A recent national news report noted that gay teens are coming out earlier to their peers. It seems that not only are gay individuals coming to terms with their sexuality earlier, but so are their heterosexual counterparts.
“I never really was in denial,” Adam said. “I did have a long period of time when I didn’t believe being gay was okay or that it was possible for a relationship to work out.”
He is still in high school and some in his family do not know. But his friends, his peers and even his casual acquaintances are all aware of the fact that Adam is openly gay.
“I didn’t have many concerns [about coming out] because I knew my friends would still support me,” he said. “One of the main issues I’ve had, though, has been telling my family. With them, it’s not so much a support issue. It’s just that I worry about them accepting me.”
Some people, like Bill, have been in touch with their sexuality long enough to see the positive sides to being gay.
“[I have] such an open mind,” Bill said. “I mean it gives me more view points, and I’m definitely more inclined to not pre-judge someone.”
He said he finally became comfortable three years after coming out when he was a freshman in college.
“I’m not sure if it was the ‘fresh start’ of college or if it was just time passing putting my mind at ease.” he said.
Caroline, a junior in college, feels like even as a heterosexual she is undermined sexually by society.
“It seems that as a woman, I am still dealing with 50’s style stigmas against women,” she said. “I understand that sexuality in women is more encouraged in society today, but in my personal experience I’ve been subject to judgment because I am a woman who wants to express her sexuality.”
Stereotypes about sexuality are prevalent in comedy sketches but Bill says they are also common in everyday life.
“I hate the ‘gay-acting’ and ‘straight-acting’ stereotype,” he said. “People tend to find a negative connotation towards ‘gay actions’ because it’s not normal, or more fem(inine). Whereas the connotation towards ‘straight-acting’ has a more positive aura.”
A said he dislikes the fact that heterosexual people believe gays have different relationship values than everyone else.
“One of the main stereotypes I hate is that all gays are promiscuous,” he said. “People tend to think that because, as of right now, our society does not allow gays to marry, gay people feel no reason to be faithful to their partners.”
Adam pointed out the accepting diversity is not merely admitting that people of different sexual orientations exist, but that those people aren’t all cookie cutter copies of each other.
“I think that one of the most important things for people to know is that gay people are still people with emotions and thoughts,” Adam said. “Diversity among gay people is as high as it is among straight people, meaning that you can find gays in every field of study and the workforce.”
Bill said he doesn’t think there is any real difference between people based on sexuality. He says he doesn’t understand the anger and misunderstanding associated with sexuality.
“I’d mostly just like to know what [people] are afraid of,” he said. “There isn’t any difference as a person, between straight, gay and bi people. The only difference is in the bedroom, which should be private anyways.”
Caroline said that she feels inhibited when it comes to expressing her sexuality publically. She feels that the general public is not just uncomfortable with homosexual displays of affection, but with all sexual displays of affection in general.
“I sometimes feel like I am not allowed to express my affection or sexuality in public because there is a social stigma against it,” she said.
Adam had this final thought he hoped would help others who are in similar situations.
“Even if all that you fear seems rational to you, it’s better to be oneself with yourself and accept yourself,” Adam said. “Most people will actually accept you, and it really is an amazing step towards breaking down the walls that separate you from others.”
*Adam, Bill and Caroline are all real people from Texas; however, their names have been changed for privacy purposes.