You can be at any point in your life when you might first feel that question creep into your mind. Sometimes it's in the warmth of camaraderie, realizing the smile of a dear friend stirs more than just friendship inside you. Or maybe it's when learning from someone you admire, watching them use skills you're just trying to grasp yourself, speaking with authority. Or you find yourself drawn to a complete stranger for seemingly no reason, something about them draws you in.
No matter when that first thought comes into your mind, 'Am I gay?' it's usually not an easy question to answer. Sometimes you might wish you could just take a gay test that comes out either negative or positive, just so you can have the answer. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy. Figuring out your sexuality and answering the question, ‘Are you gay?’, can be one of the biggest struggles you have to overcome when discovering yourself.
One of the reasons it can be so difficult to really figure out if you are gay is because sexuality exists beyond the gay/straight binary that is usually presented to us. Biologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey actually put forth a theory that most people fall somewhere along a scale, which was then named after him. It was based almost entirely on behavior rather than self-identification.
He believed that this seven point scale had two extremes, exclusively heterosexual behavior (which would rate a zero) and exclusively homosexual behavior (which would rate a six). His scale ended up looking like this:
0 - exclusively heterosexual behavior
1 - incidental homosexual behavior
2 - more than incidental homosexual behavior
3 - equal amounts of homosexual and heterosexual behavior
4 - more than incidental heterosexual behavior
5 - incidental heterosexual behavior
6 - exclusively homosexual behavior
When he began to study sexual behavior, he came to realize that very rarely did people actually fall within those extremes. He supposed that most people fell somewhere in the middle, with incidents of homosexual and heterosexual behavior.
In order to accommodate this into that binary, we describe some people as bisexual. But it's not uncommon for people who don't identify as bisexual to experiment outside their sexual orientation. There's nothing strange or unnatural about developing sexual or romantic feelings for someone of the same gender.
There are still criticisms about the Kinsey scale, not because most people find themselves attracted to one gender, but because sexuality is more than who we choose to get involved with. Sometimes we don't see those incidents of behavior because they are never acted on, either out of choice or a lack of opportunity.
We all have types and preferences. Sometimes it's hair color, sometimes it's body type and sometimes it's gender. Just like how you can't always expect to end up with someone who matches every preference you have, you can't always expect the gender of that person to match as well.
Sometimes who we end up attracted to have little to do with our regular pattern of attraction. You don't always date blonds and you don't always date dog people. So it makes sense that you aren't always attracted to the opposite sex. Sometimes you might find yourself inexplicably attracted to someone who may be the exact opposite of what you originally thought was what you wanted.
Your preference and orientation are just the overall patterns of who catches your eye and who can turn you on. Your desire doesn't care about patterns; it is just what you want in that moment. Sometimes what we associate with those particular traits can be found somewhere else, and sometimes when we do find those traits in someone, we discover it doesn't bring us the passion that we expected.
Since we know sexuality is a spectrum and that desire isn't always indicative of preference, it's not a far stretch to realize that your sexuality can also just be fluid. You may not always identify with one orientation throughout your entire life. It's normal to find your tastes changing and maybe starting to find yourself drawn more towards men.
Your sexuality is yours to define. A few of instances of homosexuality doesn't have to mean you're gay. There are some people who identify as bicurious and heteroflexible. These terms are just ways to account for that fluidity.
Some people prefer to leave themselves open to the possibility of new experiences. Why close off one door when you never know how you might feel years down the line. As society's political views change, our openness to new experiences changes too. At one time oral sex used to be considered sexual deviance, but now is a milestone sexual experience. It's possible that as you become more open to homosexuality that you might want to dip your toe and see if it's an experience you'll enjoy.
If the idea is already in your head, you won't know until you try! If you're already open to the possibility that it could be an enjoyable experience, you might as well find out if it is. This might be the closest thing there is to a gay test. As long as you pay attention to your own comfort, there's really nothing wrong with seeing what is out there.
You can always check out websites like Manplay.com to take a look around. Why not indulge in a way to see what's out there without the pressure of having to go out? It can be difficult to find someone you're interested in just by going out to different bars. You can just browse around and figure out if maybe you have a type.
If anything, you'll find out that you aren't really interested in pursuing anything. You can get a little piece of mind, or maybe get to enjoy a new opportunity.
If you're feeling anxiety that you might be gay, explore where those feelings come from. Is your fear about outside perceptions of yourself, 'having' to be with men, or maybe just adjusting to the idea that you might be just discovering a part of yourself?
Wherever those fears come from, can say a lot about whether or not you're just curious. If your fear comes from a fear of change or a fear of what your future could end up like, you might just be more than a little curious. If there's even a little bit of curiosity, it can be hard to let go of that nagging doubt.
Sexuality is more than just who you are attracted to: it's what that attraction means to you. If you see a man on the street you find attractive, do you find yourself feeling aroused? What about intrigued? Do you want to get to know that man better?
Being gay is more than just finding men attractive, it is about doing something about that attraction. Not everyone is interested in getting physical when they first meet someone they find attractive. Sometimes they want to get to know them, and see if they are compatible outside of the bedroom first.
Online dating offers you the ability to navigate this part of your sexuality without making any commitments to it, or going outside of your comfort zone. Through online dating, you can start to find out what intrigues you about that person, what they can offer you other than their physical appearance. It's like a mini gay test. Sometimes you won't really feel that magnetic attraction to someone until you know that you would still have something to talk about.
Sometimes the hardest part of figuring out if you are gay is finding your fit among the stereotypes we are forced fed through the media.
It can be difficult to really identify with it inside yourself if your view of the 'gay lifestyle' is that you have to fall within certain stereotypes. The most common ones we face every day fall either into one of two categories: the energetic flamboyant gay man, who couldn't hide his sexuality if he wanted to, or the cocky, charming, brimming with confidence and sexuality gay man.
You don't have to fall within these confines to experience attraction to other men. In fact, most gay men don't fall within these categories. Gay men are as diverse as any other, and can range from timid, meek and polite or they can be the epitome of manhood. There is no wrong way to be gay.
Sometimes the barrier to really accepting this new (or newly realized) attraction to men is that you haven't found a disinterest in women. While some folks believe that you have to choose between one and the other, the truth is many people straddle this line of liking both genders.
As the Kinsey scale described, bisexuality is when someone has incidents of both heterosexual and homosexual behaviors. More people are beginning to describe themselves within that definition. Even though it can be hard to imagine if you don't experience it, your attraction to one gender doesn't negate your attraction to another.
You may also not always have understood your feelings growing up. Your heterosexual feelings would have been validated by seeing it everywhere around you. Growing up seeing men with women on television, in movies, books and songs would have been reinforced by your own attractions to women. However, if you didn't know that there was the option to be attracted to men, those feelings may have been noticed earlier.
There is no reason that you need to only choose one gender. Don't deny what's inside yourself.