This is the first of what I’m hoping to have as a series of posts on sexual behavior, primarily in humans. I’m not a physician or a psychologist, but I’ve read a fair amount of Wikipedia and that seems to at least qualify me to have an opinion on the Internet, however poorly-formed. I’m not looking to really bash anyone, but I know these topics can be uncomfortable for some people, so please, if you’re offended by any of this, just don’t read it: proselytizing won’t find any souls to be saved here; I’m quite fine the way I am and I think any deity that made me would be too. However, if you find yourself disagreeing because you think I’ve put together conclusions from erroneous facts or just write like a monkey bashing at a keyboard (I’m always looking to improve), please don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments.
I’m often interested by what people describe as features that attract them to sexual partners. It may be that I simply don’t have a hard and fast set of rules dictating what attracts me to someone else. There are some general guidelines, but I wouldn’t say I have a “type.”
Some of you who read this blog know I have a predilection for black men (not just african-americans, as it turns out). It’s alternately a joke or a really big joke amongst my friends, and it’s also, as time goes on, more and more incorrect. It’s not to say that I don’t still find myself attracted to them more often than to other people, but it’s no longer the case that I’m solely attracted to them.
Sexual preference is an evolving thing. Alfred Kinsey discovered in his studies that most, if not all people, experience a modification of their sexual preferences throughout their lives. While his dealt mostly with the gender of preferred mates, I tend to think there are so many more dynamics to sexual preference than simple gender (I’m sure Kinsey did as well and is probably just suffering a rather vicious bullet-pointing of his ideas on my end).
As a matter of fact, simple gender lines no longer really adequately describe people. There are men who enjoy dressing up like women, for any number of reasons: they feel like women on the inside, they want to become women, it simply is a way they enjoy sex, or just because they think it’s really funny. There are women and men who find each of these things to be appealing in their own right. At one point I rode the bus next to a man dressed as a woman, clearly on a date with a woman dressed as a man, and both seemed very happy with that. The fact that these people even found each other in the world is pretty amazing.
It’s become kind of a joke in the gay community that any “Queer Alliance”-type organization will try to account for all of these things in its name, its mission statement, or all of its speeches. I find myself loathing that aspect of organizations. Sure, we all want to be recognized as special in our own way, but after a certain point, when the lines become so blurred, doesn’t it become a hindrance to try and separate the ingredients back out? I identify as a gay man, but it wouldn’t be totally out of the realm of possibility for me to have sex with a woman. I don’t consider that a betrayal of who I define myself as, or a watering-down of what I feel. It’s simply an extension of the fact that, like my racial preference, I simply don’t feel the need to constrain my attractions to fit a label.
It’s sort of blowback to the whole idea of being gay in the first place. Gay people have fought to have their right to define their sexuality as “other” than heterosexuals for some time now, but it just wound up making a new pigeonhole. Now, you’re gay, straight, or bisexual. But what if you’re a woman or a man who’s attracted pretty much only to hermaphrodites? What if you are a voyeur who enjoys watching straight pornography but can only really achieve any active sexual pleasure with a member of your own gender? What if you’re a guy who has an operation to become a woman and then decides you’re still attracted to women (with thanks to South Park for that last one)? These things may deserve their own definition and name, but the more you think about it, the more you realize that you just can’t do it, any more than you can give a name to all the grains of sand on a beach.
So, once again, we are presented with a problem of nomenclature. The world of the last 20 years has had so many new ideas, that they have outpaced our languages’ abilities to keep up. Is it really right to even try to force categorization on people? Is it right to deny them that categorization if they want it? I identify as gay, more or less, but what about that couple on the bus? The nature of their relationship flows in the same river of humanity as mine but I’d be loathe to try creating a name for it. So, am I being prejudiced against them for denying them a place in the world with a name, or am I just being common-sense? Would I be comfortable with being labeled against my will, or with having a label I’m comfortable with ripped away? The murky and irresolute answers to these questions mirror the nature of the world in which they find themselves.