A friend recently confided in that despite being straight, and happily married with a new child and another on the way, he had been having recurrent dreams about a gay man he used to know, that they were lovers and decorating a house together. A very successful business man who explained he is not homophobic in any way, this dream still made him feel incredibly uncomfortable. Did this dream indicate that secretly, deep down, he really was gay?
While this may be true in some cases, we would do well to remember that in most cases, our dreams are not literal but symbolic, and the person is on our dream is very often a reflection of our own selves (see my post on “people.”) So why doesn’t this doesn’t mean you are likely to be gay? Or if you are gay, and dream of love with a straight person, or a person of the opposite gender, that you are straight?
I asked my friend to describe the attributes this person had. He used words like “friendly,” “warm,” “affectionate,” and “kind.” When I then asked him our his perceptions of himself had changed recently, he replied “what, since I became a father?” This reply came unprompted, but it gives valuable insight.
Gay or straight dreams ask to question our previously held view on gender roles – what it means to be a man or woman. My friend had previously defined himself as being a man through his successful business, his intellect, and even his relationship with his wife. But becoming a father was causing a deep and significant change in his perception of what it means to be a good and successful “man.” Now instead of seeing himself as strong, driven, intellectual and great with technology, he was learning to value the “softer” sides of his personality that his new child was brining out him – qualities of caring, gentleness and affection. He was also becoming more interested in humanities whereas previously he had been very focussed on technical details and business. The dream of having a gay partner for this man was a way for his subconscious to explore these new traits and help integrate them into his personality. Interestingly, this dream was also in no way about sex, in his dream the two were decorating their home together, again relating back to his new found focus on family, home and his own inner world, rather than the traditionally “masculine” areas he had previously focussed his life on of business and technology.
To dream of another person in our dream can give us great insight into our own personality. To dream of a person of the opposite gender preference to what is usual for us should lead us to question how we are learning new ways to understand what it means to be a man or woman, and to open our eyes that the roles we play are perhaps not as opposite as they sometimes seem. And maybe it can even help us to understand people who are different from us a little better, too.