The Continuum of Sexuality

In response to a question, “What if a heterosexual becomes a homosexual?”

I am inclined to think that the sexual dichotomy of hetero- and homo-sexuality is what is wrong. Given an environment in which no outside forces were exerted, people would land wherever they felt led on the continuum of sexuality. For people towards the outer limits of the continuum their sexual inclinations would be clear – either same gender or opposite gender attraction. I think, however, that there aren’t too many people dwelling at these extremes. So you have what I believe to be the majority of people – those dwelling in the more central places on the continuum. I think that how the attraction is lived out is different, as well. For an extreme-dweller, the attraction of gender would take precedence over the attraction to individuals. For the centrist-dwellers, attraction to individuals would be more important than their gender identity.

Then enters social norms into the equation. We’ve had centuries of social norms being based on procreation in order to increase tribal strength – the desire for numbers and continuation of the “lineage”. These social norms have taken on the stuff of law – religious and civil – and have become absolutes, even though the need for enforcement of these norms has long passed. We have enough people, don’t you think? But the social norms still reward procreative activity, and denigrate those combinations that don’t produce children. How many times do newly married heterosexuals hear the question about having kids? And many people look askance at couples who choose not to have children – like something is wrong with them. Even more so, then, for same-gender coupling that couldn’t produce children by the conventional means.

These social norms then function like tightening the belt on a fat man – oops, we’ve heard that before somewhere. For a centrist-dweller, the social norms say you should only be attracted to opposite gender people. Since we believe in these norms – we’ve heard these voices all our lives – we internalize them and assume that the part of us that find John attractive is a perversion. Tighten the belt – control the attraction. Unfortunately, tightening the belt just squeezes the fat into places it wasn’t intended to be. The tighter we make the belt, the more the fat is shoved into bizarre places, until we have married, self-proclaiming heterosexuals tapping their feet in restroom stalls or hiring same-gender sex-workers to live out what are now considered prurient perversions. And we’re fooling ourselves if we think this is new behavior.

If someone has tightened their belt to the point of severe constriction for long enough, and they decide to have a healthier attitude towards attraction, they may appear to change their orientation. While they are simply living authentically into the identity they mave have always had, but ignored, they may appear to the outside world to have changed their sexuality. Likewise, if someone decides to tighten their belt because of outside pressure to conform to the norms, they may appear to the outside world to become “normal” heterosexuals. In reality, however, they have just become a fat-bomb waiting to explode when the belt fails.

The real problem comes from trying to understand a new paradigm while looking through the same old lens. If the lens is focussed on social norms of sexuality, we will ask questions like can a straight person become gay, or visa versa. If the lens is focussed on authentic sexuality, the questions will be more like, “Can a person really only be attracted to one gender?” So the problem is that the question, “What if a heterosexual becomes homosexual?”, is flawed. It’s a question asked by the voices in our heads, not by our own voice.

Authored by the people of Soulforce.org & Rev Andy Little. Written by Andy.

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... or, preaching from both ends


That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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