I’m just your average gay, close-to-retirement psychiatrist, living with my hus-band on a farm in rural Iowa
declares Loren A. Olson in his introduction.
Average … he’s not. Not only did Olson complete medical school, serve fouryears as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Navy, and embark upon a successfulcareer as a psychiatrist; he also had a compatible eighteen year marriageand raised two daughters with his attorney wife, Lynn, before facing up to adifficult truth about himself: he
.There are approximately
7 million adult gay and bisexual men
in the UnitedStates. Although there are still hurdles to overcome regarding gay tolerance,for many young men today their sexual orientation is an accepted part oftheir identity. But in decades past, when Olson was growing up in the Mid-west in the 1950’s, it was a “sin” to be homosexual. The most dreadednames a boy could be called were “sissy,” “fairy,” and “queer.”Olson had a vague awareness that he was different from other boys. As hematured he attributed his sexual ambivalence to his dad’s death when hewas three; he was confused about his manhood, he reasoned, because helacked a male role model. Then came medical school, the navy, his psychiat-ric residency, marriage and raising a family. While meaningful and satisfy-ing life choices, they served to protect him from his intensifying feelings ofattraction towards men. If on occasion Olson questioned whether he might bebisexual, he pushed the thought from his consciousness. He was a“heterosexual, with a little quirk” he decided.But at 40, after decades of inner conflict, Olson was drawn to an affair witha married man. Although short-lived, it was the defining moment. Not longafter the relationship ended, he made a heart wrenching decision: he soughta divorce and began the complicated journey of “coming out” – to his wife,kids, mother, colleagues and friends. Facing down fears that the news wouldshatter his family and ruin his career, a lifetime of struggle began to resolveitself. Olson summoned the integrity to figure out who he really was andwhat it would mean to live as that person.With professional insight Olson examines his personal transformation from a“straight” man living in a heterosexual world to a gay man beginning hiseducation anew. He punctuates his story with revealing statistics from his in-terviews with gay men around the world and established studies on homo-sexuality, and with surprising historical facts that provide perspective onglobal cultural norms.Part personal memoirand part psychological treatise, “Finally Out” offers arigorous look at why some gay men live straight lives and never come toterms with their true sexual orientation; why some men believe they are “toostraight to be gay” even while engaging in secret sex with other men – andthe challenges faced by those who choose to “come out” after living half alifetime or more closeted.
Contact: Leslie Wolfe Arista
Loren A. Olson
is a psychiatrist inprivate practice in Des Moines
Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight
inGroup Press/March 2011Paperback, 280 pagesISBN: 978-1-935-72503-9
Who’s the Audience?
Men struggling with their sex-ual identity or who have justcome out
Those who love them & areimpacted by it: parents, sib-lings, wives, children, friendsand colleagues
People who enjoy memoir
Psychology, sociology & his-tory buffs
Mental health practitioners
Educators, counselors & clergy