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Growing up as a child who is gay is not easy. One certainly learns very quickly that gay is "not acceptable."

It is the fear that one will be found out that governs one’s life. It is the belief that telling anyone would be a sheer disaster. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. Nevertheless the torment that one feels is sometimes overwhelming.

It is this very fear that often leads to lying to family, friends, and co-workers. It is this lying that leads to alienation from friends and co-workers. This is due to the feeling that one never really knows if one would be accepted for whom they really are.

I suspect that those who ‘discover’ that they are gay in their twenties suffer as well. The major difference is that those of us, who have known all along that we were gay, have dealt with it longer.

If you are straight, then imagine this:

What if most of the people were gay and only a few were straight and it was socially unacceptable to be straight?

You are just beginning to feel interested in the opposite sex.

What if you can not tell anyone about your crushes?

How would you find a person of the opposite sex who would be interested in you?

What if you can not look too long or lean too close to your lover for fear that you would be noticed?

What would you do?

You do the best you can. You spend many, many lonely nights. When you talk to people that you find interesting you ask telling questions, talk about diversity, openness. You hope to find a kindred soul. Trust me; you are not hoping to convert anyone. You just want a friend. You also want a lover someday (soon) who is someone who chooses you.

Ah but we do work it out, gradually. And we eventually go to work. Only, we find out that we can be fired by our bosses if they find out. Oh, even if they only guess, the boss may just make life hell for you. You find that the work hours that you are assigned are the worst. You notice that your evaluations go gradually down. And you have been working as hard or harder. You ask your boss but he doesn’t give you a valid answer. And so it goes..

This all plays out in the mind of the young gay male or lesbian. It effects each of us differently. Some of us withdraw, withdraw withdraw. Some of us spend our lives in and out of therapy either trying to become straight of trying to accept our being gay. Some of us go on the offensive. There are some very hostile members of our group. They probably have good reason to be hostile. The hostile ones are in the minority. Most of us just quietly live our lives choosing our friends very carefully and going about our business discretely. You don't notice us much unless we write web pages. ;-)

By the way, as I child, I hated the words lesbian and queer. I had been so completely socialized that I bought into the whole hate thing. And I hated myself. It wasn't until my 40's that I even knew any queers. Some of them just called themselves queer. And laughed. They had adjusted, accepted themselves and moved on to other things. It was through them that I learned to accept myself. But I still have the fear.

None of us ever forgets the torment or the fear. None of us is ever completely free of the fear that one day some angry straight person will try to harm us just because we are queer.

But then, in our society, just about anyone is a target anymore.

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