Thanks for your question.
Being gay seems to be an important and common question on the minds of most young men. Indeed, young men often have a need or urge to stimulate themselves sexually whether by masturbation (self-stimulation) or sex with another person. Testosterone (a naturally occurring sex hormone produced by male testicles) is an important hormone that is responsible for growth, development and sexual function; it is one of the factors that strongly contribute to the need for males to masturbate.
It is quite common for guys to experiment with certain things in college or when they are younger because they are in a period of sexual development and in a period of orientation identification and confirmation. This is a period that starts in pre-adolescence around age 11 and ends around age 25. During this period, some young men do things together, for example compare genitalia, erections and masturbate with other young men, and this doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than curiosity and/or sexual stimulation. It is a phase most young men go through during adolescence and has no effect on sexual orientation.
Most teenage boys and young men use personal masturbation in private, while others share their experiences with same-sex friends. For example, this could include masturbating with no contact as was mentioned in your question, or it could go as far as being full sexual experimentation. Sexual orientation is complex and depends on many elements such as sexual fantasies, sexual attraction, sexual behavior, emotional preference, self-identification Sexual orientation may also be determined partially by biological factors -e.g. genes, though scientific proof remains inconclusive up to now.
It’s up to you to determine your core sexual feelings, your desires and your needs. The following questions may help you in identifying your sexual orientation. These questions are only but a few of the many ways to help you in the process of identification. Are you fantasizing about your roommate or other men? When you think about or see your roommate do you feel something for him beyond friendship (an emotional or sexual desire)? When you see your roommate masturbating is it turning you on? Have you ever felt or would you like to touch and/or have sex with your roommate or another male?
There is a great misconception about choice out there; the only choice you have is whether or not to accept your sexual orientation or sexual preferences. You have the choice of living or not living as your true self.
Good luck, and please let us know if you have any other questions,
JP, for Projet 10, www.p10.qc.ca