Sunday, December 30, 2007

But it's not about change, it's about shame

Too little attention has been paid to the nature of sexual orientation in women as opposed to men, but from what little I know of what little is out there, it's generally a lot more fluid in women. I remember having a conversation with a classmate of mine back in college. She identified as bisexual, but said that over time the degree to which she was attracted to the sexes had changed--it used to be around 75% attracted to other women and only 25% attracted to men, but at the time we talked she said it was the opposite. And a new book coming out by Lisa Diamond seems to suggest that's not uncommon:
She followed dozens of women for 10 years, as they graduated from college, worked their first jobs, fell in love, changed their minds, and tumbled into the arms of new partners. Most women's behavior had little to do with the "gay for life" story. Some switched their sexual identity many times. In fact, when asked to define themselves as "gay," "straight" or "bisexual," a number of women refused to take any label at all. Others invented their own labels; for instance, one interviewee called herself a "reluctant heterosexual."

Something that's very important to point out, though--which Ms. Diamond does stress and all the Christian bigots out there who'll leap on anything to excuse their homophobia ignore--is that even if sexuality is more fluid in women, that still doesn't mean that it's something they can control. Ms. Diamond says,
I want to make it clear that just because some women exhibit fluid sexual attraction, it doesn't mean that sexual orientation is a "lifestyle choice."

Quite right. A person's height changes over time, but that doesn't mean that it's under our control. We don't send short people to camps so they can "learn" to be taller. This is something that the ex-gays don't seem to understand. Even their horribly-flawed studies that show a paltry few gays "getting better" still don't show that ex-gay camps are responsible for the reported change in orientation. Claiming that "change is possible" is a far cry from "willful change is possible".

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