How Do You Know You’re Not Gay?

Joonsoo Yi:

My friend once said “how do you know whether or not you are not gay unless you have tried it?” It wasn’t a facetious remark. He is bisexual and he wanted me to have a foursome with his girlfriends. I was not taken aback by the offer (though it is quite an unusual one, I have had similar offers before), as much as I was pensive about what he said.

My immediate reaction was dismissive, because it seemed to me a rather ridiculous statement. So when the said offer was skeptically accepted, and the terms were being put into action, I knew immediately I was not gay. I consider myself fairly “open” (and I frankly don’t understand, though I am sympathetic to, the people who think sex is a “big deal”) but this was quite a shock to me.

But after considering what he had said, it made me reconsider my views on people who are gay. I was always pro-gay rights, and I’ve always had many gay friends, but this experience instilled a completely new perspective in my preconceptions about gay people. Most pro-gay rights people who are not gay themselves would be best inclined to say “although I frankly think gay sex acts are revolting, it is wrong to deny these people of rights because what they do behind the doors is nobody’s business”. And although I still tread on a similar path, understandably because I am not gay myself and so I don’t inherently find the idea of gay sex pleasurable, my views have evolved because I am convinced that there are significantly more bisexual people than most are led to believe, and here’s why:

a) There is a wide perception that there are more bisexual females than bisexual males in the world. I think this is partly true, simply because it is true. But more importantly, it is more socially acceptable for a girl to get with another girl than a guy with another guy. Two girls having sex is considered “hot” and two guys having sex is “disgusting”. I think most guys (including myself) would find this to be true, and so do girls, and I don’t have a sound explanation for this other than social conditioning. But whatever the explanation, it is a real phenomenon. If I can further the social conditioning argument, from my experience this has proven time and time again to be true. I live in California and in York (United Kingdom). California is a very conservative place when it comes to sex. University of York, on the other hand, is very liberal. In California, I don’t know any gay friends. I can speculate, but I don’t know a single person, guy or girl, who has come out as gay. Conversely, it would be impossible for me name all the gay/bisexual people I know at my university. The difference in these two cases is that being gay is a big deal in the United States. If someone comes out gay in California, he (because girls get an easier pass) will lose friendships, and even the friendships he manages to preserve would be tarnished. In York, at least, though I find British people to be infinitely more open and accepting in general and especially when it comes to sex, coming out gay is not a big deal at all. In fact, people who come out, hoping for some level of sympathy and attention, get a bit disappointed that no one could care less.

b) Repression. They say people reveal their true selves when they get drunk. I agree with this, though I think there’s a fine line between being drunk and being blacked out. The former reveals a monster, the latter creates one. But ever since I heard what my friend said, I have been noticing very subtle things. When I go out at night and meet someone, a guy, the way I interact with him is obviously different from how I interact with a girl. But I’ve had it happen to me countless times when I offer a handshake, as a means of introduction, to some random dude, at least 30% (and I’ve met a lot of people, so if you are a statistician my sample size is way beyond the sufficient amount) of them would keep holding my hand. Would a straight person do this? A girl that is interested in me would keep holding my hand too, so I know for a fact that a straight guy would never do that to me. And 90% of the time when a guy does this, all he talks about is girls and literally nothing else, so he becomes the center of a rather boring conversation, which leads me to take off. And the way these 30% of guys talk about women, i.e., the way in which they deliver their speech, has always made me feel like they are repressing something, and that the only real motivation for this rather uni-topicalized conversation is to corroborate the fact that they are straight. I could be wrong, but that is how I’ve always felt. Obviously nothing wrong with them, and I’m very good friends with them, but it’s an unmistakable pattern for the grander point I am trying to make.

c) I’ve told one of my best friends about this story, and one day I saw him kissing another man. I wasn’t shocked because I’ve always known this (and I’ve always told him this for almost 3 years now). And now, he’s more inclined to agree with me and my friend’s point that you can’t know you’re gay unless you’ve tried it or you’ve got really close to trying it (as in my case). That’s why I don’t think the argument that Ben Carson and some other Christians and Republicans in the United States use to promote homophobia makes any sense at all. They either believe that being gay is a choice or a sin you are born with. I assume my readers are fair-minded enough to laugh off the second argument, so I will ignore it. The argument that being gay is a choice is a relatively new position developed by the so-called “progressive Republicans” to avoid coming across as a medieval inherent of fundamentalist religious texts. So, they posit a pseudoscientific argument centered around hormone levels to prove their point that being gay is a choice. I don’t know how the world would be if everyone was deterred from media exposure. But, I could say with complete confidence that even in the world of media and its social conditioning, being gay is something that is inherent, and it’s not something that is created out of social norms. Gayness, I think, could be repressed, but I don’t think it can be created out of nothing. When Ben Carson said he is right about this point because people who go to jail come out as gay when they get released, he fails to understand that these people were  born gay and had not realized this fact until they have gone to jail.

As a lasting thought, I will leave you with this: ultimately, the whole discussion about sex, sexual orientation, gay rights, is a ridiculous debate to begin with. The fact that I wrote this, and you are reading this proves my point. I would not have written this if enough people did not debate about other people being gay. Who cares who has sex with whom, with how many people, or deciding to abstain. And if most people are bisexual, who are YOU to judge?

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