Consolidation of Identity

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Joined in 2008
September 1, 2008, 10:51

Hi guys,

I’m fairly new to this forum so I will introduce myself..

A/S/L πŸ™‚ = 23/M/Brisbane

My name is Darren and I’m questioning, not out and from a pentecostal background, attending a pentecostal church at the moment.

Something I would like to discuss is about cementing who you are, building your identity. I was speaking to a Gay and Lesbian counselor and he was saying that people who are successful in life are people who know who they are and stand up for that.

Discovering the possibility you might be gay, while being in a modern christian environment can really make you question your beliefs and values very intensely. You almost have to flip everything you once believed and become a new person! Are there people out there with any thoughts on this, who are going through this dilemma or have ‘come through’?

Look forward to hearing from all out there in the land of the internet! πŸ™‚

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
September 1, 2008, 12:41

Hi Darren….welcome.

A/S/L? you may need to explain that for some people on the forum.

here is something I wrote last year that might be helpful. this is about options of resolving your christian belief system with the percieved conflict with your sexulality. let me know what you think.


There are several ways people can resolve the dissonance.

1. Live in denial – denial is never a healthy option but for some it is their way of coping. The subconscious belief that they are going to go to hell often still exists.

2. Reject previous beliefs – and think that you were originally deceived or brainwashed.

3. Adopt new beliefs – become a Buddhist, New Ager or adopt some other belief system.

4. Redefine beliefs – I still believe in a God but not hell or I believe in a God that loves everyone equally. The bible verses have been interpreted without a clear understanding of the historical and cultural contexts. Reading the original languages instead of just the verses in English can also shed new light.

5. Put beliefs on hold – this is what I did for 6 years as there were a 1,000 questions in my mind that I had no way of answering. It was different from denial in that I consciously choose to put my beliefs on hold for the time being.

6. Suspend your belief system – when you chose to do this you don’t have to reject the previous belief system outright but it creates a space so you can look at other possibilities.

7. Hold several beliefs at once – this is a useful strategy that only a few have been able to develop especially if your worldview consists totally of black/white and right/wrong

PS…I’ve just emailed you the entire 6 page doc.

Joined in 2007
September 2, 2008, 09:03

Hi Darren great to be hearing more from you.

Ah a/s/l takes me back to my youth, so many internet chat sites πŸ˜†

In terms of constructing an identity, theoretically your counselor has a point. People who know who they are and are comfortable with that do tend to have higher self esteem and so forth. But in practise, can an identity be “constructed” or does it already exist? My opinion would be that its more about finding out what “identity aspects” are already apart of your presonality than to try and construct them from outside yourself because chances are they may not be right for you.

Esepically in a context like the gay community you may feel like you ought to be a creatin way. I know I did for a long time and lesbians seem to have a few more choices in that department than men I have found. But being gay isn’t about wearing pink, walking on your toes, loving to shop and so forth. Its about well… loving other men isn’t it? If that is what defines a gay persona then the rest of it is open to interpretation.

Of course you may have something in common with the “sterotype” and you may defy it in many ways too: that is your identity. To strategically “build” or “consruct” it is to place pressure on the idea that its not already there. It seems like much more fun to discover your identity and what it is you like and dont like about being gay and the gay community than it would be to go “shopping” for one.

Points, Anthony, for using the word “dissonance” πŸ˜†

Joined in 2007
September 2, 2008, 13:27

Hi there Darren, Trevor here. 34 years old just to give you some idea. “Came out” at age 33…

I feel like ‘growing up’ is all about discovering identity. And I’d tend to go with Sandy, in that a lot of it is already there, not something to be constructed from the outside.

There are choices to be made, to be for sure. But those choices are primarily about listening to your ‘inner self’ and deciding whether, and how, you are going to allow aspects of your personality to be expressed to the outside world.

Whether or not you are ‘out’ is one obvious example, but there are a myriad others. Now that I am ‘out’, I find that I have all sorts of other decisions I have to make, or have made, or am in the process of making. Decisions about what I’m looking for in a relationship, what I am and am not prepared to do sexually, and who with, and when.

Even being ‘questioning’ is a decision you’ve made: to acknowledge, to certain people, that perhaps you’re not heterosexual. That’s part of your identity. There are plenty of guys out there who would never be able to talk about any feelings they’ve ever had for other guys.

I can definitely understand what you mean about intensely questioning all your beliefs and values. I think that, once you realise that one assumption about yourself (and indeed, people in general) is/might be wrong, the only honest thing is to examine all the other assumptions as well. That DOESN’T mean all your beliefs and values will change. Some might.

Personally I’m still going through that process. I don’t know if people ever stop, once they start! To me, once you’re aware that not everything is as it first seems, it might just set you up for a lifetime of living an examined life. Some things will get resolved (for me, my homosexuality is a firmly answered question), but there will always be something else that crops up and needs to be examined. We ain’t perfect.

Oh, and I’ve also learnt in the last 18 months that gay men come in all personality types, from ‘quite stereotypical’ to ‘wouldn’t have picked it in a million years’. And so do Christians, for that matter.

Joined in 2008
September 3, 2008, 16:52

A/S/L? you may need to explain that for some people on the forum.

A/S/L stands for AGE/SEX/LOCATION, its some ye olde internet chat lingo, from the days when ICQ was big πŸ™‚

Thanks for the responses, it looks like you have some good insights

It seems like much more fun to discover your identity and what it is you like and dont like about being gay and the gay community than it would be to go “shopping” for one.

That does sound like more fun, unfortunately it seems I have too much of a restrained mechanical view of life.. possibly a result of years spent trying to work everything out and live a certain way, keeping aspects of who I actually am hidden and at the same time acting like I should be expected to act, as a hetero male christian.

another thing Sandy, can I get points too for using ‘consolidation’ in my topic heading? πŸ˜€

To me, once you’re aware that not everything is as it first seems, it might just set you up for a lifetime of living an examined life. Some things will get resolved (for me, my homosexuality is a firmly answered question), but there will always be something else that crops up and needs to be examined.

I kinda figured this in the back of mind, that identity is a lifelong process.. that as you get older you learn more about yourself, others and the world we live in.

I feel like I need to post in the my stories section, just to get some of this burden from my shoulders… I’ll post it just after this one

Joined in 2007
September 5, 2008, 21:28

can I get points too for using ‘consolidation’ in my topic heading

Sure, why not? πŸ˜†

The dissonance thing was a friendly stab at AVB because he’s always going on about how academic writing is over his head and bogs him down… cheap talk coming from a man who uses dissonance in everyday life don’t you think? πŸ˜† We are always far smarter than we think we are, its just a matter of believing it.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
September 26, 2008, 23:39

I learnt all about dissonance when I was teaching Consumer Behaviour at TAFE.

Once I understood the concept I could see how applicable it was to the struggle between my christian beliefs and the reality of my same sex orientation. I use the term regularly now.

Re identity…..embracing my gay identity was truly liberating.

To say I’m a gay man doesn’t conjure up stereotypes or negatives for me. To suppress, reject or deny that identity would be sacrilegious to me. Its who I am.

others may attach negatives to it but that is there problem.

From talking with so many people about this…….it is often the final step to them being free of all the negative impact the denial, rejection and suppressoin has caused. Like at last I am whole…intergrated etc.

Joined in 2007
September 27, 2008, 14:48

You taught consumer behaviour at TAFE? That’s awesome Anthony! πŸ˜€ Your a very well-rounded man.

I tell my dad all the time that the stereotypes were insititutionalised at a time when they were needed, more or less. Today, they aren’t as predominant because society is more accepting and “like-minded gays” can be easily sought out. Therefore, it is not necessasry to shop 24/7, to wear hideously feminine colours or to put on moisturiser… As per usual I get ignored though… no one listens to the girl that wore curtains to class. πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

Great to have you back by the way πŸ˜‰

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
September 27, 2008, 18:00

you should see the resume. It demonstrates several reinventions….which is why I guess I coach people around change and transition.

Taught Sales, Communication and Consumer Behaviour (Psychology as it relates to marketing) for 10 years. Worked at Optus and became the leading Sales consultant for Australia with a 63% conversion rate on calls. Worked in the training field with the most difficult people to place in the workforce, the long term unemployed, and had the highest placement rate in NSW…..possibly Australia. So i know the whole job seeking process including writing a killer resume. Now a professional coach. You know about all my successes in the ministry. So I guess one could say its been colourful….and there is a lot more to this little bunny than most people know.

Enough of my trumpet blowing for today don’t you think πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

Joined in 2007
September 28, 2008, 10:00

I’m sorry… did I misread or did you just refer to yourself as a bunny? πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

Wow… I guess I never thought much about what you had done besides ministry… both past and present… I’ll have to eat my words one day and admit life coaching is probably halfway worthwhile given your very impressive track record. Whats your conversion rate for calls on anti-therapy, denial ridden, perfectionist, gay women? πŸ˜† Oh, no sorry… I forgot, Anthony Venn Brown sets out to convert no one! πŸ˜‰ Ah I could go on all day… πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

In terms of trumpet blowing I’m all for it frankly esepically if you sell your services… uh in like a totally legal non-prostitution kind of way… you need to engage in a bit of shameless self-promotion.

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