Saturday, 30 July 2011 00:00

Sexual Identity: Is it Natural or Socially Constructed

Written by 

sexual_orientation

 

Dear Sappho,

Is sexual identity and orientation natural or essential to the person or is it socially constructed and subject to change? Are people born gay or is it a personal decision to become gay?

How did your society think and act about homosexuality and sexual orientation in ancient Greece? I think I might be naturally gay myself.

 

 

 

Dear Naturally Gay Myself,

In ancient Greece we did not think of sexual orientation as a primary form of social identity as Western societies have done for hundreds of years now. Classifying sexual desires or people on the basis of sexual orientation is a modern Western concept. Some historians and researchers suggest that the emotional and affectionate activities associated with sexual orientation and terms such as gay and heterosexual have changed over time and across cultural boundaries. Foucault critiques the idea that people distinctly identifying in ways now associated with being gay did not even exist before the medical construction of homosexual pathology.

Greek society did not distinguish, judge or classify sexual desire or behavior by gender. Alexander the Great had many wives and fathered children but he also had male lovers. I have a daughter and was once married but consider myself free to love who ever I actually do love. We did not use the current day labels but just were what ever we felt, natural and essential to our own desires. The recent sexual revolution does not just apply to freedom from sexual limitations for heterosexuals - largely thanks to birth control. It also applies to the liberation of gays from the closet in the 60s to the birth of Gay Pride via Stonewall in 1970. In 1972 the American Psychological Association (APA), the world's largest association of psychologists has stated that: “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.”

Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to men, women, both genders, neither gender or another gender. The current consensus among scholars is that sexual orientation is not a choice. Classifying sexual desires or people on the basis of sexual orientation is a modern Western concept, partly due to influence of the church.

From the belief in a universal moral core of humanity it follows that all persons are inherently free and equal. For liberal humanists the universal law of reason was a guide towards total emancipation from any kind of tyranny "third order." Dictating a choice of strict sexual duality and compulsive adherence to these roles does seem to a tyranny of the third order. Compulsive heterosexuality has been enforced as the only acceptable ideological structure for a long time. That doesn’t make it right. Sexuality is fluid and all the colors in the human spectrum not merely the black and white choices we have been limited to. Pushing homosexuality as an identity for those who accept it as natural or an intrinsic part of ones true self VS those who insist it is a choice and a bad one at that. Current society seems to feel compelled to label sexual orientation. Queer is itself an identity category that some self-identified "queer theorists" and "queer activists" use to consolidate a subject-position outside of the normalizing regimes of gender and sexuality.

It gets increasingly complicated. Queer theory is derived largely from post-structuralism theory, and deconstruction in particular. Structuralism argues that human culture may be understood by means of a structure modeled on language that is distinct both from the organizations of reality and the organization of ideas and imagination. Queer" as used within queer theory is less an identity than an embodied critique of identity. Some academics have proposed a Post-Queer theory to resolve the inadequacies of Queer Theory, namely to have real life impact on the Queer and broader communities. As for me, I can see that all of the above may be considered in the evolution of human sexuality. I loved both men and women during my lifetime and I believe in following my heart. In my opinion the only form of human sexuality that is not normal or natural is the kind that involves false emotions or forced sexual commitments.

Please free Love from oppression......

Love Sappho

 

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