sex & relationships

Is it time for us to reconsider sexual preferences?

Last week, Tom Daley’s sexuality has made front page news.

Last week, Tom Daley’s sexuality has made front page news. The YouTube video announcing that he is in a gay relationship has seen sportsmen and women applauding him for his bravery and honesty while tabloids have fallen over themselves to call Tom an out and proud homosexual.

What has not been examined in nearly as much depth is that Tom admits he “still fancies girls,” this seems to confuse tabloid journalists who want to place him as firmly gay. While Tom never admits that he is now only attracted to men, he says candidly that something fell into place when he met his new boyfriend and this was both unexpected and exciting.  

Viewed via category

This sudden romance got me thinking about our modern conceptions of sexuality and why we are so desperate to “fit” (and perhaps be fitted) in a ‘category’ such as homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual. Moreover, Tom’s surprising attraction allowed me to consider how changeable sexuality can be and whether we should be more open to falling in love with a person regardless of their gender.

First off, viewing our sexuality as a ‘category’ is a fairly modern phenomenon that I believe needs some serious readdressing.  It may surprise you to know that the major categories of sexuality (outlined as homosexual, heterosexual , transsexual and later bisexual) have only existed for around 150 years and were created to define different ‘types’ of people.

In particular, they were created to state how gay people were distinct and different. Prior to this, the notion of a gay person was totally unfamiliar and the concept of “coming out” was unheard of.   Instead, ordinary people understood that it was behaviours, acts and relationships that were either ‘gay’ or ‘straight.’

Labels: Getting us nowhere

I believe these categories can be both confusing and damaging as they can make us desperate to “fit” into one or the other. Moreover, the categories attach an inflexible and intractable label to a person instead of understanding sexual behaviour as simply that, something that can be altered or changed over time.

While I am not trying to suggest that there is no such thing as gay man or woman, I am putting forward an accepted argument that most peoples’ sexuality is on a spectrum that makes them neither one hundred percent ‘gay ‘or ‘straight.’ This makes it clear to me that these labels are both out of date and often destructive to understanding your own sexual preferences.

Moreover, just as Tom Daley was surprised by his new love for a man, we can all be surprised by our sexuality. This may be difficult for some people to believe and I am certain many of you will have decided on your sexuality many years ago.

Indeed, I’m sure you know people who would squirm with embarrassment at being asked if they have ever (or would ever) fancy anyone of the same sex. But, I ask why?

As Tom and countless others have discovered, sexuality does not have to be a stoic and integral part of who we are. Most importantly, by understanding that our sexuality could change, we are surely more likely to accept ourselves completely and by that, hopefully fall in love with the right person.

What do you think? Do your view your sexuality as within a category? Or do you believe your sexual preferences are open to change? Let us know! 

image: Jim Thurston