Friday, June 17, 2016

It's complicated

I'm going to try very hard to express something, but I expect I may fail.

There is this thought (or this group of thoughts, but really I'm only going to talk about one aspect for now) that I have been having for quite a while.  But the way conversations seem to go lately, unless you are fitting a certain definition, and using a particular terminology, there are people who are are going to get offended.  My purpose is not to be disrespectful to anyone.  I'm not pretending I know some great truth.

In fact, what this is really about it that I don't know.  And the horrible tragedy in Orlando last weekend got me thinking about it again.

The way society is, you have to be pretty clear that there is no other way you can stand to live with yourself to come out as gay.  I mean, there are a lot of people who think it is no big deal to treat you terribly.  There are people willing to kill you.

But I also know more young people than I have ever known before in my life who are expressing some preference other than gay or straight.  This makes so much sense to me.

So imagine a bell curve.  Up there at the top of the curve, those are the people who really completely only are attracted to the opposite gender.  over there on the extreme left are the steady 10% who are completely only attracted to the same gender.  Over there on the extreme right are the people who really aren't attracted to either gender.  Can you picture that?

So that means that there are quite a few people on those slopes, one way or the other.

Now, when I was growing up and learning about sexuality, the only thing that was openly acknowledged was that great "normal" center part of the curve.  If we ever felt some attraction to the same gender, say a spark towards a close friend or something, those feelings had to be backed away from really fast.  That way was the dark tunnel of "perversion."

I really hate the term "bi-curious" as it feels really disrespectful to me.  But at some point, we need to start realizing that sexuality is really complicated with a very wide range of healthy expression.  And how do you know for sure where you fall on the curve, if you haven't ever been free to follow a feeling and experiment?

For example, there were a few times when I was young that I was in a situation with a female friend where I felt attracted, but it was quickly shut down.  Now I know more young people are feeling the freedom to explore those feelings.

But then we have to label that, and we want the labels to be precise.  We need to know who is part of the community.  We need to know who to hate.

And then we get all the societal and religious crap thrown in.  And if you are afraid you will be targeted because of who you are attracted to, who you love, then if you aren't so much one way that you don't have a choice, you are going to tend to conform to what is safe.

If people don't feel safe to explore the full range of their emotions and attractions, how will they ever be able to grow and mature?  How can we really know ourselves?  How can we really love if we always have to pretend a bit to fit in?

Like I said, this isn't just coming to my thoughts because of the events of the last week.  And I seriously am not trying to make this about something else.  All I'm really trying to say is, I grew up in a strange and complicated world and sometimes I feel really confused.  I think a lot of people feel confused.  I hope we can figure out how to be nicer to each other and work out a better way to figure this stuff out, because sexuality really is complicated.  But being a decent human being shouldn't be.

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