Gender Orientation: The Explanations and Recriminations
We have recently learnt that it is possible for someone to murder another or even commit suicide, for no other reason other than to avoid the risk of being outed. Sexuality has become such a controversial issue that we are willing to go to extremes in order to retain control over not only our sexuality but also how it is perceived in public. From that scenario I pose an important question: what happens when people change their sexuality? The stakeholders in such a situation go beyond the individual themselves. They could be in a relationship with children who will want some answers.
It has been a very long struggle to convince society in general that human sexuality is innate. There has been a very strong contingent of the religious right which insists that we learn to be homosexuals or otherwise. Therefore; any gay person is necessarily a sign of poor socialization. Others go as far as arguing that people within the LGBTIQ category are innately bad. They are somehow disordered. They therefore must either be treated; or failing that be discarded and excluded from the rest of the society, lest they contaminate it with their deviant sexuality.
At times it seems that the deviancy advocates are not even too sure about their arguments. Sometimes they emphasize nature and at other times they think that nurture is the cause. The one thing that unifies them is the belief that non-heterosexual people are somewhat bad or faulty. The consequences of that thinking can be dire if someone dares to change their sexuality midway during their life. The resultant trauma is exacerbated by the notion that they have somehow been betraying their own kind and lying to them.
We are the Ones that Make People Deceitful
In an ideal world, everyone would be happy to share and enjoy their sexuality. After all; save for the rapists and criminals, the exerciseof sexuality is a consensual matter. In actuality, we have many moralists who argue that they have a right to determine and define the boundaries of our sexuality. We are used to those ones who state outright that we have no business being gay. Even more disturbing are the incidents of those within the LGBTIQ family that insists on a lifelong sexuality that does not change. Bisexual people have found it so difficult to find a space within the sexuality minority communities precisely because people do not believe them. We insist that you are supposed to adopt one streamlined sexuality and stay with it for the rest of your life.
Even those amongst us who claim to be super tolerant end up falling into this trap. They insist that there can only be one sexuality and that they are the best arbitrators of that sexuality in any case. That can lead to some issues when we consider the fact that this is a very private matter, of which we actually know very little. Science, the widely acknowledged yardstick of all that is logical and correct, is still searching for the answers to sexuality. Unlike other animals, we can engage in recreational sex for no other reason than to have pleasure. That is why there are condoms and contraceptives.
The savage and primitive animals that we are so proud to be different from; have shown a complex sexuality spectrum that defies the rigid male-female dichotomy which currently underpins orthodox thinking. When we will be humble enough to acknowledge our proven ignorance about the sex lives of others? It is so annoying for someone that has never even had sex, counselling others on how and when they should have sex. Some go as far as supporting legislation that attempts to control the sexuality of others.
Sexuality is a Journey, not an Incident
At the risk of sounding corny, I would argue that we should start looking at human sexuality from an eclectic point of view. This is a very complex and multi-faceted aspect of our life that defies any rigid definitions. Just because someone is wholly straight in their teens does not mean that they will be wholly straight for the entirety of their life. Likewise; the fact that someone has come out as being gay does not mean that they are entirely gay or that they will be entirely gay throughout their lives. We need to reach a point at which we understand situational homosexuality and personalized attraction.
Not all gay people are attracted all people of the same sex. It is likewise absurd to assume that all straight people are attracted to all people of the opposite sex. The truth is that we get turned on people, incidents, atmospheres, environments, scents etc. Gender orientation can happen at any point in our life and they do not necessarily have a fixed pattern. If we insist that you must stick to your original pattern; then we are going back to the dark times of prescribed sexuality. Saying that someone has a type should not mean that we disapprovingly raise our eyebrows when they opt to change their diet.
This reminds me of that oft-repeated insult that “once you go black…” The assumption is that once you have tasted a lover from a minority then you are unlikely to go back to the Caucasian race; not just because of the enjoyment you have had but also because the white race will no longer be willing to accept you. It is one of the most insidious forms of racism and bigotry, but its underlying schemas are instructive to those of use within the LGBTIQ community who fail to understand that sexuality changes.
What Responsibilities Do You Have?
I will go out on a limb on this one by straight away arguing that your children have no business inquiring into our sexuality. That is your private life and they should (frankly speaking) mind their own business. Just like they do not tell you about the times they feel like having sex, they should not expect that you will give them a blow by blow account of your sex life. For them to ask or even assume is disrespectful and breaks the boundaries that must exist between human beings regardless of how close they may seem to be. LGBTIQ people sometimes get caught up in the whole quagmire of coming out to their children, if only to please society.
I am of the view that you need to keep your sexuality a private thing unless you want to share. The exception that I find acceptable is someone with whom you are in an intimate and fairly long term relationship. It would be somewhat strange if your husband was straight one day then became gay the next before returning to straight again. Even if you are going through a cycle of mixed sexualities, you ought to be honest with your partner so that they are at least prepared for the psychological challenges that are involved. Being secretive is understandable since we live in a largely homophobic world. However, you should be honest with your partner even if your instinct is to hide.
At the very least, you are saving them from heartache. I have spoken to many women and men whose lives have been devastated when the love of their life turned out to be gay. It is a serious attack on the ego which can take a lot of time to heal. We all want to feel as if we are loved for who we are and that the people that are in intimate relationships with us are honest with us. Even when they are promiscuous, we ought to know so that we can decide whether we are prepared for those quirks of their personality. Secretiveness on their part makes us feel as if we are being used for relationships of convenience.
Gender Orientation, Understanding Your Sexuality Fully
Gender orientation shows us that starting the journey of human sexuality is not easy. You first have to understand who you are. What are your tastes, preferences and dislikes? Are they consistent or fluid depending on the situation? What do you want to do about them? Who has a moral and legal right to know about them? The answers to these questions might guide you on what needs to be done. There are people who are so concerned about the implications of their sexuality that they end up not having sex at all. It becomes easier to just suppress that part of their life or alternatively immense themselves in their chosen profession to the exclusion of all other social activities.
Having known who you really are; it is best to learn to accept yourself. This is not about narcissistic self-love. Rather it is about being comfortable with your identity. It is one of the most important principles that enable you to get out of the closet. All of us within the LGBTIQ family have been in the closet at one point or the other. We may not have consciously been in the closet but the reality is that nobody knew about our sexuality. I maintain that is fine as it is. Gender orientation whether Coming out or sticking out to the identity with which you came out is not compulsory. It is not, otherwise we have not moved an inch in our struggle for our human rights.