But when you grow older, and you start to look beyond the surface of your life, you realize what being gay really means to you, how deeply it's has affected your life, in ways you couldn't have imagined, and you can't help but be filled with an overwhelming sense of regret for what is and what will never be.
Not one part of a gay man's life isn't influenced in some way by his sexual orientation:
There's a good chance you're not close to your father because you're gay.
There's a good chance you have no close friendships with straight men because you're gay.
There's a good chance you have little aptitude for playing sports because you're gay.
There's a good chance you'll be alone for the rest of your life because you're gay.
There's a good chance you'll never truly love yourself because you're gay.
There's a good chance you'll never feel like a man because you're gay.
There's a good chance you'll never feel like you belong to your gender because you're gay.
Many years ago, I had a sense of some of these things, because I was unhappy and unsatisfied, and I didn't know why. They hovered in the back of my head, and they were always there, a pall on my life.
Now, because I'm older, and feel the relentless passing of time, and I'm inclined to think about things like this, and want to get a better understanding of them, and need to use them in my writing, I'm all too aware of how different my life is because I'm gay.
If I were straight, I'm sure all of the above things would be very different:
I'm sure I would be close to my father, much closer than I am now.
I'm sure I'd have lots of friendships with straight men.
I'm sure I'd be great at playing some types of sports.
I'm sure I'd be married and have children and live happily ever after.
I'm sure I'd love myself, as least as much as most straight men do.
I'm sure I'd feel like a man; in fact, I'm sure I wouldn't give it a second thought.
I'm sure I'd feel that I belonged to my gender, because where else would I belong?
It's depressing to think that all of this confusion and lack of self-acceptance and of belonging comes from being gay. What a number our society does on young boys who are suspected of being gay. How it turns their heads and messes up their lives in ways that are so deep-seated, there's likely no way they'll ever recover from it.
That's just the way it is, at least for me.