Once upon a time, there was a certain clarity in the world of sexuality. Regardless of whether one believed a homosexual orientation was innate or a matter of choice, the sexual orientations were easily and clearly defined: Those who were attracted to, and had sex with, people of the opposite gender were heterosexual (straight), while homosexuals (gays and lesbians) were attracted to, and had sex with, people of the same gender. You knew who was who by the gender of the sexual partner.
As time went on, the waters became muddied a bit by acknowledgment of bisexuals and their ability to be attracted to, and have sex with, people of either gender. Initially, they were seen as immature or confused, either closeted gay people or curious straight people. But eventually we got our heads around bisexuality and, for the most part, accepted that it was a real sexual orientation, just like gay/lesbian and straight.
What is still called “sexual” orientation was acknowledged to be not only about sex, but about emotional attachment as well.
The truth is, sexuality can be fluid, varying across time and situation. And, desire/behavior and orientation/identity do not always line up neatly. Some completely straight individuals have unexpectedly found themselves falling in love with, and being sexual with, those of the same gender, and some happily gay people have unexpectedly become partnered with those of the other gender. How could this happen? What does it mean?
Studies have shown that sexual fluidity is not uncommon and is found more frequently in women than men. This does not mean that we all experience a degree of fluidity, nor that we are all really bisexual. It simply means that while the majority of people experience a stable sexual orientation congruent with their sexual and romantic attractions and behavior, some do not.
The concept of what is normal sexuality has changed. And isn’t that a good thing?
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