Looking back now, I realize I have been attracted to boys/men since I was a little kid. I didn't really think about it though for a while. I would say that I liked girls/women and I really believed it. Even today, there are plenty of women that I find to be very beautiful. I recognize that beauty, but that recognition isn't attraction. That lesson was very hard for me to learn.
By the time I was 15 or so, I would find myself thinking about guys when I was alone, or even dreaming about them at night. This was very confusing for me. I was taught that being gay was a sinful decision people make and I had not made the decision. I would tell myself that I wasn't attracted to these guys, rather I was just jealous of their good looks. That explanation was pretty good for a number of years and was reinforced by my own low self-esteem. But I was still scared by this jealousy and I would often pray to god and make all kinds of deals with him to make this "jealousy" go away. Of course this never happened.
At some point, I admitted to myself that I was attracted to guys, but I was also attracted to the girls that I found to be beautiful. I felt that must mean that I was bisexual, so I could just ignore guys and focus on girls and be a good Jew. I was able to go on like that for a a little bit. In public I liked girls, in private if I thought of guys it wasn't so bad. I continued to ask god to make that attraction go away, but I thought I could handle it.
I realized I could not handle it when attraction became emotion. I understand from talking to lots of gay guys and through some research that it is very common for guys that stay in the closet to develop crushes or fall in love with a heterosexual friend. This happened to me and it really hit me like a slap in the face. YOU LIKE MEN AND YOU CANNOT DENY IT, RUN FROM IT, OR EXPLAIN IT AWAY! This was a really difficult time for me for a couple of reasons.
First, I could no longer ignore the side of me that liked guys. For the first time ever, it wasn't in my head, or alone in my room. This was a friend of mine. We have mutual friends. He was part of my public life! I cannot find the words to describe how terrifying this was for me. And if you have not gone through a similar experience, I do not believe that you can fully understand it. Secondly. the feelings I had were torturous. I had feelings that i didn't understand or want to admit. Even if I could get passed that, these feelings could never be returned by a straight guy. Further, I was terrified of losing my friend over this.
To this day, I do not know if this friend knows that I once had feelings for him. I believe he does but I really don't know. It doesn't really matter because I am long passed that point in my life. I have moved on and and this person and I are still good friends. For that I am very thankful. I have heard similar stories were the friendship was destroyed in the process and that is always very sad.
That was a very dark, very sad and very confusing point in my life. I am glad it is over.