Thursday, August 30, 2007

The gay/straight divide

No surprise, everyone's talking about Larry Craig these days. In all the coverage, I find it interesting that everyone assumes they know what makes Larry Craig tick. He was looking for sex with men, therefore he's a closeted homosexual. Now I think they're probably mostly right, because I can't think of another reason why someone in his position would risk so much for a chance same-sex encounter. But nobody even seems to question the notion that he's either telling the truth and he's all hetero or he's lying and he's all gay.

It may be a shocking thought to some, but a guy can actually suck a dick (or want to) and not be gay. In the media especially, male homosexuality is treated like the old one drop rule for blackness - any sexual contact with any man at any time makes you all gay. This is clearly nonsense. Anone who's thought about it a little bit will realize that sexuality is a continuum. Not only that, but I think you have to consider physical sexuality and emotional sexuality as two different things. There are guys who will fool around with other guys, but have no interest in actually dating a guy. And this is even more clearly the case with women. And there are women who will sleep with men, but have relationships with women. There are even people who can actually go both ways romantically and sexually, although I would bet these are fairly rare. Sexuality isn't nearly as one dimensional as it's made out to be in the media.

A conservative senator, trolling men's rooms for anonymous sex with strangers, is probably not just an incidental homosexual. There has to be more behind that desire. But it doesn't necessarily mean his marriage is a sham either. Clearly, if he falls anywhere but 0 on Kinsey's scale, he's a self-loathing hypocrite, deserving of whatever publicity he gets. But the way our country handles questions of sexuality is just juvenile. It's like we're a nation of 10 year old boys ("Ooh, that's so gay.")

Update: A couple of comments made me want to clarify my points. First, I'm not trying to defend Craig. He's absolutely a hypocrite, whether he's all gay or not. I'm just using Craig to point out the media's portrayal of sexuality as black or white.

Second, I do have personal experience of the continuum of human sexuality (I'm not just extrapolating from porn), but anecdotal evidence is unconvincing is isolation. The important thing to look to is statistics like Kinsey's, which show a sizeable segment of the population identifies as neither all gay or straight.

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55 comments:

John Howard said...

This post is really gay.

Mrs. Furious said...

And this is even more clearly the case with women

In porn maybe... but in reality I think this is just another sexual stereotype... or male fantasy. I don't actually know many women who have "hooked up" with other women just for kicks. In fact I don't know any. I do know women who were afraid to label themselves as "lesbian" until after college, but I don't know any straight women who were into girl on girl action.

Toast said...

The problem with what you're saying, as I see it, is this: Men like Craig didn't make their bones in the GOP by giving impassioned speeches that read "A consistent pattern of homosexual behavior, complete with relationships that are both emotionally and physically fulfilling, is an ABOMINATION, an affront to the eyes of GOD! But, er, suckin' a dick now and then is OK." They are the ones who have narrowly defined any deviation of a homosexual nature as a gross departure from God's "natural order" or whatnot, and sought to ruin and constrain the lives of millions of people based on that narrow view of human sexuality.

I say Hang 'em on their own petard.

(And I don't even know what a petard is.)

Chris Howard said...

I don't actually know many women who have "hooked up" with other women just for kicks. In fact I don't know any.

That's interesting because I know quite a few. In fact, I was at a party a few weeks ago where two tipsy married women were making out. One of the women was doing it for fun and shock value, but the other does sleep with women occasionally. I also know straight men who have had sex for fun with men.

Regardless of our personal experiences, Kinsey's stats do show that a not insignificant portion of the population identifies as neither completely homosexual or completely heterosexual. I would bet without the societal stigma we have against it, the numbers would actually be higher.

Chris Howard said...

The problem with what you're saying, as I see it, is this: Men like Craig didn't make their bones in the GOP by giving impassioned speeches that read "A consistent pattern of homosexual behavior, complete with relationships that are both emotionally and physically fulfilling, is an ABOMINATION, an affront to the eyes of GOD! But, er, suckin' a dick now and then is OK."

Yes, but I'm not saying that Craig isn't a hypocrite. He certainly is - I said this -"Clearly, if he falls anywhere but 0 on Kinsey's scale, he's a self-loathing hypocrite, deserving of whatever publicity he gets."

I was just using Craig to get at the media's black or white portrayal of sexuality.

Angelos said...

I know at least 8 women who have fucked other women. Hell, I was there with two of them.

I know a couple gay-identified musicians, who, when unattached relationship-wise, will sleep with women no problem. Hey, sex is sex.

Mrs. Furious, college is quite a bit different these days.

Chris Howard said...

Mrs. Furious, college is quite a bit different these days.

I think Mrs F is younger than we are. I'm 36. Actually most of my more interesting sexual anecdotes are from the last 10 years, not college. The cubicle farms are a hotbed of lust :).

Mrs. Furious said...

I'm sure it is... but its true I'm only 31 and I went to NYU. I'm not saying it doesn't happen I'm more disputing the notion that "heterosexual" women hook up with other women any more than "heterosexual" men do.
I'm a firm believer in the continuum but I actually believe, and maybe current media illustrates, that more men are somewhere further in on the continuum than common culture wants to believe. I do dispute the notion that it is more the case among women then men. Because it is more culturally acceptable you will see drunk women hooking up at a party, men are doing it too just not in the living room.
But truthfully I really don't know any straight women, who identified themselves as straight (not gay or bisexual) who did this. Possibly I have lived in more "gay/bi friendly" areas and people were more comfortable identifying themselves that way.

Chris Howard said...

I'm a firm believer in the continuum but I actually believe, and maybe current media illustrates, that more men are somewhere further in on the continuum than common culture wants to believe. I do dispute the notion that it is more the case among women then men. Because it is more culturally acceptable you will see drunk women hooking up at a party, men are doing it too just not in the living room.
But truthfully I really don't know any straight women, who identified themselves as straight (not gay or bisexual) who did this. Possibly I have lived in more "gay/bi friendly" areas and people were more comfortable identifying themselves that way.


I agree with you 100% on the first part here. I do believe that there are just as many men who are sexually bi as women, but you don't see men making out a parties because casual male bisexuality is not accepted by our culture, whereas casual female bisexuality is, under the right circumstances.

On the self-identification thing, you may have a point there. Down here (Jax, FL), "normal" people don't identify as bi, even if they are. In fact, I know that the women I know who have had sex with women don't consider themselves to be bi (or gay for that matter). That may very likely be due to the local culture.

Mrs. Furious said...

I agree with you 100%
Good! I didn't want to have to get all Furious on ya!

And as for local culture... let's just say folks around here don't bat an eye upon finding little Isabella at the park has two mommies.

Chris Howard said...

And as for local culture... let's just say folks around here don't bat an eye upon finding little Isabella at the park has two mommies.

Sigh... I wish I could get out of Jax sometimes.

Toast said...

In fact, I was at a party a few weeks ago where two tipsy married women were making out. One of the women was doing it for fun and shock value, but the other does sleep with women occasionally. I also know straight men who have had sex for fun with men.

Holy shit, Dude! Where do you live? 1977?

Mr Furious said...

"I may be a shocking thought to some, but a guy can actually suck a dick (or want to) and not be gay..."

Um, maybe not, but I don't put that guy in the "straight" bin anymore.

That doesn't make him "all the way gay" but, he's no longer "all the way straight" either, in my opinion. I'd say there is a wide array of in-between (the continuum). One doesn't necessarily need to redefine as "bisexual" at that point...especially if they continue to lead a "normal" straight life, they can think of those moments as mere aberrations.

NOTE: When I say "normal" I just mean in terms of society, not implying anything is "abnormal."

Mr Furious said...

There are lots of external factors that come into pley here...

Age, locale, income, race, etc. All impact the perception and acceptance of homo/bisexuality.

In high school, in upper class CT, I remember a girl practically run out of high school for an indiscretion that revealed she was gay.

A year later, 100 miles away at art school in NY, being gay was no problem at all.

As Mrs. F said, here in Ann Arbor, or back in Park Slope, being gay was not an obstacle for people, and they could feel comfortable being who they were rather than being forced to live a lie, or suppress feelings to be "normal" within their society's expectations.

If Larry Craig was Chuck Schumer (ie: a Senator who lives in Park Slope) he might never have needed to find himself in that bathroom.

Chris Howard said...

especially if they continue to lead a "normal" straight life, they can think of those moments as mere aberrations.

Yeah, but maybe they're not aberrations. Maybe the hypothetical guy here is romantically straight, but enjoys the occasional dalliance with another guy. As you say, nothing is really abnormal in a pejorative sense, it just may not be the norm. Although, as I mention above, I think it's societal pressures that keep people locked into certain sexual roles. I would argue that most people are not 100% on either pole (insert joke here).

Mr Furious said...

For the record I am slightly older than you guys (39), so my college years were the late 80s. Mrs. F went to college in the mid-90s. I suspect even within NY that was a big difference.

As to the two women making out at that party, Chris, I find that HIGHLY irregular. I haven't even seen straight couples make out at a party in years.

Mr Furious said...

I think it's societal pressures that keep people locked into certain sexual roles.

yup. probably true.

Chris Howard said...

Holy shit, Dude! Where do you live? 1977?

Hell, that party actually turned out to be pretty tame. I was hoping for better.

Anyway, with Angelos as a friend, I thought you'd know all about this kind of stuff.

Mr Furious said...

Check this article at salon.com out.

Chris Howard said...

As to the two women making out at that party, Chris, I find that HIGHLY irregular. I haven't even seen straight couples make out at a party in years.

It just depends on the type of party and the type of people, I guess. I get the impression that you and Mrs F don't hang out with any couples who swing. The party I mention wasn't some kind of swing party, it was an adult birthday party with free-flowing booze. Alcohol and freewheeling attitudes raise the make out probabilities considerably, I find.

Having said that, most of the parties and functions we attend are quite normal. No making out at family birthday parties.

Chris Howard said...

Check this article at salon.com out.

Good article, thanks for the link.

Toast said...

Hell, that party actually turned out to be pretty tame. I was hoping for better.

Seriously? I've only seen two women having sex together once in person. And that doesn't count because the six of us were paying them.

Anyway, with Angelos as a friend, I thought you'd know all about this kind of stuff.

Nah. Never had any interest in those kind of parties. Never really was looking to score when I went out. I preferred making out with my beer.

Truth is, while I'm extremely open-minded about what other people do sexually, I prefer sex to be a very private thing. Don't much care to talk about it. Don't much care to see it with fellow audience members. (The incident above was a one-off.) I blame my Catholic upbringing.

Chris Howard said...

Truth is, while I'm extremely open-minded about what other people do sexually, I prefer sex to be a very private thing.

Hey, nothing wrong with that. In this respect, I think Michelline and I have more in common with Angelos. We're pretty open-minded in all regards, and we're not terribly shy about it.

Mrs. Furious said...

I get the impression that you and Mrs F don't hang out with any couples who swing.

Yeah you could say that again. Were parents of the under 5 set... we're lucky if we have sex with each other!

Swingers!?!... it must be 1977 down there! The only swingers I've ever known are my friend's parents... their 60! ;)

Toast said...

The show tunes fascination should have tipped me off. Damn, now every time I see your avatar I'm going to be imagining a porn music soundtrack in the background... ;-)

michelline said...

The show tunes fascination should have tipped me off. Damn, now every time I see your avatar I'm going to be imagining a porn music soundtrack in the background Nope, no porn music. But I did just hear a Miss Saigon song, a Mariah Carey Christmas song, Maniac by I can't remember who and more stuff like that. It's very eclectic in the music department here.

Mr Furious said...

Maniac by I can't remember who

As in "Flashdance"?

Chris Howard said...

As in "Flashdance"?

Yep, by Michael Sembello.

maurinsky said...

I agree with you, Chris. I can add my own anecdote - in high school, I was in love with a girl. I had had previous crushes on boys, but I just fell head over heels for her - and lucky for me, it was reciprocated. Aside from that, I've had a crush on one other woman, and have been otherwise strictly heterosexual.

I have a right-wing brother-in-law who thinks having a rectal exam at the doctor makes you gay. (I have a strong suspicion, based on comments he's made while intoxicated, that he was victimized by a priest, which I think he has not dealt with and which is why I think the whole idea of homosexual behavior makes him so angry.)

And I think the social acceptance of casual male/male homosexual behavior for men who are on the lower end of the Kinsey continuum is on the upswing. There are anime genres devoted to male/male relationships, there is the whole slash sub-culture in entertainment, etc.

Chris Howard said...

in high school, I was in love with a girl.

I've been looking at it mostly from the point of view of "emotionally straight" people having same-sex encounters, but you bring up another interesting side to this. Michelline has a good friend from high school who's self-identified straight mother had one long term relationship with a woman. They lived together for years and finally split up, and I think she dated men after that. So I think your experiences and hers show the variety of the sexual continuum.

And I think the social acceptance of casual male/male homosexual behavior for men who are on the lower end of the Kinsey continuum is on the upswing.

I think that may be true with the younger crowd. And I know what you mean with slash fiction. Michelline reads a lot of fan fiction and slash is a bigger genre than straight, I believe. Male locker-room culture is still strongly homophobic, though.

Chris Howard said...

Hey, 30 comments! It's been a long time around here since we reached that mark.

Toast said...

Hey, 30 comments!

It's like... an orgy of comments.

michelline said...

It's like... an orgy of comments. Yes, a real daisy chain.

Angelos said...

We're pretty open-minded in all regards, and we're not terribly shy about it.

Well, how can you have a discussion about something if you're not willing to talk about it? That's my mindset.

I've done this, haven't done this, would like to try that, would never try that.

Whatever.

Mrs. Furious may be younger than use, but it's still a huge divide between college 10 years ago and college today.

Hell, there are neologisms like "gaysted," LUG or BUG (Lesbian or Bisexual Until Graduation), etc. to describe the rather casual nature of hookups of all sorts amongst the young and experimental.

College FuckFest doesn't exist for no reason.

Also, there's pretty much nothing hotter that a girl riding you reverse cowboy while another girl licks her clit.

Mrs. Furious said...

Angelos,
Dude I don't even know what to say. You've been out of college like what close to 15 years? ... Yet it doesn't appear you have matured much.
Have you even actually been reading my comments? I'm not sure how the relevence of what is/was or ever happened when any of us was in college plays into the current discussion. I have never said it doesn't happen I am disputing the statement that women are more sexually ambiguious than men... or more prone to same sex hook ups. I haven't spent my whole life in the hills of Arkansas for crying out loud. And I happen to know exactly what is going on in college these days, I not only live in a college town but my 3 younger siblings are currently in college.
It is apparent that not everyone is having the same type of sexual experiences you are... or wanting them.

Chris,
Sorry about this comment I was actually enjoying the dialogue up until this point.

Chris Howard said...

Chris,
Sorry about this comment I was actually enjoying the dialogue up until this point.


No need to be sorry. Hopefully you won't let one comment spoil your enjoyment.

I don't want to speak for Angelos (but what the hell), but I think he was responding to me more than you with the comment about your being younger than I am. And I don't think his description of the activity in college is really a refutation of anything we said, just an observation on his part. I got that he was saying that college kids of both sexes are pretty wild these days.

Mrs. Furious said...

I guess I still don't get how college has all that much to do with this. Or what anyone's knowledge of current college sex hijinx could possibly be... "Girls Gone Wild" shit doesn't count as anecdotal evidence. And honestly I don't think it is any crazier then when I was in school (or in highschool for that matter).. shit goes on but this might come down more to what school you are going to etc. My school had zero frat activity so NYU was clearly not "College Fuckfest" type of place. People didn't go to NYU to party it is fucking expensive... you go to state schools for that shit. Which isn't to say sex wasn't being had.

Chris Howard said...

you go to state schools for that shit.

Florida State '93 here. We had plenty of frat activity, but I wasn't involved. Truth be told, Michelline and I (we've been together since high school) were kind of boring in college. We're much more fun now.

Mr Furious said...

College is clearly a time when people feel freer to experiment, and might also feel free from the bonds of home that might have kept them trapped in a role they didn't feel comfortable in.

Once leaving college and returning home or entering the "Real" world with all of it's baggage, they might slip right back into their previous lives.

I know what Mrs F means is that anybody in college she knew that messed around with the same sex, actually ended up coming out as gay (or bi). The same actually holds true in my experience as well. Though as mentioned upthread, we both went to school in NY and those people probably felt safe leading a new, more honest life, rather than pressured to resume a "straight" lifestyle, and treat their experience as some kind of "experiment."

I'm not sure what "College FuckFest" is and I'm not about to do a search, I can only assume it's either Angelos' own phrase or refers to some "Girls Gone Wild" / Spring Break-type crap—that is not a "normal" cross-section either. Those people are wasted, being paid or exploited, or under tremendous peer pressure at the time. I suspect under normal circumstances those things wouldn't happen. While alcohol can loosen inhibitions, and release deeply buried subconscious desires, in most cases, people who are "experimenting" are doing so because they have some bisexual urges (which is fine by me) OR they are under some form of duress and feel like they have to perform for some reason (which I find unfortunate).

My two cents anyway.

Mrs. Furious said...

Truth be told, Michelline and I (we've been together since high school) were kind of boring in college. We're much more fun now.

Interesting...do you think if you had had more earlier varied experiences that would have altered your self perception before marriage and even your marriage itself? Or that it is because you are in such a long term supportive relationship that you know feel freer or more comfortable to experiment than you would have as your younger self?
Please disregard if this is too personal :)

Chris Howard said...

By boring, I meant mainly that we didn't do much socially. We're a lot more outgoing now.

We've been together 19 years now and married for 15. We were both pretty shy up into our 20's. We've opened up a lot now, especially me, and I do think that has something to do with the fact that we have a strong relationship now. We've had some rough patches in the past, but we got past those before our first daughter was born - she's 11 now.

That doesn't really answer your question. I would say that we're both very comfortable with where our sexuality lies on the spectrum, and I don't think any different experiences early on would have changed where we are today. I think we're both very comfortable with ourselves and the strength of our relationship certainly makes that easy.

Mrs. Furious said...

That does answer my question.

20 years! That 's impressive, Mr F will be over 50 when we've been together that long!

Mrs. Furious said...

And the reason I asked is because my best friend is actually in a similar circumstance... having been with her boyfriend since high school... and having that be her only sex partner (which may or may not have been your experience) and she really struggles with whether or not she wants to get married since she is never sure if she has missed out on someone/something else... she feels she has no barometer with which to measure her happiness/unhappiness against. It is a really hard place for her to be at.

Toast said...

Well, how can you have a discussion about something if you're not willing to talk about it? That's my mindset. I've done this, haven't done this, would like to try that, would never try that.

Uh... Happy to talk about it with Mrs. Toast. Not so much a vast internet audience or, say, you. None of your fucking business, ya exhibitionist perv.

It is apparent that not everyone is having the same type of sexual experiences you are... or wanting them.

Word to that, Mrs. F.

Toast said...

My school had zero frat activity so NYU was clearly not "College Fuckfest" type of place.

Ha ha. Hey, I lived in a frat for five years, and let me tell ya, no "FuckFests" occurred during my tenure. Given the social landscape of our school, I'm a little surprised at the nature of Angelos' anecdotes (assuming they were from his D-Phi days). At Phi Sig, it was all about the drinking and drugs, mixed in with a fair helping of geekery. When women deigned to visit us it was like "Wow! Cool."

Toast said...

People didn't go to NYU to party it is fucking expensive... you go to state schools for that shit.

I have to call bullshit on this. RPI cost an arm and a leg when I started there in '86. It was also ranked the #3 technical institute in the country, behind only MIT and Cal Tech. And yet we were also considered one of the biggest drinking schools in the country. I think we got ranked #1 by Playboy at one point during the 80's.

Toast said...

Michelline and I (we've been together since high school) were kind of boring in college. We're much more fun now.

"Baum-chicka-bom..."

Mr Furious said...

"... yet we were also considered one of the biggest drinking schools in the country..."

What was the male/female breakdown? And you were upstate in Rochester—what else would you do but drink? Plus, frats...

Mrs. Furious said...

I have to call bullshit on this

I'm not making this shit up... going to school in NYC is a little different... no college campus, no frats, it was actually easier to buy drugs at Washington Sq Park than to get alcohol. Unless you are Lindsay Lohan or the Olsen Twins clubs weren't actually letting underage kids in downtown. Or at least they weren't under Giuliani's reign. Tuition was close to 30 grand a year and you had NYC living expenses. Oh and 85% of undergrads were musical theater majors... Being in the dorms was like being backstage at a Disney on Ice performace... not a kegger!

Angelos said...

Wow, so many things.

Mrs. F, my comment was in no way a disagreement, an implication that you're clueless, etc. Just offering my own tidbits, and my opinion. Frankly, I still can't figure out what pissed you off that much, and I've read this thread from that point down 5 times now.

I partied hard at NYU, at my fraternity's chapter down there. We frequently crashed there for concerts at the Garden, CBGB, etc. While I know living in NYC was certainly more expensive than Troy was ($.50 Mug Night, for example), tuition is outrageous for any private school.

Happy to talk about it with Mrs. Toast. Not so much a vast internet audience or, say, you. None of your fucking business, ya exhibitionist perv.

Eh, it's just sex. I'll certainly agree that details about you and the wife in particular are unnecessary, and there are privacy/respect matters too. But general talk about likes and dislikes and overall experiences would be pretty much required in a frank discussion about sex. Otherwise, you're not actually discussing anything.

Mr. F, RPI is in Troy. Male-female ratio was pretty high when we were there. 6-1 or 5-1, maybe?

It is apparent that not everyone is having the same type of sexual experiences you are... or wanting them.

Hey, I'm just a GGG partner who expects an equal return. Pretty fair, and I would hope pretty standard.

It's people who aren't getting what they want/need who wind up in bathrooms tapping their feet.

Say I'm really into golden showers. (DISCLAIMER: I am totally not into golden showers.) If I wind up with someone who won't do that for me, that's not going to work.

On the other hand, if I'm just thinking of something new to try, and I say "Hey, Wife, how about trying golden showers!" she can (and will) say "No." (DISCLAIMER: I re-iterate, I will never make that request. Not a value judgment, all you pissers out there, just not my cup of, um, tea.)

But maybe the next idea she'll say yes. It's all part of keeping it interesting.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the hills of Arkansas?

Mrs. Furious said...

I partied hard at NYU, at my fraternity's chapter down there
Seriously?!? You can't be that much older than me. When I was there I think there may have been like 2 frats left and they were not a presence at all. In fact kind of conisdered *uncool* in my days. Plenty of bongs but not many beer bongs...


As for not knowing what offended me... I must have been reading your comments in a different light. That is what is hard about the written word.

And Mr F and I can't figure out what GGG means?

Chris Howard said...

And Mr F and I can't figure out what GGG means?

Saw this at Angelos' blog a little while ago.

"GGG - Dan Savage and his readers often use the abbreviation GGG. This stands for "good, giving and game", and generally refers to Mr. Savage's ideal for healthy human sexuality: that a partner should be "good, giving and game" when presented with a person's fantasy, however kinky or unusual. In his March 1, 2007 column, Savage summarized "GGG stands for 'good, giving, and game,' which is what we should all strive to be for our sex partners. Think 'good in bed,' 'giving equal time and equal pleasure,' and 'game for anything—within reason.'""

You should definitely go read the definition of a Santorum.

Mr Furious said...

You should definitely go read the definition of a Santorum.

No. No you shouldn't. Nobody should. Trust me.

Angelos said...

"Santorum" is the greatest neologism of the 21st century. And who hasn't made a little Santorum in their day?

I'm 38. I probably visited Delta Phi at NYU 2-3 times a year between '88-'92. Columbia, too.

Probably just a misunderstanding. Most people here "know" me from Shakesville and Twoglasses, so they can figure out when I'm vehemently disagreeing, just throwing out my experiences/ideas as a counterpoint but not an argument, or just busting balls.