This post is inspired by several recent interaction with Luc at Infernal Deity of a Psychotic Mind. It is about sexual orientations, preferences and prejudices. It is about living with ourselves and expressing ourselves in a world that may not always accept us; and it is about strategies to deal with that.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I am bisexual and that I am in a lesbian relationship with another woman. Very regular readers might even know a good deal more about my sexual tastes. The question is; are these labels enough to define us as people or reason enough for people to accept or reject us?
It could be argued that gay people have many more rights and are accepted in western society far more now than in the past. Gay people can marry in many states and countries. There are well known gay people in all sectors of society from politics to entertainment. Being gay isn’t shocking any more, is it? It’s “almost” normal, isn’t it?
But who decides what is normal?
The fact is that for all the undoubted progress that has been made; even in the most liberal parts of Europe and America the mere fact of being homosexual makes a person stand out; and such people are still subjected to all kinds of prejudice and abuse. I know gay men who have been physically attacked on the street just because they were holding hands with another man or even just for “looking” gay. There is still a long way to go…
But if gay men and lesbians have won a certain amount of social acceptance can the same be said for trans-gender or transsexual individuals? What about bisexuals like myself? What about asexual or non sexual people?
Without going on too long, my view quite simply is that western society still has far too many prejudices, hang ups and limitations on the way people can express their sexual identity. And in other parts of the world attitudes to sexuality are often even more draconian. So there is still a lot of work to do.
Should we be marching? Protesting? Is there a place for violence in the continuing struggle to be accepted as ourselves?
And who is the enemy anyway? Should we be at war with those straight laced heterosexuals who never have to face any sort of sexual prejudice?
Of course the previous sentence is ridiculous. The idea that heterosexuals never experience sexual harassment, bigotry, prejudice or discrimination is completely false. Heterosexuals are probably the majority but within their ranks every kind of abuse and restriction also occurs. Some are not allowed to have sex outside of marriage whatever their true wishes. Some are not allowed to dress in a way which their communities find sexually distracting or immodest. Some are called slags, bitches and prostitutes because they have sex at all or because they enjoy sex. Some have their genitals mutilated. Some are murdered for being the wrong gender. And again, even in the most liberated corners of society there are many heterosexuals who feel unable to be open about their true sexual tastes and desires.
Some people may be thinking “Oh this silly woman has got all her ideas about sex, sexuality and gender mixed and muddled up!” But actually that is the whole point of what I am saying. The truth is we all have an absolutely unique sexual make-up. We all have very different, tastes, needs and desires. Why can’t we just accept that?
The only obvious hostility I have encountered due to my sexuality came from lesbians. My first serious relationship with another woman floundered and died largely because of the pressure her lesbian friends put on her to leave me because I was either in denial about my lesbianism or I was just a sex maniac who was playing with her emotions. If we are in a minority group in terms of our sexuality it is tempting to think all the hostility comes from outside; from those in the comfortable majority. The truth is we can be just as intolerant and prejudiced as any other people.
And to repeat the bigger truth; all people are sexually unique. We are all in a minority of one. Some people fear this notion. I find it interesting; beautiful sometimes even.
The question we should all be asking ourselves and perhaps uniting behind is this;- “Who or what makes our unique sexuality into a moral issue? Why is the fact that John prefers sleeping with men more of a moral issue than the fact that John prefers pork to beef? Why is the fact that Dave likes having sex with women more morally justified than the fact that he prefers meat to vegetables? Why does the fact that Jane is intimate with Janet cause more moral outrage than the fact that Jane prefers rice to potatoes? Why do people question the morality of Steve and Sue because they like to tie each other up but not question their morality about having a taste for Jack Daniels? Who decides that the fact that I am equally attracted to men and women is more morally questionable than the fact that I like the colours red, blue and green equally much?
I have said before, I look forward to a time when a person’s sexuality and preferences are just items of interest and no more controversial than their tastes in food, art or music; or indeed the colour of their eyes. In order to get to that point however I think all those of us who enjoy an adult sex life in whatever shape or form (and indeed those of us who prefer not to have sex at all) need to work together to confront the various organs of social control that discriminate against or restrict US ALL.
As long as we are fighting ourselves and each other, there won’t be much more progress. We need instead to confront the outdated but powerful instruments of social control that try to dictate how we should live our lives. We need to be brave and live or lives as fully as possible despite the consequences that might follow. And we need to be supportive of each other wherever we or they are in the sexual spectrum.