<< Part 1
I have no recollection of ever having been sexually abused, and nobody has ever reported seeing signs of sexual abuse in me. But in early grade school, I had a nearly traumatic, shame-filled encounter with a little female friend my age who wanted to get naked in her bedroom and asked me to lie down on my back. She then got on top of me, naked, and sort of laid there. I wasn't aroused or anything and had no idea what her aim was. I just felt like this was something we weren't supposed to do, and I was more awkwardly curious and ashamed than anything. I don't remember if it was that time or another, but I lost my shirt, and her mom had to help us find it. I was so mortified that her mom would realize that we'd been doing things we weren't supposed to, and I was sad to be moving away from that friend but glad I wouldn't have to deal with that again. Even when I saw her a few years later during a visit, I felt uncomfortable about the emotions seeing her brought back despite wanting us to just be friends without the awkwardness. As I remember, she didn't seem to give it a second thought. My number one wish for my baptism at 8 years of age was to have that incident wiped clean and never, ever do anything that shameful again. I felt dirty, unclean, and unworthy until my baptism, when I was able to finish the process of "repenting" for that sin and have it washed away. I haven't given that incident much thought since adolescence, but I remember feeling scarred and sinful as a young child. Traumatic sexual experience: check.
I just didn't relate to guys my age and thought they were neanderthals, boring, interested in things I wasn't interested in, kind of stupid, immature, crude, rough, unkind, mean to girls (since I generally heard the girls' perspectives of situations), etc. I had mostly female friends. I didn't think of myself as girly, but I was mocked for not being one of the boys. I didn't want to be. I didn't want to be a woman, but I didn't want to be a man if it meant being a prick. I decided I just was going to be me, but I couldn't deny I was affected by being so 'different' and sometimes wished there were more people like me (I'm not sure I ever really wished I were more like others...perhaps narcissism should be added to my list of things that have made me gay). I always had one main male friend at a time, three or four growing up. When I was really young, I played a sort of intellectually dominating role in the friendship and was bossy and probably not the best for his self-image. Late grade school, I made another friend I could relate to who also seemed to relate better to girls but again was a bit of a jerk to him. I made fun of traits I called girly and gave him a hard time for his weight. When I found out, in college, that he'd come out as gay, I feared that my bullying might have contributed to making him that way. Now I think...birds of a feather...and I love this guy and hope I'm forgiven for having been a jerk so many years ago. And he's not girly or overweight. *wink* General masculine detachment: check.
Throughout adolescence, I had a strong aversion to playing team sports. I enjoyed games involving basketballs but not the sport itself, individual games as long as super-competitive (trash-talking) people weren't playing. I enjoyed volleyball with friends. I liked baseball in my yard with friends. I was never into football or soccer and avoided playing them, if I could, in P.E. in secondary school. Boys were absurdly aggressive and mean about sports, and I wanted no part of the childish trash talk and mean-spirited criticism of those who were trying but just didn't have the athletic ability of the boys who seemed to think life was about sports. It wasn't worth it. I didn't enjoy it much in the first place, so to put up with that and be around it didn't make sense to me. I did, however, really enjoy lacrosse, gymnastics, archery, random made-up team games using hockey sticks... Team sports aversion: check.
In junior high, the boys and girls were separated, and boys would play "shirts and skins" football or soccer, and I never once played skins, and if I was going to have to, I opted to run laps instead. I didn't have the physique the other boys had, and I had acne problems, and I was ashamed of my body in general. Body shame: check.
I would see guys with cut, trim, or lean physiques and find myself trying very hard not to look at them, or not to get caught looking at them. I felt jealous of their good looks. I wanted to be more like that. I didn't want their personality traits, too, if they were jerks, but I wished I looked like they did. I told myself this was why I was so interested. It only made sense. I was skinny, without muscle, a weakling, and I wanted to be like them. When I found myself aroused by them, I scorned myself for perverting what was surely a natural jealousy and admiration and making it sexual. I found myself wanting to look at pictures, so I wouldn't get caught gawking, so I'd look in fitness magazines or underwear catalogs. Surely it was a curiosity which would just pass. But then I'd hit myself upside the head for having looked at pictures of attractive men and getting aroused because I must only be making the "problem" worse. Body envy: check.