Is It Possible to Be Gay and Not Know It?

We’ve all heard stories about gay or queer people who’ve been aware of who and what they were their entire lives. Many can even remember having their first crushes on people of the same sex way back when they were kids. However, while some people self-identify as gay, bi, or queer very early in life, it’s important to realize that other people have a much less straightforward journey to self-realization.

Even here in the 21st century, most people still assume straightness of others unless they have a good reason not to. Many folks even assume it of themselves, especially if they come from conservative backgrounds, so yes. It’s entirely possible to be gay and not really know it. However, there are usually signs that point toward the truth. Do any of the following sound familiar?

Lack of Desire for the Opposite Sex

It’s more common than you think for a gay person to simply take it for granted that they’re straight and date people of the opposite sex as expected. However, they never ask themselves why they don’t feel any real desire for the people they date or get excited by the idea of having sex with any member of the opposite sex. Since no one ever seems to light that fire for them, some may even assume that they’re asexual or simply don’t have much of a sex drive.

The real test is to ask yourself whether you do find yourself excited by members of the same sex. Have you ever totally caught yourself checking out another guy at the gym or while you’re simply out and about? You may have told yourself you were simply hoping you can be as buff as he is one day, but were you really?

Constant Insistence That You’re “Totally Not Gay”

It’s not at all uncommon for closeted or unaware gay people to have others assume that they’re gay automatically. Has this ever happened to you? Does it happen to you often? What’s your reaction like when it does happen? An actual straight person is a lot more likely to simply shrug it off and assume it’s because they don’t necessarily adhere to traditional gender roles. A closeted gay person, on the other hand, is likely to find it really annoying.

Assuming you do find it annoying, do you go well out of your way to avoid having people make these assumptions? Maybe you put a lot of thought into how a straight person would dress, walk or wear their hair and try hard to do that. Alternatively, you might just get super defensive — more defensive than an actual straight person would get. If so, that should be real food for thought.

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Fantasies or Dreams About the Same Sex

Just about everyone sometimes fantasizes about sexual scenarios they’d never actually pursue in real life. That said, some straight people do sometimes fantasize about same sex encounters or get curious about what it would be like to think outside the heterosexual box for a night or two. However, someone who’s gay without realizing it is likely to think about this sort of thing more often than not.

Do you fantasize almost exclusively about people of the same sex? Do you do this habitually when you’re masturbating or having sex with someone of the opposite sex? What about sex dreams? Are they almost always about same sex encounters? Come to think of it, do you ever have erotic dreams or sexy thoughts about people of the opposite sex? If not, it’s more than possible that it’s because you’re gay.

Questioning Your Own Sexuality

The mere fact that you’re even questioning your sexuality in the first place is a good sign that you’re not entirely straight. Since we do still live in a heteronormative world that takes straightness for granted, most genuinely straight people never think twice about where they fit into that world. They never have experiences or run into situations that challenge their assumption of who they are and to whom they’re attracted.

If you’re also attracted to members of the opposite sex, you could certainly be bi, but if not, it’s a lot more likely that you’re simply gay. And again, if your friends or other people you meet seem to assume that you’re gay (or ask whether you are), it’s highly likely that they’re picking up on an obvious truth you haven’t entirely accepted yet.

Of course, a person’s sexuality and sexual identity can be complicated, so it’s entirely normal not to be sure of where you fit. However, it’s well worth discovering and learning to accept your own truth. At the end of the day, living an authentic life and having relationships with people to whom you’re genuinely attracted is just too good to miss out on.

Rob West

Rob West

I worked with Matt to build several hookup apps for gay men, including Guyhop.

I've been in the scene for several years now. Eternally single until I find "him".

My background is in marketing and psychology, which gives me a unique perspective on the LGBTQ dating and hookup scene.