Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sexual identity and sexual orientation

A recent study in New York City revealed that up to 10% of men self-identifying as heterosexual had had sexual activity with another man in the last year, several of them had only had sex with other men. Identity can be changed. Why some of those men don't identify themselves as gay is a matter for them. Clinically they can be identified as homosexual or bisexual, but how they self-identify is a very different matter. Sexual orientation is about the gender of those with whom you have sexual activity and the gender to whom you are attracted. But one's actions and feelings are not necessarily how one identifies oneself to oneself and others.

In many ways the problem is confusing definitions. It is like the woman who told me that she didn't identify as a feminist but did identify as a sufferigist. She'd heard too many times that feminists were man-haters, but no one had ever told her the same about the ancestral name 'suffragist.' And she didn't realize that feminists want equality between women and men and the word suffragist was about getting equal voting rights. Too many men (and women) identify being homosexual or gay with attitudes or activities with which they disagree, but haven't realized what makes one homosexual or bisexual is attraction to and/or sexual activity with their own gender.

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