Feminine “Preferences” and Male Sexual Identity

As a guy do you think it means I'm gay because I've always had a preference and appreciation for feminine and "girly" things? I've been this way since I was a small boy, I'm not sure what to make of this.

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It’s difficult to answer your question in a helpful and meaningful way until we’ve defined your terms. What exactly do you mean by “a preference for feminine and ‘girly’ things?” For some, this could mean that they engage in cross-dressing – that they experience pleasure from wearing frilly blouses and French negligees. Or, on a different order, maybe you’re simply suggesting that you like art, music, poetry, gardening, or cooking better than football, cars and hunting? As it stands, your statement leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Different people define “feminine” and “girly” in different ways. So do different cultures. Modern American society has its own ideas on the subject – ideas that are powerfully propagated, enforced, and inculcated in the public mind by means of a wide variety of subtle and not-so-subtle psychological tactics. The fact of the matter is that some of our most common assumptions about masculinity and femininity come to us directly from the drawing boards of marketers and advertisers. It’s important to understand that these notions aren’t necessarily valid or consistent with God’s design. Some may think that only “girly men” cry or show their emotions, but Jesus Christ obviously took a different view of things.

Our initial response to your question, then, is to suggest that you may need to broaden your concept of masculinity. The fact is, there are many healthy, red-blooded, fully masculine men who earn their daily bread as painters, musicians, chefs, hairdressers, doll-makers, interior designers, and fashion consultants. Believe it or not, there are even some who enjoy hobbies like knitting and sewing. It would be a serious mistake to make judgments about their sexual attractions or overall sexuality on the basis of these activities and preferences.

In addition to your talents and interests, it’s also important to look at your relationships. Whatever their age and stage in life, guys need healthy relationships with other guys. Are your closest friendships with women? Or with men? Even if you’re not into sports and cars (a pretty narrow range of “masculine” interests if you ask us), it’s vital to be connecting with other males. If this is difficult for you, as it is for many men, you might want to start by forming relationships with other men around an activity you enjoy. Or you might ask another man to mentor, disciple, or coach you in an area where you wish to grow.

Even more importantly, you may want to start exploring Scripture and asking God to reveal to you the deeper meaning of masculinity. Our maleness points to deeper truths, truths that go beyond mere roles, relationships, and interests. Masculinity has to do with creating, proclaiming the truth, protecting, providing, initiating, standing for righteousness and justice -and more. It would be a good idea to think, pray, and read about masculinity as God intended it to be.

Aside from roles, relationships, and the real meaning of masculinity, there are, of course, other people who have a serious problem with something psychologists call gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a condition characterized by confusion or disconnection between a person’s natural or genetic gender and his or her “perceived” sexual identity. The causes of this condition are as many and varied as its specific expressions and can be quite complex . Indeed, perhaps the most important thing we can say about gender dysphoria is that – while the sciences like medicine and psychology are still learning about this topic – the issue is deeply interwoven with a person’s relational and developmental processes which affect one’s sense of gender and “gender-belonging.”

If you have reasons for believing that this is an accurate description of your situation, we’d advise you to sit down and discuss your thoughts and feelings with a trained Christian counselor. At the same time, we would urge you in the strongest possible terms to resist the temptation to jump to unwarranted conclusions. Whether that be applying conclusive labels about “gender dysphoria,” the term “gay” or anything of the like, gender dysphoric is not necessarily the same thing as homosexual. You need to bear in mind that feelings or even attractions don’t determine identity and that identity labels are rarely helpful, especially where personality and sexuality are concerned. If you really want to find answers to your questions, your best bet is to slow down and make a conscious effort to rise above our culture’s tendency to put false or en vogue typologies onto one’s sexual concerns. Shut out all the political “noise” on this subject and take a close and careful look at your options. Remember that “gay” is just an artificial mental construct: a word that means what other people say it means – nothing more, nothing less. We’d encourage you to not allow yourself to get locked into that category.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss your concerns, call our Counseling department for a free consultation. Our therapists can also provide you with references to reputable Christian therapists practicing in your area.

 

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity & Femininity

Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes

What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible

Growth Into Manhood: Resuming the Journey

Desires In Conflict: Hope for Men Who Stuggle with Sexual Identity

Healing the Masculine Soul

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