No documentation will be complete without the beginning. Although currently in my twenties, my mind constantly wanders back in time. I remember the period in high school (Age 13 - 17) where I kept everything to myself and struggled silently with my journey. I've come a long way. So before these thought-evoking memories disappear with age, here are snippets of my puzzle that might help some struggling gay kid out there. A comprehensive stage-by-stage documentation of a crucial period of discovery.
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Throughout my years of growing up, I've always had this inexplicable feeling that I'm weird in a way, different from people. Now the difficult part is that I can't quite put my finger on the exact feeling, but neither do I know how to describe it in words. It's just "there", you feel it, you know it but you don't know what the hell is it.
I was always less mature than everyone else and an extreme late-developer. People around me were always winners, achievers and steps ahead of me in everything. Which I think became the basis for my severe sense of inadequacy, insecurity and constant self-comparison.
As I grow, I notice how exceptionally well I always seem to mingle with girls. For some reason, most of my friends are girls and I share great friendships with them. Although exceptions do apply, but guy friends were always harder to come by because for some other underlying reason, I felt something was lacking in me. I felt inferior towards them and at times, found them very intimidating too. Perhaps boys were harder to understand due to their extreme natures of being either very reticent or very boisterous, while girls I encounter in general were always more emotionally attuned and easier to gauge.
Hanging out less with my own gender group certainly made me feel like I was somewhat less masculine and not cool enough to be taken seriously. It was only much later that a couple more guy friends started coming into my life, in which I don't know if it has anything to do with my delayed maturity or if this whole "don't-mix-well-with-guys" phenomenon was part of a self-defensive reaction by an unawakened gay gene who would have found them attractive. My inferiority complex and severe sense of insecurity made it hard for me to connect and be around them.
The other day, I came across the word idolisation and thought to myself: "That's it, that's the word! Idolisation." Since young, I've always harboured a steady idolisation towards guys. Handsome guys, heroic guys, mature guys, pleasant guys. High school seniors and guys in their twenties were my source of idolisation. Maybe because I struggle with confidence and felt somewhat inadequate about myself which led to my great admiration for them. There's just something about them and I aspire to one day be in their shoes. Tall, masculine, handsome, well-liked and ever so ready to take on the world.
Even until today, I could never comprehensively understand how this phenomenon can culminate with me being sexually attracted to guys at puberty. Where is the sense of idolisation coming from, what were their origins and how? Are there really other factors involved at shaping your sexual orientation or can this experience truly be vouched as the typical journey of a gay adolescent who is born with homosexuality at birth?
As kids, we perceive life through innocent eyes and also live according to how we're being told. We were young and completely oblivious to these feelings that just come and go. It was impossible for these experiences to make sense at that point because of my inability to digest and take in the realities of all that was happening to me. I now truly understand and appreciate the real meaning of blissful ignorance.
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At age: 13 - 14
I was about 13 or 14 when my idolisation for guys started getting a little out of hand. I found myself eyeing them in a weird way that has never happened before. It was frustrating too because I couldn't understand where this was all coming from or why the sense of admiration was getting so intense. I might be crazy.
I suspect my raging hormones were gradually developing then but there was still no attenuating outlet. These bottled up emotions would manifest itself in my mindless comments on how good-looking some guys are and how much I admire them, which I think caught the askance of my friends and some people. But as usual, the only logical justification I could come up with was admiration.
Then came a hang-out moment during recess in which I unknowingly went overboard and complimented a schoolmate on how good-looking he was. Honestly, I didn't know why I did that. I mean why would anybody in the right sense of mind say that, from a guy to another guy? Jeez! Unfortunately, another girl who was present in the conversation immediately started yelling: "Oh my god! You're gay, you're gay! He's gay!"
God! How I wanted the Earth to swallow me up! At that moment, my jaw dropped from the effects of that scene because I couldn't believe I was hearing that word. That "word-which-must-not-be-mentioned", that "word-which-triggers-a-million-lightnings-and-dark-thunders", is finally being used. On me! I hover in mild astral projection as my body absorbed the syllables of that remark. It was an embarrassing, "teach-you-a-lesson" moment etched in my head.
For the rest of the afternoon in class, I replayed that scene again, and again, and again in my head while the teacher went on about the early history of tin mining in the background. As usual, the only justification I could formulate for myself was extreme admiration. It is extreme admiration! Like I always have remember? Like how I aspire to one day be as good-looking and as attractive as that senior across the block. Like how for some inexplicable reason, I'm drawn to him and I want to look at him. I want to hang out with him and be his friend. There's nothing wrong with that, right?
"Except for that weird part where you wondered how it'd felt like if he kissed you!", an inner voice jumps out of no where, in which I smother mercilessly with disregard. "What the hell was that?"
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At age: 14 - 15
When I was about 15, my hormones kicked in and I started having strong desires to touch myself. It was through casual conversations with guys in my class that I discovered masturbation. (I am a heavily sheltered kid and an extreme late developer.)
Before I knew it, I sorted myself out for the first time in the bathroom looking at a Men's magazine. I remember how mind-blowing it felt, but yet there was a quivering chill that exploded in my heart during the resolution phase. I knew immediately that something just wasn't quite right or didn't felt right. I remember thinking to myself: "It's okay, it's my first time exploring, it won't happen again." But what won't happen again? The masturbation or the Men's magazine? I went straight to bed and slept it off that night. (Being an adult now, I could decipher that the quivering chill was indeed a wave of extreme guilt for masturbating and for using a Men's magazine.)
That week went by as I found myself committing the same act and repeating the same consolation line over and over again in my head. Gradually over the course of a few months, my fantasies evolved immensely and grew to encompass the good-looking guys from school, handsome men and male celebrities. I didn't stop because whatever it is that I was doing, was indeed an effective outlet to channel and relieve the tormented blockage that was in my heart.
Then came a point where my instincts were banging on my door, telling me something isn't quite right here. "Because I'm jerking off all the time thinking about guys? Okay. So what is it then? What is this? Am I a hundred percent sure this is normal or not normal? What are the other guys going through? Is this a phase? Do all guys go through this secret silent phase but they just don't talk about it?"
We live in a world where guys are meant to be with girls. So not knowing exactly what was happening to me was terrifying. Jerking off to guys, is that even possible? Does it even exist? I told myself it's okay, I'm still young and studying in school. I don't have to think about this now. Perhaps things will change "when I grow up". I still have a couple more years to think about this. In the meantime, I'll stick to what makes me feel good.
Throughout time, I started developing guy crushes too and it was hard. Real hard. One crush after another, it gave me nothing except internal conflicts. I remember gazing surreptitiously at my crushes and got caught a couple of times in that awkward moment. But I still had no concrete idea as to why am I acting so weird and different from everybody else. "Pull yourself together!"
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At age: 15 - 16
Then it started to dawn on me that guys do actually think about girls when they jerk off. There was no such thing as "a phase" or any of that guy idolisation crap. They have NEVER and DON'T jerk off thinking about other guys because it's gross and fucking disgusting. Which is the source of all gay innuendos that now seem to conveniently circulate the school grounds, like pamphlets on a street fair.
"Shit. So it's just me huh? I am a sick weirdo. What the hell is happening, am I insane? Mentally ill? I must be. I am a disgusting mental case. How could something like this exist in a person in this world?" The thought spiralled me into limbo because I didn't know what to do, what else to do, what I could do. I remember how it felt like to hear myself swallow my own silence.
Although I couldn't quite comprehend this "unusual difference" that was manifesting in me, but first thing I told myself, I'll never, I repeat, NEVER tell anyone about this. This humiliatingly scandalous, horrible secret that I harbour crushes and am sexually aroused by guys. No one MUST know or can EVER know. It will be the end of me, of my life. It's best to have it all locked up inside and try to handle it on my own as I figure things out.
My instincts were telling me that an atomic detonation on my life was in order if the truth ever gets out. I risk turning the world upside down where all that I've been, everything that I have, that I am, was heavily on the line. My existence, my present, my future. So I kept everything to myself and instantaneously felt the enormous weight of this baggage I didn't even realised I unknowingly shouldered, on my back and in my heart.
"Monster, devil's kid, weirdo, disgusting creature, social defect?" These terms bombarded my head. I mean how do you even tell people these things, let alone confide in a grown up about a problem like this? What if people found out? Would I still be considered as a human being and be allowed to live with everybody else? It was unthinkable, unimaginable. The inability to anticipate the possible repercussions, of not knowing what will happen to me, made it the worse feeling in the world. This is no cheat-in-the-exam fear, but life-changingly real.
The fact that I was still young and still in school, made it much easier for me to push it away and believe that the "straightening solution" lies in the distant future when I'm much older and have to think about it.
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Age: 16 - 17
At this age, being gay is heard of but not accepted or understood. Living in a society where this subject is a huge taboo, I just know the word "gay" is not something I want to be because it's filthy, it's unheard of, it's shameful, it's embarrassing, it's disgusting, it's horrible, it's disgraceful, it's scandalous, it's not allowed! It means I'm a guy who behaves like a girl.
When the realisation finally sank in that my masturbation habit wasn't going away, and that I still harbour overwhelming idolisation and sexual attraction for guys. I was crestfallen and once again sandwiched in limbo. "Damn it! What am I going to do?"
What's going to happen to me when other teenagers and peers of my age need not shoulder such a heavy burden? Their existence seem so privileged, comfortable and filled with promises. It was clutter-free. Free from dents, free from the unpleasant sides and free from life's unjust. Once again, my fears of not fitting in, of not being good enough, and of falling lower than everybody else was validated. "What am I going to do about myself? About these shortcomings that never fail to show up in my life to put me in my place?"
I won't have the heart and strength to put myself through judgement and ostracism, not after all the struggles and determination I went through for the past 15 years of growing up, trying so hard to prove myself worthy of recognition, in which I succeeded. I am not prepared for life to once again play me out like this.
"Shit. I'll have to smuggle this secret with me if I'm ever going to salvage what's left of my future. My long, can't see the horizon future. I can't get married, but neither is being gay an option. So I'm going to have to be alone for the rest of my life. It's okay... I'll be okay. It's fine..." But deep down inside, there was a familiar pull in my heart. Underneath that swallowed silence, I felt so alone and so scared. I knew that it was not okay. 'I' was not okay.
Living in the closet was not easy. Whenever someone talked about homosexuality, or weaved a gay comment into their speech, my heart shatters into a million pieces on the inside because I knew that that was me. That is what I am and no matter how many nights I sleep and have slept, how many days go by, nothing was going to change and I wasn't going to wake up to a day when my world would right itself. It hurts like fuck. But what was I going to do? There was nothing I could do except maintain a straight face. I remember questioning God, is this your idea of looking after me, a good boy and a genuine soul who has lived all his life believing in hope? I don't understand, is this a game? A game to see how much I can take?
My situation got tougher, especially during breaks and after school hours that take place in the public school canteen. Despite enclosing myself tightly in the closet, the fact that it was made of glass certainly added salt to my vulnerable wound and further provoked my insecurities. As adolescents who grew into teenagers under the watchful eye of everyone at school, people gradually picked up on clues and labeled me gay according to conspicuous clichés such as: being surrounded by too many girl friends, being the odd one out among my straight guy friends, being the late-developing kid who had strong admiration for guys etc. It hurts and it's saddening because it all turned out to be the underlying truth I was harbouring.
I resent the fact that it's bad enough as it is being gay, that people could see right through my closet. Many have even speculated and thrown the gay card on my face before I myself could even reach an acceptable point of readiness to grasp the real deal of what this really means. For me and for my life. It was harsh. But I guess I had to learn that that was how quick and unforgiving the world was going to be, and that society runs selfishly on majority. That you are responsible for your own survival and your adaptability to life.
Looking back, I was a heavily sheltered kid with no guidance, living in a country and society where nobody tells you anything and no help is provided. I marvel at how despite all the adversities and events that landed on my shoulder, I somehow remained calm and emotionally strong. Denial and repudiation was the primordial reason that kept me intact throughout my fragile journey in school. My reluctance to acknowledge, and to let "gay" sink in to me was what kept me going and prevented me from collapsing under the pressure. It was an internal sustaining fortress that shielded me from my myself because I knew that somewhere in my mind, there was no way I could have handled the truth and the situation. Nevertheless, I survived school and got through it all. Denial then followed me to my next chapter in life, college.