RULE NO.10: BEWARE OF LATE ON-SET ADOLESCENCE

Gay Youth

I’ve coined a new disorder that affects many gay men. It’s called “Late On-Set Adolescence”  and although I’m sure someone has already conducted a study into this phenomenon, I think that it is still widely undiagnosed. 

“Late On-Set Adolescence” (LOA) is the result of gay men having to hide their sexuality throughout their formative development years and missing out on the same experiences as their straight counterparts (sexual exploration, dating, forming friendship groups with likeminded peers etc). In doing so they experience a self-identity growth period that is not indicative of their true self. Whey they finally come out of the closet, they go through a second adolescence whereby they learn about their sexuality, experience sexual contact with the same-sex for the first time, begin dating, find similar friends, go out to gay venues, become more focused on their appearance and experiment with drugs etc. This may happen when they are 18 or 25 or 35 or 50 but for most gay men I know who have been closeted, it does happen at some stage. During this stage, gay men often find themselves drawn to other men who are experiencing LOA and this is one of the reasons that you see groups of friends who are of mixed ages; the 30 year old who socialises with 18 years olds, the 50 year old who hangs out with guys in their ’20s.

LOA is a period of experimentation and self discovery that gay men must experience. It can be an amazing time for growth and self acceptance but conversely, just like acne during puberty, there are down sides. Some men become fixated with “making up for lost time” and take their sexual experimentation to a whole new level, sleeping with many different partners and becoming obsessed with the pursuit of sex. Although I am a strong advocate for (safe) sex and sexual exploration, I believe  that any excessive behaviour is unhealthy and detrimental to one’s happiness.

Also, during this period one might see gay men become cliquey and “bitchy”, enjoying the drama that comes with dating, sleeping around and making new friends. Often their social lives become reminiscent of a high school playground with cattiness, drama and fighting. These traits are particularly unpleasant and contribute to the stereotype of gay men being bitchy queens.

For many, this period is short lived as they move into the next phase of deeper “inner” self discovery.  The problem arises however when gay men become stuck in LOA, when they sacrifice ambition for trivial pursuits such as time in the gym or on the dance floor or finding their next sexual conquest. They may mature in age but  they seem to always be chasing the next  guy who is experiencing LOA (perhaps in order to avoid growing up and facing the next stage of develpment?). You’ll notice these guys as the 30/40 somethings who still dress like teenagers (revealing singlets, short shorts, baseball caps and high tops) and always appear to be dating or surrounded by younger guys.

The cure for LOA is self-acceptance as soon as possible. Gay boys should be encouraged to experience adolescence when it was intended for them to do so. The most well-rounded gay men that I know are the those who “came out” the earliest or didn’t need to come out at all. As society becomes more accepting of homosexuality, it is my hope that more gay men learn to accept their sexuality at a younger age and eventually LOA will simply be ‘A’.

Photo credit: Willy Vanderperre

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9 thoughts on “RULE NO.10: BEWARE OF LATE ON-SET ADOLESCENCE

  1. zakaryshouse says:

    this actually sums up everything! I never knew there was a correct term for this situation!

    • joshvansant says:

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad to hear that others know what I’m talking about. Have you noticed the same phenomenon too? Now we have a name for it!

  2. David says:

    Finally, a name for what I’ve been trying to describe for years! The whole having to learn how to flirt and respond to attention from guys, being comfortable holding hands with or kissing your guy in public… all of those things you’re supposed to figure out as a teenager. Harder is unlearning all of the coping behaviors you mastered as a teenage boy to hide the fact you’re gay.

  3. […] are obviously other factors involved in the subconscious attraction process (like LOA – Read Here) but it’s much easier to look at the superficial reasons so I would love to hear your […]

  4. […] and average homos, those who believe the two groups are otherwise the same, will offer various excuses, but most often will attribute discrimination as the cause of the differences. They claim that […]

  5. […] are obviously other factors involved in the subconscious attraction process (like LOA – Read Here) but it’s much easier to look at the superficial reasons so I would love to hear your […]

  6. macarthursmutterings says:

    nice piece, can really identify with lots of what you had to say

  7. Diego says:

    This is just so accurte. I’m 21 and I’m experiencing LOA right now, and I’m glad I found this, so I can live this in a more mature and heatlhy way.

  8. Great piece. I’m 27 and am experiencing this. Is there any advice besides experimentation and growth? Obviously I wish I’d been more comfortable with myself earlier, but the past is the past, unfortunately. Is it just time? Really any helpful thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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