How do I know if I'm gay?

Originally Published: May 10, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 21, 2011
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Dear Alice,

I have a problem. I've never considered myself gay, but I have begun to care for my best friend a little more than I think I should. I get jealous when he finds a woman he likes, and begins going out with her, and I have become very protective of him, since he is a few years younger than me. I don't know if I am just a little jealous that he is able to find someone, and I am not, or if I am gay and am beginning to like him in that way. When I think about it, he fits my idea of my perfect mate. And I often wonder what his penis size is. Help me. Do you think I am gay, or just suffering from jealousy and penis envy?

Dear Reader,


Let's just pretend for a minute that there is no such thing as a heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual man and woman. Instead, there are only "sexual beings." If this were the case, your question might read:


Dear Alice,


I have a problem.... I have begun to care for my best friend... I get jealous when my friend is attracted to another person and spends a lot of time with them... I don't know if I am just a little jealous, or if I am sexually attracted to my friend... I think about my friend's body, and I'm sure we would make a perfect couple... Do you think I'm suffering from jealousy and sexual attraction?


When the social taboos are removed from discussions about gender and non-heterosexuality, your situation sounds a little less charged. Your friend is someone with whom you spend lots of enjoyable time. Whether or not you are sexually attracted to him, it stands to reason that his spending lots of time with others, for whatever reason, would generate feelings of jealousy.


The only person who can answer your question, "Am I gay," is you. As you explore the answer, it might be useful to honestly reflect and examine whether you have similar attractions to other men, and if you allow yourself social opportunities outside of your best friendship. Sometimes, the only way to find out what really turns you on is to reach for the light switch and explore your feelings in search of inner peace. Choices can lead to a better understanding of who you are and miles of personal growth. If you decide to "branch out," however, your best friend's switch may not be the one to flick. You are the best judge of how your friendship would fare if you communicate your feelings. As frustrating as it may be, you might try to spend some time with other people and activities when your friend's time is otherwise occupied.


You are lucky to be able to articulate these important and powerful feelings. And your friend is very lucky to have someone looking out for him. Remember how important it is to look out for yourself, too: your goals, desires, and right to learn more about who you are. The road to inner peace isn't always easy and smooth, but it is worth the journey.  Step into the light.  

Alice

March 15, 2012

508631
I agree as well. I was having a similar experience as you. The difference was that I was having vivid sexual fantasies of men. I felt compelled to act on them but the stigma of "bring gay" had me...
I agree as well. I was having a similar experience as you. The difference was that I was having vivid sexual fantasies of men. I felt compelled to act on them but the stigma of "bring gay" had me frozen. I kept wondering "Am I just curious?". I was convinced that I was "straight" but curious. He was right. Only you can answer the million dollar question. I thought long and hard about my dilemma. Then I looked at the facts. I thought about men a lot. My sexual fantasies were 90% gay. It was easier to talk to guys. Hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized I was gay. Prior to this I was in therapy for months and my therapist knew of my dilemma. One session, I said it. "I'm gay.". And didn't follow it up with anything. My therapist sat there for a moment. Then she said, "you are smiling and you look relieved." she said she hadn't seen me that relaxed, ever. I realized that I was gay. Not curious and not bi. Yes, I'm label long myself. But the label affirms who I am. And I'm happy. I feel like a million dollars. I hope you can get the same clarity. After that, coming out wasn't hard. It was kinda fun. Being in my 30s, I don't really care what people think. I like men. That's it:)!!!

July 12, 2002

20439
Hey Alice, I just wanted to write and tell you I really appreciated your way of answering How do I know if I'm gay? And you were right. Once the pronouns and stigma were...
Hey Alice, I just wanted to write and tell you I really appreciated your way of answering How do I know if I'm gay? And you were right. Once the pronouns and stigma were removed, it became just like every "I like my best friend; do I go for it and risk the friendship?" situation. I want the writer and anyone who's reading this to know that they're not alone. I was terrified when I first realized that my desires to grow up and get an apartment with my best friend and never have that change could mean something else. I had no idea what to do, and actually came to your site way back then to find out. Funny, though, that I didn't actually look up this question, but instead your question on Close friends — Take it to the next level? It helped me get some of the clarity I needed to handle the situation as it suited the two of us. We've been together ever since. I guess that shows that we're all (homo/heterosexuals, bisexuals, and the like) a little more alike than even we ourselves realize. Thanks for giving me a place to turn, S