June 24, 2024

All men are homo(hetero,bi)sexual

What is sexuality?

Is it what you feel? Or what you do, or about the kind of penetrative se you have? Or just a group that you identify with, or feel obliged to identify with?

Some men say they are and have always been attracted to other men.

But then some men, who say they are gay, and are only attracted to men, have had sexual relationships with women. Some gay men have had more sex with women, than many heterosexual men.

I would imagine all men, who identify as heterosexual, are able to see and sense the sexual presence of other men. If you can sense the sexual presence of other men, if you can see something attractive in them, something handsome in them, is that not homosexuality? Some people say it is homoeroticism, but is homoeroticism as synonym of homosexuality or something fundamentally different?

David Beckham, Ronaldo, Tom Selleck from Magnum all have something about them, whether its manliness or prettiness, or a beautiful musculature, which I think heterosexual men can feel and respond to, more than they might respond to many women.

It might well be that sexual desire for men or women may be tipped more heavily in one direction or another, but that it’s possible for people to go either or both ways. Could it be that societal pressure and opportunity, together with situational and personal opportunity and bravery, also play a key role?

When I studied sociology I remember being told that the incidence of homosexual sex in all male environments, like in prisons (and until recently) the army, was higher than in the general population.

In the Reina Sofia, in Madrid, there was a big poster that said ‘Queer futures are being shaped every time we create imaginaries of living otherwise’. Having looked ‘queer’ up online it seems that ‘being queer’ is anyone who kicks against heterosexuality, but it can also means kicking against things like the male-female gender divide, and perhaps the hetero-homo-bi categorisation. Anyway you look at it, though, this poster is suggesting that the expression of sexuality, in whatever shape or form it takes, is empowered and made possible by the imagination and (perhaps) the behaviour of other people.

If a man has sex with women can he be homosexual? If a man has sex with a man can he be heterosexual?

Again, I ask, is sexuality something you feel, something you do or something you identify as?

Some people might say it’s something you feel, and you can feel one way, the other or both ways. But this is to suggest that feelings are somehow unaffected by the social pressures and opportunities around us. Could it be that feelings, just like behaviour, are in some sense suffocated or given air to breathe and develop, depending on the situations, opportunities and people that surround us?

Although some people might argue that being homosexual is not a choice, you are born that way, for some men, there is clearly a process through which they take conscious steps to become homosexual. Some people describe experiences and feelings, which become released, but which, to some extent, they need to give themselves permission to feel and acknowledge, given the fear of violence and hostility. Coming out of the closet is clearly a conscious decision. Seen in this way it takes some balls to be homosexual, because there is so much hostility, aggression and violence directed at people who do, are or identify with homosexuality. Pondering his own sexuality, someone once said life was difficult enough as it was, without having to contemplate being homosexual.

Some people talk about going on a journey to become their true self, sexually and identity-wise. Some gay men can say that they thought they were heterosexual for a period of their life. They might have felt heterosexual, identified as heterosexual and had heterosexual sex, but then later on find that they are actually gay, and then say that their previous feelings were false, that they didn’t know themselves.

But is there really a true self that you become or find or just a self that you are, which can change. And varying degrees of contentment, peace, achievement and acceptance, at any point in time, with regards to what you would like to be in the world, and what the world allows or expects you to be?

Professor Richard Jenkins explains in his book on social identity,  that all identity is socially negotiated. You play a part in trying to construct an identity for yourself, but who you ‘are’, who you ‘become’ and to some extent what you are able to feel and do, is always a function, in part, of what others are willing for and want you to be.

Historically and currently, many governments and people have wanted to discourage homosexual feelings, behaviours and identities. Intimidation, death penalties, jail sentences and castration have all been used to minimise homosexual possibilities.

Are we all queer?

Just as an aside, too, it seems that calling yourself heterosexual or homosexual, or what have you, doesn’t really explain everything about a person’s sexual feelings and behaviour. Take a heterosexual man. There are likely to be thousands, possibly millions of women, that he will not be sexually attracted to. If being a woman in and of itself is not enough to trigger sexual attraction in a heterosexual, what else is important? For example could it be that, in practice racist, ageist and body-type preferences are more important? And if a sexual identity or category is to be named, ought these additional things to be included in the naming of the sexual identity of said individual? Well, certainly, some people do say that they prefer this or that type, though usually this is within the confines of a gender preference.

And if these factors are different from person to person, and if they shift and change over time and space, might we also say then, that all men are queer (even if they only ever have sex with women) (to the extent that being queer means that our sexual preferences wax and wane)?

Is being asexual a thing?

Some people say that they are asexual, that they don’t have sexual feelings. Well, I suppose all people are asexual at points in time. Even the most highly sexed person, probably, spends quite a bit of their life occupied with things, events or people, without feeling anything sexually. So, if sexual feelings need to be triggered, could it be that asexual people simply live life, where those feelings are never triggered. In other words, could it be that asexual people have a dormant sexuality? Or is being asexual an immutable biological state. And if it is, how does a person who feels asexual know if there are a real asexual or a sexual person, whose sexuality or sexual feelings have not even been triggered?

 

And being sexually fluid?

Some people say sexuality is and can be fluid, or that they have a fluid sexuality. Is the adjective fluid the right one? I think what people mean when they use the word ‘fluid’ is that they sometimes have sex with men, and sometimes with women. But isn’t this just the same thing as saying ‘bisexual’? And is there anything fluid about this, or is it about changing from men to women and back again, so is it about having multiple gender-related sexual experiences?

Although if we take on the proposition that who we have feelings for and who we have sex with, whilst being determined in part by gender, is always more than just about gender, then could we say that sexuality is multifactorial and shifting? But fluid?

 

Is ‘being queer’ a contradiction in terms?

For some people, it would seem, being queer is about saying I don’t want to be categorised as being heterosexual or homosexual, even if I might only really have sex with other women or men, I just don’t want to be categorised and I don’t want to have to categorise myself. And there may be different reasons for this. People may feel that there’s all to play for, and categorising yourself limits possibilities. Furthermore, it might be argued that all attempts to categorise a person’s sexuality are in actual fact, even when dressed up as an attempt to ensure equal opportunity, an attempt to control sexuality, through pitting every other sexual identity against the dominant heterosexual identity. It is an attempt to shame and belittle and depress anyone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual. Queer then, is about kicking the machine in the nuts, and saying fuck off to the equal opportunities form. It’s like saying, we’re not having this conversation, go do one. But if this is what being queer means, then in some sense to treat queer as an additional letter in the LGBTQ acronym, to tick the queer box, is a contradiction in terms.

 

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