Overcoming The Pain Of Growing Up Gay In A Straight Man’s World
Alan Downs, PhD
I’ve decided to break up my crochet/knitting activities with a little reading and self-help to counteract the growing rage in me from depression.
I had previously read the introduction to this book – with notes – and thought I had posted my insight, but apparently I was wrong. So we begin with Chapter 1….
Chapter 1: The Little Boy With The Big Secret
I can’t answer for my parents awareness of how I was different than my siblings, but I can tell you my first indication was probably in kindergarten, evidenced by my crush on Bobby Brown. Somehow at the young age, I knew I was different and had to keep it a secret. Don’t ask me how at age five, I knew that, but I did.
As I progressed into middle school, this phase began the conscience secret keeping. Growing up with overweight and pear-shaped, my non-protruding penis precluded me from showering after gym was not about to happen despite my desire to be naked with other guys.
Being more flamboyant in high school – colored hair, grooming myself for the Best Dressed senior award – other students began to call me faggot outright, though I had no idea why? I knew what a faggot was, but I didn’t even know that’s what I was.
The bottom line: “There was something about us that was disgusting, aberrant, and essentially unlovable.”
Growing up overweight – all my life – I had been picked upon by other kids all my life. At first for being overweight and then for being gay.
Quote from the book:
“I honestly don’t think I was one bit smarter than any of the other kids in my grade. I just figured out that if I studied hard and read everything I could, my teachers seemed to like me more. By the time I got to junior high, I discovered a small group of other good students to hang out with. For the first time, I remember feeling liked I belonged somewhere.”
He then goes on to talk about “The First Man In Your Life:” dad. My dad was devoted and loving. He actually caught my first boyfriend fucking me on his bed. Dad stated I had disrespected his house. I was completely embarrassed and a bit relieved, and promised never to do that again. I can’t say I have kept the promise up until recently, but I wasn’t caught and the thrill of getting caught replaced with fear. However, when we talked about my lifestyle choice afterwards, he pretty much said it was going to be a tough life, but good luck. Nothing more.
He explains how the only authentic validation I may have experienced as a young man came from my mother, further explaining that “this validation was usually directed at the things that our mother valued.” I was excelling in school, groomed by my mother to get the next “high-paying job with excellent medical benefits.” Because the validation came from my mother, he suggests “We cultivated creative, compassionate, and nurturing talents.” So you mean, I am not naturally like that? Who the fuck am I then?
So I did not receive proper validation growing up, nor how to validate myself. What does this really mean?
Validate: demonstrate or support the truth or value of
OMG! It’s true. More truth…
“What normally becomes an internal, self-sustaining process of self-validation in the healthy, young adult remained infantile within us, and we instead became sophisticated in the ways of coercing acceptance from the world around us.”
So I stopped growing emotionally and then started using drugs, which additionally arrested my emotional growth.
“Famished for authentic validation and without a reliable sense of self-direction, he develops a sophisticated radar for those things and people who will make him feel good about himself.”
Huh? I never had “gaydar” so I had no way of knowing who I could trust, unless I was in a gay bar, and then because I was fat, I lacked the confidence to find someone I could trust. Once I began drugs, I developed a different type of sophisticated sense: I could spot a male – straight or gay – that I could coerce in to bed.
Ultimately, Dr. Downs states that the deep, dark secret is self-hatred.
Welcome to my world.