Feeling guilty about "gay thoughts"

Originally Published: February 21, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 6, 2007
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Dear Alice:

I'm a teen male who recently had a mutual masturbation experience with a male friend of the same age. Although I have always been interested in girls, now when I masturbate, I fantasize of having sex with another boy — like my friend. But, when I finish masturbating, I feel guilty about my gay thoughts. I don't know what is going on, am I gay or bi? Should I have sex with another man? What can I do?

Sincerely,
Guilty Teen

Dear Guilty Teen,

First, consider these thoughts about guilt from British psychiatrist, R.D. Laing:

"True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is."

You might take some comfort in knowing that both your same-sex mutual masturbation experience, and your "gay thoughts" when masturbating alone, are shared by many. Some of these guys get happily married to women, have kids, raise cocker spaniels, and so on; others happily have relationships with guys, live together, and sometimes marry and have children. Still others deny and hide their feelings — whatever those feelings might be — and often become unhappy because they are not true to themselves and others. Some younger and older men feel strongly about publicly identifying themselves, in some way, as gay, straight, or bi, while others are content with living their happy lives in private.

All of this is to say that your interest in girls may continue. You may still fantasize about guys, and maybe you'll even have sex with other men. It's all up to you — from the people you have sex with, to those with whom you share your feelings, to who and what you decide to call yourself. Your confusion and desire for answers about your sexual feelings are certainly understandable, but your willingness and ability to express yourself, as you have here, will undoubtedly help you sort out your feelings now and in the future.

You can also check out the related Q&As below — many share your concerns, with some different perspectives.

Alice