Should I Come Out Of My Closet?


When I was in my early 20s I experimented sexually on two occasions with men. In the immediate aftermath of the second encounter, I “freaked out” and refused to admit to any attraction.

In the next twenty years, I often fantasized about, read about, and thought about sexual encounters with men, and masturbated regularly with those thoughts. At age 48, I began to think seriously about meeting a man again, and finally did so. My immediate reaction was sheer fear, but I also began to realize that the fear was based, pretty much, on my enjoyment of the meeting.

In the next several years, I enjoyed many such escapades, although I continued to date and think about women. At 54, I got married again to a woman (was married previously from age 27 until 45). I determined to be a straight man at that time, but it didn’t take long for my fantasies and my urges to return.

I finally capitulated to those urges and met a man for sex again. He and I are now seeing each other semi-regularly, frankly not as often as we’d like, and the sexual activity is wonderful for me.

Should I come out of this closet? Should I admit to the world that I’m gay, at last, and make a lasting commitment with my friend and, perhaps, even marry, since same-sex marriage is legal in my state? I have trepidation about coming out, and people in the local community have no notion about my sexual desires or activity.

Thank you.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

The answer to your question about coming out of the closet involves several factors: 1. Knowing that you are gay, 2. Accepting the fact that you are gay, 3. Being comfortable with your life self and your life if you come out about being gay.

It appears to me that you have problems with all three questions.

1. Apparently, over many years of your life, up until recently, you have doubted whether or not you are gay. That may have to do with having a bisexual orientation in which you have been able to have sex with women and have even be able to marry, although, not successfully for any length of time. Yet, you seem to admit that the much greater strength of your sexual attraction is towards men. That would seem to imply that you are gay. So, what is the problem?

2. The problem you have struggled with is that it has always been a daunting task for you to accept your homosexuality. In fact, for many years, you experienced extreme anxiety after having a homosexual encounter. My guess is that, you have always been self hating with regard to being gay. You are not alone in this. There are people who are heterosexual and homophobic but, there are people who are gay and are homophobic. These are people who are self hating about their sexual orientation and, in some cases, try to have themselves converted to heterosexuality, albeit, with not much success, in most cases.

3. Under the circumstances described under numbers one and two, is it likely that you will feel comfortable letting everyone know that you are gay? In my opinion, that is no. In so far as your “freaking out” during your past homosexual encounters, I don’t see how a type of public announcement to friends, family and neighbors, can be acceptable to your inner sense of selfhood, regardless of gay marriages being accepted in your state.

You see, the issue for you is not the legal acceptance of gay marriage. Rather, it’s the inner acceptance of being gay and having a gay self definition.

So, what is my answer to your question about coming out of the closet:

I want to suggest to you that you see a gay psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker who can help you resolve the conflicts you are having. There are mental health practitioners who are open about their homosexuality and help other gay clients learn to cope with similar painful issues as your own.

There are also gay self help groups made up of people who need and want support because they, too, are dealing with this.

I am not suggesting you postpone the relationship with the man you are seeing. I am suggesting that, at the same time, you seek help so that you can decide.

By the way, when you come to truly accept your self, you can then decide whether or not to “come out.” Some people do, others do not. That will be up to you.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists