I really appreciate the depth and range of insights coming through the comments on the flexibility and fluidity post. For those who follow new posts via the RSS feed, or haven’t had a chance to follow the comments, here is a synopsis.
I identify as gay, but I do find the odd woman (maybe 1 out of 5000) slightly attractive. I just do not find the woman I find attractive anywhere near as attractive as the guys I find attractive. Not to mention I probably find 1 out of 10 guys attractive.
Sexuality in women has always been a bit more fluid than it is in men. … It’s also possible that there are different origins for homosexuality between men, even when family and environment effects are counted for….
The one thing that is clear though is that “changing” orientation — base, animal response — really doesn’t happen…
I appreciate your tackling this issue, but I don’t see the distinction between orientation and “fluidity” in the same light as you do. I think they are flip sides of the same coin.
CPT, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out there was generally less flexibility over time for folks who are firmly planted at a Kinsey 6 or zero.
And at the moment, I’m in a relationship with a guy. I don’t identify as bi; the word never felt comfortable to me. I was always far more attracted to women, physically, emotionally and, dare I say it, spiritually. This guy was a total surprise to me. I’m in the habit of correcting friends who jokingly comment on my “going straight.” Believe me, I’m just as attracted to women as I ever was.
At present, I pretty much sum myself up as “homoflexible.” Still homo, just… flexible.
Couldn’t it be that this “core” orientation is itself the product of these various processes, and that it continues to develop based on on-going stimuli? Isn’t it also possible that, over a lifetime, but particularly during childhood and adolescence, the “base, animal response” is confused and intermingled with erotic responses, associations and fetishes which have developed along with emotional attractions, giving an illusion of an all-encompassing “orientation”? Going further, could it be argued that perhaps, for an adult, this “base, animal response”, is in fact an illusion in itself, having never really existed *to any great degree*, and most of what we call “orientation” is this constellation of emotional longings and erotic responses? Basically, I’m questioning the ongoing influence of this “innate orientation”.
I am convinced, however, that it is not something that can be easily changed on command (at least not be us).
“Doubtful. There is some “hard wiring” at work here, something “immutable,” as evidenced by efforts at changing orientation being an utter and complete failure.”
…[I]s that biology [of sexual orientation] as binary as our culturesays it must be? No.
I totally agree with you here. I have a problem with the idea this is like some toggle switch.
So what i’m hearing here is that while sexual orientation can and often does change over time, it cannot be “changed” by a person’s own accord. That is, it is something that cannot be controlled.
On one hand, there ARE success stories in the ex-gay movement, albeit less than some of us might hope. So the law — whatever it is — is not written in stone. Some can change on purpose, most dont/cant/wont for a variety of reasons we don’t understand.
On the other hand, can orientation be changed by other people, and other events outside one’s own accord?
I think the key thing to remember here is that sexual orientation has NEVER been shown to change, even in the “ex-gay” movement. Even what we are discussing here does not mean that the basic underlying wiring of the brain can or does ever change. The people here who are reporting “fluidity” in their sexual attractions do not state that their attractions to either gender ever “go away,” but their intensity may differ through life. In the same way, when really pressed, there are few, if any, “ex-gays” who will state that they no longer have any same-sex attractions – they still “struggle” with it.
The best analogy, I believe, for sexuality is handed-ness…
Relationships, which are at the core of what we are discussing, include far more than mere physical attraction or sexual activity. They are complex meldings of physical, romantic and emotional components that are unique for each couple. If we all recognize this, and stop automatically classifying homosexuality or homosexual acts as “evil,” “immoral,” or “disgusting,” we would probably discover a far more nuanced and complex human sexuality than we have ever imagined (however, I still find girls gross, sorry).
What I’m saying is that sexual orientation probably is not as “binary” as we like to think, but is rather a range of feelings that clusters at one end or the other. In the same way that we have a hair color or a handedness, we have a biologically determined sexual orientation, either gay or straight mainly for the purposes of discussion.