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How to Overcome Gay Thoughts

17 March, 2022
Q As-Salamu Alaykum. I am 26 years old and have been facing this problem ever since I know myself. Being the second son, I was always very much attached to my mother and didn't have much openness with my father which is the case even today. I've always felt attraction towards boys, and studying in a boys’ school and living in strictly segregated Saudi Arabia didn't really help. My mother is deeply religious and alhumdulilah we were brought up being religious, too. When I was around 12 years old, I started watching gay porn, because I believed looking at naked women was a sin (I was naive I know). Around the age of 14-15, I was sexually abused my uncle. He would arouse me at night and encourage me to do the same to him. At high school, I was bullied for not being manly enough. This had a huge impact on my personality; I’ve become introverted, and until today I have a great desire to please people in order to feel loved. The kids also used to call me gay. (I never considered myself a gay previously. I just thought I had some problems.) But when they said it, I felt it must be true. Anyway, I never acted upon it and kept repenting every time I would visit those filthy websites. At collage, alhumdulilah I came out of my shell and was more outgoing, but the secret porn watching continued. Later, I fell in love with a girl, but as both of us are Muslims, we knew our limits and wouldn't even shake hands, alhumdulilah. Allah sent some awesome brothers in my life and they helped me become a stricter Muslim; I stopped listening to music, grew a beard and become punctual in my prayers. I stopped talking to the girl and decided that we will bring this issue to our parents and try to get married inshaAllah. But even after all, I still watch gay porn and it rips me apart. It makes me feel like a total hypocrite. On one hand, people see me as a practicing Muslim who doesn’t watch movies due to objectionable scenes in them, but Allah knows how bad my private sins are. Most of my friends are practicing Muslim brothers and when I am with them, my faith is strong. But when I am alone, I am struck with temptations. I sometimes try to watch “normal” porn at least but always end up on the gay websites. I really wish I wasn’t like this. Now, this has affected me severely. I am unemployed even though I have a good degree. I just don’t have the confidence to go to work, but I am working on it inshaAllah. Regarding the girl, she has no idea about this secret life of mine. Recently, our families met and they started discussing the wedding, but I am really worried. Am I misleading her into thinking that I am some pious man she's marrying while I have this big and dirty secret? What if my desires for men continue even after marriage? Should I tell her about it before we get married? She's deeply in love with me and I don’t want to ruin it. Should I get married, right? I ask Allah a lot for help. Sometimes I am fine and don’t desire to watch porn (for like 6 months), but then again I succumb to this evil. I thought this Ramadan, I would totally eradicate this desire, but since Ramadan barely a week has passed and I am already watching it again. I fast twice a week alhumdulilah, but it doesn’t help. I really want to get married, have kids, and live a normal life. Please advise. JazakAllah khayran in advance.



Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam M,

It takes great courage to be authentic and face your issues straight as you are. I admire you for your sincere effort in making the most appropriate decision. I do have to put forth my disclaimer in that as a Psychologist with areas of expertise in Clinical Psychology, Spiritual Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, and Forensic Psychology, I do not have expertise in the area of homosexuality. Therefore, I am not qualified to give you an opinion about whether you are authentically gay.

However, it does appear to me that you are attracted to this woman whom you have said that you feel in love with. It also appears to me that you very much desire to be a husband and father and that you want to have a family lifestyle. In all honestly, that does not sound “gay” to me. From a “behavioral” perspective, from what you have told me, it is more likely that you have associated sexual arousal with men simply because this happened to you when you were a young boy. Any time an erroneous zone is touched by anything at all, it will likely have some kind of reaction, and this is what happened when you were young. You then associated this response with men, because it was a man that you had a type of relationship with that initially conditioned this response.

Being bored and lonely will lead a person to find a way to feel a connection and to feel pleasurable sensations. You became habituated to using this modality of stimulation to help you escape from the feelings of boredom and also from loneliness during times of low self-esteem. Rather than assuming that one “sin” is more horrible than another, look at what natural need you are trying to meet either consciously or unconsciously (usually unconsciously until you have examined the behavioral chain), engaging the destructive behavior in achieving. This would be the process to use when trying to break free from any destructive addiction or habit, whether it is drug use, smoking, eating too much, or any kind of unhealthy sex, etc.

The way to do this is to reflect on the behaviors in the context that they were expressed. Analyze that actual event of expressing the behavior. Ask yourself the following questions; what triggered this behavior? What was I doing; what environment was I in; what was I feeling; what was I thinking? Was I bored? Was I lonely? Was I feeling stressed? Had my feeling just been hurt? Was I feeling unworthy? Any number of thoughts, feelings, or environmental factors can trigger the mind to wander toward old patterns of behaviors.

Another way to understand why you engage in the behaviors is to analyze the immediate “consequences” that are experienced as soon as you engaged in the behaviors. Was the experience pleasurable; was I fantasizing about being loved; was I fantasying that I was being a hero or helpless? (When a person fantasizes of being helpless, the person is really fantasizing about having someone powerful take care of him/her so they do not have to face hardship or responsibility).

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Understanding the real need underneath the behavior will help you find appropriate and healthy ways to meet those needs. Understanding what triggers the behaviors will help you implement an alternative healthy behavior the moment you feel triggered. Understanding the emotional component to the behavior can guide toward getting your emotional need met and consciously separating the particular emotional need from the sexual arousal. In other words, if you are bored, you can learn to engage in non-sexual activities to alleviate boredom.

If you have low self-esteem and you need assurance to make you feel better about yourself, you can join a non-profit organization and do good works which will result in your feeling good about yourself and in being recognized by others as well. With that said, consider analyzing what emotional and psychological needs were being met with the relationship that you had with your uncle, and you will likely find the root of the need you will want in order to find a healthy way to meet.

Men need to have male friendship, support, and bonding. This is usually NOT sexual, but a very masculine activity of brotherhood. It is likely that the reason you do not feel the need for male to male sex when you are with your Islamic brothers is because this male, masculine non-sexual bonding need is being met. It is when you are feeling lonely and your brothers are not around that you fall back into the old patterns. The longer you go without engaging in an addictive behavior, the less intense the pull is that you feel leading you back into the old behaviors. Abstinence is the way to break the addiction combined with having a list of healthy alternative behaviors as I mentioned. It will actually meet the real need while consciously separating the need for actual sexual release from those activities. With that said, seeking out professional help for this addiction would likely benefit you as well.

If, indeed, you are in love with this woman, you are sexually attracted to her, and your respective families are already planning a wedding, I cannot see any reason not to go forward with this. Being unemployed might be triggering feelings of fear and self-doubt about your ability to provide as a man, but that is simply the conditioning in your mind making you feel this way. If you shift your focus from your insecurities onto your life path and career, you will eventually either be employed, or in school getting an education that will lead to employment.

Finally, have no doubt that most men want to feel loved and loveable. That is natural, so wanting to please people to be loved, to be nurtured, and to nature is not gender specific. The problem is that men don’t talk about this very much but underneath it. All men and women have more in common with each other than they have difference. It sounds to me that this woman is in love with you as you are. No need to talk about past behaviors, just get some counseling to help you with the addiction if you cannot control your behavior. My intuition is that if your natural need for sex is met through marriage, you continue engaging in appropriate male bonding and healthy activities that help you feel good about yourself as a human being over all, your insecurities about your manhood will disappear, and this focus on male to male sex will fade as well.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

About Maryam Bachmeier
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant in the areas of mental health, cultural, and relationship issues.