Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why What Makes One Gay Doesn't Matter

This evening, I received an email from realitypursuit, telling me he'd left a comment on today's post "How to Love Yourself When You're Gay (And When You're Not)."  For some reason I don't understand, the comment doesn't appear below the post, so I thought I'd address it here, partly because of that, partly because he asked for my opinion, and partly because what I have to say might be helpful to other people.

Interesting perspective. I guess I've had some self esteem problems myself over the years but I learned some things about that. Life is about choices. You're right when you say it's all up to you. I won't say I understand or agree with the gay thing but it seems obvious that there are choices people make in that regard. I have some gay friends who are really great guys. They know I'm not too keen on talking about their lifestyle so we don't too much. But the one friend opens up once in a while and he said a few times there was a point in his life when he knew he had to make a choice whether or not he was gay. This bugs me because here he made the wrong choice in my opinion. I guess I should be honest and say that I don't think people are born gay. Sorry if that goes against what you think. I would just like to hear your view.

There are two schools of thought with respect to what causes one to be gay: either you're born that way (nature) or something in the way you were raised caused you to become that way (nurture).  To my knowledge, no scientific proof exists to say one hundred percent one is born gay, but bits and pieces of the most recent research on the brain, chromosomes, and the like seem to lean in favor of that explanation.

This I know for sure:  Personally, I did not choose to be gay.  The only choices I made regarding my sexual orientation were 1). to accept that I was gay, and 2). to come out to family and friends so I could get on with living my life as a fully realized human being.  And that's all I am able to say on the subject.

Honestly, I'm beyond concerning myself with what causes one to be gay because, in the end, it doesn't matter.  What does matter is being gay is a fact of life for millions and millions of people around the world.  What does matter is gay people are human beings first and gay second (which I've written here many times before).  All of us as human beings are entitled to the same rights, dignity, respect, compassion, and love.  We must not make any of those conditional upon sexual orientation, or what caused it.  

My advice to you, realitypursuit, is to forget about what you think caused your friends to be gay.  It doesn't matter.  You stated they are really great guys, and that's good enough.  If you're not comfortable hearing them talk about matters related to being gay, so be it.  Let them know, which you seem to have already, and they should respect you enough not to talk about it in your presence. Then get on with being great friends.  

I think we need to rise above what we don't understand about sexual orientation and stop focusing on the cause, as though being born that way will somehow make being gay more acceptable, or being raised to be that way will make being gay less acceptable.  Who cares?  Love yourselves and love each other.  That's why we were put here.  Those are truly our only options.


  1. I agree with Rick. Accept people for who they say they are. I think realitypursuit has a lot of respect for his gay friend, and wishes they could see eye to eye on everything, which is understandable. When his friend said he had to make a choice, I'm sure he meant he had to decide whether to accept himself for who he was, or to try and keep his true nature suppressed. No one should be should be forced to live their life as a lie (or a monk), just because they are gay.

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  3. Very perceptive, Doug, and thanks for sharing.
    I agree with your comment about the friend who presumably made a choice to be gay; however, I did not want this post to be about what causes one to be gay. As I wrote, that doesn't matter and should have nothing to do with whether or not one feels comfortable being friends with someone who is gay.
    Thanks again for your contribution to the understanding of the comment from realitypursuit. I appreciate it.

  4. Hey thanks for the post regarding my comment and for the info about the preview button. Good to know. I agree with Doug and Jes's comment that I have a lot of respect for my gay friends. But I disagree with you Rick when you say it doesn't matter what caused them to be gay. It does matter because if gay is not something you are born with then there is hope for all the gay men out there who don't want to be gay. My friend is one of those. He's told me this many times. I think there is a difference between accepting who or what you are because you really want to or because you think you have no other choice. The alternative is going through life as a straight guy who thinks everyone else thinks he looks and acts like a gay guy. I'm not trying to start an argument here or anything. I just don't think this is all as cut and dried as it seems. Thanks.

  5. Again, a comment realitypursuit left this morning showed up in my email but not attached to this post (some funky things going on, believe me). Thus, I'll attach his comment here and respond to it separately.

    Hey thanks for the post regarding my comment and for the info about the preview button. Good to know. I agree with Doug and Jes's comment that I have a lot of respect for my gay friends. But I disagree with you Rick when you say it doesn't matter what caused them to be gay. It does matter because if gay is not something you are born with then there is hope for all the gay men out there who don't want to be gay. My friend is one of those. He's told me this many times. I think there is a difference between accepting who or what you are because you really want to or because you think you have no other choice. The alternative is going through life as a straight guy who thinks everyone else thinks he looks and acts like a gay guy. I'm not trying to start an argument here or anything. I just don't think this is all as cut and dried as it seems. Thanks.

  6. Rick I don't know what's going on with my comments. When I posted the one above it showed up fine but when I went back a few minutes later it wasn't there. I checked all my settings and there is nothing wrong I can see. Sorry.

  7. First, realitypursuit, let me say you'll start no argument with me on this subject. Even if you were deliberately trying to create trouble, which I know you're not from the tone of your comments, I wouldn't get caught up in it. Rather, I think what you have to say is thought-provoking, and I welcome the opportunity to keep the dialogue going. Hopefully, I say something that will help.
    From my perspective, I still think it doesn't matter what causes one to be gay. Here's how I look at it: If our society, or culture, accepted gay people for what they are and no issue was made of sexual orientation whatsoever, your friend wouldn't be conflicted about whether he's gay or straight. He could just be himself, whatever that is. But because there's a stigma attached to being gay, your friend is conflicted, and that's too bad. Life's too short to have to deal with something like that.
    That said, I've written about this before but it's worth repeating. I believe sexuality works on a continuum, with exclusively straight at one end, exclusively gay at the other, and every variation in between. Perhaps your friend's sexual orientation falls in the middle, and that's where his confusion comes from. But there should be no confusion. If he's more turned on by women, he's probably straight. If he's more turned on by men, then he's probably gay. And if he can go either way, maybe he's bisexual. Plenty of people are, and there's nothing wrong with that.
    Whatever your friend is, gay, straight, or bisexual, I just want him to be comfortable in his own skin. Perhaps he has self-esteem issues too, and that's why this is so difficult for him. What he must do is work on loving himself and let everything else sort itself out. Whether he's gay or straight, he should feel supported by those around him, and he should have a safe place to be whatever he is. Make sense?
    Let me know what you think.

  8. I think ultimately the acceptance of gay people will benefit straight men the most. No longer will they be confined by the straight-jacket of Marlboro Man masculinity that is forced upon them. It really is liberation for all people.

  9. I admire your perceptiveness, Doug. Of course, you are absolutely right.
    I mean no insult by this, but I know from the nature of your comments you are not a twenty-something (and I'll bet not a thirty-something). Either that, or you are someone who likes to think deeply and try to understand why things are the way they are, and what would happen if they were different.
    At any rate, your insights are always a welcome contribution to my blog. Thanks for sharing.

  10. One thing I've learned recently is that, as straight parents, we often make assumptions about our kids. We say things to our sons like, "When you grow up, I hope you marry a girl who likes to travel." "When you are older, I hope you and your wife live near us so we can see our grandkids." Honestly, I'm sure I was guilty of saying things like that over the years, until my kids got older and I realized those were not assumptions (however well-intended they were) I should have been making. So, multiply that by teachers, TV shows, ads, movies, churches, etc. making assumptions that everyone is straight, and it's not surprising that someone who is gay has mixed feelings about it. Some people are good at being a person who stands up for themselves, who is fine with being perceived as different, in whatever way, but some people just want to blend in, fly under the radar, not make a statement. And the way our society is right now, unless you live in a diverse urban centre, you will probably end up having to be that person who has to take a stand somewhere if you live in a smaller town, or on our prairies. So I can see where RP's friend may be conflicted. But didn't choose to be straight, did you? You didn't decide to like girls instead of boys one day, you just did. Same with your friend. Supporting him just as he is would be the biggest gift you could give him as a friend.

    ***I just lost my comment when I hit "post comment" this time, and before doing anything else, I "refreshed" the page, brought it back...whew! (fyi)

  11. Your depth of understanding, Sarah, astounds me.
    Yes, you are right. Parents make a lot of assumptions about their children, in part because they don't expect their children to be gay, and, if the thought even crosses their minds, they pray they won't be.
    But imagine how seeing all the straight images coming at you from every direction reinforces what our culture believes is "right" and wrong. I don't have to tell you because you've already figured it out, but, growing up in that, I literally felt I had no place in it. I saw no positive gay images; any time the subject of homosexuality came up, something negative was said; and the physical and emotional isolation made me think I was the only one.
    I'm not here to ask for pity, because I'm more fortunate than many. I believe I've figured it out, and I'm moving forward with try to help other gay people in that regard. Perhaps my age has something to do with it, too. Or maybe I just don't give a f--- anymore. Enough is enough. How's that for honesty?
    Thanks for the advice intended for RP. I couldn't agree more.

  12. I can't even imagine how painful that would be, Rick. I was reading somewhere that even in a family that is accepting, that it is such a burden for kids to bear, until they can finally tell their parents, not to mention the messages from the world around them. And yeah, I get the age thing! I'm 46 this year, and much less likely to put up with stuff that I would have 10 years ago. Rawr!

  13. I guess the "Marlboro Man" coment gave my age away! I'm 42 soon to be 43. I like Sarah's perspective too. Anyone who is a parent has to deal with the gay issue in one way or another. How much easier their lives would be if it were to become a non-issue.

  14. A comment for Sarah: I do support my friend and I accept him for exactly who he is. That has never been an issue in our friendship. And living in a diverse urban centre only makes being gay easier because there are more of them in a concentrated area. I'm sure you know that the strong feelings about it one way or another are apparent regardless of where you live.

  15. PART 1

    I thank you for being there. With your comments I've felt a home like never before. Yes I have a loving family and joy of being a very old brother to three sisters. But this little thing that I keep inside me, makes me feel terrible amongst the ones I love. Sometimes they hurt me with words that they do not know the deeper meaning to me. One thing I know, I can never hate them even if they will choose to hate me.

    I have never thought that my school years were awful. Reason being that I have never hated myself more than during the year of 2009. A year when I first understood what had happened to me about 10 years ago. In the forth grade when I fell in love.

    When I had woken up every day as an obligation not a joy... Every morning looking in the face of a stranger and feeling more tired by every hour I slept. And failing three classes in a row. I discovered what I love in my life. Learning. I rediscovered what brings me joy in life. With that I made a man from the dirt that I had become.

    Truth is, i reinvented myself. I rediscovered reading, I rediscovered poetry, I rediscovered films like Amelie, Mirmacs, Lord Of The Rings, Ice Age, I learned once again how to listen to Dido, Sigur Ros, Olafur Arnalds, Patrick Wolf and the songs of nature. I rediscovered the life of light - the reason why I take pictures. At the moment I compare myself to a small child. Who learns something new every single day. And unfortunately my skin is very weak and I scar easily.

    I have never understood the meaning of school years to me. I loved them. Yes I was bullied, but this did not matter to me. Or perhaps I never let it get that far. I most probably said to myself that this is a natural way. But know I understand... that I have become a closed person. I am bad among people, I isolate myself because I have never felt that I can belong. This loneliness has grown inside me. At the same time, it is my safe-place. It's my worm house in the woods. It is were I belong. It is something that is natural to me. And I have to admit, I love loneliness.

    But there are times when I loose myself. There are times when I do not understand the person that is living inside me, or living in my shoes would be a better way to say it. I would like to be a performer. Be in front of thousands... These the times when I loose myself to simple enjoys in life. I see and admire a person who is gay, who is openly gay, who is beautiful, who is smart, funny and can socialize. Unlike me reading and studying during friday evenings he will be parting all night long. Enjoying the company of other people. Enjoying life. I loose myself because I can never be that beautiful, that smart, that funny and social. I cry for the life I should have had. I cry for the fact that I've never kissed another person in my life. I cry that I will always be alone and not like him. Not as good. Not a better man.

  16. PART 2

    Lately I have discovered how much I like to live in Estonia. How proud I am that I am an Estonian. I live in nature, I can breath our culture and can feel our community. Our small nation. Minu kodumaa! (in english "My homeland!")
    And I feel the responsibility. For my homeland, for my sisters and for everyone I am to love in the future. The things I want to create, the love I want to give. And I feel that I will have a place.
    From time to time I feel sad and lonely with my thoughts. But I have learned that my family has always been brave enough to take another step. Even if there is a wilderness in one step forward. I have understood (or to be precise, I am beginning to understand) the facts. I am a gay man. Who is not very talented or bright but who still has taken the step forward. Who has seen the greatest pleasure in loving. Loving loving. Loving in everything: work, people, nature, breathing, waking up, cooking. I have to be honest. I am an atheist. But a course from history of religion has opened my eyes to belief. I have learned that every difference that a person has (being gay, not being the brightest star in learning, not knowing how to control a car) is there for a person to learn. And life gives us the responsibilities to jump over these rocks. And to become a brighter person in the process. To learn!

    What have I learned from all that has happened? That my god is me. That the person that can do the most harm to me is myself. And the person that can make a difference in my life is me. And the person who has to create a new beginning is me. And the person who has to dream is me. Yes, there are hard times in life, when it is not easy to know where I have to go and what choices do I need to take in order to be happy. But I can always hope and dream!

    And as I have become to learn there are friends like you who can give a leading note.

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  17. Thanks, Sarah and Doug, for your most recent comments. I really appreciate your ongoing interest in my blog and the chance to continue dialogues with both of you. Each person's perspective adds so much, and I'm always thrilled to hear from you.

    Realitypursuit, unfortunately, your last comment didn't publish here again. So I've included it below:
    "A comment for Sarah: I do support my friend and I accept him for exactly who he is. That has never been an issue in our friendship. And living in a diverse urban centre only makes being gay easier because there are more of them in a concentrated area. I'm sure you know that the strong feelings about it one way or another are apparent regardless of where you live."

    elevencats, I'm so pleased to hear from you again. I've read both of your comments, but I want to read them again and think about what to say before I respond. Please be patient. I hope you'll check back often and know you have support from the other side of the world in Canada

    Thanks again to all of you. You have made my blog more exciting and more gratifying than ever.

  18. Oh boy, I am about to cry, I just lost another big post! Must remember to write in Word, then copy and post! Argh, Blogger!

    For Elevencats:
    Here, we have a saying: “Baby steps.” We use it to describe starting a journey or attempting something new that seems scary, and we say that to remind ourselves that we need to start by doing little things, and eventually, we will reach our goal. When my son moved to a new city (Vancouver), he felt isolated like you do at first, so he made a deal with himself. He forced himself to go out and talk to one new person every day (he isn’t an outgoing blabbermouth like his mother, I guess…) He said it really helped, just getting out and talking to people. So maybe instead of comparing yourself to someone who is super-confident and “parties all night,” you could start small, force yourself to go out to coffee shops, or similar places, and just make small talk with people. A smile here, a comment there, just start small, getting yourself reacquainted with the larger world!

    For RealityPursuit:
    That’s great that you’re supporting your friend, but I also get the sense that you don’t think being gay is the “better” option, that he’d be better off straight, and I’d imagine he picks up on that message, too. Also, diverse urban centres don’t just have “more gays in one place,” they have acceptance. That is a really basic human need, to be accepted by the people around you. In a big city, you’re more likely to live around people who see being gay as just another way to be (like some people are married, some people just live together, but they’re both in relationships), not as an example of someone who drew the short straw. I’m not surprised your friend has conflicting feelings about being gay. His whole life has been spent watching images in the media that show a “normal” family, mum and dad in their T shirts and jeans, loading the kids into the minivan, or eating their nutritious breakfast cereal, or going to Disneyland…he’s NEVER ONCE seen an image on TV that shows what he is feeling in a positive way, he’s never seen an ad for a vacation that shows two men walking down a beach holding hands, or trading jokes over their morning Cheerios. If he’s ever seen gay men on TV, up until recently, they were the silly side kicks, they were caricatures of real people. Imagine growing up and never seeing a positive representation of who you are. That would be enough to make anyone question their feelings, or wish they were different. In my opinion, it is society in general that needs to change, much the way society changed during the civil rights movement. No one thought the answer during the civil rights movement was for black people to acquire lighter skin (ridiculous! How could you, and why would you change an essential part of who you are?) It was for society to change how it viewed race; there was no “separate but equal,” there was just “equal.” I believe that until we have the same kind of society-wide awakening regarding sexual orientation, friends like yours may have conflicting feelings about their own sexuality. But this is where society needs to say loud and clear that people are worthy and wonderful just as they are, and that they don’t need to feel conflicted because of who they love.

  19. Sarah, you are extraordinary. I know how frustrating it is to write a long comment and lose it for some stupid reason, but believe me when I tell you, what you patiently rewrote here was so worth it. What you shared with both elevencats and realitypursuit was insightful, smart, and compassionate. Are you sure you're not a gay man in a woman's clothing (hey, stranger things have happened)?
    In my upcoming posts, I'll have a lot more to say about baby steps, really the only effective way to make change happen and to keep it going. I know of no better way to break an ingrained routine than to turn yourself in a new direction and take one small step after another. To steal my thunder a bit, when the new routine starts to build, then you move from baby steps to larger ones, until the change literally becomes the new you. Works like a charm, but you have to be diligent. Unlearning what didn't work for so long is bloody difficult, and takes constant effort and commitment. But the good news? It can be done.
    Your words for realitypursuit are spot on, so much so I could see myself write them. I love when the dialogue between readers is so comfortable, people share and learn from each other.
    You must be one cool mom, Sarah, because you are one cool human being. Thank you so much for helping some of my readers and for your contribution to this blog in general. I feel you are an ally in what I'm trying to do here, and I'm so grateful for that.

  20. I love reading the comment's on Rick's blog. Everyone is so thoughtful. Elevencats, just keep coming back here for advice and encouragement!

  21. I couldn't agree more, Doug. What we've created together is a community of support and encouragement for straight folks who have gay friends and for gay folks who need help to raise their self-esteem. I'm so happy I changed the direction of my blog this year and had a hand in making this happen.
    And thanks to you, Sarah, and everyone else for making this a great place to stop by and spend a little time--all in the interest of helping gay people love themselves. As the subtitle of this blog states, "Together, Taking Gay to the Next Level." Thanks to all of you for helping to make that happen.

  22. Rick, you made me laugh--"a gay man in women's clothing"--hah! My dad's friend and colleague who was gay was also a bit of a shoe nazi...My 14 year old self would turn up at the office, wearing whatever footwear was trendy in 1978, and he would take one look at my feet, shake his head, and say "Oh honey, your taste is definitely *only* in your mouth." I still remember not only the shoe lessons, but the 'how to properly turn up a shirt cuff' ("no seam showing!") lesson as well, so while I'm pretty sure I'm not a gay man (more's the pity) I am pretty convinced there is a big part of my brain that identifies with gay men way more than straight men. This is probably a huge generalization, but the gay men I've known are just easier, and more fun, to talk to than straight guys. There is just a different “energy” (trying not to sound new age-y here) that I find I relate to. It’s funny, but neither my husband, nor my two sons have that aggressive energy that I find off-putting in a lot of straight guys, so I find that I’m surprised when I’m around people who are like that. My one son hangs out with girls way more than with guys, I think because there’s a very similar energy level. When I see a group of teenage boys together, it’s like there’s some disconnect between their brains and their actions. My daughter has a friend who’s gay, and when he stops by, he’ll just sit and talk to me, whereas with other guy friends of hers, I don’t ever remember them just sitting at the kitchen table and chatting with me. So, I think it’s a “relating/connecting/kindred spirit” kind of thing. (Although, now that I think about it, I’m a bit like a gay stereotype from the seventies: Disco on my iPod, glitter ornaments hanging from the kitchen widow, and the ever-present Wizard of Oz theme, from red Dorothy shoe earrings, to my avatar…..hmmmm :)

  23. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, now who's making who laugh? That whole "gay stereotype from the seventies" comment is so damn funny. Disco, man. Long live disco. BEST MUSIC EVER. These kids today have no freakin' idea. Chris and I haven't been in a gay club in fifteen years or more--we're an old married couple now--primarily because the music took a serious nosedive from the late '80s/early '90s, with aimless, irrelevant electronica, hiphop, rap, and the like. It's sad, really. Back in the day, gay clubs with hot disco or dance music--you couldn't beat it. So much fun!!! Anyway, I digress...
    Want proof of just how perceptive you are? Try this on: "When I see a group of teenage boys together, it’s like there’s some disconnect between their brains and their actions." No truer words were ever spoken.
    Chris has a twenty-year-old nephew we visited last weekend. One cute kid, everything going for him, a lot going on. Then I saw a massive bruise on his upper arm. I asked about it. He laughed and told me he and his closest male friends had played the punching game. You played what? I had to ask since I'd never heard of it. Apparently, they try to punch each other as hard as they can in the arm. You try to do what? And you're best friends? I asked. He laughed.
    I guess that's what young males do these days when they like each other. I wanted to say something smart like, why don't you just hug and kiss each other and get it over with, but I don't think my humor would have been appreciated. That's how young straight males demonstrate their affection as friends toward each other. I thought Mitch had more sense than that. I chalked it up to the bad judgement of his friends.
    Ironically, there was a report in "The Vancouver Sun" recently where a group of males played the punching game, and one kid got hit in such a way he actually died. Now that's showing affection toward your friend, isn't it? They wouldn't dare do anything to cross the line between being straight and being gay because it might compromise their masculinity. Incredible.
    Anyway, I'm making you an honorary gay man today. I don't care that you look for all the world like a woman living in Calgary. As far as I'm concerned, you are a gay man in Vancouver, with a greater awareness of what being gay is all about than many gay men have. You've earned the honor, believe me. We'd be glad to have you on board.
    And one final word about your writing. You are one good writer, Sarah. I see you haven't written anything on your blog for some time. You should get back to it. If you're not a writer, you should be.
    Thanks so much for your comment.

  24. WOOT! I am totally on board with being an honorary gay man! Ya-HOO! And glad you are a fellow disco needs all the love it can get, these days.

    The punching game, I've heard of it. Intensely stupid. And you're right, boys will do an awful lot to express the closeness they feel for their friends in what they think are socially acceptable ways. They also act so differently in groups than they do one on one. My daughter's boyfriend was like Jekyll and Hyde, so sweet and thoughtful on his own, and such an unthinking dope around his friends...the power of peer pressure is not to be dismissed.

    My blog, I know! It was my new year's resolution to start it up again...thank you for reminding me, as it is a wee bit past the first...I love writing, I truly do. I had a letter published by the Herald last week (the Herald and I have a love hate relationship: I hate them, they publish my letters, people often phone me up--listed phone number--or write scathing for everyone!) And I thought I might expand upon my short missive (I was responding to the person who said Saskatchewan marriage commissioners should be able to opt out of doing their jobs for same-sex couples, you can imagine what I wrote, heh) and I wrote a piece for them to consider as an op-ed piece. No response. Very frustrating to not even hear an explanation as to why they won't publish, if not my work, then someone else's. Anyway, you know how you were wondering if your blog was what you were "supposed" to do? Well, maybe this is what I'm "supposed" to do... (Love of writing + gay rights x disco = my particular "thing"!) You know, when you get a nudge from the universe, maybe it's best to not ask too many questions, but to just go for it. Anyway, I am going to write something for some local source, and we'll see what happens. And my blog, well, that will be my silly, snarky outlet. Hugs, Rick. You are doing truly great work.

  25. 'Love of writing + gay rights x disco = my particular "thing"!'
    I love this line, Sarah. I laughed out loud. Still laughing out loud. Sounds like a winning formula.
    Mine would be 'Love of writing + sharing what I know about being gay and seeing self-worth x high energy dance music = hopefully making a difference.' Wow! Working that through was great fun.
    If you don't have a regular outlet to write, I must encourage you to find one. Sure, letters to the "Herald," op-ed pieces, and comments here are great, but your skill is not to be wasted. Sounds like you might have been uninspired with your blog when you stopped writing it. Reinvent it then. Find something you're really passionate about and get your voice out into the world. And good luck writing "for some local source." I hope it goes well for you.
    Thanks for the vote of confidence around what I'm trying to do here, and thanks for your comment.

  26. Part One:

    elevencats, I've finally had the chance to go through your comments above in detail, and I have a few things I want to share:
    First, I want you to know I am here for you. You have been so open and honest with me, and I want to support you in any way I can, especially since you may not have anyone else to talk to about being gay and how difficult that is for you sometimes. If you would prefer, rather than leave your comments here, you can send emails to me directly. You'll find my email address attached to my profile. Either way, I want to hear from you. I want us to keep talking together. Share with me anytime you want to.
    Wow! As I reread part one, I applaud you for your love of learning. I agree. There's nothing more exciting than learn new things, especially in areas you're passionate about. For example, I'm passionate about writing, I have a vast collection of books about writing, and I can never learn enough about it. So I understand that part of you.
    What I don't understand is why you seem to be so shut off from the life you say you most want. First, you're young, so please don't write as if there's no hope for you. You're in your early twenties, and you have your entire life ahead of you, filled with everything you love, including learning. So don't cut yourself short in any respect.
    I guess I'd like to know what causes you to isolate yourself. You wrote you see other gay men who are beautiful, smart, and funny. So, obviously, some people are openly gay in Estonia, and that doesn't seem to stop them from being the kind of person you want to be.
    I did some research about homosexuality in Estonia, and it was legalized in 1992. So I assume your culture is somewhat understanding about gay people. So do you close yourself off from others because you believe you can never reveal your sexual orientation to your family, or because, even though homosexuality is legal in Estonia, it's still something you can't be open about? Can you help me understand this?
    Why do you say you cry for the life you should have? I understand you may not have kissed anyone yet, but I didn't kiss anyone until I was 26. There's no time limit on kissing someone. It will happen when it's meant to, and it will be wonderful when it does.
    What makes you think you will always be alone? Why don't you think you'll never be as good as the gay men you admire?

    See Part Two

  27. Part Two:

    If I may be honest, with no intention of hurting you at all, your low self-esteem is so apparent. In Part Two, you write you're not very talented or bright. The whole point of improving self-esteem, which is what I'm passionate about doing with this blog, is helping people, like you, to stop limiting themselves by how they feel about who they are.
    Do you see that as you put yourself down in so many little ways, you are creating your reality? You are making yourself feel less than other people? You are limited who you are meant to be? Remember, whatever energy you put out into the world, positive or negative, is the energy you get back. So when you put yourself down, you create the energy to continue putting yourself down.
    You must stop this, elevencats, which is what I'm trying to help you do here. I did the same thing to myself when I was your age that you do to yourself. And, as you say, the only one who can change this is you.
    I'm so grateful you realize the critical role you play in changing your life for the better. It really is all up to you, but you will have other people to support you along the way. I hope your family will be there. I will be here, and I will continue to write things in my blog that I hope will inspire you to realize your fullest potential, first as a human being, and second as a gay man.
    Please, PLEASE, do not let being gay hold you back. Even though you may not have the life you want right now, you can work on raising your self-esteem. You can work on loving yourself. And, believe me, when you love yourself, there will be no stopping you. You may not see that now, but you will. I promise. Once you have it, no one can take away the love you have for yourself. No one. You'll see.
    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your heartfelt comments and for leaving yourself open to what I, and my other readers, have to share with you. Start making changes today. You already know you want to change. Now, read what I've written in my blog so far this month, what my readers have offered, and stay tuned for more information on what you can do to love yourself and to change your life. You really can do this. You must do this. The fullness of your life depends on it.
    Thanks again.

  28. Part one

    There are moments I see nothing holding me back. Like everything I want just can happen if i truly want it to happen. I feel this joy of life and energy what comes from this joy. These are times when I understand that being absolutely free of self-harm is freeing and inspiring. I have seen that I work best when I am at my happiest. When I love to learn and love what I am doing with every second of my life. And then reality strikes me. I see the person I am and understand that things that I want are not realistic, they are my dreams but they are not what I should want.
    Yes. I feel like there is no other way for me to live... because I have chosen early on the life that I am living. I remember that I had a warm heart years before. I experienced at school that every word I said and everything I did even breathing among them made me hurt more. So I shot myself up. I have always had this creative spirit in me: I remember that I always liked to sing, dance and make up stories. I remember how beautiful life was when I was this lets say a bit stupid at my schoolwork and giving everything I had (that is love) to people surrounding me: I had great friends, loving relationship with my family.
    But I shut myself up. I made a choice. I wanted to try if I could be a better student. No to be honest, I wanted to try if I could be the best. Truth be told I have always been a slow reader, slow learner. And I tried and used entirely every second for learning. I didn't understand things well. So I re-read, I repeated what I had learned, made myself learn more and more. To gain something I thought was possible. To be the best. But on the way of becoming the best I fell in love. I fell in love with learning. And it became something that I needed more than people, even food. I started to isolate myself because that way I had more time to learn. I became a cold person.
    I see now happy future for myself because I have now understanding what this word means. I do not know if I am happy when I smile or if I am happy when I cry. If you have read Virginia Woolf's "Waves" then you know how my thoughts go. I'm like a fog not a person. Sometimes becoming a clear human being, sometimes evaporating entirely and most of the time just fading and loving to flow and see how the waves go, how the wind moves the branches, how the rain drops and listen how my heart beats.
    I have a lonely nature. I have learned to learn alone and learned to play alone. I have been alone for the most of my life living far from the city. I have understood that I have to play alone even the play that we call life. Even though I love to help. I remember that I always thought people at school who did not understand the topic. During recess I became a teacher. It made me feel good. It made me feel like I belonged. But I have always felt like I should not ask for help.
    Maybe that comes from the ideal prototype of a man in Estonia: having no emotions, being ruthless and responsible. I said before that sometimes I feel like the whole world is opened to me. There are so wide possibilities. I can do everything and I just need to go and do. And then I hear this voice inside me saying that I am a man who needs to responsible. Who needs to think and act as I should. Because this is the only way a man can be happy and productive. Whatever the word happy means. I hear it is a good word.

  29. Part two

    Yes, I have thought about if someone I know would read this blog one could simply say it's me. Yes, I have felt like I am putting myself and my future at risk by being honest and writing from my heart. But I have reached to a point when I do not care. What will happen, will happen. I used to delete all my history from my browser and log myself out from youtube before I gave my computer to a person to use. Know I am more carefree in that matter. I know things can happen but maybe it is better if they happen. Maybe happenings of life can be stronger than I am. Secondly, I feel a desire to write my story. Maybe someone is in a similar situation and can see hope or can at least find someone to connect to emotionally. Maybe my story can help.
    Comments about Estonia. Actually gay-situation in Estonia is quite good. We can not be discriminated at our workplace. And mostly people just do not say what they think: they are polite and only say hurtful things behind your back. At the moment we have many people being openly gay, even at the highest ranks of education, we have had a commercial at street with a young gay couple, we have a great leading gay figure a media businessman who has stated publicly that he is living together with his long-time partner. And lately there has been an debate on the possibility of gay partnership law. Things are looking good, or should I say things will get better and better. Still old habits die hard. It is very popular to make gay jokes, when something is wrong it is most probably caused by gays or russians. There are usual misconceptions that gays are overly feminine and only designers-hairdressers and actors.
    Yeah. I would like to hop into a time capsule and see how it will be in the near future.
    Still life is quite beautiful and promising but when being young this possibility of a better future seems too far away. Like moments are too long to bear. Like all the future has already been written to me and I just have to play in the theatre. Play the best I can.

    Thank you for your support! It feels tremendously good to have someone to listen.

  30. Sorry about my English. Should have written in the morning.

  31. You know, elevencats, women have that problem here, too, we sometimes feel like there are certain acceptable ways for women to behave, and if they act in ways that do not conform, they get labeled usually not very nice things. And young women, especially, can be easily influenced by society, perhaps in ways that stifle their true nature, in ways that keep them from being who they really are, just as you've described. But you know what? A lot of us, when we get older, we stop caring what other people think, we don't worry that doing this or that will make us bad mothers, or wives, or friends. We learn to be a little truer to ourselves. You don't have to fit into anyone's mold or idea of what an Estonian man is like, you can just do whatever you want. Comparing ourselves to an ideal is never very healthy.

  32. elevencats, what strikes me as I read your above comments again is the contradiction between who you think you should be, and who you want to be. This is the age-old conflict every young person, regardless of their culture, is in. I remember going through it, too. In my heart of hearts, I knew I was gay long before I came out, and I knew I wanted to do something creative or artistic for a living. I couldn't imagine I'd get stuck doing something I didn't like doing, just because I had to earn a living. My greatest fear, though, was I'd go into a field that pointed a finger at me for everyone to see, and that screamed I was gay. So, in my case, that left out being a hair stylist, an interior designer, a travel agent, and so on. I was so scared of being myself, who I knew I really was, so I could use my creative abilities, that I went in the opposite direction.
    So you know what happened? I went into banking. If you knew me, you'd know I'm completely ill-suited to banking. I couldn't understand math and hated it. My talent has always been to write, and, when I was in college, I wanted to be a writer, or, more practically, an English teacher.
    But that didn't happen. I couldn't finish my degree where I lived at the time, didn't have the money to move to Vancouver to go to university, and ended up getting a job with a bank, where, believe it or not, I worked in many positions and places for twenty-eight years.
    But everything happens for a reason. Believe it or not, banking taught me so much about myself, and I grew stronger as a person along the way, allowing me to make better and better choices.
    I learned to be great with money, which allowed my partner and me to be debt-free in 2007, when he was 39 and I was 48. And I've been working on my writing ever since.
    I don't think we're meant to know all the answers when we're your age. I don't think we're meant to get all uptight about who we're supposed to be, or what we're supposed to do. There's only one thing we need to do, and that is live. Let things happen. Make the best choices you can at the time and keep moving forward. If you realize your choices may not have been the best, make different ones.
    Life is a constant evolution toward the human being you were meant to be. I needed to go through everything in my past to be the person I am today. And, honestly, I wouldn't change a single thing.
    Go easy on yourself. Just be. That's all you need to do. Take the pressure off. Keep your goals and dreams in mind, and never let them go. I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little boy, and now I am, at the age of 50. This is when it was meant to happen for me, and that's all right.
    You'll find your way, believe me. It will all come together for you, I promise. Just show up every day in your life as the best person you can be at the time. Commit yourself to what you do, and your future will work itself out. I'm living proof of that.
    Thank you so much for trusting me enough to share everything you have about yourself. I look forward to hearing from you again. I'm here for you.