Friday, October 26, 2007


Kind of a fun article over as MSN, a "dating & personals" column about changes in sexual orientation.
We’ve all heard the heartwarming stories—women and men who, after years of oppression, repression, and fear, realize or admit that they are gay and come out of the closet. In a culture that still has more than its fair share of homophobia, this is both a courageous act and a political one, and these men and women are generally not only celebrated but welcomed as a part of the community. They’re “one of us” now.

But what is less celebrated and, generally much less talked about, is the flip side. What happens when you’re gay, out, and happy, and much to your surprise you develop an attraction or feelings for someone of the opposite sex? But I’m gay!

I know somebody like this, a couple of people actually. One young lady I know is a dyed-in-the-wool lesbian who is going out with a guy she likes a lot.

It doesn't seem to bother her any, and I think I understand that. In their group of friends, nobody pays any attention to whether you're gay or straight; they hang around together because they like each other, and it doesn't matter. So though if you asked her she'd tell you she's a lesbian, and she's comfortable with that, she doesn't feel stereotyped as a lesbian. She met a guy; they like each other; they're going out. Now and then a passing lady will catch her eye, whatever, she's in a relationship now. In a society that accepts variety, the need for polarization and stereotyping goes away, if you find yourself attracted to someone you might see about getting involved. They're young, why not?
If you’re gay and find yourself falling for a member of the opposite sex, you might feel shocked and confused. But the truth is that, despite how strongly we may identify one way or the other, sexual orientation and sexual identity are more complex than we often admit. Ellen Schecter, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who conducted a research study on long-time lesbians who partnered with men, says that researchers have found that several of our assumptions about sexuality simply aren’t true. She says, “There is an assumption that sexual questioning is a one-time event that happens either in adolescence or midlife and always terminates with the permanent adoption of a straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity label. That’s not always true.”

I saw a Utah researcher named Lisa Diamond give a talk at the APA convention a year or two ago, about a group of women she has been following for a decade. Every couple of years she searches them out and asks them what their sexual orientation is. It changes a lot. She notes that this is a special group, but it shows that sexual orientation is not so fixed for some people. Most of the research also indicates that this is much more likely for women than it is for men.

Let me point out, as the CRC nuts reach for their keyboards, that this has nothing to do with any "ex-gay" hocus-pocus. This article is about people who spontaneously find they are attracted to someone who ... surprises ... them. They don't get ministered into it, or doctored into it, they don't switch out of guilt, they just meet someone and find them attractive, even though that person is of the unexpected partner-sex.

Actually, speaking of the CRC nuts ... shouldn't it be, like, twice as sinful to have straight sex with a gay person? I'm just asking...
In a culture that has trouble with “gray area,” acknowledging that sexuality can be fluid is often challenging. And this isn’t just true for heterosexuals. Gay-identified folks often have to develop a strong identity partly in response to heterosexual bias. Notes Kimeron Hardin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Loving Ourselves: The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Self-Esteem, “It’s often threatening to the person who has formed a lesbian or gay identity to acknowledge that his or her sexuality is on a continuum. Sometimes as you become more comfortable with who you are, you may explore outside of the rigid internal identity that you set up for yourself. You may become less black and white about the way you think about life in general.”

There's some more there, I linked it, you can read the rest.

Human sexuality is a complex and fascinating topic. Personally, I'm in favor of it. Anybody who says they understand it is lying. There's some biological stuff going on that drives us to ... more than reproduce, to pair off, to become intimate with a particular other person, to seek love, and sexuality is certainly a great part of that. Then there are social norms that establish lines of inheritance, rules that guide marriage and sexual practices. There is the usual social pressure to be like everybody else, and the usual personal needs that drive people to behaviors outside the norm, the usual social preference to be around people who are similar to ourselves, and so on, and these forces make it harder for people to express themselves honestly, or even to think about themselves in certain ways, sometimes.

This little love-advice column should not be taken to say that everybody can switch their orientation, or even that it happens very often -- in fact, this is just a romance column written by a young lady with an English degree from Vassar, who plays the guitar and wrote a musical about Monica Lewinsky. She might have just made the whole thing up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This little love-advice column should not be taken to say that everybody can switch their orientation"

Maybe it should just be taken to say their is no such thing as orientation. It's a preference, it's subject to change. There seems to be some continuum of strength of preference but that may be alterable based on social and religious norms.

And the whole innateness concept is incorrect.

You seem to be open to this possibility.

Can you call up your buddies at MCPS and let them know that something on which the new curriculum speaks with certainty is, in fact, uncertain?

We'd all appreciate your help in this matter.

October 26, 2007 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe some people are innately more flexible about it than others.


October 26, 2007 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is, Merle, everything in connection with this topic is a maybe and the MCPS curriculum asserts a bunch of yes'es and no's.

October 26, 2007 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously there are lots of folks who fit within the middle sections of the Kinsey scale. "Bisexual" is the term used for people who are not only straight or only gay, but somewhere in between.

October 26, 2007 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe, as with most continuums, there are few shoved up against the edge. Maybe no one.

October 26, 2007 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us more, Anon. Are you one of that vast majority in the middle?


October 26, 2007 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It could be that, everyone, absence moral, social and religious standards, has the capacity for any type of desire. Those who support societal norms may not even be aware of this because they would never consider it. This may even be true of social liberals, who intellectually have concluded that there is nothing wrong with any type of sexual activity, but atually have internalized society's standards. This internalization is not biological but of a different nature.

In other words, it's a matter of choice.

October 27, 2007 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon has obviously made his choice, but not all of us are so lucky that we get to choose. Some of us just are gay or straight and are not able to choose to be anything else. Those who are able to choose to who change from one orientation to another are bisexual.

October 27, 2007 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, of the things that "could be," some possibilities "are," and some possibilities "aren't." The possibility that we choose our sexual orientation fell into the "aren't" category.

I'm not sure what a social liberal is, but a rational person would conclude that behavior that expresses love without hurting anyone is morally acceptable.


October 27, 2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Hey, Anon,

No one at the extremes of a continuum? Are you male, or female, or somewhere in between?

October 27, 2007 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
N. anon- don't you have any firends? Can't you go and write at the moribund CRC page or hunt up some FOTF blog to find some buddies? Wouldn't you rather have everyone high fiving you over your silly ideas than wasting your time here?

October 27, 2007 8:25 PM  

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