Dr. Stephen Petteruti’s take on “gay” or “straight”, and how those labels are putting people in boxes rather than setting them free.
Imagine that the world didn’t care anything about who is gay or who is straight. Imagine instead the world was biased either for or against those who performed oral sex and those who didn’t. Let’s call them the “Orals” versus the “Genitals”.
Inevitably the Orals and the Genitals would debate the moral legitimacy of their behavior. The Genitals would feel far superior to, and be biased against the Orals. The Genitals would argue that their form of sexuality enables the possibility of procreation and therefore is more natural. The Orals would argue that their preferred choice of sexual stimulation should not bear any inference to other human attributes. Over the years, social activist groups would be formed around each select behavior. Political lobbying would take place. People would feel compelled to decide whether they were Oral, or Genital. If a Genital person happened to experience the pleasure of oral stimulation, it would potentially devastate his identity and cause great self-consternation. Which camp should that person be in? Am I a Genital, or an Oral? The decision would have deep impact on everything from the restaurants and clubs he/she goes to, to the people he/she associates with.
Fortunately, most of the world does not care about the degree of sexual pleasure you receive from either oral or genital stimulation. It is considered a personal choice not demanding public disclosure and not affecting individual’s identity regardless of which they choose. It is simply nobody’s business but your own and that of your partner. In fact some people take pleasure in both approaches to varying degrees. Let’s call them “Omni-responders.” As such, they are free to experience either pleasure in whatever degree the spirit moves them without much ponderous reflection on what it says about them genetically, socially, politically or morally.
Thus I believe the same truism applies to human sexuality. In reality, we are all “Omni-sexual.” The categories of “gay” or “straight” are artificial constructions manufactured by a limited human species more interested in putting people in boxes than in setting them free. Over my years of practicing medicine I’ve had the opportunity to take thousands of histories from my patients, including histories regarding sexual orientation. Based upon my personal observations, I would estimate that 99% of humanity has a variable degree of sexual responsiveness to either gender.
Thus I believe the baseline human sexual orientation is bisexual. The only question is to what degree one is oriented towards either gender. The artificial line between gay and straight is just that, an artificial line. The notion of “coming out” is just as forced, artificial and limiting as the notion of fully denying bisexual interests. “Coming out” implies that you are no longer acknowledging any heterosexual orientation but are embracing an exclusive homosexual choice.
I believe the process of coming out certainly declares the dominant orientation. Imagine an individual who is 80% oriented towards same gender and 20% oriented towards opposite gender. To embrace strictly same gender attraction would be to deny 20% of their natural state. Yet it more closely fits the limited categories society has created. To fully express both sides of gender attraction would be to create personal and social confusion. Due to the way we have pigeonholed sexual orientation, it’s difficult for an individual to move between two worlds. To do so tends to confuse lovers, friends and relatives. It can even confuse the individual. It is much cleaner to simply deny a portion of your identity while conforming to societal expectations, either gay or straight.
-Dr. Stephen Petteruti