June’s Brant Advocate edition 🙂
You’re driving down the road and you see a man and a woman strolling by with their arms locked together. Your mom comments, “Oh, what a lovely couple. Aren’t they cute?” You agree and keep driving. Further down the road, you clearly see a woman holding hands with another woman. Your mom comments, “Did you see that?! I think those were two women!” From there, she could continue to say how wrong it is, or how scandalous they are, or how they should keep their affections private.
Ideally, I’d like to live in a world where seeing same-sex relationships won’t trigger uproar and judgemental gossip. It’d be nice if her initial reaction was something like: “Aren’t they a cute couple, too? I guess all the cute couples are out today. Ooh, and I want to steal her hair style!” If hetero couples can freely hold hands or share quick kisses in public – undisturbed – so should any other couple.
As with everything in life, there are various shades of grey, and human sexuality is no exception. When discussing our sexuality, there are many aspects to take into consideration, such as: physical attraction, romantic interest, gender identity, biological sex, personality, orientation, etc. So to try to cram people into cookie cutters and slap labels on them isn’t necessarily fair. It’s easier, yes, but don’t assume you automatically know someone’s orientation when they, for example, identify as being gay.
I’ve encountered a number of straight males who are reluctant to join my friends and I at the gay bars for fear of being hit on by another guy. It’s a common misconception that gay men chase after any man they see. Firstly, I’d like to say I am not afraid to go to “straight” bars for fear of being hit on by girls. If it happens, I just tell it like it is and send them on their way.
Turning the tables, I ask my friends what their preferences are when searching for a girl. Do they prefer brunettes over blondes? Do they like skinny and tall women, or short and busty? Do they opt for bigger girls with confidence, or muscular ones with insecurities?
As they reveal their sexual inclinations, they learn that they obviously don’t find every woman they see to be attractive. Then I tell my friends, “Surprise! The same goes for gay men.” Occasionally, I want to add that they shouldn’t be too worried, they couldn’t attract one if they tried, but then that’s just mean. Like I said, don’t assume someone’s tendencies when you don’t know them.
How can we go about removing this taboo regarding all of the different colours sexuality has? How can we make people realize there are more variations than the typical boy meets girl? By talking about it, of course! The more things are understood and shared, the more we can relate and appreciate them. Society is afraid of the unknown, so let’s make it known. Granted, those living in more liberal and diverse regions may not have this taboo to worry about, but for the rest of us, there’s still a long way to go.
Many doctors and scientists have come up with scales and tests and charts to try to make sexual orientations into quantifiable statistics. One scale I like is the Kinsey Scale. It’s rather basic and simple to read, yet it shows the average Joe that not everyone is completely straight or completely queer. There are several degrees in between the two polarities.
Here’s a quick look at the scale:
0 – Exclusively heterosexual behaviour
1 – Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 – Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 – Equal heterosexual and homosexual behaviour
4 – Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 – Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 – Exclusively homosexual behaviour
X – Asexual/Non-sexual
See? It’s really basic. However, it does help explain the different levels of sexual attractions when referring to bisexuality. No, the scale doesn’t delve into the complexities of which traits of which sex you like over the other and why; that’s for your own personal discovery. It merely demonstrates that people are not just one or the other.
For argument’s sake, your neighbour could fall under number two, and his wife could be a three. For all you knew, they were a regular heterosexual couple, but that isn’t always the case. Regardless of the scale, the details of their sexual orientation and the dynamics of their relationship isn’t really your business. As long as they’re happy with each other, that’s all that matters.
For me, I want to live in a world where we aren’t criticized by our partner’s sex. It’s not cool when you want to hold hands and it triggers glares, stares, gawking and pointing. Everyone should be free to love whoever they want, whether it be the opposite-sex, same-sex, or trans-sex. Not only would it be nice to remove the negative attention same-sex couples can sometimes receive, but establishing a sense of normalcy is essential, too.
My extended family members know that I’m out of the closet and have a boyfriend, but more often than not they tend to avoid the subject. Over dinner during a family gathering, my uncle did try to strike up some conversation. He asked me how my “friend” was doing. I drew a blank as I tried to recollect which friend he might have been specifying… Was it Ashley, Anne, Hank, Jerry… Maybe Agnes, or Benji… Wait, was there one who had a life crisis recently… And then I clue in. “Oh! You mean my boyfriend? Yeah he’s doing well.” It’s a pet peeve of mine to have my significant other be referred to as simply a “friend.” He’s more than that; he’s my lover and confidant. And when the time comes, I sure plan on calling him my husband.
To me, this type of avoidance doesn’t cure anything. By not talking about the unfamiliar and not addressing things as they are, it furthers the rift. I know I previously mentioned that personal relationship dynamics are no one’s business, but outright evasion is just as bad. There needs to be a balance of positive and casual acknowledgement. Just as I would casually ask about your partner, I’d hope remarks about my boyfriend wouldn’t stir surprise or avoidance.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this, it’s for you to recognize the vast amount of sexual compositions people can have. As well, to show them the respect that you would wish in return. They say we learn something new every day, so don’t be afraid to inquire about and explore topics you don’t fully comprehend. Friends always ask me questions, whether it be my personal opinions on matters or as a participant of the gay scene. I’m happy to answer their curiosities and provide them with new ideas or ways of thinking. It’s my way of spreading knowledge and understanding.
After all, as a child, the fear of parental rejection is a strong deterrent for sharing inquisitive thoughts. If I had children, I’d want to make sure they’d be comfortable opening up to me and sharing their feelings, rather than have them bottle up their emotions or turn to unreliable sources. I hope you’d want the same for your kids. So I encourage you: remove the taboo. Let’s build a friendlier place for new generations.
Here’s one more Kinsey Scale I’m tacking on for some extra fun:
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this article and want to check out more of my submissions, go here: Brant Advocate