"Am I Gay?"
A Guide for People Who Question Their Sexual Orientation

Richard H. Reams, Ph.D.

Part 6: Next Steps

Having gathered and considered the evidence regarding your sexual orientation, you may have reached one of several outcomes: you obtained clarity, you cannot come to a conclusion despite substantial evidence, or you realize that you need more evidence.  Let’s consider potential next steps for each of these outcomes.

If You Obtained Clarity

. . . and you have concluded that you neither straight nor mostly straight, you may experience some struggle to obtain and maintain a positive view of your sexuality.  You may wrestle with one or more of the obstacles identified in Part 5.  Your challenges my include

  • Feeling good about your sexuality rather than fearing that “something went wrong” or that you are a sinner.
  • Integrating your sexual orientation identity with your religious identity and/or ethnic identity, especially if your religious and/or ethnic community tends to view LGB people and same-sex relationships negatively.
  • Navigating the process of coming out to others, especially family members.
These are just a few of the potential challenges that LGB people can face during the process of coming out to themselves and to others.  If you find yourself facing significant challenges, you can benefit from several sources of support, which I describe in Part 7, "Resources for the LGB Person's Journey"


If You Cannot Come to a Conclusion Despite Substantial Evidence

. . . be patient with yourself.  You may simply need more time to contemplate the evidence.  Additionally, there may be one or more factors that make reaching a conclusion rather challenging for you.  For example,

  • You may be unsure which evidence is most relevant.
  • You may be confused by conflicting evidence.  For example, if your emotional attractions are predominantly directed toward people of one sex while your physical attractions are predominantly directed toward people of the other sex, you may struggle to reach a conclusion because of the discrepancy.
  • You may be inhibited by fears about the consequences of coming out as LGB+ because you recognize that you would face some of the obstacles noted in Part 5. 

I have learned from my work as a psychologist that some men and boys experience an additional complicating factor that requires its own paragraph to describe.  Some guys have known only "macho" guys who avoid intimate conversation.  (Intimate conversation includes expressing empathy and putting one's feelings into words.  Intimate conversation facilitates emotional bonding and long-term relationships between two people.)  These male clients cannot imagine intimate conversation and emotional bonding with another guy, yet would love to have that experience with a guy they found to be physically attractive if it were only possible. (Yes, it is possible, although it may require relocating to a city or town with a larger population of gay, bisexual, and pansexual men.)
  
Regardless of the reaso
ns that you continue to be confused, you would probably benefit from talking with an LGB-affirming counselor.  Part 7 provides guidance for finding such a counselor. 


If You Need More Evidence

. . . then you’ll need more time.  Perhaps you are too young to have generated much evidence.  Perhaps you have poured yourself into school or work, which has “safely” kept you too busy to experience or contemplate your emotional and physical attractions.  Be patient and allow yourself as much time as you need to gather sufficient evidence about your emotional and physical attractions.

If you need to generate additional evidence, then I encourage you to behave like a scientist: observe and experiment to generate data for interpretation.  As an observer, pay attention to your emotional and physical attractions to others.  Who catches your eye in your daily life?  Who stirs you emotionally? 

As an experimenter, you have several options, depending on what is acceptable within your moral code.  You can date appealing people regardless of their biological sex.  You can experiment sexually either directly or vicariously.  Direct sexual experimentation would potentially include both non-genital physical contact (even hugging and kissing is “sexual” in the broad sense of the word) and genital contact, being sure to use safe sex practices.  Vicarious sexual experimentation would include viewing same-sex and male-female sexual videos and/or reading erotic fiction.  Through observation and experimentation, you will generate additional evidence to consider.

Regardless of where you are in your coming-out process, you can benefit from utilizing some of the many "Resources for the LGB+ Person's Journey" that are available, which I'll describe in Part 7.
 




Website Builder