Beyond Gay and Straight

Our Changing Views of Sexuality

We live in a world which is slowly becoming more tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people – mostly. As we transition into a more understanding society, what will this mean for our general understanding of gender and sexuality? How will we see the issue of gender and sexuality as we move into the 21st century?

The Huffington Post UK reports:

In most parts of the world, homophobia is in decline. The global trend is for the repeal of anti-gay laws and for greater public understanding and acceptance of sexual difference. Overall, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are gradually gaining respect and rights – not losing them.

There are, of course, frightening examples of intensified homophobic repression in parts of Africa and the Middle East. But taking the long view, in world historical terms, anti-gay attitudes and laws are on the wane.

This begs the question:

As homophobia diminishes and as future societies eventually embrace a post-homophobic culture, how will this transition to equality, dignity, understanding and acceptance affect the expression of sexuality?

If human civilisation evolves into a state of sexual enlightenment, where the differences between hetero and homo no longer matter, what would this mean for the future of same-sex desire and same-sex identity?

We already know, thanks to a host of sex surveys, that bisexuality is a fact of life and that even in narrow-minded, homophobic cultures, many people have a sexuality that is, to varying degrees, capable of both heterosexual and homosexual attraction.

It is also apparent that same-sex relations flourish, albeit often temporarily, in single-sex institutions like schools, prisons and the armed forces – which suggests that sexuality might be more flexible than many people assume.

Research by Dr Alfred Kinsey in the USA during the 1940s was the first major statistical evidence that gay and straight are not watertight, irreconcilable and mutually exclusive sexual orientations. He found that human sexuality is, in fact, a continuum of desires and behaviours, ranging from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. A substantial proportion of the population shares an amalgam of same-sex and opposite-sex feelings – even if they do not act on them.

In Sexual Behaviour In The Human Male (1948), Kinsey recorded that 13% of the men he surveyed were either mostly or exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. Twenty-five per cent had more than incidental gay reactions or experience, amounting to clear and continuing same-sex desires. Altogether, 37% of the men Kinsey questioned had experienced sex with other males to the point of orgasm, and half had experienced mental attraction or erotic arousal towards other men (often transient and not physically expressed).

Kinsey’s statistics on same-sex behaviour have since been criticised as out-of-date, exaggerated and unrepresentative. However, his idea of a spectrum of human sexuality has tended to be reinforced by subsequent surveys which have shown that a significant proportion of the population have had sexual relations with both men and women.

What do you think — how will our views of sexuality change as we move into the future?

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3 thoughts on “Beyond Gay and Straight

  1. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    I guess I should also , being fair, say that I’ve met some lovely folks here too,…….

    …….but overall, the attitudes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are , I’d say, very hateful. But I also live in an area where the KKK is trying to make a comeback too, which another reason why I would fear for the safety of my gay friends from Chicago coming to visit me down here.

  2. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    I think that the USA still has a way to go in accepting and becoming more tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people .

    I say this merely by seeing the general attitude from the local folks in my area towards gay people who live in my area and that’s a shame.

    I grew up in Chicago and in the larger urban areas nobody really cared who dated who and the gay and lesbian communities are accepted no problem.
    But when I retired to the southern bible belt….all I can say is WOW ! what hateful attitudes out in the more rural areas.
    I have many gay & lesbian friends from Chicago that I would hesitate to invite to come and visit me where I live now as I would fear for their safety and well being.

    Don’t mean to offend anybody…just stating what I’ve witnessed in my area.

  3. kelli5130

    My hope for “our” views on sexuality is simply to stop using labels. Once we use any other label aside from human, we dehumanize ourselves and become judgemental.

    We fall in love soul to soul, life after life no matter what body we are inhabiting.

    It is hard enough to find each other without adding hate or fear to a loving heart.

    Thank you again for another thought-provoking article. Keep up the good work, you are brilliant


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