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    Authenticity: How to Be Real

    By Scott Tsui–

    A gay man named Joe recently told me how his relationship ended. His ex, Pete, caught him telling too many lies. Joe’s lies were so plentiful that he couldn’t distinguish between lies or the truth anymore. Joe asked Pete if he wanted to give it one last try. Pete told him it was over, despite the fact that he was still in love with Joe. The lies cost both Joe and Pete the love of their lives seven years ago, and Joe still regrets not having told the truth.

    Many in the gay community have a problem being authentic, in the sense of being real, genuine, true and accurate. Why is it that so many are unable to be truthful?

    Gay people experience the “coming out process.” We knew that we were gay before we told others. For me, the revelation came at an early age; for others it could be different. We had to process what was being realized and to figure out how to tell others. We believed or knew that if we revealed our true self, people could react negatively, even with the people closest to us: our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and perhaps even our siblings and close friends.

    We hid from them because we feared repercussions. Our fear began when we realized our true identity and so many of us hid it. We worried about people discovering our secret, believing that we might lose the love and respect of those important to us, or that we could even suffer emotionally and physically.

    For these reasons, some of us learned to protect ourselves by lying about our real feelings for other men as being just a passing phase. This is especially true for the older generation. Many got married and lived a life in which they had to hide their desire to be with another man. Even not everyone in the younger generations is fortunate to have open and supportive parents or guardians, and therefore they may feel the need to hide their emotions and true feelings for the same sex.

    So, what happens when we are not being authentic to ourselves, potential dates, boyfriends or a partner? What price do we pay?  What is the real cost of sustaining a life that is, in fact, built on a lie?

    We already know that relationships are sustained by trust, whether they are friendships or of a more intimate nature. Had we lied about our age on an online profile or even eventually confessed to a boyfriend or partner, what would the impact be? The initial reaction from a boyfriend or partner would probably be, “What else have you lied to me about?” or, “Are you going to lie to me again?” Trust is easily lost and very hard to win back.

    What else do gay men do that indicates that they may not be authentic? They may play games, pretend to be someone they’re not, be deceitful, fail to acknowledge someone whom they know socially by pretending not to recognize them, hide true feelings or opt not to open up to a partner.

    A real relationship is about accepting one another for who they truly are, flaws and all. An unwillingness or incapacity to be authentic will eventually take its toll on relationships or friendships. Even under the disguise of someone outwardly being outgoing there could still be a lack of self-confidence.

    5 Ways of Being Authentic with Yourself

    • Accept your true self and treat others with respect.
    • Remain consistent to your core values. Match words with your behavior.
    • Embrace your true identity: accept who you are and be proud. Internalized homophobia and saying, “I’m gay,” can be difficult. Acknowledge it, find a way to heal and enable yourself to move forward.
    • Because of the stress and internal battles, addictions and compulsiveness may result. Take courage and admit you need help.
    • Be honest about your HIV status.

    4 Traps of Not Being Authentic with Others

    1. Recognize habitual deceit. This includes age, HIV or STD/STI status.
    2. Recognize story telling. Whether it’s an outright lie or exaggeration, pretending or falsifying creates living a lie and distortion of reality.
    3. There may be an incapacity to express inner emotions due to traumatic past experiences. This could be based around a lack of trust and/or an inability to verbalize true feelings, which can evolve into frustration or retreating within one’s self.
    4. Another trap is the inability to build intimacy, such as having fear of being seen as imperfect or getting emotionally hurt.

    To get real, abandon all repressive ideas about your sexuality. Focus on the person you desire to be. You may be challenged by self-doubt, shame and perfectionism, and get caught up in societal and family expectations concerning what you are “supposed to be.” It may be hard to connect to your true inner self, but you deserve to feel pride and fulfillment. Not being authentic suppresses and eventually kills true identity and who you really are. There is no option then but to be your true self, in all of your glory and authenticity.

    Some people are just thoughtless and lie to get what they want. Beware of these people; they are clearly not for you. But it’s sad when there are lovely people out there who, through lack of confidence, courage or support, start off by lying, which then becomes their armor to protect themselves and so begins their journey of deceit. Some of the self-deceivers have genuine motives to lie to themselves, to others and to the world. They will eventually be caught in their own web of deceit, frustratingly unable to separate the truth from the lies and the reality from the façade.

    Scott Tsui is the Relationship Results Coach, author of “Lonely No More – 8 Steps to Find Your Gay Husband” and the creator of the world’s first online gay relationship training: Gay Men Relationship Blueprint. Tsui works to help gay men find, attract and sustain meaningful relationships. For more information: http://scotttsui.com/