Homosexual people most often do not know that they are homosexuals right away. Many times, as a person enters their teen years and hormonal changes are occurring, a teen may struggle with the many overpowering sexual feelings they are having. It is at this time that some teens may wonder if they are gay or lesbian. Sometimes, if a teen just has a fleeting sexual thought of someone of the same sex, they will jump to the conclusion that this means they must be homosexual. This is not the case. Having some random thoughts does not make a person homosexual. There are many adults who are straight and will have random thoughts their whole lives. If a person does think that they are homosexual, they should not feel guilty or that they are ‘bad’ in any way. Many people agree with the theory that a person does not choose to be homosexual, they are simply born with this trait. Likewise, it is wise to never treat homosexuals with prejudice. They are just people who are struggling with life’s issues just like everyone else.
I knew something was wrong the minute I sat down across the table from Jenny. She hadn’t touched the onion rings in front of her. Her eyes were red, too.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, almost afraid to know.
She shook her head.
“Jenny?” I coaxed, feeling my heart rate kick up another notch or two, “Tell me. Nothing’s so bad we can’t talk about it.”
She grabbed her glass of beer, took several gulps, and burst out, “I think I’m in love with a man.”
The tension flowed out of my muscles leaving me limp. “Jesus, Jen, you scared the life out of me for that? So what?”
“If I’m in love with a man,” she said, tears filling her eyes again, “then how can I be a lesbian?”
In a world where sexual orientation can make the difference between Golden Boy and Fallen Preacher, between “May I hold the door, Miss?” and “Get out of here, you dyke,” those of us in the sexual minorities tend to cling very closely to our sexual orientations. Being lesbian or gay is our blessing and our curse, our security blanket and the glaring red target on our chests.
We live in a society that pressures boys and girls to declare a sexual orientation practically before they know what sex is.
Bisexuals are mocked as “cowardly gays” or shunned by both the gay and straight communities as people who can’t commit.
Most people acknowledge only two basic sexual orientations–gay and straight. But to borrow a quote from Shakespeare, “There are more things on heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Sexuality is only an either/or reality for a small percentage of people. For the rest of us, it is fluid.
Alfred Kinsey’s famous series of studies in the 1940s and 1950s which concluded that fully ten percent of the population had been or were currently involved in homosexual acts also reached a lesser known conclusion. Sexuality is not a two-category proposition. Rather, it lies on a continuum. At one end of the continuum are people who are completely straight, who couldn’t even begin to entertain thoughts of enjoying same sex relationships. At the other end of the continuum are people who are completely homosexual and couldn’t even begin to entertain thoughts of enjoying opposite sex relationships. Most of us lie somewhere along the continuum.
For instance, I identify as a lesbian. As an adult, all of my meaningful relationships, and not-so-meaningful but equally delightful affairs, have been with women. But if Johnny Depp were single, ready, and willing, I wouldn’t kick him out of my bed.
And although actor Rupert Everett has always identified as gay, his new autobiography, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, details several affairs with women, some of which lasted for years.
Gays have faced so much discrimination in this culture that we have, in a psychological sense, circled our wagons. People who cross over to the other side are seen as traitors. (One radical lesbian actually screamed at my friend Jenny that she had betrayed the women’s community.) Meanwhile straight people have historically shown little tolerance to those with same-sex sympathies, let alone those with same-sex inclinations.
As we move into the 21st century, however, it’s time to rethink our rigid views of sexuality. No woman or man should ever have to sit trembling in a restaurant, fearing their best friend will walk away from them due to the gender of the person they love.
And what happened to Jenny? She and her male suitor dated for several months and had a great time. It ended when he moved to England–Jenny realized she just wasn’t invested enough in the relationship to make such a big move with him. All of Jenny’s partners since that relationship have been female. But that doesn’t mean another Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Now) won’t come knocking at Jenny’s door. And if she lets him in, I’ll support her 100%.