We have all seen them bubbling around gay venues behaving like bouncy teenagers on the loose at 40. These gay men are coming out later in life but behind this rejoicing façade may be an unhappy man, deep down. A previous life of many years of denial of true sexuality can be very damaging to the psyche.
We all have at one time had to come to terms with our sexuality. Some of us rejoiced in knowing it at a very early age but for others the journey has been long and full of anguish, leaving coming out to much later in life. Some got married and had kids and some even joined institutions like the army to fight sexuality realisations.
Many of our rural, religious and ethnic gay brothers ignore or deny their own sexuality due to the environments they live in.
Coming out later in life has it consequences for the psyche as all those years of rejecting and hiding have meant that the psyche does not accept, deep down, the person they are now presenting. This can lead to a degree of self-loathing and the formation of an adaptive self rather than the authentic self. Knowing who you are and accepting it is a much safer place to be in your psyche.
I don’t think the over 40 guys are alone with this damaged psyche stuff and many of us who have been out for so many years we can’t remember anything else, are still a little damaged about total acceptance, if we are truly honest.
So what can be done to improve the acceptance? Well firstly a lot of self-love in accepting the man inside who has been struggling to come out for years. Give him a big hug and congratulate him for finally making the move to come out. Writing it all down will do wonders for the psyche.
The next stage is telling people you can trust. By not telling anyone the psyche is still in denial. The more people told who accept your sexuality the more likely you will accept it as normal as well. Self-stigmatisation by not telling people or still denying your true sexuality is very damaging. You will be surprised how many people always knew and were waiting for you to say something and then there are the others who are so busy with their lives that they don’t care in the least.
Visiting and joining gay clubs, and there are lots of tough gay sporting clubs out there if that’s what you need, is a great way of improving your own acceptance. Socialising and having gay parties or dinner parties are great ideas. Anyway, I am sure you can think of many creative ways to allow your own true sexuality to be expressed.
Maybe it time we all looked at the little chap inside who has struggled and fought many battles and patted him on the back for his successes. It’s time for a lot of self-love and acceptance. In this way when we see those over 40 guys, behaving like shook up cans of soft drink in gay venues, we will better understand their struggles at coming out after 40. Take care and practice self-love.
Gerry North is a gay counsellor.