"There is no such creation as a "gay" or "homosexual" person." So say Love in Action, the increasingly infamous treatment program for homosexuals.
You know I almost agree with them.
I've had a social constructivist bent ever since I studied at a centre for research into intellectual disabilities and did my undergraduate project in cultural representations of childhood in the language used during Parent-Child-Interaction-Therapy. I must admit, it is probably to the chagrin of my current die-hard positivist PhD supervisors that after 3 years of squeezing myself into a rather medicalised research group, I am more convinced than ever of the need to consider the implications of social constructivist philosophy for mental health.
But I digress, and I'm sure my intellectualised rants about the philosophy of science and the manner in which the underlying beliefs behind psychological theories and priniciples may be oppressive to people with mental illness are probably not of much interest. But brushing up on social constructionism has reminded me how much our experience of the world is associated with the language we use.
Partner-dude and I have been priveleged to have Peterson staying with us this weekend - so naturally we've spent a lot of time discussing queer issues.
I wonder why do we categorise people's sexuality by the gender of who they fancy.
Am I, someone who has always been attracted to males really so simple as to be 'heterosexual'. Am I incidentally homosexual because I posed for a camera, kissing a female friend once (the joys of photo pub crawls...and the ensuing embarrassment when a photograph of said incident made it into the hands of some of my conservative Christian friends!)
I suspect that our language constrains us to think about sexuality along the dimensions of heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. And, I'm not denying that this has any relation to reality - some are attracted to people of the opposite sex, and some people are attracted to people of the same sex and some people are attracted to both.
But I don't think these dimensions really do justice to the diversity of human sexual desire and expression and our society's obsession with these dimensions may limit our discussions on issues around sexual ethics.
So is my sexuality heterosexual - yes if you want to define it as such, but that's certainly not the whole story. My sexuality is about myself as a sexual being and part of that means taking care of myself, eating well, exercising, breathing in the fresh air and escaping the office once in a while. I express it with my partner curled up under fluffy blankets watching arty films, discussing good books, shouting at political commentators on the news, ranting about the boredom of doing a PhD, sharing Haagen-Daz under the duvet and much much much shared laughter. Its everything from subtle looks, cheeky games of footsie, deep friendship, gentle kisses and passionate snogs to overwhelming urges to rip off all my partner's clothes, blindfold him and tie him to the bedposts...ok, maybe that was too much information ;)
But these things are all part of my sexuality, all things I want to share with my partner, and in so doing I find a wealth of sexual expression that is far broader, far more wonderful and far more fun that saying "I am heterosexual, I desire vaginal intercourse with men." I wonder if we could change the ways in which we think about our sexualities would it help us better engage in discussion about what our sexuality means for us and how it can be lived well. The importance of whether you do men or women seems to pale in comparison to the tremendous diversity of what turns us on and the ways in which we human beings express ourselves sexually.
In discussions of sexual ethics, particularly in religious contexts, we so desperately need to move beyond the 'gay debate' into a whole new realm of discussion as to how to live our sexualities in ways that express love for ourselves, for one another and in the spirit/light/God/Christ (whatever that means - I'm afraid I don't like to be watched, not even by Jesus).