I am what I am

A little while ago, Neuroskeptic, one of my favourite bloggers, wrote a typically fascinating and well thought out blog post on the issue of national identity.  By way of a gently amusing account of world history over the last 150,000 years, he makes the point that national identity is a fiction.  The post focuses in part on the issue of English identity, which is certainly problematic – supposedly ‘indigenous’ English people (as Nick Griffin would inaccurately call them) are the product of successive waves of invasion, displacement and gradual assimilation occurring over millennia, which means that, at a biological level, it’s impossible to identify an essential (i.e. essence of) ‘Englishness’ which is different from, say, an essential ‘Frenchness’.

This is not to say that national identity doesn’t have some real-world effects, a point Neuroskeptic acknowledges in a comment on the post.  National identity is, for some people, a powerful driver of behaviour, and it can lead some of them into extraordinary actions, such as a willingness to fight to the death in order to maintain a doubly-abstract concept like national honour.  Neuroskeptic argues, if I have understood him correctly, that, for all its real-world effects, this sense of national identity is nothing more than an internal, emotional thing.  There is certainly some truth in this, but alongside an emotional sense of national identity there’s also the concept of cultural affiliation, which Neuroskeptic doesn’t directly address in his post.

Culture is, of course, notoriously slippery and hard to pin down.  For all that, it’s still possible to speak of national cultures, and to have a sense that one is speaking about something that has an exterior reality, even if it is tricky to define, or to measure objectively.  If I was unexpectedly snatched out of my flat by some new-fangled teleportation device and dropped in the middle of Paris, I would very quickly be able to recognise that I was in France, rather than the UK, or Germany, or India, or the USA, or Bolivia, or Botswana, or Australia, or China, or – well, you get the picture.  Several factors would enable me to come to that conclusion.  In some cases the physical appearance of the majority of the people would be different, but even setting that aside, a whole range of other, cultural factors – the architecture, the clothes, the language, and so on – would enable me to identify where I was.

It isn’t accurate to say that the differences I would be able to identify are only concerned with feelings.  Although it’s true to say, working from the inside out, that an English person is someone who feels they are English, it’s also possible for an external observer to say that an English person is someone who speaks, behaves, dresses, etc, in the way that English people tend to.  This exterior concept of national identity is, as I say, very hard to pin down and to quantify, not least because it is in a constant state of flux and alters radically over time, but that’s not to say that it has no validity.  There may be no standardised scale of Britishness, or Americanness, or Frenchness against which to measure a person, but few of us would have much difficulty in establishing within a few minutes which of these cultures a recently-met stranger came from.

It’s for this reason that I dissent in part from Neuroskeptic’s assertion that he could just as legitimately identify himself as an ancient Athenian, or a Native American, as he could identify himself as an Englishman.  While I agree that anyone from anywhere (and any time) can identify with any group of people, and so have an interior sense that they belong to that group, it is highly unlikely that an external observer would reach the same conclusion.  No matter how much affinity I might happen to feel for the ancient Athenians, no external observer is going to place me as a member of their culture, because the language I speak, the clothes I wear, and the ways I behave (not to mention the time I live in…) all mark me out as a contemporary Briton.

Of course, national identity remains a very imprecise concept, and something of a fiction.  The characteristics we would all readily identify as British are not British in any objective sense, and could just as legitimately belong to any other nationality, or to none.  We only regard them as British because they have, pretty much randomly, become part of the national culture to which people from Britain have tended to affiliate themselves.  The same cannot be said, however, about the sense of personal identity based on sexual orientation, which, in a comment on his main post, Neuroskeptic identifies as similarly fictional, and similarly having no basis in anything beyond personal feelings.  I don’t dispute that emotional factors play a big part in sexual identities (I will come onto this in due course), but I don’t think they are the whole story.

To begin with, I think the analogy between national identity and sexual identity is imprecise, mainly because the two phenomena seem to emerge in a different way.  National identity is based on nothing more than cultural affiliation – whatever her country of origin, a child raised from birth by and among Britons will typically grow up to be seen by herself, and by others, as British.  Sexual identity, on the other hand, is based partly on cultural factors, but also on the underlying sexual orientation, which is not produced by the same process – a child raised by and among heterosexuals does not necessarily grow up to be heterosexual.  In its capacity to emerge and persist irrespective of upbringing, and its resistance to conscious attempts to change it, sexual orientation seems fairly unlike national identity, which means that the identity which is based upon it must also be somewhat different.

Neuroskeptic raises the issue of sexual identity because he wants to talk about a reaction some gay people had to a suggestion that, in the future, people might not think of themselves as gay, or bi, or straight because these categories will have been transcended – the sexual behaviours will persist, but the categories themselves will have evaporated.  Reporting the words of a third party, Neuroskeptic tells us that some gay people were appalled at the prospect, because they felt such a future would be one in which ‘they’ did not exist.  Neuroskeptic goes on to very gently chastise such people for failing to recognise that their sense of identity as a gay person is all about feelings.

This possible future is one that has been envisaged by some sexual rights activists, most especially those who were associated with the attempt to popularise the use of the word queer in place of other words like gay or bi.  This was a specific attempt to invent a category that was as broad as possible – anyone who felt that their sexual identity didn’t fit into an ultra-narrow definition of ‘vanilla’ heterosexuality was encouraged to think of themselves as queer – in order that gay people would no longer be an identifiable minority.  This movement was based to a large extent on the fear that people who were attracted to their own sex would always be in a minority, and this would leave them perennially vulnerable to prejudice and oppression.  I don’t for one second doubt the honourable intentions of the people behind the campaign, but they have always seemed to me to be more than a little naïve, and I think Neuroskeptic may have fallen into a similar trap.

In reality, as a man who is attracted to other men, I am different to men who are attracted to women, and it’s pointless to pretend otherwise.  The difference exists because I am attracted to my own sex, rather than the opposite one.  The only way that difference could become invisible to me is if I either stopped being attracted to my own sex, or if same-sex attraction became universal amongst all men, and so it ceased to be something that made me different.  While the majority of men are attracted to the opposite sex and I am not, I am always going to be conscious of that difference as a difference.  I might use other words to describe the difference – as people necessarily did before the invention of words like homosexual – but the sense of difference itself cannot evaporate unless it ceases to be a difference.  A future in which no-one thinks of themselves as gay (or an equivalent term) is a future in which either everyone is gay, or no-one is.  Can we honestly imagine a world in which there are some people who are attracted to their own sex, and others who are attracted to the opposite sex, but there is no word or concept to articulate the difference?  Think of the confusion and embarrassment there would whenever people tried to set up a date…

It has always seemed to me that the aim of the gay rights movement – and, in fact, civil rights movements in general – should not be to try and pretend that there are no differences between people, but to say that the differences we all know exist are very largely irrelevant.  Amongst those who choose to have children, men and women have different biological roles in the reproductive process, and it’s pointless to try and pretend otherwise.  But outside the narrow confines of reproduction – in every other context and sphere of life – that difference between women and men is entirely irrelevant.  In the same way, the difference(s) between gay/bi and straight are relevant when I’m trying to find a boyfriend, and utterly irrelevant in every other context.

At the present moment, the gay identity is one that some of us who are attracted to our own sex tend to insist on fairly dogmatically, in all sorts of contexts.*  Many (though by no means all) gay men choose to identify themselves – and make themselves identifiable to others – in cultural ways that have nothing to do with their sexual orientation.  So there are ‘gay’ modes of social behaviour, and ‘gay’ haircuts, and ‘gay’ clothes, and ‘gay’ music, and ‘gay’ drinks, and so on.  Men who conform to all of these are unusual, but it’s an equally unusual gay man who never subscribes to any of them.  I think this is because the present cultural gay identity is one that’s been formed out of oppression.  Most of us in the UK will go through life without encountering any official oppression or physical violence, but being gay is still routinely depreciated and belittled, and that sense of being partially excluded by others fosters a powerful desire to create an alternative sense of belonging, to create a cultural identity from which we cannot be excluded because it is our own identity.**

Unlike national identities, the gay identity is not wholly based on a process of cultural affiliation, but also at a level that exists beyond that.  A future in which no-one ever thinks of themselves as gay is not impossible, but it would be a future in which same-sex desires have either evaporated altogether, or have become universal.  While there is such a thing as same-sex desire, and while it is not shared by everyone, some aspects of the gay identity (and the straight identity, and the bi identity) will persist.  The cultural aspects of the identity – the hairstyles, and the clothes, and the music, and so on – may well disappear, but when someone with same-sex desires is thinking about falling in love or having sex they won’t be able to avoid thinking to themselves something along the lines of ‘I am gay’, or ‘I am bi’.  The simple knowledge that something like 94% of the people they meet and might be attracted to don’t share those desires cannot help but force them into that recognition.

* – Some straight people insist on their identity just as dogmatically – think of all those people who worry if they’re ‘acting gay’.  (They can’t all be secretly gay, surely?)

** – There’s certainly an irony to the fact that a lot of the depreciation and belittlement relates to the cultural identity – ‘that’s so gay’ – rather than the sexual behaviour itself, but I would agree with those who argue that the cultural identity is only singled out for criticism because it is associated with same-sex desire.  Appearing to be gay can only be seen as a bad thing if actually being gay is seen as a bad thing.

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17 Responses to I am what I am

  1. cellar_door says:

    “Think of the confusion and embarrassment there would whenever people tried to set up a date…”

    Hehe, just reminded me of a Discworld thing; male and female dwarves all look the same, so the majority of their courtship is spent trying to determine the gender of their partner…

    *Ahem* Anyway. I agree with you re. being different. On a similar vein, personally I am quite happy to accept that males and females are different, and have different strengths and weaknesses; the important thing to me is that these differences don’t make either ‘side’ better or worse than the other. Different but equal, and all that.

  2. Re: Worrying about acting gay, I remember my first semester at college I was hugging a friend on the green when a group of jocks appeared. My heart raced as I thought, “Oh no, what if they think we’re gay?” before I remembered (a) he is gay, (b) I am female, and (c) we’re at a liberal arts college where no one’s going to beat you up.

    I agree with you that since the use of the term and the difference it describes aren’t going away, there’s certainly a niche for it to continue its existence–but I also think there’s niches for many different ways of identifying aside from the straight/gay/bi trichotomy. When I was younger, for some reason I felt so pressured to fit into one of those labels that I couldn’t accept that none of them were particularly useful descriptors of myself. Part of that pressure was that I grew up in a cultural setting where anyone identifying as “bi” was verbally attacked and made fun of–people operated off a paradigm where everyone was gay or straight and if they didn’t know (because they were young and inexperienced or in denial) they deserved to be questioned and/or mocked for being young, inexperienced, or in denial.

    It’s also interesting that you say that gay subculture wouldn’t be objected to if gayness weren’t considered in a negative light. If that’s completely true, then why does, say, emo culture get such abuse? (Well, possibly because it’s associated with being gay and gender bending.) But then why does goth culture in some places get such abuse? My ex recalls being beat up for being alternative (despite being straight) when he was in high school. I think there’s a more general conservative mindset where anyone who tries to appear different is being “uppity” and ought to be put down. People who see themselves and their culture in a dominant position want to force anyone else who wants to be noticed or gain power or even just acceptance to go through their channels–by breaking away into your own style, you’re gaining social ties that they can’t control and the high visibility you gain can seduce other people out of the rigid control of their culture. I always thought that a lot of the anti-gay and anti-gay-style sentiments are shot through with anger against people breaking the traditional gender roles.

  3. Kapitano says:

    as a man who is attracted to other men, I am different to men who are attracted to women

    This assumes that the most important thing about attraction is the gender of the person you’re attracted to. Which is (1) an assumption that can vary with culture and (2) actually a rather strange way to think about attraction.

    Is it the impossibly broad category of “men” that you and I are attracted to? No, there are body types, age ranges, emotional types, dress styles, musical tastes, educational levels and a great many other factors – which themselves change unpredictably over time – which contribute to whether a person is attracted to whatever extent in whatever way by another.

    To say “I’m attracted to people if they’re male” is as vague and inaccurate as saying “I enjoy food if it’s warm” or “I like music if it’s quiet”. It’s one step away from “I’m attracted to people”.

    Personally, I like spectacles, red hair, an accent with long vowels and a combination of high intellect and vulnurability. And if I ever meet someone with all these qualities…I’ll probably be too embarassed to do anything about it.

    The only reason it’s emotionally important to me to be identified as “gay” is that I spent years being hurt by people who thought the gender-focus of my sexuality was (1) extremely important and (2) utterly, horribly wrong. It’s important that I be accepted as gay because they didn’t accept me as gay.

    Finally, who a person’s attracted to for sexual gratification and who they’re attracted to in a life partner are somewhat different. We’ve all met men who were happily married to women, but whose sexual interests were with men. They may be homo in their sexual, but they’re hetero in who they love.

  4. NiroZ says:

    I think your missing neuroskeptic’s point. It’s not your attraction (which is most likely entirely neurological), but the identity that you’re gay. For example, it is well known that there are some men, who will sleep with other men, but refuse to admit that they are gay. Sure, they may be in denial, but it goes to show that you have some control over your identity.

  5. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    cellar_doorHehe, just reminded me of a Discworld thing; male and female dwarves all look the same, so the majority of their courtship is spent trying to determine the gender of their partner…

    You know, there are times when i think we must be the same person – that’s exactly what i had in mind when i wrote that bit… ;o)

    I am quite happy to accept that males and females are different, and have different strengths and weaknesses; the important thing to me is that these differences don’t make either ’side’ better or worse than the other.

    Well, i tend to be of the view that men and women aren’t all that different, and that, if it weren’t for people trying to behave in ways that they think are ‘right’ for their gender, you’d find almost as many women with ‘male’ strengths and men with ‘female’ strengths as vice versa. Of course i might have a less idealistic view if, like you, i worked somewhere where the greater ability of men to overpower violent people was something i had reason to notice on a fairly regular basis. :o)

    almost0surreptitious – Your story about worrying about acting gay when you were, in fact, hugging a man is very funny. :o)

    I also think there’s niches for many different ways of identifying aside from the straight/gay/bi trichotomy.

    You’re right, bi/straight/gay doesn’t cover every possibility. For a start, those terms are based on the idea that everyone fits neatly into one of the two familliar sexes. For people who are gender-queer, or are attracted to gender-queer people (or are both), those terms will to a very large extent be meaningless. That said, i think the straight-bi-gay trichotomy adequately describes the behaviour of most people.

    If we set aside people’s personal sense of identity, and look at this from the perspective of an external observer, it will be clear whether someone is selecting partners of their own sex, or the opposite sex, or both. This isn’t a foolproof method, of course. Someone may be attracted to both sexes, but happen through random chance to find that the same-sex people they meet are more attractive as individuals than the opposite-sex people, and so have exclusively same-sex partners. Equally, they might be attracted to their own sex, but through social or religious pressure choose partners of the opposite sex. Applying the labels accurately is hard (in reality, our external observer is forced to ask people which sex(es) they are attracted to, and the answers they get might be inaccurate for a whole host of reasons), but the labels themselves are pretty robust, and pretty precise. Someone who is exclusively attracted to the opposite sex is straight; someone who is exclusively attracted to the same sex is gay; someone who has a non-exclusive attraction to both sexes is bi.

    When I was younger, for some reason I felt so pressured to fit into one of those labels that I couldn’t accept that none of them were particularly useful descriptors of myself.

    I’m really sorry to hear you found yourself under that kind of pressure – it’s certainly not something i would ever want to be involved in applying to someone. Although i do think the labels are valid, i think they’re only really valid in an external, descriptive way. I don’t think they should ever be in any way prescriptive. Plenty of people experience their sexual orientation as a shifting, ever-changing thing, and while, as external observers, we would probably find that the label bi fit their behaviour, that might have no validity for the individual themselves, who finds themselves at one stage only attracted to men and at another only attracted to women. When push comes to shove, all that really matters is how people feel about themselves, and that’s a purely personal, entirely subjective thing.

    It’s also interesting that you say that gay subculture wouldn’t be objected to if gayness weren’t considered in a negative light. If that’s completely true, then why does, say, emo culture get such abuse? […] I think there’s a more general conservative mindset where anyone who tries to appear different is being “uppity” and ought to be put down.

    You’re right. It’s not completely true, in the sense that it’s not the whole truth. Emo is an entirely cultural identity, but i think it stands as a marker just simply for difference – it’s not being an emo that’s being attacked, it is, as you say, the simple fact of being different, being a member of a different ‘tribe’, that’s being attacked. That factor certainly applies to people who are attacked for being gay. But even if there were no ‘cultural’ markers of gayness – if there were no way of telling that someone was gay unless you were having sex with them – being gay would still be seen as a negative thing. An emo who isn’t culturally marked as an emo – someone who doesn’t dress or behave like an emo and doesn’t listen to emo music – isn’t an emo. A gay person who completely avoids all the cultural associations of being gay is still gay, and would still be subject to dislike or worse.

    But the difference between the two situations probably isn’t that great. Like i say, a lot of the belittlement has to do with the cultural identity rather than the sexual behaviour.

    I always thought that a lot of the anti-gay and anti-gay-style sentiments are shot through with anger against people breaking the traditional gender roles.

    It’s a familliar argument, and i think there’s some truth in it. It’s something i’ve heard most often from heterosexual women who are interested in co-opting the experiences of gay men to the feminist cause. The argument seems to run that gay men aren’t attacked for being gay, they’re attacked for being ‘like women’ – it’s not homosexuality that the attackers dislike, it’s femaleness. As i say, there’s some truth to it (all the dislike and hatred for ‘sissy’ men and ‘butch’ women is obviously to do with gender concerns), but i don’t think it’s the whole story. I’ve personally met homophobes who really, genuinely don’t hate women, and are unsettled, not by the idea that gay men are like women, but by the idea that someone might be looking at them ‘like that’ without them realising. It’s almost like a kind of paranoia, which makes the term homophobe especially appropriate. :o)

    Kapitano – Ah, Kapitano, thanks for your typically…er…robust commenting style, it always wakes me up, in the same way that being slapped forcibly round the face with a wet fish would (i presume) wake me up… ;o) I hope you won’t take offence if i reply in a similarly direct way. (I’m sure you won’t!)

    This assumes that the most important thing about attraction is the gender of the person you’re attracted to.

    No, it doesn’t. It assumes that the sex of the person i’m attracted to is a fundamental thing about them. And it is – if they aren’t a man, then i’m not sexually attracted to them. Other factors are also important, but the single feature every person i am attracted to will have in common is that they will be male.

    To reiterate: the sex of the person is not the only important thing about them, or the most important thing about them, but it is fundamental for all that.

    Is it the impossibly broad category of “men” that you and I are attracted to?

    No, of course it isn’t, and this is a straw-man argument, as you must realise. That they are a man is neccesary for me to find someone attractive, but that is not say that it is sufficient. Of course they have to posess other qualities and attributes as well, but every other attractive feature is in some senses negotiable. A man posessed of a range of attributes i both like and dislike would still be ‘in the running’ for a sexual or romantic relationship, even though he might fall well short of ideal. A woman, on the other hand, could posess every other quality and attribute i admire, but they would still not be a candidate for a sexual or romantic relationship. A close and loving frienship very possibly – but not a sexual relationship.

    To reiterate: being a man is neccesary, but not sufficient.

    To say “I’m attracted to people if they’re male” is as vague and inaccurate as saying “I enjoy food if it’s warm” or “I like music if it’s quiet”. It’s one step away from “I’m attracted to people”.

    No, it isn’t. The statment “I’m attracted to people if they’re male” could only be inaccurate in two circumstances: 1) i don’t like men at all; 2) i like both men and women. Since neither 1 nor 2 applies to me, the statement is wholly accurate. Neither is the statement vague. In the matter of which sex(es) i am attracted to, the statment “I’m attracted to people if they’re male” is definitive – it contains the whole truth of the matter. It has nothing to say about the type of men i am attracted to (which is, as you say, subject to change for a whole range of reasons), but it definitively asserts that they are men (and this is not subject to change – or rather, if it does change, the label gay would no longer apply to me).

    Personally, I like spectacles, red hair, an accent with long vowels and a combination of high intellect and vulnurability. And if I ever meet someone with all these qualities…I’ll probably be too embarassed to do anything about it.

    You know, i’ve got this friend from my college days you should meet – he wears glasses, has red, curly hair, has an MA in literature but is pretty shy around unfamilliar people, and is easily hurt. Even your liking for dogs and your politics match. He sounds like your ideal man, right? I’d be happy to introduce you sometime if you’d like me to… ;o)

    Oh – but wait, just one thing. He’s sexually attracted to women, not men. Do you think that might be a problem?

    The only reason it’s emotionally important to me to be identified as “gay” is that I spent years being hurt by people who thought the gender-focus of my sexuality was (1) extremely important and (2) utterly, horribly wrong. It’s important that I be accepted as gay because they didn’t accept me as gay.

    Sorry to hear about your experiences, they sound somewhat similar to mine, although my family, at least once they knew, were always accepting, and i had some good friends to counteract the arseholes. This is pretty much what i was talking about when i said that the cultural aspects of the gay identity have been formed out of oppression, and so i think there’s a good chance they’ll disappear when (if?) the oppression disappears. But the fact that you like men, and that only men who also like men will reciprocate your attraction, will always be relevant when it comes to looking for sex, won’t it? Not the only relevant factor, but an inescapable factor, yes, something you won’t be able to avoid thinking about? That’s how i see it, anyway.

    NiroZI think your missing neuroskeptic’s point.

    Always a distinct possibility – i’ve missed an awful lot of points in my time. :o)

    It’s not your attraction (which is most likely entirely neurological), but the identity that you’re gay.

    I think it’s a bit harsh to say that i’ve missed this point, however. A very large part of my post discusses the differences between sexual behaviour, the internal sense of identity that a person has of themselves, and the external identity that an observer might apply to them. Fair enough to disagree with what i say about those things, of course, but a little unfair to suggest that i haven’t even recognised that there might be a difference between sexual behaviour and identity, don’t you think?

    For example, it is well known that there are some men, who will sleep with other men, but refuse to admit that they are gay. Sure, they may be in denial, but it goes to show that you have some control over your identity.

    Firstly, i’d refer you to the distinction i make between internal and external identity. Of course there are men who have sex with men and insist they aren’t gay. They would never ‘own’ the label gay, but that wouldn’t stop an external observer from applying that label to them (or the label bisexual, if they also have sex with women).

    Secondly, even if a person is ‘in denial’ about being attracted to their own sex, they must nevertheless be conscious of it at some level, or they wouldn’t be seeking out partners of the same sex. (Unless you are arguing that partner-selection occurs at an entirely physiological, instinctive level – but that assertion would be undermined by the fact that people can consciously choose partners they are not attracted to.)

    A person can refuse to accept that the label of same-sex attraction applies to them. They can also repress every iota of behaviour that might suggest they were attracted to their own sex – sleep exclusively with the opposite sex, and so on – so that even an external observer would label them as straight. But unless they actually are straight, they won’t ever shed that internal awareness that they aren’t straight, will they?

  6. Kapitano says:

    Ah, Kapitano, thanks for your typically…er…robust commenting style

    Robust, me? Direct, possibly, but I never intend to be rude. Perhaps it comes from hanging around with socialists – they can be a pretty “robust” bunch.

    being a man is neccesary, but not sufficient.

    Indeed – except on those occasions when it isn’t necessary. We’ve all known (or been) self-identified gay men who had occasional flings with women, and self-identified straight men who sometimes “just feel like a bit of the other”.

    There’s plenty of people who find it convenient to identify as bisexual, but who are more accurately described as “gay for a few months, then straight for a few months, then back again”.

    There’s also men who spend half their lives one way, then quite unexpectedly switch, and men who would never consider themselves gay…except for one man.

    The more I experience, the more persuaded I become that exceptions to the straight/gay/bi trichotomy may be the hidden norm.

    Side by side with that, my original point was that, even if being a man is broadly necessary, a whole load of other things are broadly necessary too.

    What these things are depends on personal taste – and taste in men, like taste in gender, is highly idiosyncratic and unpredictably changeable.

    In fact I would go so far as to say that taste in gender is just one aspect of taste in sexuality.

    He’s sexually attracted to women, not men. Do you think that might be a problem?

    Well…it hasn’t always in the past….

    the fact that you like men, and that only men who also like men will reciprocate your attraction, will always be relevant when it comes to looking for sex, won’t it?

    I’ve had sex with men who, as far as they were concerned, couldn’t reciprocate the attraction. I’m not notably beautiful or persuasive, and in general they weren’t drunk, but there’s been flirting that’s led to kissing and petting, occasionally reciprocated oral sex, and one or two brief relationships.

    Oh, and I’m meeting later tonight with a man who, 15 years ago, discovered he liked getting blowjobs from men while watching straight porn. And last year discovered he liked giving a whole lot more than receiving.

    So if you’ll excuse me….

  7. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Hi again Kapitano. Sorry your comment got trapped in the spam filter for a few hours yesterday evening. Oh, and don’t worry, you weren’t rude, just…robust. :o)

    Most of the examples you give of people who are exceptions to the gay/bi/straight trichotomy just don’t seem like exceptions to me. In fact, i’d call them all bisexual. Like gay and straight, bi is nothing more than a descriptive label. It has no power to compel or control someone’s behaviour, and there is no requirement that anyone should sign up to or identify with this or any other label. But as a descriptive scheme, the bi/straight/gay thing is very powerful, and capable of great precision.

    I think a lot of people assume that a bisexual must be simultaneously attracted to people of both sexes, but that’s not the case. If someone spends 10 years in a happy monogamous relationship with a man, and then 25 years in a happy monogamous relationship with a woman, or has periods of seeking multiple same-sex partners interspersed with periods of seeking multiple opposite-sex ones, then they are bisexual. It might appear that such a person has ‘switched’ from straight to gay (or vice versa), but they haven’t, not really. Their behaviour across their life as a whole demonstrates that their romantic and sexual needs can be fulfilled by a person of either sex, and this is all that the word bisexual means.

    As for the people you mention who enjoy physical intimacy with their own sex but refuse to admit that this means they are bisexual or gay – well, this is a case of actions speaking louder than words, i think. A person who chooses of their own free will to have sex with their own sex must, by definition, be either bisexual or gay. The fact they don’t personally ‘own’ the label doesn’t stop it from being correct. In the same way, a person who ‘doesn’t smoke’ but is always finding excuses to ‘just have this one, but it doesn’t count’ may insist that they aren’t a smoker, but the label still fits.

    There are exceptions to the straight/bi/gay trichotomy – i mentioned one in my reply to almost0surreptitious above, and there are others – but they are pretty rare exceptions, i think. In order not to be covered by any of the three labels, a person would have to feel no attraction to their own sex, and no attraction to the opposite sex (and that would also include no attraction to both sexes, whether simultaneously or in series). These people do exist, but i’m far from convinced that they are more numerous than the people who fit within the familliar descriptive categories.

    I hope you enjoyed your time with your amorous acquaintance. :o)

    [Believe it or not, this is actually a heavily edited and greatly shortened version of my original attempt at replying. Sorry, i struggle with brevity.]

  8. Kapitano says:

    Sorry your comment got trapped in the spam filter[…]
    Sorry, i struggle with brevity

    No worries…and no worries.

    Their behaviour across their life as a whole demonstrates that their romantic and sexual needs can be fulfilled by a person of either sex, and this is all that the word bisexual means.

    If we take that literally, it means we can never know a person’s “true” sexuality ’til after their death – because at any point in life the evidence could change.

    If a man is happily gay till age 65, then gets feelings for a female nurse in the retirement home, then you Aethelread would presumably say they were really bisexual all along, but one side was in repression for unknown reasons – for 55 years. Yes, it’s an extreme example but not impossible.

    Surely it’s less of stretch to have a different model – of sexuality that can be (say) uncertain and malleable in puberty, firmly hetero for 20 years, then wavering back and forth for another few years and setting on homo for the next 40 – except for one brief fling back in heteroland.

    I view sexual taste a more like taste in food or clothes than an unchanging state which is only sometimes apparent. Someone who develops a taste for hot curries for a while their 30s isn’t a repressed curry fan the rest of their lives.

  9. aethelreadtheunread says:

    No worries…and no worries.

    Thanks for your understanding. :o)

    If we take that literally, it means we can never know a person’s “true” sexuality ’til after their death – because at any point in life the evidence could change.

    I think it would be more accurate to say that we can never know someone else’s true sexuality, full stop. A person may have sexual feelings they never speak of, and never act on. The only person any of us can speak about with any certainty is ourselves. Thus i can say with complete confidence that i am gay. I know that i have not one hint of a spark of an iota of sexual attraction to women, beautiful and wonderful though they are. I don’t dispute that using the labels gay/bi/straight accurately can be difficult. But just because a thing is difficult that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be attempted.

    If a man is happily gay till age 65, then gets feelings for a female nurse in the retirement home, then you Aethelread would presumably say they were really bisexual all along, but one side was in repression for unknown reasons – for 55 years.

    Well, i wouldn’t say in repression, because that word carries with it a lot of Freudian baggage for which there is little or no evidence. I would say it has not previously been displayed, for any one of a number of reasons. Perhaps the gentleman concerned had been in a long-term relationship and it didn’t occur to him to look elsewhere – either to men or to women – until his partner had passed away. Some people genuinely do only feel attracted to people they love, after all.

    Surely it’s less of stretch to have a different model

    But this is precisely the point – i don’t have a model for sexuality. I don’t think anyone can, since we don’t currently know why some people are straight, others are gay, and others still are bisexual. (I am aware of the research which suggests physiological factors play at least some part in it, as you’ll possibly remember from a previous post, but that research is far from conclusive.) When i talk about sexual orientation, i am using the words as descriptive labels, nothing more.

    sexuality that can be (say) uncertain and malleable in puberty

    Remember, i use the terms bi/gay/straight as descriptive labels of behaviour, nothing more. This means the terms are of limited use when describing people who may not have had an opportunity to experience the particular kind(s) of sex they want. This can extend to all sorts of people, but it’s quite frequently the case with adolescents, i think.

    I would say that adolescent sexuality is not so much uncertain as it is unknown. This seems to be borne out by the fact that people are increasingly coming out in early adolescence, and also by my own experience. I have always known, from my first ever sexual urge, that i was interested in males, although i tried to disguise that knowledge from myself for another 2 years, and from everyone else for another 3 on top of that. I have read and heard many, many accounts which lead me to believe that my experiences are not in the least unusual or exceptional.

    I view sexual taste a more like taste in food or clothes than an unchanging state which is only sometimes apparent. Someone who develops a taste for hot curries for a while their 30s isn’t a repressed curry fan the rest of their lives.

    I don’t have either the right or the wish to tell you whether your own internal sense of yourself is right or wrong – if you see your attraction to men as something as transitory and shifting as your taste in food, then that is just fine. :o)

    Speaking personally, i view sexual orientation as profoundly different to these kinds of shifting tastes, however. This is based on my observations of the way people in the great mass behave – remember that the ‘straight’ men you’ve had sex with are an unusual class of ‘straight’ people, in that they also have sex with men (or, at the least, one man), which the overwhelming majority of straight men don’t. It’s based, as well, on the fact that ex-gay ministries aren’t – and avoidance therapy techniques weren’t – succesful in changing people’s sexual desires, only their willingness to act on them. Finally, there’s the evidence that, where one family member is gay, the chances that other family members, even if they have never met, will also be gay is much higer than amongst the general population, which suggests that physiological factors play a part in determining sexual orientation.

    So far as i am aware, none of this is true for preference in foodstuffs.

  10. Lucy McGough says:

    You can sign me up for the Discworld analogy too.

    My sexuality? After an interesting year I have come to the following conclusion: “Don’t know; don’t care.” Anyone else feel the same?

  11. Agreed, Lucy.

    “I have always known, from my first ever sexual urge, that i was interested in males, ”

    My first ever sexual urge (circa age 4 – 6) was an interest in BDSM. My fantasies have persistently been focused not on a person’s body but on other factors: restraint, abuse, impersonal sex, sex with one partner willing but not sexually attracted to (though emotionally intimate with) the other, humiliation, social taboos, non-sexual sensory stimulation of various sorts (colors, textures, trees, tiles, water, temperatures, etc), futuristic technology, costumes and interesting arrangements of physical bodies. What I actually want in real life is very different, I know that much, but I still haven’t figured out what it is, if it involves sex at all.

    Aethelread, your definition of sexual orientation varies: You say it’s a measure of behavior, but then when you mention asexuals, you say some people experience no sexual attraction at all. Personally, I have willingly chosen to have sex without being attracted to the person and without having a need or desire for sex. Yeah, it wasn’t great, but I still exhibited the behavior. I prefer to measure sexual orientation by attraction, and on that scale, I’m weakly attracted to men and weakly attracted to women (so far). That’s why I feel ambiguity–enough attraction that I’m not asexual, not nearly as much attraction or desire as most people seem to feel, and not enough to make me actually want to seek out sex.

    I don’t think that someone who enjoys a particular sexual activity with males while only being attracted to females is bisexual, then, because of that definition. They just have a preference for a sexual activity.

    I agree that for most people orientation seems to be something more stable than taste in food (although some people probably have unshiftable tastes in food), but that doesn’t mean that orientation is an important component of everyone’s sexuality or that you can’t have conflicting evidence of orientation–say a lesbian who’s turned on by gay porn but has no sexual interest in men, or someone who likes oral sex from whoever if they’re already horny but who only is attracted to one sex. Also, I’ve heard the researcher Lisa Diamond talk about how she interviewed many women whose sexual orientation appeared to have changed at some point in their life, against their will and without them being able to choose to go back. It wouldn’t be particularly useful to call someone bisexual because they were attracted to one sex after or before decades of only being attracted to the other sex.

    On to gender!

    “It’s a familliar argument, and i think there’s some truth in it. It’s something i’ve heard most often from heterosexual women who are interested in co-opting the experiences of gay men to the feminist cause. The argument seems to run that gay men aren’t attacked for being gay, they’re attacked for being ‘like women’ – it’s not homosexuality that the attackers dislike, it’s femaleness. As i say, there’s some truth to it (all the dislike and hatred for ’sissy’ men and ‘butch’ women is obviously to do with gender concerns), but i don’t think it’s the whole story. I’ve personally met homophobes who really, genuinely don’t hate women, and are unsettled, not by the idea that gay men are like women, but by the idea that someone might be looking at them ‘like that’ without them realising. It’s almost like a kind of paranoia, which makes the term homophobe especially appropriate. :o)”

    I think that’s the perfect example of gender roles lying at the root of homophobia: The homophobe feels that men should not be attracted to other men (especially him), and the idea that a man is breaking that role unnerves him. Of course, seeing it this way, without gender roles homophobia wouldn’t even make sense because two people being together wouldn’t have any different social significance just because one couple had the same type of sexual organs and the other didn’t.

    I would also switch the emphasis on hatred of women as primary to gender roles as primary, causing the hatred of women. First, women are often assigned to despised gender roles (and men are taught to despise the types of things that are seen as female gender roles, and women are taught that men’s standards are better than women’s), and, second, women who transgress their gender roles are seen as threatening. Without gender roles, there wouldn’t be any basis for hating women.

  12. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the extra comments.

    Lucy McGough – Always good to know there are plenty of us Pratchett fans (Pratchettians?) around. :o)

    My sexuality? After an interesting year I have come to the following conclusion: “Don’t know; don’t care.” Anyone else feel the same?

    That’s a perfectly valid conclusion to come to, and i’m sure there are lots of people who share it, not just almost0surreptitious. We live in a culture that values sexuality in all its forms very highly, which is obviously going to be a bit alienating for people who aren’t that interested in it as a topic, and prefer to just live their lives and see what crops up. I write (and think) about this kind of stuff a fair bit because i find it fascinating on an intellectual level quite apart from the way it involves my real life. But i know not everyone shares my rather tragic obsessions… ;o)

    almost0surreptitious – Sorry, have just re-read this reply to you, and it’s ludicrously long. I’ve tried editing it down a bit, but please don’t feel you have to wade through it if you don’t want to! :o)

    My first ever sexual urge (circa age 4 – 6)

    Blimey, you have a good memory! :o)

    Aethelread, your definition of sexual orientation varies: You say it’s a measure of behavior, but then when you mention asexuals, you say some people experience no sexual attraction at all.

    I’m pretty sure it doesn’t vary, although i probably haven’t explained myself well. Asexuality is not just lack of interest in sex (that’s low libido), it’s an active distaste for all forms of sexual activity (including masturbation), and sexualised ways of thinking. You can’t apply a descriptive label based on the kind of sex a person choses to have if they actively avoid all forms of sex, so labels like ‘gay’ and so on are meaningless in describing such people. Someone who is asexual (as opposed to having a low libido) can’t be gay, or straight, or bi. They don’t have a sexual orientation because they’re asexual instead.

    I have willingly chosen to have sex without being attracted to the person and without having a need or desire for sex. Yeah, it wasn’t great, but I still exhibited the behavior.

    I’ll be honest, the fact that you’ve had sex you didn’t want with people you weren’t attracted to bothers me, really quite a lot. You – and all the rest of us – should only have sex with who we want, when we want. I don’t like to think of you giving in for the sake of some other reason. Sex is something that should only ever be done for fun! /well-meaning-but-probably-intensely-irritating lecture

    When i talk about choosing sex, i mean not just agreeing to have it, but actually wanting it for its own sake. I deliberately didn’t use the word ‘consent’ because people can consent to have sex without actively enjoying it for all kinds of reasons – out of a sense of loyalty to a partner, or because they want non-sexual physical intimacy and post-sex cuddles are a way of getting it, or because they’re being paid, to name just a few. There’s a phenomenon among male sex workers that you may have heard of, called ‘gay for pay’, where straight men have homosexual sex, essentially because gay men are far more likely to pay for sex than straight women are. Some of these men have a lot of gay sex, very possibly more gay sex than straight sex, but i wouldn’t apply the label gay or even bisexual to them unless they were actively wanting to have gay sex for its own sake. As you’ll have realised, this makes using the labels in these kinds of circumstances very difficult – something i freely admit.

    I’m weakly attracted to men and weakly attracted to women (so far). That’s why I feel ambiguity–enough attraction that I’m not asexual, not nearly as much attraction or desire as most people seem to feel, and not enough to make me actually want to seek out sex.

    If this was a hypothetical example, i’d say this is a description of a person who is bisexual (because of the both-sexes attraction), but has a low libido (the not-wanting-sex bit). I should say that i don’t think low libido (or high libido, or somewhere-in-the-middle libido) is a bad thing, as it’s often been described. It’s just a thing, another part of sexuality as valid as any other part.

    But of course this isn’t a hypothetical example, it’s your own sense of yourself, about which my opinion is meaningless. If my description doesn’t match the way you feel, or it doesn’t make any sense in the context of what you know about yourself, then please just dismiss it out of hand. You are the only expert on your sense of yourself. :o)

    I don’t think that someone who enjoys a particular sexual activity with males while only being attracted to females is bisexual, then, because of that definition.

    If they were only attracted to females, they wouldn’t want to have any kind of sex with males. This is what i mean when i say the labels are very precise – if someone has even a small amount of same-sex attraction – even for only one activity – they’re bisexual, no matter how ‘straight’ they may otherwise seem. It seems fairly likely to me (although i haven’t seen any evidence backing this up) that bisexuality exists on a spectrum, and that there will therefore be people who are 98% straight, and have only the tiniest stirrings of attraction for their own sex. According to the way i use the terminology, these people are still bisexual, however.

    They just have a preference for a sexual activity.

    If their preference was only for the activity then they could just as easily do it with the sex they usually have sex with. If it’s a gender-specific activity (like performing felatio or cunnilingus, for example), then the fact they want to do it is itself proof of their bisexuality.

    that doesn’t mean that orientation is an important component of everyone’s sexuality

    You’re right, it doesn’t, and i hope i haven’t ever said that it is an important component of everyone’s sexuality – i certainly haven’t intended to. There are people who can only achieve orgasm by masturbating to the sound of a particular household task being performed, or the smell of a certain foodstuff, or whatever. For these people, the sex of the person performing the chore or cooking the meal may be entirely secondary. But these kinds of people (and let me stress that i don’t think there’s anything wrong with them) are pretty rare, i think. For most people with an active interest in sex, the sex(es) of their partner(s) is/are fundamentally important.

    say a lesbian who’s turned on by gay porn but has no sexual interest in men

    The issue of people who are turned on by porn showing a kind of sex they don’t desire for themselves is very interesting, i think. I have a strong preference for male-on-male porn myself, but i wasn’t left completely cold by straight porn when i saw it as a teenager. I think that’s probably for three reasons. Firstly, i was ‘consuming’ it in the company of other males my own age, and their arousal aroused me. Secondly, there was still a man involved, so i could look at him, and also imagine myself in the place of the woman. Thirdly, it it’s well-done porn then the sight of two people enjoying each other sexually is in itself sexy, in the same way that watching another couple be romantic makes me feel romantic, even though it doesn’t actually involve me. But who knows, maybe by saying this i’ve just outed myself as bi… ;o)

    What a lesbian (or a straight man) would find attractive in male-on-male porn is harder to quantify, but the third reason would still apply. There might also be the possibility of deriving pleasure from knowing that one was breaking a ‘taboo’ by watching the ‘wrong kind’ of porn, and the idea of being a voyeur might also be a turn-on. As i say, it’s an interesting area – but then again i’ve always been fascinated by porn, even beyond the obvious sexual dimension.

    someone who likes oral sex from whoever if they’re already horny but who only is attracted to one sex.

    I agree this is a grey area. Given that male and female mouths are the same, and the sensations they can evoke are the same, it’s possible that a person might dissociate from who they’re actually having sex with, and achieve orgasm by pretending they were with a person of the sex they’re attracted to. Speaking personally, though, if i was turned on and i had the option of a blowjob from a woman, i would decline with thanks. This makes me suspect that people who don’t may in fact have some flickerings of attraction for the sex they claim not to be interested in, which would, of course, make them bisexual, and the “Oh, i was just horny” defence a way of disguising the reality from themselves.

    Also, I’ve heard the researcher Lisa Diamond talk about how she interviewed many women whose sexual orientation appeared to have changed at some point in their life, against their will and without them being able to choose to go back. It wouldn’t be particularly useful to call someone bisexual because they were attracted to one sex after or before decades of only being attracted to the other sex.

    The descriptive labels as i use them apply to someone’s behaviour across the whole of their lives. A person may have an internal sense of a sudden and dramatic switch, and that they can’t change even if they wanted to. I don’t for one second dispute the validity that has for the people concerned. But from my perspective as an external observer, they’re bisexual – they have desired sex with both women and men. As i said in one of my replies to Kapitano, bisexuality doesn’t have to mean simultaneous attraction to both sexes – a person who desires them at different points in their life is still bisexual. As for whether the label’s useful – well, possibly not, but then is the label on a particular species of butterfly useful? I would argue that the point of the labels is not to be useful per se, but to be descriptively precise.

    I won’t go into what you say about gender roles and homophobia in detail – i reckon both you and anyone else reading this deserve a break! I agree that worries over gender roles are certainly involved in homophobia, but i don’t think they’re the whole story. I think the revulsion of certain homophobes comes not from the feeling that a homosexual is violating gender roles, but from the fact that it raises the possibility of a kind of sex the homophobe doesn’t desire. Male homosexuality is wrong to the male homophobe because they don’t personally want to have gay sex. But as i say, i agree that worries/ fears over gender roles are part of it. Men who are ‘in touch with their feminine side’ are far less likely to be homophobic than men who worry that if they lift a teacup in the wrong way everyone will think they’re a poof. :o)

  13. Neuroskeptic says:

    Hello,

    I’m glad you liked the post – I was worried it was nonsense when I put it up… it’s nice to know not everyone thought so.

    “It’s for this reason that I dissent in part from Neuroskeptic’s assertion that he could just as legitimately identify himself as an ancient Athenian, or a Native American, as he could identify himself as an Englishman. While I agree that anyone from anywhere (and any time) can identify with any group of people, and so have an interior sense that they belong to that group, it is highly unlikely that an external observer would reach the same conclusion. “

    This is true and it’s something I didn’t make very clear… my point was that nationality is real, but it doesn’t have to be central to our felt identity, which is why I could identity myself with Athenians or Native Americans, even though I’m not, by nationality, one.

    Nationality is as much a fact of life as skin color, or hair color, or height, but it doesn’t have to be something we feel to be important. I feel myself to be “British” and “White” and not “Blackhaired” or “Tall” – but that’s purely subjective. I could feel differently. We could just as well go around thinking of ourselves in terms of hair color, and its just a historical accident that we don’t.

    With regard to sexual identity, the gay rights activist I was referring to was Peter Tatchell, in articles like this one although I forgot where I read him saying how he’d given a speech and got a negative reaction from some gay people in the audience…

    His point being that ultimately, if homosexual behaviour becomes as accepted as heterosexual behaviour, people will probably stop thinking of themselves as “gay” or “straight” because sexual orientation just won’t be a social issue any more. Some people will still be homosexual (or bisexual or whatever) but that’ll be no more something to write home about than the fact that some people today like white wine and others prefer red.

  14. Neuroskeptic says:

    Wait a minute, I found the Tatchell article – Just a Phase. One of the most sensible Comment is Free articles.

  15. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Hi Neuroskeptic, thanks for commenting – i feel honoured to have the original author paying attention to my inane wurblings. :o)

    First of all, i think i have probably misunderstood and misinterpreted some of what you said in your post, so sorry for that. I certainly agree that national identity hasn’t always been considered important – from what i remember of my A-level history, the concept began to be seen as central during the 19th century, replacing older ideas of loyalty to a particular leader.

    Thanks for the links to the Peter Tatchell articles. I think your summary of the first article you link to (in which he takes up the queer-not-gay perspective i was talking about) isn’t entirely accurate. Tatchell doesn’t argue simply that the social identities will evaporate, but that the differences in sexual behaviour between gay and straight will blur and mingle and disappear too – there won’t be any gay people or straight people because there won’t be any people who have only same-sex or only opposite-sex partners.

    This perspective derives directly from the work of Michel Foucault, who, as you probably know, was a French historian and philosopher with extreme logocentric views. He believed that a thing could not exist until there was a word for it, that it was literally impossible for there to be such a thing as a homosexual until the word homosexual had been invented. (He asserted the same idea with regard to mental illness in his work on psychiatry, and by some reports was even asserting that HIV/ AIDS could not kill him because he didn’t believe in it up until a few weeks before he died of AIDS.)

    It follows that, if homosexuals only exist because they are talked about as homosexuals, then if we were to stop calling them homosexuals, they would no longer exist. This is the point Tatchell is making when he imagines a world in which there is no distinction – not even at the level of sexual behaviour – between gay and straight.

    The problem with the idea – which is interesting enough as an abstract philosophical concept – is that it simply isn’t borne out by the historical record. There are records of people with an exclusive same-sex attraction dating back over thousands of years, and across many radically different cultures. Tatchell’s CiF article may seem to be sensible, but it’s misleading, because it only makes sense if you ignore vast swathes of the historical record, as Foucault did. At one point in his article, Tatchell actually cites some of the historical evidence for the ubiquity and persistence of same-sex attraction, but seems to think that this supports the idea that same-sex attraction is a transitory, ‘modern’ phenomenon, rather than substantially undermining it. This is more than a little odd, and makes me wonder if he may not have fully understood the ideas he’s discussing.

    Since the historical record demonstrates that the kind of people who we call homosexual have existed at different times within different cultures, it follows that the desire is not a product of our particular culture. This makes it highly unlikely that it will disappear in the way Tatchell believes it will; certainly the only effect changing our vocabulary will have will be to make it harder to describe the things we can observe happening. Inevitably, the way in which we think about homosexuality will change at some point, but that doesn’t mean the basic reality will change.

    I can certainly sign up for your vision of a future in which sexuality has ceased to be a social phenomenon, where it’s ‘nothing to write home about’, as you put it – there are some rather encouraging signs we’re well on our way to that future already. I can’t, though, sign up for Tatchell’s vision of the future, which is of a world where the sexual identity has disappeared along with the social one.

  16. Neuroskeptic says:

    Hello,

    Re: Tatchell, it’s entirely possible that I was subconsciously editing his arguments as I read them to make them more in line with what I believe (which is that our sexual orientation is inborn, but that the “gay identity” is a historical accident, and hopefully in the future one that no-one will need once sexual orientation is no longer seen as a moral or political issue.)

    Re-reading…

    Hmm, on reading his articles again, I think you’re right, although it’s not clear because he’s (maybe deliberately) a bit vague about what exactly he’s envisioning for the future. He does say at one point that

    “The boundaries between hetero and homo will merge and blur, with a greater incidence of bisexuality.”

    which implies that once people stop thinking in terms of “gay” and “straight”, people will actually stop being gay or straight, which strikes me as unlikely…

    But on the other hand, he does also say that “while same-sex behaviour has existed since the beginning of human evolution, defining oneself as gay is a relatively modern invention and is unlikely to prevail in perpetuity.”

    which implicitly recognizes that homosexual behaviour preceded the gay identity.

    Basically, I’m not sure exactly what Tatchell thinks about this, but I think you and I agree!

  17. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Hello again, Neuroskeptic. :o)

    it’s entirely possible that I was subconsciously editing his arguments as I read them to make them more in line with what I believe

    I’m pretty much certain i was doing the same thing! In particular, i think i jumped to the assumption that, when he talked about same-sex behaviour in the past and the future, Tatchell was meaning non-exclusive same-sex behaviour – i.e., bisexuality. This is something i’ve come across other people arguing, but, re-reading, it’s not what Tatchell actually says.

    Basically, I’m not sure exactly what Tatchell thinks about this, but I think you and I agree!

    I agree!

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