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In the movie, Prayers for Bobby, one comment is made when the family goes to the psychiatrist that I don’t know what to make of it. She tells the family that Bobby’s “confusion” might be caused by:

  1. A distant father
  2. Overbearing mother

For me personally, I know that I have both. Nevertheless, I do not think that my father’s distant nature or my mother’s incessant nagging caused me to be attracted to men for the most part.  I say “for the most part” because when I reflect on my life, I would say that I probably have spent 80% of my time thinking about men and maybe 20% of my time thinking about women. So I don’t think of myself as exclusively gay; I think of myself as being bisexual with strong gay tendencies. 

Let me begin by talking about my dad.

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This cartoon clip seems to capture the nature of my relationship with my dad. When I was growing up, we were always kind of distant. He worked a lot at General Motors, and I know that it was very hard on him. Working in a factory–not some cushy office job–is not an easy thing. When I was 17 he took my brother and me on a factory plant tour. I bet you that my father probably has hearing problems because it was so loud. The smashing of steel. I had to wear ear protection and still it was so loud. Much more recently, my dad won some Ontario Labor appeal and was found to be physically disabled because of his job. It doesn’t surprise me because factory work is hard and taxing on the body. When you work in factories for 25+ years, physical injuries like what my dad has in his shoulder is to be expected. 

I know why my dad did what he did. He wanted me and my brother to have a better life. He wanted us to have safer careers. I think that is why he moved us to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario from St. Catharines, Ontario, i.e., from the city to the neighboring small town. The idea seemed to be that we would be safer going to a smaller rural high school than going to a big city high school. 

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Niagara District Secondary School

My dad was always kind of distant. He spent so much time working. When he would come home from work, he was always working on various projects. He bricked our driveway, and he bricked our patio. He did all of his car and boat engine repairs himself. And so on. My dad was really big on doing everything himself. Or he would get my brother or me or both to help out. For example, when our roof was leaking and the shingles obviously needed to be replaced, we were up there and we changed them all ourselves. 

So I would never blame my dad and say that his emotional distance “made me gay.” I would say that because we do not have a strong relationship that causes me to not come out of the closet to him. I have told my mom, but I have not told him. I fear that he would never accept me. But he certainly did not cause my gayness. 

And then there is my mother. My mother has a heart of gold. I can tell that she loves me so much and she only wants the best for me. She worries about me interminably. However, she does have a tendency to be rather overbearing–just as Bobby’s mother was overbearing to him. When I was a teenager, I suffered from really bad acne. My mother would just never let it go. She was always on my back–your pimples, your pimples, your pimples. It drove me nuts. Her solicitous nature comes across as incessant nagging. I know she means well, and I know she just wants the best for me. 

I think what is going on with my mom is what tends to go on inside my brain a lot, namely, we want to control something we can’t. I want to control so many things so that they go “my way” but they don’t. Similarly, I think my mom has this halcyonic view of what my life was supposed to be like and I turned out to be the complete opposite. I am not going to be giving her grandchildren. I am not going to be a Christian like she is because I abandoned my Christian upbringing. That tergiversation on my part from Christianity was a long and slow process but rooted in a realization that my profession of Christianity was superficial. Deep down, my heart was just not in it. 

So I would never say that my mother or my father caused me to be gay or bisexual or somewhere in between. 

I can recall very vividly my first moment when I noticed that I was very strongly attracted to a guy. I was still in elementary school. I would guess that I was around 10 years old at the time, and I was helping out in the school’s office. I was supposed to be handling phone calls. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure what the heck I was doing, so apparently instead of putting parents on hold I was actually hanging up on them! It was all unintentional, trust me! 🙂 

In the local newspaper there was a black and white picture of a student from my school. He was one year behind me. I just couldn’t stop looking at his picture. There was just something about his face that I could not stop admiring. He was absolutely gorgeous. So I furtively “smuggled” the newspaper home so I could cut out his picture and keep it hidden in my desk drawer. Every time I looked at it, I got so excited. I was really turned on by him. 

How does any of this bear on my parents? I just don’t see it. I don’t see how there could be a causal link between my father being emotionally distant and my gayness. Similarly, I don’t see how there could be a causal link between my mother being domineering and my gayness. 

I don’t know why I felt this strong attraction to him when I was around 10 years old, but I know that I felt it. It was a very powerful feeling. 

When I think about all of the guys about whom I have fantasized, I wonder if my attraction to men at a physical level has to do with aesthetics. I seem to find male faces beautiful. For example, when I see pictures of guys from my elementary school days and my high school days–i.e., guys I liked from back then–I still find their faces beautiful. I am talking about maybe a 14 year+ aging process. But if I do the same with elementary and high school females, I find them all to be hideous. I just do not find them attractive. I remember just a little while ago seeing a few of them and I was like: “I found that girl attractive when I was in Grade 10! Really! No way!” 

So maybe there is something about facial structures that my brain tends to seek out at some sort of unconscious level. I can tell that my eyes tend to gravitate towards looking at male faces over female and I do tend to find the male face much more beautiful than most female faces. 

I have also noticed that there is something about the way he talks that I find attractive. His word choice and his soothing nature when talking with him are things that definitely turn me on. It is something about how he talks to me that gets me going. I don’t know how to describe it; maybe it is an ineffable thing? 

So maybe the combination of a beautiful face with a sweet and gentle personality explains why I am attracted to certain males instead of other males or instead of females. 

Now, can I “pin” any of this on my parents? Is there parenting style of distant father and overbearing mother in any way responsible for my behavior? At this point I would say, I don’t think so, but maybe I am wrong. 

When I was 10 years old, I don’t recall being depressed or angry at my parents. I can think of some events that happened later in life when I was starting high school for instance and I had this fight about having friends over to the house. But when I think back to when I was 10, I think I was a very happy child. 

These are some of my inchoate ideas. I just can’t see blaming my parents for my gayness as the psychiatrist in Prayers for Bobby tries to do. 

For me, the questions I will ponder now (and maybe write about later!) are:

  1. Why do I find male faces so attractive? Why this preference for male faces over female faces?
  2. Why do I find male faces attractive over the long term? For me, thinking back to my elementary/high school days is about 14 years ago, yet I can still find those faces to be very attractive.
  3. Why do I tend to have very transitory attractions to female faces? 
  4. Why do I tend to view so many older female faces as hideous and disgusting? 
  5. Why do I find the way some men talk to be so attractive? What is it exactly that makes their speech pattern and vocabulary etc., so alluring? 
  6. Is there some sort of aesthetic explanation to homosexual attractions? 
  7. Is there some sort of linguistic explanation to homosexual attractions? Maybe there is something in Noam Chomsky’s writings that might touch upon this? 

 

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