Closeted gay woman attracted to fundamentalist Christian  
back General information:
Gender: woman
Age: 45
Name: Karen

I have experienced an attraction to other women for most of my life. My sexual relationships, save a one-night stand with a close friend, have always been with men. I have decided clearly that I prefer the company of women, but my circle of friends, family and position in my office seem to bind me from seeking another female. I have been celibate for five years. I find myself extremely attracted to a woman in my office of similar age. She is a fundamentalist Christian, however, with a young daughter, and is going through a long distance divorce. We get along very well, can discuss very involved and personal topics, and behave as if we've known one another for years. I am very certain that she would not accept a more overt expression of affection and that even to discuss these feelings would send her away. I am equally certain that she would be so disapproving, she would let others know I am gay. I can't seem to lose this feeling of attraction, and just don't have the courage to translate these feelings into action -- with her or others. I feel helpless in the world of relationships, and fearful of spending my life alone.


What suggestions do you have which might assist me to face my fears? How do I overcome my own judgment about the "world's" judgment of my sexuality -- the the inaction it produces? Is it best to set my focus away from this particular relationship, knowing that my feelings will not be met favorably, or expectations about something more, met at all?

  Andy's answer:  

Dear Karen,

What a limbo, neither-here-nor-there state you’re keeping yourself in! With a single bottom-line consequence: you are denying yourself any sexuality whatsoever. It’s also a damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t sort of situation. Should you come out of the closet with your sexual preferences to your current circle of involvements, and grant yourself an overt life, you run the risk of disapproval and disenfranchisement. Let’s throw in heartache too. And if you stay in denial, your yearning, attraction and unexpressed life also add up to heartache. Classic lose-lose material.
I don’t recommend declaring your feelings of attraction to your heterosexual co-worker before you explore your sexuality in safer ways first. Why? Not because your feelings are wrong, but because you need support as you come to grips with how you’re going to live your relationship life, or even if you’re going to have an intimate, sexual one. I’m surprised you haven’t gone the route of seeking out gay companionship in settings totally outside your regular circle of friends and co-workers, if for no other reason than to see how it goes.
Make some sort of contact with the gay community in your area, whatever that means, and check out some real gay women. See how they’ve come out, and how they’re doing their lives. I’m sure you will find solace in their struggle and in their victories.
I also recommend getting counseling, not just for the sake of exploring your sexuality in terms of your own history, but rather for the sake of coaching. So you can get some on-going help and encouragement to pursue your own path wherever it may lead you. But neither here nor there is no way to live. Taking bold steps in the direction of discovering the truth about yourself may be hard, but staying in stasis and living a lie are hell.
Good luck!