Not Gay Enough

From a very young age, I remember being subjected to the idea that I needed a man to “rescue me” and to “make me complete.” We are shown Disney movies in which the princess needs to be rescued, comedies where the leading lady is doing everything she can to nab a man, and movies in which women are portrayed as “lacking” if they aren’t married to a man.

Because I’ve been conditioned my whole life to believe that I need rescuing and that my life is not full unless I’m sharing it with a man, is there any wonder I’ve hesitated to name myself as gay?

Is it any wonder that I’ve spent my dating life cycling through men, trying to find the one that would fit, yet never finding true happiness?

The feelings I had towards women were shameful and disgraceful, according to my religion, my parents, and even society. I wasn’t allowed to be attracted to women. I wasn’t allowed to act on those feelings. I was expected to grow up, get married (to a man, of course), and pop out babies.

At the age of 16, I couldn’t deny my attraction to women any longer. I started telling people I was bisexual, because that seemed to cause less revulsion than stating I was actually gay. I really thought this was the truth at the time, and for many years afterwards, because I believed I was attracted to men. There may even have been a period in my life when I was attracted to men, but not sexually. I just went along with the gender paradigm and did what was expected of me.

I can honestly say that I still find some men attractive. But as soon as I remember they have a penis hidden beneath their clothes, that’s it. I’m out. I just can’t do it anymore.

I can’t stand feeling disgusted, dirty, and guilty after sexual encounters with men. I can’t stand feeling this way even during these encounters, which seems to happen a lot these days.

I can’t deny who I am any longer.

I. Am. Gay.

But, it’s come to my attention that I’m not gay enough for some people.

Let that statement sink into your brains for a few minutes there, folks.

I’m not gay enough.

When I had identified myself as a bisexual woman, I felt like I never really had a place. I wasn’t straight enough to be straight, and now I’m not gay enough to be gay. What the hell?

So, because I’ve had long-term relationships with men, instead of with women, I am not a viable prospective mate for a lesbian. I’ve been told that they would be too worried that I’m just “going through a phase” and that I would eventually leave and go back to a man.

It doesn’t seem to matter that during every sexual encounter I’ve ever had with a man, I’ve been picturing a woman so that I could get through it.

Oh, you’ve been raped? Abused? Molested? I don’t want to date someone who is choosing women just because she hates or is sick of men.

You know what? I’m not sick of men. I also don’t hate men. I’m just not sexually attracted to them. The thought of gettin’ jiggy with a member of the opposite sex literally causes me the most horrendous anxiety attacks.

I’ve been told that early sexual trauma can cause homosexuality. I don’t know how true that is. What about the men who were molested by other men when they were little? Does it make sense that they would choose to be attracted to the same gender that caused them so much heartache? In my case, sure, maybe it makes sense. After all the horrific sexual abuses that were perpetrated on me, maybe I do feel safer with my own gender. Maybe that is why I am more attracted, sexually, to women.

I certainly don’t feel like I had a choice in the attraction to people of my own gender. But I’ve stuck with men for all of my serious relationships because I was conditioned to believe that it was expected, nay, required of me. I wanted to get married and raise a family, and God forbid I try to do that with a woman!

So I stuck with what I knew: men. Even though I wasn’t attracted to them sexually. Even though I had to close my eyes and picture a woman every time I had sex. Even though by doing this, I was shutting away a very large part of myself in the process and causing problems in my relationships.

I remember actually saying to my first long-term ex, “I think I might actually be gay.“ I can’t say that I remember his reaction to that, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t positive.

But finally, I’m ready to admit the truth. No matter how much easier it would be for me to be straight, no matter how much I wish I could be straight, I’m not.

I. Am. Gay.

I got up the strength about a month ago to finally admit it to my husband. He was shell-shocked and very discouraged, but he didn’t get angry with me, and he didn’t say that he hated me. He did say that he wished I knew this 4 years ago before we met, or at least 2 years ago before we got married. I feel bad because I know this is hard for him; he doesn’t know how to handle everything, and I wish I could somehow make it easier on him.

But then on my way to work this morning, I remembered these conversations I’d had with openly gay women in the past, and it bothered me. A lot. Which is why I’m writing this.

You don’t have the right to judge me just because I’ve always dated men.

You don’t have the right to tell me that I’m not gay, or that I’m not gay enough.

You don’t know my story, and it’s not fair for you to jump to conclusions about me before you do.

Hasn’t the gay community suffered enough from discrimination? Why would you want to put me through the same things that others have put you through? I deserve to be loved and accepted too, flaws and all, just as I would do for you.

But if I’m not gay enough for you, then maybe you’re just too narrow-minded for me.


This article has been cross-posted from my guest spot on Make Me a Sammich.

17 replies on “Not Gay Enough”

Thank you so much, I’m glad that my writing helped someone else feel less alone! I try to look at the positive side of it though; at least I found the strength to be who I truly am, and everything has lead me to a good place in my life. It’s scary, sure, and unknown… but I have a supportive ex, a wonderful son, and a lovely family-in-law (that is more of a family to me than my own). :)

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

One of my favorite professors from undergrad was an out lesbian by the time I knew her. But she told a lot of stories in her classes, some of which about her past sexual history. One story I remember quite clearly, in class we were discussing how people ask how a gay person knows they are gay, but a straight person doesn’t even think about the question with regards to themselves.

She smiled and said, “I actually remember quite clearly when I decided I was straight in college. I’d slept with a lot of men and only some women, so clearly I must be straight!”

I never asked how long it took her to question the efficacy of that decision…but I think it took some time after that for her to come to a position where she decided she would be an out lesbian.

What a wonderful and powerful piece. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there — its a brave move.

As for the ‘not gay enough’ syndrome, I sometimes wonder if gay men who have married or been with women get the same suspicion. I have to say I’ve never seen it but literally last month ran into a lesbian on a comment board who was breaking up with her gf because she heard a rumor that her gf once dated men. Its sad to see that this popular suspicion that bisexual women or gay women are just tourists in their sexuality, and that they’re just waiting for the right penis to come along.

Thank you Slay! I think men who are gay, or even bisexual, probably have it just as badly, if not worse! I don’t think you’re allowed to have sexual relationships with men and NOT be gay, according to most people in society.

And wow, that girl needs a reality check! We’ve all got baggage, we’ve all had a past, and it’s made us who we are today. Just because someone has dated men in the past is NOT a reason to break up with them. Jeez. Narrow-minded people are the worst! :P

PS. In case anyone’s wondering, there will never be a “right penis” for THIS gal right here! LOL

I’m 66 (and always feel amazed that I’ve gotten this old) and just want to hug you. Much of my life I’ve not been tall enough, not thin enough, not social enough, or simply not enough. I now belong to a 12-step group and they taught me that “what you think of me is none of my business” and at first I thought that was both strange and harsh. Eventually I learned it is true. What they think isn’t important. How I feel about myself is the most important. If you think you are gay, then you are gay enough. If they are fearful that you may change, have compassion for their narrow mindedness. In my opinion, I can only love people for today and cannot love them for whom they might grow to be. For me, today is enough. Be comfortable with whom you are, surround yourself with loving friends and the future will take care of itself. (Need I add, “and that is enough.”)

I can’t decide if you need an internet hug or high five for this. Probably both because people suck (regardless of their sexual preferences) and it takes courage to be confident and strong in who you are through all of that. *hugs and high five*

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