I’m not sure if you can identify with my experience, but growing up in an ultra Catholic family in a small island developing country did not create the right environment to discuss the topic of sex. Sex was (and still is) taboo for many. Growing up as a Catholic, we were taught that somehow sex was dirty and something to be ashamed about. I basically learnt about sex on my own. There was no such thing as sex education in school (this was banned by the school board). Even our biology books were screened and censored and I’m talking about the 1990’s.
Sexuality was a journey of self-discovery and self-education. As a young boy, I started feeling certain urges and changes in my body that I could not explain. I just went with the flow, with what felt good. I realized that stimulating my genitals produced pleasure so I did it as often as I could – the joys of self-pleasuring was discovered. I was around 8 or 9 at the time. There was no one there to explain to me what was happening; that I was going through puberty. And although I grew up with both my parents as well as some of my mothers brothers, I dare not mention the ‘unmentionable’!
Later on, when I started high school, I was taught that a boy should not touch himself down there. That was a sin. And not just any ordinary sin, one that was ‘mortal’ – deserving of death; eternal death in the fires of hell. That was the extent of my sex education in school. Talk about a guilt trip. Talk about self-loathing. But I just couldn’t stop. It just felt so darn good. Then I began to withdraw and go into my shell. I was a bad boy. Nobody would understand what I did. There was no one to talk to. No one to turn to. So I soothed myself (through self-pleasuring) and then I self-loathed and then repeated the cycle over and over hundreds of times again and again. A nasty cycle of pleasure and pain, soothing and shame, gratification and guilt. Even to this day I still have the mental and emotional scars of that process.
To add hurt to injury, later on as I progressed through high school something else about myself started to unfold. At first I couldn’t comprehend it. I started noticing something about myself; something subtle at first, gnawing away at my subconscious. Then as I got older it grew to a point where I couldn’t ignore it any longer. My high school was all boys (you see, typical Catholic school). And I found myself ‘drawn’ to a few of those boys; drawn in a way that at first I thought was admiration but later on I realized it was more than mere admiration. At first I didn’t know what it meant. I thought nothing of it. Then at age 18 it dawned on me – I was gay. (I’m a slow learner, what can I say.) Gay? No way! Not me! It must be a phase or something. I must be confused! Denial had begun.
Very quickly I started rationalizing everything and I came up with a grand conclusion. I was gay and that was fine. There was nothing I could do about that. However, everything was going to be okay as long as I did not ‘act’ gay or do gay ‘stuff’ with other gay guys. That conclusion was the solid foundation for the ‘closet’ of denial that I built around myself. It was a huge, dark closet that become comfortable. No one was in that closet with me. I was safe. My secret was safe. Life could be bearable. That closet of guilt and denial became my home for nearly ten years. No, that was not a typo. TEN YEARS!!! Then I met someone, fell in love and was yanked out of that closet with lightning force. I was 28 at the time. Talk about wow!!! It felt as if I was holding my breath underwater for ten years and suddenly came up for air. It was refreshing, invigorating and thrilling all at once. No shame. No guilt. No fear. Just love. And how in the hell could love be a bad thing, right?
So here I am, a completely different person. Healed, but still going through the healing process. Better, but still getting better each and every day. Out of the closet but still finding myself putting up walls from time to time, depending on the circumstances and situation. I still have some ways to go, but I am pleased as pumpkin with where I’ve come from and the life lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
By now, (if you’ve made it to this point) you’re probably wondering what does all of this have to do with sex ed. Well, it has a lot to do with it. My objective with this page of our website is to help others who might be going through similar experiences. Knowledge is power! And knowing and loving yourself is the greatest power we possess as human beings. “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you’re gonna love somebody else!”
Here’s another article that might be of interest to you:
If you’d like us to discuss any other topics just send us a note in the comments section or send us a private message in the “Ask Jay and Kay” page and we’d be happy to discuss the topic here on our site.