they were different, if not gay, from as young as five or six. It is said that, for most of us, our sexuality is determined by the age of 12 or 13 and probably 16 at the latest. By and large, society tends to assume that everyone is, or wants to be, heterosexual. This is known as heterosexism. Some people continue to believe that it is a choice and that we can be persuaded into heterosexuality. By assuming heterosexuality, society gives rise to the dilemma, for those of us who know we are gay, of whether to hide our sexuality or to come out - with all that this entails.

There have been small but perceptible changes in the way British society views homosexuality, but there is a long way to go before it will accept us in the same way as it does people who are, say, lefthanded. This has more to do with society's hang-ups around sex and sexuality than individual gay people. Often, once people know someone who is gay, their prejudices and fears about homosexuality disappear all together.

Growing Up Gay. . . . .

For many young gay or bisexual people, adolescence can be a time of particular anxiety and fear. Many lesbians and gay men look back on this part of their lives with sadness and regret. There are very few positive gay role models and a lot of hostility towards openly gay people. Gay teenagers often become painfully aware that they are not like other people and many become withdrawn and lonely, convinced that only they are feeling this way. They learn to hide their true feelings or act as others want them to, for fear of being ostracised, ridiculed or rejected by loved ones and friends.

Above all, there can be a sense that we are somehow different, that we are abnormal and that we are going to disappoint people.

Some people believe that if they get married their gay feelings will disappear. It is unusual for this to happen. Most store up a great deal of stress and anxiety for their later years. Coming out as a gay parent has particular challenges. Breaking out of a clearly defined role, or even attempting to shift the definition of it, involves tremendous courage and strength. The conflict between their relationship with their spouse and family and their need to be themselves can be enormous

Gay Stress and Drug Abuse

Growing up gay is not easy. having to cope with other people's attitudes, discrimination and homophobia is not easy. Many gay individuals become very shame based and try to avoid their sexuality and all that entails by turning to drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, many end up suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism, while the issues surrounding their sexuality still exist.

Whether gay or straight, we know that drug addiction and alcoholism are progressive diseases and can only get worse without treatment. Gay addiction treatment services are not as available as we would like them to be. There are a few gay drug rehab programs or gay alcohol rehab programs available and a number of drug rehab programs that are gay friendly, as they like to say.

Instead of gay friendly, I would like to suggest you seek a drug rehab or alcohol rehab that has a gay component within the addiction treatment or drug rehab itslef. You are likely to receive a higher level of gay addiction treatment services, as it will be a subspecialty of the drug rehab or addiction treatment program.

If you are looking for a gay drug rehab or gay alcohol rehab you can call the national helpline of Recovery Connection at 1-800-511-9225 or go to www.gay-rehab.com .

Jonathan Huttner is a principal of Lakeview Health Systems, a drug rehab specializing in addiction, alcoholism and dual diagnosis treatment with a gay drug rehab comonent called Freedom Rings. . . . . . www.lakeviewfreedomrings.com

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