Sex in Sexuality

By Sadie Holmes ’16

It was a few weeks ago when a friend of mine asked me, “Hey Sadie, how does a girl know whether she’s bisexual if she’s never experimented with another girl?” Ironically, my friend had not had her first kiss yet but identified as straight without any experimentation. It was with shock that I turned to her and responded, “Well, how do you know if you’re straight? Do you have to experiment first?” It isn’t my friend’s fault that she, like many others, have a skewed perception of gender and sexuality.

The misconception that one’s knowledge of their non-heterosexual orientation needed to come from experimentation or sexual incidence is a product of the oversexualization of LGBTQ+ individuals, an overlooked problem on our campus and in our heteronormative world.

When the misinformed think of homosexuality, they are often put off by false generalizations and stigmas. They make generally false overarching claims of unwanted sexual harassment from men and women, claims including homosexuals “hitting on them” and attempting to coerce them into sexual activity with outrageous orgies and bizarre sexual habits. Turning to popular culture, the basement scene in Pulp Fiction comes to mind as an example of the stereotype that gay men are sexually aggressive towards unknowing male victims. In the same vein, The Rocky Horror Picture Show arguably raises the point that all transgender individuals live in seclusion, waiting to prey on unsuspecting people in healthy relationships and corrupt their innocence. In reality, these ideas are rarely true and far from the norm for homosexuals and heterosexuals. Ingrained heteronormative principles lead to inaccurate media portrayals, and, although these claims are biased, judgmental, and misleading, they convince a big part of society.

The idea of gay aggressiveness is reemphasized by the gay porn industry. Much of the porn found on the Internet is gay and lesbian, this porn is consumed by straight individuals. There is nothing wrong with this consumption, but it founds the assumption that all gay and lesbian individuals engage in sexual acts at a far higher rate than straight people do. Additionally, this mass exposure to homosexual sex acts fuels the stereotypes of animalistic, primitive behavior of LGBTQ+ individuals and the misconception that sex is the sole aspect of any non-heterosexual relationship. Gay porn is also troubling because it makes homosexuality acceptable in the bedroom when a straight person is watching, but if those people leave the bedroom and express their sexuality in public, backlash is apparently merited. Needless to say, if our society is going to continue watching non-heterosexual individuals engage in sexual acts, we’re going to have to be okay with living with them as well.

Stereotypes claiming that non-heterosexuality is a life-changing and and defining characteristic of an individual lead to fears such as the worry that a LGBTQ+ dorm mate is going to hit on you. Fears like these are just as irrational as thinking a girl and a boy must be flirting with each other at all times. In some cases, frequent, pervasive, and repetitive discussion about sexuality comes from the desire of straight individuals to overcompensate and show their acceptance of sexual nonconformity, but can often come off as abrasive. In other cases, disguised as acceptance and friendliness, it can be an easy way to pry into the assumedly oversexual lives of LGBTQ+ individuals, especially gay men who have taken the role of a “GBF.” Gay and lesbian individuals have been relatively embraced in popular culture, but at times in ways that are damaging to respective communities.

Being any sexuality – whether heterosexual or otherwise – is not just about sex. It’s about what happens between two (or more) individuals, it’s about love, and it’s about emotional connections. As a society America is obsessed with sexuality of those outside of the heterosexual molds, yet that obsession brings us farther and farther from acceptance. If we as a campus are going to discuss and celebrate gender and sexuality expression and openness, we are going to have to be okay with more than just “what happens in the bedroom” and we are going to have to be okay with every aspect of non-heterosexual relationships. We need to deconstruct these stereotypes and begin to celebrate gender and sexual nonconformity in all its forms.

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