Sunday, June 28, 2009

what came first....the SSA chicken or the gay egg???

Sometimes I wonder if I was "born this way" or if my struggle with SSA is a product of my early years?!?! The infamous "nature vs. nurture" question, I know. And does it really matter anyway?

As I have read on several websites, including Evergreen International...

A person has experiences with valued peers or a family member that are perceived as hurtful, abusive, or rejecting. If these experiences are extreme or recurrent, the person may feel shamed or alienated. As a defense, he or she may detach from those producing the pain. But then the person feels even more rejected and perhaps estranged.

In extreme circumstances, the person's distancing becomes generalized. The individual may expect or receive pain from others of the same gender as those who produced the original pain. This detachment can then lead to a powerful longing for interaction with and validation from others of his or her own gender. This longing may become more intense the longer it goes unfulfilled. Yet the person's generalized detachment and damaged self-esteem almost guarantee he or she will be unable to develop any healthy, meaningful relationships.

Most people learn gender roles and social skills by interacting with others of their own gender and receiving acceptance and validation from them. This process may not happen for individuals who are detached from their own gender. They may lack the necessary skills or feel too uncomfortable to interact successfully with their gender. And the lack of successful interaction means they probably won't learn their gender role in the future.

These people become very aware of others who have traits they don't have but want. Believing they will never possess those attributes, they long to experience them through another person. Throughout the process, the individuals involved typically do not understand what is happening. They almost certainly can't correct it.

As they reach puberty and begin to feel sexual urges, their situation becomes more complex. Their intense longings toward others of their own gender get mixed up with their sexual urges, creating same-sex attraction. In some cases, they engage in homosexual thoughts and behaviors. Thus homosexual behavior is the result of intense emotional and sexual pressure.

In my case, I was frequently "hurt" by male classmates who called me "faggot," "gay", "fag," etc. But, did they call me those names because I was exhibiting "obviously gay traits" that I was born with?? Or were they just mean pre-adolescent boys who picked on me because I was different due to being a member of the LDS Church? (i.e. I didn't swear. I didn't look at porn. I didn't drink. I didn't hang out on the weekends. I didn't have sex, etc). I have often wondered if there is a large majority of LDS men who suffer from SSA because of these reasons. That is, as male members of the church, our standards and behaviors appear "gay" to the males of the world (because we don't participate in a lot of normal, socially accepted male behaviors such as drinking, sex, etc). And, therefore, we get ridiculed as youngsters, we feel rejected, which then has the negative affect mentioned above or as explained by David Matheson, LPC.

So, was I "born this way"? Am I, as pastor Ted Haggard told Oprah, "heterosexual with homosexual attachments"? Or do I suffer from SSA as a result of childhood and adolescent experiences? As a result of feeling on the outside of maleness as a teen, do my sexual attractions towards men, male physique, etc come from an inner desire to posess those "male" qualities for myself? I don't know if I will every figure it out 100%.


  1. I have often wondered the same. Some say it doesn't really matter, that what matters is what we do with where we are now. Others feel it is paramount to know. I am somewhere in between. I think it can be useful in navigating our lives to understand some of the the reasons behind our current circumstances. However, if we get hung up on the past too much, we might miss some present opportunities for growth and development.

    In my case, I think it is a combination of both nature and nurture, with the largest factor being nature. In any case, I am finally at a place in life that I can honestly say that I am grateful to be who I am, grateful for the good times, and the lessons learned from the challenges of my life.

  2. Here is how I see it...

    It could be either one but either way the end result is the same - it's too late to change now.

    If it was nurture and your father or whoever was responsible for the alienation did something way back then that might have made a difference.

    But the choice, if it was made, was made when you were too young to realize the consequences of your choice and now, as an adult, you are too set in your ways to change.


  3. Never thought of it from that particular perspective before Philip but what you say makes sense! I tend to lean heavily towards the nature side but in reality what does it matter? It Is What It Is!