QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

First, I would like to thank you for being here to answer questions. It must help a lot of people. I find it very painful to live in a homophobic world. I understand, admire and respect people who have to cope with this everyday.

I'm very confused about my sexual orientation. My confusion starts when I am attracted to a woman. I don`t seem to get attracted to men even if I try, but when I get aroused all I can think about is having sex with a man. When I act on that, it is not enjoyable, but it is a huge relief. Then I try to be heterosexual or asexual for a time, but the cycle starts again. I would be glad to be heterosexual or asexual, but I am very confused by these compulsions. I would be most grateful if you could help me understand what is going on.

Answer

I'm sad that you're in so much pain. If I understand you correctly, you are a woman who would like to be attracted to men, but you keep finding yourself attracted to women. When that happens, you have sex with a man in an effort to be heterosexual, but don't find it enjoyable.

It's not unusual for people who find themselves attracted to members of the same gender to try to make those feelings go away by having sex with members of the opposite sex. In fact, many people get heterosexually married in an effort to make those feelings go away. Unfortunately, some women can suppress their attractions for other women (and similarly for men who are attracted to men), but that doesn't mean the feelings go away.

I hope you will reach out to someone who can help you make peace with your feelings. I suggest you contact a nearby gay and lesbian community center or, if you're in the U.S., your state psychological association and ask for names of gay-friendly therapists. You might also try contacting PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), which is usually a good source of support. What's important is to find people who will support you no matter what feelings you have.

03/13/98

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