Sexuality Acceptance Stages

As far as I remember, I was 6 when I first realised that I like men; I was traveling to another city with my mother and there was a man on the bus. He was way too charming and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. A year later, I remember taking notes in my diary; in my opinion, there was nothing better for a 7-year-old boy than writing in his diary about the new episode of Power Rangers in 90s, especially about the man performing the Blue Ranger. It wasn’t until later, I put myself off thinking in that way by saying to myself
“You should stop looking at boys, there are girls to love!”
which was pretty normal for a boy who was born and raised in a hetero-normative culture; especially in one of those Middle Eastern countries where the pain is blessed and the love is despised. Of course, I had no idea what hetero-normative means back then and that was not the only thing that I didn’t know for sure. I will be learning in the next 15 years from then, I was in such a state of mind called “Denial” which is the first of 5 consecutive stages.

Denial: Denial is the first step of v also known as The Five Stages of Grief. Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced this model in her book named On Death and Dying (1969). Simply, the model states that “there is a series of emotions experienced by survivors of an intimate’s death, where in the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance”. Then, she expanded the model to any form of personal loss such as the end of a relationship, drug addiction, incarceration so on. She indicated that the stages do not necessarily come in order and also all of the stages may not be experienced by all patients

Grieving Model
Graph: Kubler-Ross Model

 

Shock & Denial: It all started with a simple question asked by my mother five years ago:

“Are you homosexual?”.
I was in a relationship with a guy for nearly one and a half years and life was beautiful then; it didn’t take too much though to become a nightmare. I bet she had no idea about what homosexual is, somehow she learnt that this is the best way to ask whether I like men or not. I was shocked, I, absolutely, wasn’t expecting such question. I mean yes, I started making things a little bit obvious to get my parents ready for this kind of information about my sexuality, but I wasn’t planning to say anything before graduation and there was 4 years to graduate from university. So, it was a bit early for me to come out to my family, I didn’t lie though. After giving her some general information about LGBTQI community, I finished my talk saying-
“Yes, I like men” She replied me back with “Are you kidding me?! Go to bed now and pull yourself together. You had a girlfriend, you can’t like men” I could only say “No mom, I am serious.”
Anger:  I realised that my mom’s denial period lasted only for 6 hours when I was awoken by the noise of shattered glasses and vases in our house. She kept screaming
“My Lord, please save my son! You are a sinner; you are going to hell!”
She said to me. That seemed to me like pure anger & hate. I understood that this is the beginning of a long journey and decided to fight for my life, for my existence and, most importantly, for my mother. She thought she lost her one and only child, she thought her son is not going to be the same as he used to be. I saw the fear in her eyes that makes her angry and the anger period was longer than denial for her. She talked to my father about my sexuality immediately, expecting him to do something to “fix” me. Luckily, he said only one sentence:
“I cannot accept this.”
He has never said any other thing about that topic. I wasn’t surprised since I knew my father; he was always cold as ice. Then, she tried to punish me in her way of thinking by sharing my privacy with my whole family; uncles, aunts, cousins. To be honest, although I got angry with her for what she did, she actually helped me a lot. I was planning to come out to whole family anyway. Shortly, she did everything she could do to me to “fix” me, to hurt me, to suppress me just as anybody else feeling angry & frustrated would do.
I felt myself capable of understanding my mother’s thoughts and feelings, I lived through those steps, after all. The concept was the same: homosexuality. I denied homosexuality, she denied me being homosexual. She was angry with me; I was angry with all the boys around me. I was only 8 years old and decided to pal up with girls only. I was blaming on the boys for making me feel in that way.  How could I possibly know that this will lead other boys to bully me saying
“Faggot!”?
I stayed angry for a few years more, time has passed, I became an adolescent and I saw that I should have been in a relationship with a girl just like my peers did.
Bargaining: I think this step is the worst of all steps. You think you get over the anger period and you feel yourself a bit relaxed, you are now ready to bargain. However, as you can see in the graph above, a big depression is on the way. My bargain with life was like this:
“OK, I will be with girls, I will lust after only girls but you will make me forget about what I felt about boys”
I tried to achieve my part; I wanted to kiss girls, touch them then I had sex with them too. I was in a relationship with a girl between the ages of 17-20 for three years and I am pretty sure that that wasn’t an experimental game. Just like I said to her when she asked me whether I loved her or not after she found out my sexual orientation, I really loved her. However, life wasn’t honest with me and I was still lusting after boys.
She bargained with both life and me at the same time. After she got calm down, she started blaming herself and my father for not raising me “properly”. At this point, she was taking care of me very well as if she wants to compensate the years that she didn’t care about me in her opinion. I think that was the way of her saying to life that “I am with my son but you are going to “fix” it!” On the other hand, her bargain with me was too brutal. She was pretty nice to me but she wanted me to do whatever she asks me to do. She took me to doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists; some of them diagnosed me with some illnesses and claimed that they could “fix” me. And what is worse, she was very religious and took me to some kind of reverends to perform some silly rituals to “fix” me. I don’t remember how long it lasted like this but I said OK to everything. I just wanted her to see that nothing is going to change in me. Then, she realised one day after a very long time and it ended suddenly.
Depression: Life is a bitch. It didn’t give what is promised to me nor my mom. Disappointment, sadness, hopelessness, desperation; all of them lead to a great depression. She wasn’t happy at all, her social interactions were almost none. All she did was cry, pray, sleep. A gay son, unhappy marriage, loneliness and who knows what else she felt in that period. I knew that she was strong and she would get over it. We started not to talk about homosexuality at home. I think she thought that there was no point in talking about it since she admitted that she was beaten and it was OK for me as well.
My depression was a few years earlier than my mom’s. I wasn’t happy with my girlfriend anymore, I was dreaming about boys. I was also seeing the life of a few gay friends of mine, they were living their life freely with their boyfriends. I was jealous, I wasn’t be able to concentrate on anything but thinking about my helplessness. It took me two years or maybe even more to recover, meanwhile, I didn’t go to school at all, I was always drunk, spent a fortune for nothing in those years, most importantly, I lost my most valuable years.
Acceptance: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into his true self.” If Franz Kafka was alive, I believe he wouldn’t mind this little change in the first line of his “The Metamorphosis” done by me since he knows how much I love him. On the contrary, he would be glad to hear that I was liberated; I was an insect and transformed into a human-being. Of course, this metamorphosis didn’t happen in a day, it felt so though. I was in London in that February and I was pretty determined to experience “a new thing”. I went to Heaven that night, the most popular gay club in London. I was excited, happy, nervous, curious… I spent some time there, then left the bar with a guy, British, in his mid-thirties, named Paul. We walked along the Thames and as soon as we came just under the London Eye, he kissed me gently. That was happening, I was kissing a guy; beyond kissing a guy, I was kissing a person that I really want to kiss without any hesitation. I felt relaxed. I found my true self just there, under the London Eye in a snowy, cold but warm night in February 2010.
It is hard for me to say certain statements about my mother’s acceptance stage though. I am not sure if she accepted it, but I feel like she did. I know she felt terrible when I decided to come to Australia just after graduation one year ago. She wanted to stop me, change my mind but then she gave it up and I think we can call it “learned helplessness”. It has been five years since I came out and for the last one year of it; she hasn’t said anything about homosexuality, she hasn’t asked any single question about my homosexuality to my friends. She seems happy as she sees me happy. Moreover, we had a little conversation on Facetime the other day about a discussion between my dad and her and she asked me to give a clue to convince my dad on that specific topic and I said “Are you asking my advice on how to deal with men?” We laughed at my sentence together. That was a precious moment. That’s why I’m saying that she accepted.
I didn’t write all these paragraphs just to tell what has been going on between me and my mother, it is just a tool to show one of the possibilities. Coming out is a hard process and it consists of some stages for both parties. It wouldn’t be right to say anything on which party experiences the case more dramatically but there is no doubt that there is a lot to do for the one coming out in this process. Still, there are always different options; I mean, you may not want to deal with all the problems about coming out process and you can go away. Or, you can stay with them and live the process together. I admit that it is too hard to live in that environment everyday, but seeing it as a step of your existence; thinking that you are doing something good for yourself, for your people, for the next generations – coming-out to your people is a contribution to LGBTQI movement as well, in my opinion- will make you stronger, believe me. We can change the world together, starting with changing our world. All we need is patience and resilience; since, “…when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary…”

About the Author: Goki is a consultant at the best adult shops

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Stephen is a cis-gendered gay male who spends far too much time with his two cats and eating tim tams. A self-identified sex-positive advocate he cares deeply about gender equality, disabilities, sexual education and social issues. Opinionated and bold he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and say what others won’t. With a yearning for knowledge and experience in all things relating to sex, he is a prolific writer that has developed the content for a myriad of informative Sexual Health and Wellness websites.

Stephen’s articles and writings tends to focus on social issues, sexual education, queer issues and all things fetish and absurd. He comes qualified with the completion of a double Bachelor degree in Social Sciences and literature, and a Masters in Education.

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