Sexual orientation is not so straight-forward
Being queer needn’t mean having a queer eyeSexual orientation is not a topic we understand too much about. Sure, there?s always the office gossip about who is and isn?t gay and whether so-and-so could be bi (interestingly, no-one asks whether so-and-so is straight). But, that?s usually as deep as our grey-matter takes us into this fascinating topic.
So, let?s start with what sexual orientation is exactly? Or, what it is not! Most people take the term to mean that someone is attracted to a person of the same sex – in other words, someone who is lesbian or gay. This is not entirely correct. Sexual orientation is a general term that refers to the way our sexual and romantic attractions are directed at men, women or both men and women. This means that so-called ?straight? (heterosexual) people have a sexual orientation too.
That?s all pretty straight forward (ooh, bad pun). Now it gets more complicated because human beings just don?t fit neatly into three categories – heterosexual, lesbian/gay, bisexual.
There are, for example, people who are attracted to the opposite sex early in life and then become attracted to the same sex later. Or, people who are generally attracted to the opposite sex, but from time to time fall in love with someone of the same sex. Then there are individuals who are in love with their same sex partner but sometimes (or often) fantasise about someone of the opposite sex.
I?ve met women who loved their husbands, enjoyed sex with them, yet fantasised occasionally about women and sometimes had sex with women. I?ve worked with men who called themselves straight while at the same time enjoyed sex with men if placed in an all-male environment. Then there are the cross-dressing men who liked to have sex with their female partner while dressing in women?s clothing and fantasising that they, themselves, were female. Straight? Lesbian? Forget the labels – real humans shouldn’t be restricted by a label.
The labels, ?homosexual? and ?heterosexual? were invented by medicos in the nineteenth century at a time when anything other than heterosexuality was considered to be a mental illness.