Sexuality & Sexual orientation

Definitions:

Heterosexual: attracted to the opposite sex girls/boys

Homosexual (gay): attracted to the same sex girl/girl or boy/boy

Bisexual: attracted to both sexes

Lesbian:  A girl who fancies other girls

MSM – Men who have sex with men:  is a term that was coined to explain the behaviour of some men who (for whatever reason) may have sex with other men, regardless of how they identify their sexual orientation. For example, a male sex worker (or equally a victim of exploitation) may have sex with other men but may identify as heterosexual.

Asexual:  If someone identifies as asexual it tends to mean that they are not interested in a sexual relationship with anyone. It’s not that they haven’t found the right person yet, they just aren’t interested in sexual relationships. However, they may still have strong romantic relationships, and can experience sexual pleasure. Some asexuals also report having no sex-drive or gain no pleasure from sex itself, however this is not exclusive.

Pansexual: is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction to a person regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Also referred to as ‘gender-blind’. Pansexual people do not believe in limited categories of identity and instead fancy the person.


 

Sexual orientation is all about who you fancy or who you like to have sex with. Many people are still under the assumption that people are heterosexual by default – but being gay is as old as humanity.

Statistically speaking it is believed that roughly 1 in 6 people in the UK do not regard themselves as heterosexual. That is approximately the same proportion of people who have blonde hair – would we really say that it is abnormal, strange or wrong to have blonde hair?!

Why is it so surprising that we may find members of the same sex appealing, or that we might fancy members of both sexes – when quite often we are turned on by people’s personalities and sense of humours rather than just their looks?

For some people they feel very strongly that they are gay or straight or bisexual and want to label themselves as such. Other people reject the notion of labelling themselves as anything. Again some believe that your sexual orientation is fixed and that you are born gay or straight. However, I have known people who when they were young identified themselves very strongly as heterosexual, fancying the opposite sex – have done the traditional thing and got married and had kids even and then later in life found themselves drawn more and more to members of the same sex. This is not unusual.

It is perfectly normal to be 100% sure and equally it is just as ok to be undecided and unsure.

Avoid the stereotyping and assumptions:

–Fairies, dykes, butch and benders 

When it comes to being gay there seems to be the automatic assumption that everyone fits a stereotype. There is this notion that all gay men are effeminate, really camp into fashion, speak with high pitch girly voices and mince about the place. Whereas all lesbians are really butch, dress like men, don’t shave their arm pits, have short spiky hair and where flat shoes, preferably walking boots. There is no room for manoeuvre; if you are gay then it is a simple fact that that is how it is.

This is nonsense: there are plenty of gay men who dress badly, play rugby and drink beer and plenty of lesbians that are elegant and effeminate. The assumption is that guys fancy girls so then one of you needs to take on each of the gender roles – so it makes sense.

Admittedly there are plenty of camp gay men and plenty of butch lesbians, however think about why some people might choose to conform to these stereotype – it is a great way to identify themselves as a particular person – it is no different than a person dressing as a goth or donning a Man United shirt – it is a way of saying to the world this is who I am and I am proud of the fact. Or maybe – just maybe that is how they like to dress?!?

The other assumptions we make about peoples sexual orientation is that it must dictate what type of sex you have. If you think of all the derogatory terms we use to abuse people for being gay many of them are centred on certain sexual acts. For gay men we call them batty boys, bum-bandits, ass lovers, cock jockie or poo pirates all terms which allude to the assumption that all gay men have anal sex – which is simply not true.

Behavioural surveys exploring sexual practices around the world always return similar results – only around 45% of gay men engage in anal sex, which is only a small amount more than heterosexual couples at about 40% – but you wouldn’t call a straight couple a pair of ass bandits would you? It just doesn’t make any sense!

Indeed, we like to hurl abusive terms such as muff-diver and  rug-muncher  at lesbians with the assumption that it is only them that engage in oral sex? Would you really abuse a man for going down on his girlfriend by shouting at him that he likes to drink from the fury cup?! Again it just doesn’t make sense to throw these terms at people assuming that they must have sex in a certain way or that how people may or may not like to have sex is anything to be embarrassed about or to use against them.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GAY SEX!

Indeed, this concept forms the basis for a very fun and useful session aimed at tackling homophobic attitudes: D()ingIt.Homophobic Bullying

The heterosexual questionnaire: Do you need treatment?

  • When did you first realise you were a heterosexual?
  • What do you think is the cause of your heterosexuality?
  • Did you have an inadequate mother or father figure?
  • Have you told your parents you are a heterosexual?
  • Did someone seduce you into being straight?
  • Did you have a really normal childhood? Is that why you turned out the way you are?
  • Is it possible that this is just a phase you are going through?
  • Don’t you think you need a good gay shag to sort you out?
  • Why don’t you hide what you are?
  • Are there others like you in your family?
  • Are you afraid of members of the same sex or something?
  • What do you heterosexuals do in bed exactly?
  • More than 90% of child molesters are heterosexual – aren’t you concerned for your children?
  • Why do you people insist of making such a public spectacle of your heterosexuality? Can’t you keep it quiet?
  • Penetrative sex is more common amongst heterosexual couple – aren’t you worried about catching HIV?
  • Why are heterosexuals so promiscuous, always having affairs and stuff?

You people need help….

Generally, if you turn it around and it sounds like a stupid question – it probably is!

The fact is some people fancy girls, some fancy boys and some fancy both and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no guarantee that just because you are straight that you’re relationships will be healthier or more normal than someone who happens to be gay. Whether you are heterosexual or homosexual you can have one night stands, you can take risks, catch STIs, cheat on each other, fall in love, argue and make mistakes. At the end of the day it is still just sex and relationships.

NB: The best way of being inclusive when it comes to teaching about gay relationships is not to focus on the gay part.  Simply use the inclusive term partner and regardless of who is in the relationship – it is either healthy or unhealthy. Talk about the qualities people have – again this haps to avoid gender stereotypes too. When discussion problems why do they have to be gendered?

Furthermore, let me say again – when it comes to talking about sex – there is no thing as gay sex! (as you will know if you have used the sex-act-cards)

This again is the benefit of focusing on sex rather than merely reproduction.

To explore personal identity more follow the links below:

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