UNDERSTANDING YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS IMPORTANT

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Understanding sexual orientation is important

We all know that figuring out who we are and what we like is definitely a lifelong process. The same is the case with the process of realizing who we are sexually attracted to. This may take months or years or sometimes a life time. Sexual orientation is the term that we use to denote our sexual preferences. We have different kinds of sexual-orientations. A man who is sexually attracted only to a man is called gay whereas a woman who is sexually attracted only to a woman is called lesbian. A man or woman who is sexually attracted to both men and women is called a bisexual. A woman who is sexually attracted to only a man or a woman who is sexually attracted only to a man is described as straight or a heterosexual.  Since our childhood, we have been hearing about stories about a prince and his princess and watching movies about heroes and heroines. Such discourses made it mandatory that we can fall in love only with people from opposite sex. So when people discover that they are attracted to some one of the same sex, it is quite common that they feel shattered and think that something is wrong with them. When the society which is founded on the conventional belief system comes to know about it, it often tends to ostracize the individual.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on heteronormative sex, male supremacy, and female submission. We should not let these dominant sexual norms dumb down our sexual orientation. So when you realize that you are a homosexual, do not think that something is wrong with your sexual orientation. Remember that you are not alone. Know that there are many homosexuals all over the world. Instead of being guilty and shutting yourself out from the entire society you belong to, find out people who are supportive of you and who will not respond to you judgmentally. Realize that the problem is not with you, but with the people who criticize you. Exploring the possibility that you are gay, bisexual or transgender is an important step in your life. It is necessary to lead a more open and liberating life. So, in this column, we are focusing primarily on the question of homosexuality which is an important aspect of our sexual orientation.

The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that there is no scientific test or mechanism to trace out a person’s sexual orientation. Freudians have opined that homosexuality is the result of a distant father and an overbearing mother or the result of being stuck in ‘the anal stage’ of development. However, these hypotheses have no support of science, and hence the mainstream psychology has completely discarded it. But it should be noted the very act of questioning your sexual-orientation itself is a sign that you are not a heterosexual. One of the easiest ways to figure out your sexual orientation is to keep a track of your feelings for other people—those of your gender and those of your opposite gender. Sometimes, you may know right from the beginning ‘who you are attracted to’. And sometimes, we may be confused and need to spend some time with others to figure it out. Ask yourself this question –‘Am I sexually aroused by thinking about people of my gender?’ If your answer is yes, then you are more likely to be a homosexual. But remember that even straight people have the occasional ‘same-sex fantasy’. So just having an occasional feeling for a person from the same sex is not a sign of your being a homosexual. For being a homosexual, you need to have persistent feeling for the samesex subject. And again, keep in mind that having a homosexual encounter does not necessarily mean that you are gay.  One of the major problems that we face regarding homosexuality is homophobia, which is the fear for homosexual community. This homophobia is the result of a few myths that prevail in the society. Let’s have a look at those myths and break them.

Break your myths regarding homosexuality

  1. Some people have the misconception that a homosexual man is feminine and a lesbian is masculine. This is absolutely a misconception. A person need not be feminine or masculine to become a gay or a lesbian.
  2. Being gay or lesbian can cause AIDS. This is yet another myth. In the United States, when AIDS was first noticed, it mainly affected the homosexual community. So a rumour was in fact doing the rounds that being a lesbian or gay will make you potential victims. They even went to the extent to naming AIDS ‘gay disease’. This is absolutely wrong information. AIDS affects anyone who is engaged in unprotected sex, regardless of the person’s age, sex, class or caste.
  3. Homosexuality is contagious—This is false. Homosexuality is not a disease or situation, so it cannot be caught. It is something that comes from within and no person can be convinced to change their sexual orientation.
  4. Some people think that they can convince a homosexual to become straight. And a person’s sexual orientation can be changed by marrying them off to another person from their opposite sex. This is wrong. Nobody can change a person’s sexual orientation just by marrying them off to their opposite sex. That may even worsen the situation.
  5. Declaring that one is gay or a lesbian is for getting attention. Actually declaring your sexuality is a brave act.

 

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SREENATH V S

Sreenath V.S is a doctoral student of English in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. He was the sub-editor of the English division of Malayala Manorama Publications from 2013-2014, and is also a columnist the magazine Balarama Digest. His interest areas include child psychology, children’s literature, translation studies, and the philosophy of literature and language.

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