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Friday, 1 November 2013

Mail: Dealing With Guilt After Lying About Being Gay

Here's an interesting email I received a couple of days ago from a guy who is not ready to come out of the closet but is haunted by paralysing guilt when confronted with the gay question.

His Email:
I have been following your blog for quite some time now. I am a closeted 21 year old guy at university. Been hiding it since I was 10 and I don't plan to come out to anybody any time soon for personal reasons. I am just not ready! My purpose of writing to you is that I'm in a minor dilemma of my own and need somebody to talk to. 

Two university classmates recently asked jokingly if I was gay while we were all studying together in the library. I wasn't very happy about it. The thing is this is not the first time I've been caught with this question and I would usually deny vehemently that I'm not as I did with them. But every time after I get a question like this, I would get very depressed and sad. I think I'm struggling with my own guilt... paralysing guilt that is affecting me as a person!

I know my story and what I did might sound pathetic to other people, but I am just not in a position where I'm ready to tell people. Even when my best friend asked me once if I liked boys, I flipped out and told her how ridiculous that assumption was! The thing is I just couldn't tell her the truth even though parts of me wanted to say yes! But I don't know why I just couldn't... and I end up beating myself over the guilt and embarrassment that haunts me after I deny being gay because I AM gay. So my question is how can I stop feeling guilty about why I have to lie without wanting to come-out yet? Thanks again for the amazing blog!!

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My Reply to Him:
I feel very happy to receive this email of yours because I think it highlights a very common issue that many of us face when in the closet, or when dealing with situations where we are just not mentally comfortable in a space to admit something so personal, even if it is to ourselves. First of all, you need to understand that this is all part of life and that you're not alone. This has happened to a lot of people, me included.

When I started coming-out to more and more people this year, a handful of them actually acknowledged that they've heard me deny or lie to them before. But at this point in life, all of whether I did or I did not doesn't matter any more because I am starting to feel assured of who I am now and have made peace with why I lied in the past.

Throughout my days of growing up as a gay kid, I am no stranger to the dishonest act of denying or lying when people wondered about my sexuality. I usually dodge the question, keep it under the non-of-your-business-tone, or try to answer them in tangential responses where they will never get a definitive Yes or a No answer. 

And although I am aware that the resistance to providing a clear answer in itself to the gay question could already be perceived as "hiding something", but in my opinion, that strategy is always better than letting other people win and surrendering to them when you're not ready or haven't fully accepted yourself. Remember that you are always at liberty to never offer explanations for life in areas in which you don't need to.

However in situations where people corner me with questions like: "Are you gay?!" or "Do you like guys?" where all of a sudden I had absolute no control over the spotlight timing and invasion of privacy, I would usually deny with a very convincing version of: "What?! Dude, no! What's wrong with you?" followed by "[insert cover up here]" or "[insert cover up there]". And then I would back all of that up with strong acting skills that I have perfected over the years to deter from the truth.

At the beginning, I felt nothing. But as these incidents become more frequent, I would always end up going to bed feeling a deep sense of rotten guilt and shame. There were days where I cried, firstly because I felt invaded, and secondly because I was different and couldn't be honest about who I am just like every other normal kid born into this world.

The whole thing would eat me up from the inside because I know that through denial, I ate my own truth. That no matter what happens, what people say, or how much I try to cover up, the outside world has already won by default just because I was who I was. Because no amount of lies and acting will shield the real me from my own truth that is residing inside.

What the rest of the world don't realise right here, is that when gay people hit a certain point in life where you discover that you and your natural human desires are in contradiction with societal norms, you start to develop a set of specific skills on the side to help you be dishonest in your cause. 

You go through life having to use it all the time that you become a natural at convincing people who this non-gay alter ego is. By being in denial or closeted, it helps you to believe that you are keeping your deepest darkest secret. To protect yourself from judgement, from ostracism, from shame and most importantly, from having your heart surgically harvested for a game of public social volleyball.

It took me a long time to find my way, but when I finally arrived at my moment to come to terms with my homosexuality back in 2011, I struggled with tormenting difficulty when trying to do the right thing for myself.

Because psychologically, it's a difficult thing to come to terms with because you now need to reverse an entire human mode of operation and when you are in the process of doing that, you can't help but feel so robbed or cheated of the many years that you try to dim your own light, suppressing who you are when straight people never grew up with that kind of shortcoming.

Thing is when you come-out, you begin a process that starts to purge yourself of your shame. Kinda like spiritual awakening or being more aware of yourself. After 10 teenage and young adulthood years of having to live a life in fear, in secrecy, in hiding, in corruption, in acting and in lies, I now have to purge myself off all these experiences that I have accumulated over the years that was meant to protect myself in the first place. This includes varying degrees of homophobia that was internally bred.

Everybody lies for a reason and in this case, I can't help but see your denial and lie as mainly a way to protect yourself from the outside world because you are not ready. I went through that and I understand exactly what you're going through. 

On the other hand, I can't help but wonder too if there might be the other possibility of you feeling guilty because you are gay but I doubt it. Based on the tone of your email, I think you seem pretty assured with your sexuality. 

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is go easy on yourself and make peace with why you have to  lie. If you can get to the core and understand the reason behind your dishonesty, then the haunting guilt would either fade or go away because you know your truth. You lied to protect yourself, and that's okay!

On the other hand, my advice to you will also be that you have a rough plan of how you want to come to terms with the truth in the future. Because that will also help you to lie better and not put you in an awkward position when you decide to come-out for real one day.

My view of your situation is that we shouldn't blame or judge a person who lied to protect themselves, but show a compassionate hand in helping them free themselves of the guilt until they are ready to come-out to the world or tell their truth in their own time. I hope I said the right things my friend.

All the love and support in the world, M

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(If readers have any personal advice to add pertaining to this guy's email, please feel free to do so in the comments section below. Thank you.)

Smilar or related articles in the past:
I Don't Want People to be Right by Coming-Out


  1. I just want to say that you have given a very good answer to the question.

    I'm 70 years old, and I often think that young gay guys have it easier than I did when I was 20ish. But that's really true only for those who are out of the closet. Nowadays society is so much more accepting of gay people than it was back then. My life would have been very different, and not for the better, if I had come out back then (and even now, my position is one in which I feel a need to stay closeted.

    But what made it easier for me is that 50 years ago, nobody would have thought to ask me if I was gay. Maybe it helped that my behavior didn't fit any gay stereotypes, but it also helped that people were less aware of and concerned about the issue, and they also didn't think they had a right to know about everybody.

    Now, people think they have a right to know if you're gay, so they think they have a right to ask and a right to get the factually correct answer. But it's really none of their business, which means they have no reight to ask, and they have no right to a factually correct answer, which means that your reader has no duty to provide a factually correct answer. If evasion will work, fine. If a direct denial is necessary, it is not wrong to give it. Your reader has a perfect right to stay in the closet. The corollary is that he has a perfect right to answer questions deceitfully (as long as he's not talking to someone in the narrow range of those who really do have a right to know, such as a fiancee or a vocations director at a seminary). So he should keep reminding himself that these friends have no right to has, and therefore he has no obligation to tell, and he is not doing something wrong.

    1. Thanks for the amazing input. I'm sure he'll get the idea now that there is no need to feel guilty, or at least I hope...

  2. Thing is, people are asking because they have their doubts anyway. Its most likely they already know.

    1. Yeah you're right. I think people must already have their suspicions. I went through that myself so I kinda know the awkward position he is in. But then again in this instance, I think he shouldn't need to pander to external curiosity and assumptions unless you're ready to go all out.