Am I the *real* me?


Having been through my experiences at a rather critical point, I have started to consider whether my "orientation" (a term that I wouldn't use if I could find a better one!) is actually my natural one. At the time, I was aware that "gay" was a thing, and never really fitted the "manly" role, which I think may have had some bearing on how I responded to my being groomed. After bringing the abuse to an end, I completely buried any feelings of attraction to men, although I did have a number of friends that would qualify as LGBT+. It wasn't that I didn't feel that way, it was more that I'd tried it, and it wasn't what I wanted (at least in my own mind). After (eventually) mentioning to my wife what I had gone through, I realised that my "relationship" hadn't been an affair, but that I had been groomed and abused, but still kept my feelings deeply buried.
While going through therapy, I started looking more into my self, and realised that I still have some "tendencies", but have never acted on them. I have lately been working through the various events of all those years ago, and oddly have found myself regretting a couple of times when I refused to do things (notably that I never gave oral). I'm not sure if I ever actually would now, as any sexual activity with anyone other than my wife would be a betrayal (much as our physical relationship is a thing of the past), but do wonder if I am really (latently) bisexual. Any thoughts?

On previewing, I noticed I seem to use quotes & parentheses a lot - this isn't intentional, just how I write!
I engaged in anonymous sex with men at X-rated video arcades over a number of years without any memory of sexual abuse in my past. Yes, I'd been married, three times in fact and had been successful in courting women, but the question kept coming up whether I was really gay and simply denying that fact. The question is often posed in this forum whether sexual trauma led us to a gay lifestyle or whether we were always gay and the trauma just happened. I'm of the opinion we can't find an honest answer to that question until we've finally come to terms with the trauma. That can take considerable work to do and not every question we ask will be answered even then.

I eventually tried to have sex with a man and it didn't turn out well. Later I began having memories of the trauma and in the process learned how I came to be drawn to falling on my knees in front of a man... because it was what I'd been taught, first by older boys and then by a couple of adults in the family. I'm of the opinion that our sexual acting out behavior is invariably rooted in the trauma, even when we haven't made that connection. You were groomed and introduced to behaviors that you likely would not have come to of your own volition. That those behaviors and others that are part of such encounters would linger in your mind is hardly surprising. You are certainly not alone among the men here who have these thoughts while in a committed relationship with a woman. I imagine some of those men with join this conversation. Again, I don't think there is a definitive answer to some of our questions but I'm pretty certain that what we learned as boys had a profound impact on our sexual development. I expect that impact continues to be felt. This is a great place to have such a conversation.


Hey there, I think it’s really common to question things about ourselves in general. The issue of sexual orientation is something that society made into “a big deal” in the past in ways that are a lot less of a “big deal” now.

I saw on another of your posts where you said you were 50. I’m only a few years older than you, so we grew up in a culture where being gay was considered wrong, shameful, immoral, illegal, even criminal by many people, by institutions, by the criminal justice system, by mental health professionals, etc. In junior high, to be called names like queer or f** or homo could lead to horrible torment, bullying, even physical abuse and violence- and the dumbest part about it is that those taunts and labels often had absolutely nothing to do with sexuality, but were often applied if you were a boy who was timid, or quiet, or not athletic, whatever.

Sexuality is so culturally defined, whether it’s a culture that is absolutely draconian and accepts nothing but strict adherence to 100% heterosexuality and gender roles, or a more accepting one, it still all kind of boils down to “these are the rules, these are the roles, these are the labels in play at this time.” I don’t know if it really matters so much any more in more open and accepting societies - the ultimate goal seems to be to get past labels and categories to a place where people can do and be whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

Inherently, I think it’s all a continuum of thoughts and behaviors and actions anyway. I think we’re better off not worrying about where we “fit” and concentrating on being the happiest we can be in our own skin. That might require a lot of change if someone is living out of step with their inner self just to please the world, society, etc.


I wrote something intellectually stupid above, because I used the wrong turn of phrase. Just wanted to correct it, because I read it after I posted it and said “that’s stupid” to myself.

i meant to say sex and gender roles are culturally defined by societies, many times governments, etc. Sexuality in and of itself I think is just another expression of our genes, like eye color.
My counselor asked me a few weeks ago what a label would do for me. It was a simple but helpful question. I journaled a lot about my sexuality. In it I accepted that SSA is part of my life. And after despising it for years I came to appreciate the role it has played in my life. Through fantasy my SSA was a way for me to feel loved and safe. My counselor asked me if I had concerns whether the SSA is part of who I am or if it stems from the trauma. I used to be obsessed with the question and don't really care anymore. It is part of who I am and I increasingly like who I am. All of my experiences good and bad got me to this point, including SSA.

I agree with @Visitor I couldn't begin to understand my sexuality until I had dealt with the trauma. It is ironic that after years of wondering what label I would choose, I finally landed on one and realized that it didn't really matter to me by that point.


This has been the big issue for me in my healing. I spent so many years trying to figure myself out and find the correct label for me.

Here's what happens with me: I see beautiful women and get sexually aroused, warm feelings, erection, etc. I see attractive men, I appreciate their beauty, but I don't get the warm feelings or the erection. I get depressed or anxious, I don't have libido, I see beautiful women but don't feel much arousal. I meet a guy or talk to a guy and feel a connection, I can get a panic attack.

The issue for me has been a worry or voice that says maybe I'm really gay, or I'm a liar. This worry arises during all of the above situations.

When I get quiet and centered in myself I have peace. I don't judge or panic. I am more attracted to women sexually but I can find men attractive.

I used to label myself as bi but I don't feel like it is the right one for me. I don't like the straight label either.

I used to shut down my sexual feelings and be numb. This is how I coped with my abuse. I look back at situations and I know I felt fear, terror, disgust, betrayal, but I don't know if I felt aroused. I froze that part of me. I detached from myself.

My experiences made me doubt myself, question my sexuality, freeze my sexuality, shame myself, confused me.

I have grown a lot. I enjoy being intimate with my wife. Stress and anxiety cause my issues to flare up. Sometimes I am very happy. I am more confident in myself.

I wish you healing on your journey.


flying - you nailed it for me. I also get into this destructive "thought obsession" about my sexuality that builds and becomes overwhelming. The anxiety meds help. There is never a day that this doesn't cross my mind, some days worse than others. It can be triggered by a smell, image, sounds, voice, etc. I get inappropriate sexual thoughts and images running through my head. As an example - when talking to the guy doing work on my house or in a business meeting, I'll have a random thought about sex with that person. I'm always "checking" to see if I'm aroused or somehow acted in a feminine way. I did some reading about HODC (Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and thought this might be the issue, although I don't obsess about anything else, so not sure. Anyway, this is a great thread and a big relief to know I'm not alone.
Being sexually abused traumatizes us. We become sexualized. The boys who introduced me to their world believed being sexual was how to play and so that was what they did with the new playmate who lived next door. My entire life was lived through the lens of my sexuality. I'm aware now that the volume has turned way down that I used to be checking out women non-stop... walking down the street, driving my car, being in a store... a flash of what might be blond hair would cause my head to turn... legs, butts, boobs always searching. I'd checked guys too but that felt more forbidden so it would be a quick furtive glance. I was consumed by porn and fantasy that I'd invariably act out in specific ways I'd learned while being traumatized. None of those behaviors were of my own creation... they were simply what I'd been taught as a boy that stimulated good feelings in my body.

This is what sexual trauma creates and where our healing work begins. Our sexuality was warped by what happened to us. We didn't have the opportunity to find for ourselves what our bodies want. Which means that before we can find the truth we need to unpack the trauma and release the ties that bind us. We struggle because we were traumatized. These is nothing wrong with us... and we are confused about it all. Be gentle and patient with yourself. There is no need for shame about any of this. We are survivors.


Staff member
Love this thread, so many self-realizations. I have noticed a connection between how I feel about my sexuality with what state (polyvagal) I'm in. Safe and social state: Full comfort and appreciation for who I am sexually. Very present focused. .Flight/Fight: Ashamed, low self worth, vulnerable to seek acceptance or be desired. Lots of energy and a triggering place. Hope this makes some sense.


I'm a gay man who ended up on a suicide watch in a mental hospital over sexual identity issues 25+ years ago. This last year I became aware of my childhood trauma and CSA, and I offer sincere thoughts to men who struggle with sexual identity concerns in the wake of their CSA. I can only imagine this torment is deeply painful, terrifying, wearisome, and troublesomely nagging. Over the years, I've helped scores and scores of men think through questions about possible homosexuality. If I can help any of my CSA brothers here, I'm all ears. No question is too offensive or invasive; and there's no win in someone ultimately being gay or straight or bi. The win is in being you. As many have said throughout this site: We did nothing wrong and should feel no shame in expressing what we're working through. We're survivors.