Turning Sexual Preference into Sexual Identity
(I wrote this on December 2, 2003)
I realized yesterday that at age 19 I turned what we call sexual preference into my sexual identity ... I changed from thinking "I prefer having sex with this particular man whom I love" to "I am gay." I adopted a new identity, stopped dating women, came out to everybody, and began searching particularly for gay friends and gay lovers. Before I assumed a gay identity I experienced sexual attractions to both males and females, but my deepest feelings of love attached themselves to a couple of guys I knew during high school. I decided that, in general, I was more attracted to men than to women. I decided that I was attracted to x% of women, and y% of men, and that y > x, so therefore I must be gay. More often attracted to men, more intensely attracted to men. But ... that doesn't mean I'm never attracted to women.
I consciously chose to repress (or continue repressing?) part of my sexuality so I could adopt a simplified gay identity.
And, I've known this all along, without acknowledging it so openly. When people get into arguments about homosexuality being a choice, I sometimes tell people that I chose to be gay, and that I don't think it should matter whether we choose to be gay. When people have asked me if I would take a pill to magically become straight, I've said no.
There are reasons I'm generally more attracted to males ... but these reasons depend on cultural stereotypes, my own personality, my own perceived needs, my experiences, my areas of inexperience. Hell, it might even relate to how I got along with each of my parents. But understanding why I'm more attracted to men doesn't make these attractions wrong. I believe that any arrangement between consenting adults of any gender, of any number, are OK for those involved.
Then I thought about how the ideal of monogamy leads people to make arbitrary and categorical decisions about which kind of person they want to pursue.
If I can have only one mate, for life, then I'm gonna think about mating in ways that will maximize my lifelong happiness by maximizing my chances of being attracted to the type of person I pursue as a potential mate. I'll want somebody of my preferred gender, somebody near my age so we can grow old together, somebody "disease-free", somebody extraordinarily sexually compatible, somebody whose basic belief system matches my own — which often means somebody who looks, talks, dresses, and acts a lot like myself (which is often crudely translated into racial stereotyping).
But if we cast aside the ideal of lifelong monogamy, then we can explore a variety of different attractions and relationships without worrying that we are wasting time, failing, or leading people on.
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