A reader has begged syndicated advice columnist Dear Diedre for help with an unusual plight: he’s still a virgin at 29 because he hates his own sexuality.
“Dear Diedre,” he writes. “After years of being in denial, I admitted to myself I was gay when I was 16. Thirteen years on, I am still a virgin because I hate myself for being gay. I’m now 29.”
“I was brought up Roman Catholic and I am a devoted Christian,” he further explains. “My faith has always been really important to me – it has defined who I am and how I live my life. I feel it’s wrong to have any type of sex outside marriage – and a mortal sin to have sex with another man. I have never told anyone I am gay. When I spot an attractive guy, or fantasize about him, I feel disgusted with myself.”
“How can I reconcile these two conflicting parts of me – the gay part and the Catholic part?” he wonders. “This is tearing me apart. I feel like I’m living a lie and that I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m confused and depressed and sometimes I wonder if there’s any point carrying on. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, or to be celibate.”
The ever level-headed Diedre responded with a tender reply.
“Many people feel torn between their faith and their sexuality,” she notes. “Please make an appointment with your [general practitioner], as you do sound depressed. There is confidential support available, and nobody will judge you.”
Diedre then recommends the reader seek counseling with Switchboard LGBT +, a UK-based non-profit designed to help queer people find mental health counseling. That includes counseling for people struggling with sexuality because of their religious upbringing. The United States plays home to similar organizations, including The Trevor Project and The It Gets Better Project.
Research by The Trevor Project shows that at about 40% of LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide every year. Similar studies also show that suicide by queer adults over 65 makes up about 17% of all suicides in the United States every year. Research attributes these higher incidences of suicide to feelings of self-loathing, in part due to a religious upbringing.