This is the second blog post in an insightful and inspirational four-part series documenting Ben's journey to understanding, accepting and embracing his sexuality.
I challenge any homophobe to actually find any intellectual, scientifically-supported, justified reason why society has the right to condemn or persecute those who are gay.
How do you know if you're gay?
If we're talking stereotypically, then all the signs I was gay were there; my supposedly 'camp' behaviour, preference for performing over playing sports and my tendency to gravitate towards friendships with females.
Many of the greatest people on this planet -Business Chief Executives, Teachers, Doctors, Surgeons and Sports Stars - just so happen to be gay
Yet these are nothing more than stereotypes - these were simply behaviours and ways of walking and talking that I had...something you physically do cannot determine an internal sexual orientation. Being camp does not mean that you are gay any more than being extremely masculine does not mean you are straight, as prominent rugby players who have recently 'come out' so clearly demonstrate.
The more I was mocked for being 'camp' or struggling to act more masculine, the more embarrassed and upset I would become about being labelled 'gay'. The word would haunt me; it would be my absolute worst nightmare. I would live in fear of it and anyone who might have - either to my face or behind my back - used the word to describe me.
No word in the world could have made me hate, despise and detest myself more, and this bullying and name-calling instilled in my thought-processes that there could be nothing worse than being 'gay'. I hated the fact that people thought I was 'gay' (whatever the word meant to them) and tried to avoid all thought of sexuality from coming to my mind.
My sexuality is unchangeable, it is integral to the personality which I was born with and I do think it is normal within a diverse, large and genetically varied human race.
Yet if I was to finally tackle the issue of my sexuality - and then find freedom and happiness as a result - I knew I simply had to tackle the issue head on, and this meant first of all confronting my fear of the word 'gay' once and for all.
So I decided to embark on a deep period of introspection and soul-searching, investing a great deal of time in making it clear to myself that homosexuality is perfectly natural and that being 'gay' is something about who you love and want to spend your life in a relationship with.
If a 'God' does exist, then surely you would say it must be God who has lovingly and purposefully made people gay, and so surely homosexuality is part of God's plan?
I made it clear to myself that actually being gay was nothing to do with the rejection and bullying I had received for 'acting gay' - I'd never publicly said I "liked boys" or anything of the sort - but that the name-calling was instead about societal stereotypes and ignorant children being rude about how I walked and talked.
I then shifted my focus to why you shouldn't be ashamed to actually BE homosexual - being gay causes no one else any harm whatsoever, it is natural, normal and most certainly does not stop you from doing the same things as any other person on this planet. Many of the greatest people on this planet -Business Chief Executives, Teachers, Doctors, Surgeons and Sports Stars - just so happen to be gay.
I challenge any homophobe to actually find any intellectual, scientifically-supported, justified reason why society has the right to condemn or persecute those who are gay. If someone is in a happy, loving, positive relationship, especially if they are then pro-actively making a positive difference in society through their work and education, who is anyone else to judge?
Homosexuality is something natural and normal, not something to be repulsed by or ashamed of
I understand that many people in our world will not be able to comprehend or accept what I am saying. I would ask you to consider that 'love' and 'attraction' is not about what anatomy and body parts that you both have but about two people wanting to flirt, share their lives and have romantic encounters together? I would ask you to think about why there's such a big issue that it is men I find attractive, desirable and the gender I think I want to spend my life in committed, deep and meaningful relationships with.
To say I was gay would be about feeling empowered and opening myself up to relationships and feeling authentic in my everyday life.
I do not know why it is topless men who replace topless women in my dreams - we could speculate about my childhood, we could speculate about what characteristics I've picked up from different parents or whatever. But I really think this makes no difference. I feel my sexuality is unchangeable, it is integral to the personality which I was born with and I do think it is normal within a diverse, large and genetically varied human race.
I started to see the negative power the word 'gay' had over me diminish, and began to feel ready to start thinking about my sexual identity in a really open, honest, reflective way.
Being able to see that homosexuality is something natural and normal, not something to be repulsed by or ashamed of, has allowed me to realise that those who had been rude and mocked me for how I walked and talked had no right to be treating me in that way and allowed me to feel much more accepting of the idea that I could be gay. I began to see that I wouldn't be 'confessing' to being gay like it was some sort of crime, but that to accept I am gay would be about feeling empowered and opening myself up to relationships and feeling authentic in my everyday life.
I started to see the negative power the word 'gay' had over me diminish, and began to feel ready to start thinking about my sexual identity in a really open, honest, reflective way. I found myself realising that I had buried my head in the sand, put on an act and lived a lie my whole life out of fear of further bullying, rejection, and abuse.
As someone who believes in the need to 'Seize the Day' and make the most of our time on earth, I knew I needed to take action. I knew I needed to leave behind my irrational fixation on my fears and finally find freedom.
Coming Up In Part Three: There are 3 Gay Children In Every School Class, and they Deserve YOUR acceptance.
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