I have a friend who is bisexual, a beautiful yet strong and handsome Swiss man. He says he is prejudiced against by both straights and gays. Straight men are defensive around him, whilst gay men scorn him for having relationships with women. It made me realise how complex the issue of sexuality is.
I was asked to write about the sexuality of young people in the wake of the recent victimisation of an 18-year-old young man by his former school friends, which resulted in the young man dying of his horrific injuries, which are sexual in nature. All because the young man appeared effeminate to his sick tormentors.
In today’s world, sexuality is a minefield for young people. Who am I??? In the olden days, you were either straight, gay or bi. You are in one of the three boxes. Take your pick and be damned.
About three years ago, a psychologist told me that this 3-box model of human sexuality is outdated and grossly inaccurate. Human sexuality is like a scale, from 0% to 100%. A bisexual would be on the 50%-50% mark. Others might be 100% or 75%, or 60% or any number on the 0-100 scale. These varying degrees should be no more difficult to comprehend than say, the amount of melanin you have in your body – for instance, Caucasians generally have less pigments than Asians and Africans. Same with sexuality; our individual male-female preferences come in different doses, that’s all.
Mine is at approximately 1% for females, 99% for males, as I discovered over the years. Once, in my early twenties, I was very drunk and I kissed my female friend. She was tall, blonde and coquettish, and we were on a girls’ trip in Milan. It was my first time kissing a woman. When I sobered up the next morning, I wasn’t shocked or disgusted (I had broken most taboos by my teens so lesbianism wasn’t that outrageous on my scale of things). I just didn’t feel like doing it again with her or another woman, though I love the company of women. Moreover, I love the way a man’s body fits into mine far too much, our contrasting anatomical parts, the exciting taste of hormones that are not similar to mine, the mingling of the different baritones of our voices in passion, his greater strength and our incredible chemistry. I love these all far too much, and for me, that is the greatest physical joy which I often write about. That’s just my personal preference.
Some people in their youth had experimented with same-sex affairs (or to a lesser extent, having crush on teachers of the same sex), who have gone on to be very happily married in their heterosexual relationships. Conversely, there are others who chose to live heterosexual lives, choosing to ‘come out’ only later in life.
Apart from these straight-or-gay categories, there is also asexuality, by the way. And others, too – do you know the difference between a transsexual and a transvestite?
A friend once told me that he met someone (let’s call him “A”) who was once a man, who changed sex to become a woman. “A” had his male sex organs removed and breasts implanted. As a woman, “A” began having sexual relationships with men. But after a year or so of having sex with men, “A” realised that she is more deeply attracted to women.
Indeed, sexuality is complex, fluid and overwhelming, especially for young people who are just discovering theirs. We still don’t know for sure the factors that shape someone’s sexuality, only that there are a whole lot more than three flavours. If these young people are not taught the breadth and depth that sexuality spans, then they fear it, hate it, loathe it. And this is precisely what happens when we put people into boxes, be it differentiated by race, religion, gender or sexual preferences. It creates more divide in an already divided world.
This is my view as a heterosexual mother who is in a heterosexual relationship, whose children all happen to be heterosexual. It is easy for my children, because all is clear-cut when it comes to their sexuality, but many young people do not have that clarity. It can be confusing, exacerbated by societal prejudices, peer group bullying and a sense of shame. Humankind is beginning to accept different skin tones, so let’s extend this understanding to sexuality. We are all the same fundamentally, we just come in different shades. Throw out the boxes and the prejudice. This is sex education in the 21st century.
I love my niece’s answer when asked why she does not have a boyfriend. Does she, uh, prefer girls?
No, she responds with a big smile. “I prefer ME.”
That’s the perfect answer I think because isn’t that what sexuality is about? Love is love.