In my journey as a gay man living in a predominantly heterosexual world, my biggest struggle (and that of the clients that I work with) is; now that I am out of the closet, what now? Being gay is synonymous with so many things in mainstream society that many of us don’t know which direction to go towards. Once we make the move to get out of the closet, all of the more pressing questions come to mind.

The first thing that I learned about living authentically as a gay man is that my sexuality does not define me. When I came out of the closet and identified as a gay man, all that meant was that I am attracted to my same gender. I didn’t need to have sex with a man to identify as gay. I just have to acknowledge that I have same gender romantic feelings. That is the meaning of sexual orientation for me: what gender am I attracted to.

The next thing I learned after coming out of the closet as a gay man was gender expression. Growing up with repressed same gender attraction in the 70’s and 80’s was quite brutal. Homosexuality was just removed from the DSM as a mental illness. The only men who identified as gay (or were rumored to be gay) were very effeminate men such as Liberace and Rip Taylor. Being gay meant that you were a hairdresser in my day. It wasn’t until I attended an event for gay men that I realized that I could be as masculine or as feminine as I wanted and still be gay. Again, being gay was acknowledging my same gender attraction not how I presented myself to the outside world. I remember the first time that I saw two very masculine and muscular men holding hands at an event and was floored by this discovery. I also want to take a moment and acknowledge the male celebrities that have come out in recent years to help this generation of gay men: Ricky Martin, Matt Boomer, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zachary Quinto. Here are great examples of men who identify as gay and have a masculine gender expression. Therefore, I can be a very masculine man or a very feminine man and it doesn’t mean anything about my sexual orientation.

So other than being attracted to men and being masculine or feminine (I’d like to think I lean towards to masculine spectrum but some folks would argue that), what do I do in my spare time? Do I go out and buy every Cher, Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Madonna, and Judy Garland CD out there? Do I start watching RuPaul’s Drag Race? Should I own every season of the Golden Girls? Can I play football? Here’s another area when I (and many others) got stuck. Let me reinforce my first point and say that being gay means that you have same gender attraction. Where I go from there is my choice. Personally, I hate sports so I will likely never be caught at or watching a sporting event (unless it’s men’s swimming and gymnastics during the Olympics). My first love has always been comic books and sci-fi. In later years, I grew to love musicals after watching West Side Story and Grease repeatedly. In my later years, I became a metaphysical junkie and read anything written by Gabrielle Bernstein, Marianne Williamson and many others. I also got a doctorate degree and am very happy working as a psychologist (not a hairdresser). Yes, I do own many Cher, Streisand, Madonna, and Gaga CD’s (although I worship Patti LuPone) and I own every season of The Golden Girls. I have never watched an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race but am obsessed with Glee. What I do in my spare time, is my choice and I get to create that. For physical activity, I work out on a regular basis and have a trainer. Again, my choice to make. I do not have to subscribe to what mainstream society suggests I have to do to be a gay man.

In essence, the obstacles I have needed to overcome as a gay man living in a predominantly heterosexual world has been how to live authentically. What I came to realize is that to live authentically, I have to live in my highest truth and only I get to say what that is and create that. Yes, I am a gay man but there is so much more to me than just who I am attracted to. It has been so liberating to create the life that I want to have and live my most authentic self.

Originally published at http://www.soul360company.com/

Tags: living, authentically, gay, man