People often come to realizations about themselves — as well as changes in their perspective — as they approach middle age.

What happens when someone develops serious doubts about their sexual orientation, especially as they approach midlife?

Must they be either homosexual — or ex-gay?

In my opinion, neither the decision nor the orientation are either/or, black/white.

I respond to this here on Rich Blinne’s blog.

I probably said way too much — more than the person asked for — but I felt it was important that someone thinking of “coming out” step back from hastily labeling themselves, and instead broaden their range of choices and work with the tangible impact of their decisions.

I don’t think my response is atypical of what other gay folks say to people who are struggling. But I do think it defies the ex-gay stereotype that homosexual individuals are out to “recruit” heterosexuals.

What follows is a copy of my response.

[Question: Is there a genetic test to tell me whether I am homosexual?] [Answer:] A few small studies have found statistically significant differences in a couple of the organs of people who identify as gay/homosexual, but those studies were very preliminary and tentative. Nothing to test for.

As for genetics, I found this paper helpful in summarizing, in (almost) plain English, where the studies stand. If there is a gay gene, it has not been found yet.

Beyond current science, there is a problem: There is no one meaning of “homosexual.” Different people are attracted to the same gender to a differing degree, and possibly/probably for different reasons.

What that means is, even though you are attracted to other men, you can still choose how to live your life, depending on how strong the attractions are and whether they drive you in healthy or unhealthy directions.

I’ll use the example here of what a married man could do if he is attracted to other men.

Some same-sex-attracted men stay married and loyal to their wives. Some of those men are open with their wives about their struggle, some choose to keep it a secret. Some men find it helpful to talk out their attractions/temptations with a counselor or a group of other married, same-sex-attracted men who can help the man decide for himself what to do. Some of these men decide upon ways to manage their attractions so that their lives won’t be disrupted.

This group called GAMMA, for example, helps married men who are attracted to other men. It helps them figure things out, whether they choose to stay married or not.

Here’s another group of bisexual married men, each of whom is trying to figure out what will work best for them and their families.

Some same-sex-attracted men decide, either on their own or after talking out their concerns with their family, a counselor, or a group of men in the same situation, that they want to pursue their attraction to other men. If they decide they are going to do that, then obviously there might be ramifications for one’s family and church. Speaking here as someone who is same-sex-attracted but who also values family, I don’t think someone should make such a major decision quickly, or alone. And if they make this decision, then it’s best to decide first where one plans to go next: A life relationship with another man? Singlehood? Dating? The same church or a different one?

Greg, while I often disagree with “ex-gays” and believe their programs are ineffective, I will borrow one bit of their advice here. Remember that, first and foremost, you are “Greg,” not heterosexual or bisexual or homosexual. Just Greg. And whatever your attractions are, you are free to decide how best to manage them.

Categorized in: