Monday, April 16, 2012

Will he be born-gay or born-straight?

I've been reading about parental reactions to news that their children are homosexual, and more importantly, about young people's fears of their parents not loving them anymore because of their sexual orientations. I'm pleased to say that this is a non-issue for me. I believe that human sexuality is incredibly nuanced and I will do my best to raise my son with the understanding that his sexual self-expression -- whatever it looks like -- is fine with me.

I defy sexual pigeon-holing myself. I've dated men and women, people a decade younger and two decades older than myself, people incredibly straight-laced and incredibly kinky, chosen periods of celibacy and sexual voracity -- all depending on factors such as my internal landscape and who I found attractive at the time. The bottom line is that I am attracted to people, not gender, and more specifically, to people with interesting minds.  If I have an orientation, it is toward intelligence.

Ironically, I find that homosexual friends have been as intolerant of my sexuality as conventionally straight people supposedly are. Lesbian friends have told me outright that I am "confused" rather than bisexual or pansexual or sapiosexual (or pick-a-label-you'all). They believe people are born-straight or born-gay but not anything in-between.  I think that such insistence on stereotyping marginalizes and excludes people who need acceptance from others more than anything else. While I agree that there are people who are very strongly oriented toward one gender or another, my experiences and observations have lead me to conclude that sexuality and sexual identity is not binary -- it is a continuum.

When I was a little girl I liked dolls ok, but what I really wanted was Tonka toys and Legos. Dressing up in clothes out of my grandmother's rag bag and wearing floppy hats and sloppy makeup was fun, but so was climbing trees and wrestling with boys and playing chess. I chafed under the pink lace dresses and tights, and stripped down to my undies as often as I could -- which greatly disturbed my maternal grandmother's calm. Fortunately for me, my mother wasn't too keen on gender stereotypes (she became a lesbian later in life) and my father, lacking a son, liked having a daughter with an aptitude for tools and building things. Likewise, I'm hoping to raise my son in an atmosphere that allows him to indulge in whatever interests him, regardless of gender stereotypes, so if he wants to dress up as the Little Mermaid instead of a Power Ranger, that's ok with me.  He's a lot less likely to develop identity issues that way, I think.

So as for that gripping question: Will he be born-gay or born-straight? I don't care what my son's sexual orientation will be. I just hope to raise him in such a way that he won't feel the need to feel ashamed of or repress his sexual identity -- and won't try to make others feel that way, either. Being human is hard enough as it is.

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