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Who are you sexually attracted to? What is it about someone that draws you in? What if you lived in a society that told you your sexual preference was unacceptable and you had to, by law, choose the other sex for your relationships? Could you do it simply because it’s what society expects?
Ignorance and fear around the subject of sexual orientation continue to cause great suffering. Important facts and truths have been lost or swept under the rug. When you look back over time, sexuality has gone through many shifts from freedom to restriction and back to freedom. Many religions have been a strong catalyst for putting sex back into the closet — denying its function for more than procreation. Thankfully, reality, curiosity and science are helping to alleviate ignorance and fear by providing education about the enormous value a healthy sex life has in our lives. And we are talking about it.
Sexual orientation is a very personal expression and what is “normal” spans a widening spectrum. During the past decade the study of sexual orientation has been taken more seriously by science and we are learning more daily. Since the dark ages, heterosexuality and homosexuality have been a part of humanity. (Look at art from every era and you will discover many depictions of both variations of sexual expression.) Today, sexual preference can be as open and free spirited as that song, “Love the One You’re With.”
There are more variations of sexual preference than were once thought to be. The span from purely heterosexual to strictly homosexual is vast, with every combination in between. I would venture to say that an increasing percentage of the adult population find themselves somewhere in between, at least at some point in their lives. While it has become more common to slide up and down that sexual continuum like a slide rule, others are quite content hanging out at one end or the other without deviation. Those at the extreme ends usually know this about themselves before the age of five. Every gay person I have spoken with knew they were drawn to the same sex at a very early age; just like those who are strictly hetero had childhood crushes on members of the opposite sex at very early ages as well. Do you remember your first crush? Did that define your sexual orientation? Please write and let me know when you knew if you were gay, straight or otherwise.
Interestingly men and women define homosexuality differently. A woman will describe it as “a person who has intimate love for a person of the same sex.” A man, in contrast, will define a homosexual as “someone who has sex with the men.” Women tend to romanticize rather than sexualize their sexual orientation. This may be how so many women can go back and forth from intimate male to female relationships — it’s more about the romantic intimacy than purely sexual. It has become more commonplace for women to marry, raise their families and then end their marriage and find love with a woman. In the African-American culture, many men who are married with children and have sex with men still do not consider themselves gay, they simply enjoy having sex with men. This is referred to as being on the “down low.” Being “gay” is still considered by many black men to be a predominately white male perversion.
Our society is growing and learning to embrace all people — regardless of age, sex, color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or number of piercings. For those who still struggle with this “acceptance” concept toward sexual orientation, here is a tad bit of recent scientific data from Dr. Louann Brizendine’s work.
It has been shown that we secrete pheromones (sexual attractants), and about the time of puberty a boy’s ability to smell another boy’s pheromones turns off … most of the time. However, it has been discovered that in gay males, the ability to detect these pheromones has not shut off and continues to work quite well, creating the sexual attraction. Great strides are being made toward a deeper understanding of how sexual preference may be primarily hormonal and not a learned behavior. More research is being done on this and you can learn more from the books “The Male Brain” and “The Female Brain,” by Dr. Louann Brizendine.
For couples who are interested in testing the sexual orientation waters, swinging (where a couple experiences consensual, non-monogamous sex with other couples while maintaining emotional monogamy) is on the rise. This wasn’t just a passing fancy in the 70s. Healthy, and often happy, married couples who seek sexual exploration are flocking to private clubs as well as creating swingers groups who travel or cruise together in large numbers. By removing the secrecy and dishonesty inherent in one’s natural desires for sexual variety, the couple can explore their fantasies together without deceit or guilt. Some might find this offensive and inconceivable … But I wonder, with the average divorce rate of over 50%, and many divorces the result of a sexual indiscretion, if those who choose to open their relationships might have a higher success rate? (See “The Case of Swingers” National Survey 2000.) It does appear in this survey that couples who choose to swing rate their life happiness much higher than their non-swinging married counterparts. Different strokes for different folks.
Living in California my entire life has sheltered me from the big world on this topic (I was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area). Even though my parents were very old fashioned, I was raised in an era of freedom of choice, free love, free expression and I grew up with that attitude. In my travels to other parts of the world, I have been surprised by how afraid many cultures still are regarding sexual differences. There is still a lot of ignorance and judgment, which lends itself to sad and devastating consequences. In my column “Perversion or Preference,” I discuss what happens when we become aware of something different or unfamiliar. How we become afraid and often find ourselves being judgmental. We try to change the other person (fix them) instead of reevaluating our own beliefs and perceptions. If I’m afraid and uncomfortable with your behavior, is it my problem or yours? (Especially if you are not harming me in any way.)
As we all create our designer lives and designer relationships we need to make sure we are living our own authentic life first and foremost. If we can put down our biases, fears and judgments long enough to realize we all have the right to be our own version of sexual — whether it is homo, hetero, bi, tri (try anything) or asexual — it’s our choice and our right to find our own way. I do not have the right to judge you nor do you have the right to judge me. Sexual preference is NOT CONTAGIOUS. It can’t rub off on you if you are around someone who is of a different preference that yourself. You cannot turn someone “gay” or “straight.”
We are what we are. My feeling is, take a risk and just EXPRESS YOURSELF!
“Sex is like air; it’s not important unless you aren’t getting any.” Author Unknown
Nancy Sutton Pierce RN, Health Educator is the Founding director of Nancy Sutton’s House of Yoga and Radio Talk Show Host on The Conscious Living Show LIVE every Saturday 11a-12noon on KCNR 1460am You can reach Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comment or questions.
As You Desire is proudly sponsored by Body Logic MD; helping both men and women restore their libido and vitality through hormone therapy, fitness and nutrition counseling. www.bodylogicmd.com
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