I have a very dear friend who recently came to me with a problem. This person came out as gay several months ago, and he has been much happier since, as often happens once we realize that people are not meant to live stuffed into closets. He’s faced really rough discrimination from friends and family, as also often happens, but he is not denying who he is, he is being true to himself, and for those who have been in this situation, being able to be true with yourself is the only way to thrive, if not survive.
This friend was struggling because, now that he has finally taken the identity of gay, and is comfortable with the fact he likes men, he met a girl recently who totally took his breath away. Despite his desire to look at men, he couldn’t but look at her. For a gay folks (using gay as a generality for people of one gender who are attracted to members of the same gender), this can be an almost dysphoric experience. We fight so hard for the right to be ourselves, to love who we wish to love, that we feel we need to stay exactly where we are or other people will judge us. Once you go gay, you’re often expected by people in and out of the community, to stay gay. However, research is proving more and more that things, perhaps unsurprisingly, are not that simple; sexuality is not black or white, but shades of grey. We put labels and categories that put ourselves in groups.
|Attracted to same gender||Attracted to both genders||Attracted to opposite gender|
While these little boxes are nice and convinient, thats about all they are: boxes. It is nice to be able to look around and see “Wow, theres thousands of other people in this box!” which is often how people feel when they are first coming to terms with their sexuality and feel like they are alone. But these are just arbitrary blocks. In reality, sexuality looks more like this:
Gay ———— Bi ———– Straight
Just like gender, Sexuality is on a spectrum. And as with most of human behavior, this correlates to a bell curve. That is, there are exponentially more people toward the center of the spectrum. I have so often heard guys at a bar talking about “What man they would go gay for” and many women admit they either have experimented or would be interested in doing so. The number of people who are absolutely 100% only gay or only straight are the minority. Most of us fall somewhere in-between. It’s not simple to find where we are on the spectrum, and for whatever reason, it CAN change, though not radically or suddenly. But if you think about it as a spectrum instead of a binary, I think it makes more sense why some of us take a long time to figure ourselves out.
Of course, this doesn’t even start to address the question about what being a gay transsexual means, but that’s for another post!