I just read your comment that concealed sexual orientation is like an abscess begging to be ruptured. Can this be true about women also? I work with a lady who is late middle-age and I think she is struggling with this. Her looks are gay or androgynous. I cannot imagine being that terrified of my sexuality. I feel like I have fallen in love with her.
First let me say that most of my work has been with men, and I don’t want to attempt to mansplain women’s experiences. Women need to do that for themselves. I did ask some women to read my book, Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, to see if they felt their experience paralleled my own. Continue reading
Hello, Dr. Olson.
I am a man in my early thirties, and I’ve only recently realized I’m gay after having unexpectedly fallen for a man who rocked me to my core. It was incredibly hot, sexy, and intense, but we connected in so many other ways too. I am not currently seeing him because I must work some things out. I’ve now come out to my wife whom I love. She believes that if I work hard enough on this, I can change, but deep down, I know I don’t want to change. How can I help her understand that being gay isn’t something I can change and because of it I can’t ever give her what she really needs?
Imagine being in a jail cell and standing at the door looking through the bars, wondering how you can escape. After struggling at the gate for a long time, you look to your left and then to your right. There are no walls there, only ones you imagined. You discover you can escape, but only by changing the directions through which you’re trying to escape. That is where you are now. Continue reading
Hello, Dr. Olson,
I am a thirty-year–old man who only recently realized that I am gay. I come from a very, very conservative Christian background, so every sense of being attracted to other boys was shut down until recently when I met a guy who rocked me deeply to my core. I have come out to a few family members who’ve told me that Satan has found a breach in my soul and entered, and he is now trying to destroy me and my family. I am reading the Bible and praying that God can change me, but I know deep down that I don’t want it to work. Do you think that I can be changed?
First let me say that I cannot counsel you about your religion, but what I can tell you is that dealing with the conflict between religion and sexual orientation is often the most difficult issue we must confront. Fortunately, one of the advantages of growing older is that we can think for ourselves. Continue reading
My best friend recently told me that she thinks my husband might be gay. My initial reaction was to tell her she’s crazy and to mind her own business. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I wonder if she could be right. I’ve seen the signs for some time but always made excuses for Daniel since he’s a good husband and great father to our kids. What’s the best way to bring up the subject with him? Should I be blunt and just ask him if he’s gay?
If you ask your husband directly if he’s gay, he might automatically deny it, just as you initially denied the possibility when your friend suggested it. Then you’d be left wondering if he’s being truthful—either with you or with himself.
A middle-aged man who has just come out to his wife wrote that she is very angry and depressed, and he asked how he can help his wife get through this. He wrote that he still loves his wife and is concerned for her. He asked not to be further identified.
Contrary to the picture that is often painted of us, many of us who have come out continue to love our wives and are concerned about them. We feel a sense of shame and guilt about having caused our families such pain, and many of us have avoided dealing with our sexual attractions for years because we wanted to protect the family from that pain. What we’ve caused our families to experience through no fault of theirs may feel more like a time of sadness and loss than a sense of freedom. The feeling of freedom about finally living an authentic life is compromised by the pain that we have caused to others we love. Continue reading
A middle-aged man, who’d just came out to his wife and requested that he not be identified in any way, asked how to come out to his children.
When I came out, I was in my early forties, and I had been married for eighteen years. My wife and I had two children under the age of thirteen. Having lost my father when I was three years old, my highest commitment was always to be the best father I could possibly be, and I felt so much sadness, shame, and guilt when even thinking about walking away from them. Continue reading
Dear Dr. Olson,
I was married to a “bi” man for over twenty years. We never told our son until we separated and were divorcing. He wanted to know why we were divorcing, so his dad told him. Our son was a teenager when my ex-husband disclosed this. How does keeping the sexual orientation of a parent secret from a child affect a child/teen/man psychologically? My ex had sex with only men besides me before and during our marriage and identified as openly gay after our divorce.
You have asked a good question that does not have an easy answer. First of all, it depends upon the child’s level of maturity and experience in the world. Continue reading
I recently received an email from the child of a parent who came out when this child was fourteen years old. In preparation for writing an essay about the experience, the child asked me a series of questions. My answer follows each question below.
- What was the aha moment that you had when you finally decided to come out to your family? To yourself?
I grew up in the 1950’s – 60’s. FINALLY OUT resonated with me because I grew up in the insularity of a rural environment. I was ignorant of homosexuality also. I am now in my sixties and I feel lonely and in despair. After 30 years of marriage, I came out to my wife. I have struggled to find a good therapist who can understand what I’ve been going through.
Most of the gay literature focuses on the coming out process for young gay men and women. Are there any that describe the trials of coming out as an older man?
I am concerned about your “lonely despair.” Even at your age, it is possible to successfully get through this process of coming out. In my research, the oldest man I came across was in his nineties when he came out, and he was living with his gay lover when I met him. The most important thing for you to do today, however, isn’t to be seeking a lover, but finding friends, gay or straight, who accept you as you now have revealed yourself to your wife, but also, more importantly, to yourself. Continue reading
Having children has always been very important to me, and I have been blessed to have a son and two daughters. I worry how coming out might impact my relationship with them. How did your coming out affect your relationship with your kids? If you had come out as a younger man, would you have still wanted to be a father?
Being a father was one of my highest priorities. I lost my father when I was three years old and I had promised myself to be the best father I could possibly be. A large part of what delayed my coming out was a fear that I was abandoning my relationship with my children and breaking a vow I’d made to my wife. Continue reading