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To: The Table of Content - The Changing Social Construction of Western Male Homosexuality and Worsening Youth Suicide Problems

By Pierre J. Tremblay & Richard Ramsay
Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.

An updated interim paper prepared in support of a Poster Presentaton with the same name at the 2004 CASP (Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention) Conference held in Edmonton, Alberta. Original Paper.

Sexual Orientation: Binaries, Definitions, and Research Problems


Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, and queer are some of words used to represent human sexual orientations. The majority of these words have been used as adjectives preceding words such as man, male, female, adolescent, student, person and so on. Their use as nouns has increased in association with the belief that homosexual individuals are more like a separate species or a distinct category in the human family. Connell (1992: 737) recognised that "[u]sing the term 'homosexuals' as a noun reified sexual object choice into a type of human being," and many others have challenged the perception of distinct entities, including Gore Vidal who has been widely quoted in this respect:

"There is no such thing as a homosexual person. There are only homosexual acts" (Martin, 1997; Bianco, 2000).
In the Foreword to The Invention of Heterosexuality by Jonathan Katz, Vidal also notes that "heterosexuality [is] a weird concept of recent origin and terrible consequences" (Vidal, 1995: vii).

To help the public better understand the concept of "sexual orientation," the American Psychological Association (APA) made available an apparently research based definition:

Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person... Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only). Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors (APA, 1999).
The APA definition of sexual orientation is based on a biological sex binary that has produced the words "homosexual" for same-sex attractions, "heterosexual" for opposite sex attractions, and "bisexual" for varying degrees of attractions to either sex. As a rule, however, sexual orientation has been perceived in the traditional form of the "binary." One was to be either homosexual or heterosexual, and all individuals claiming to have a bisexual orientation were invalidated and even abused. An increasing number of professionals are challenging this perception on the basis of observations that led Glorianne Leck, for example, to conclude: "It is obvious that categories of homosexual and heterosexual create false binaries and therefore give us inadequate information and impression" (Leck, 2000: 332; Note 1). Concerning this issue, Gore Vidal noted that once "heterosexuality" was invented,
"there had to be another word to denote the opposite, and thus 'homosexuality' was invented and Katz now shows how the words got frozen into their present usage. Good term: hetero. Bad term: homo. Straight versus gay. Either one or the other; no Mr. In-Between. The division has led to endless trouble for many men and women…" (Vidal, 1995: ix)
The binary basis of sexual orientation has meant that an individual was to be either heterosexual (often meaning "normal") or homosexual (meaning "abnormal"), with bisexuality being ignored, condemned or considered a disguise because it apparently should not exist (Note 2). By the 1980s, this binary view of human sexuality was dominant as illustrated in the title of Schneider and Tremble’s paper "Gay or straight? Working with confused adolescents" (1985-6). Placing oneself in either the gay or straight categories had acceptance and non-acceptance consequences. Those who supported the binary classification system had a history of defining homosexual individuals as "mentally disordered" in accordance with diagnostic schemes of organisations such as The American Psychiatric Association and The American Psychological Association. The removal of this politically motivated "mental disorder" label occurred in 1973-4 after protests from those who perceived themselves to be defined and targeted for abuse by these organisations of mental health professionals. Many self-identified homosexual individuals did not agree with the "mental disorder" attribute, and neither did a significant number of professionals (Bayer, 1981).

Key words used in the sexual orientation definition do not have a long history (Michel Foucault, 1976) and this fact is strongly re-emphasised by Katz (1995) in The Invention of Heterosexuality and in his 2001 book Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality. The words "homosexual" and "heterosexual" were invented at the end of the 19th century and all aspects of many aspects of 'heterosexuality' were deemed abnormal until the 1930s. In the PBS Frontline documentary, "Assault on Gays in America," in a section titled "Who’s Gay? Who's Straight? Viewing Homosexuality and Heterosexuality in the Context of Culture and History, Jonathan Katz (1995) is quoted (without the original references) as follows in a subsection:

"The discourse on heterosexuality had a protracted coming out, not completed in American popular culture until the 1920s. Only slowly was heterosexuality established as a stable sign of normal sex. The association of heterosexuality with perversion continued as well into the twentieth century...

Neither had heterosexuality yet attained the status of normal. In 1901, Dorland's Medical Dictionary, published in Philadelphia, continued to define 'Heterosexuality' as 'Abnormal or perverted appetite toward the opposite sex.' Dorland's heterosexuality, a new 'appetite,' was clearly identified with an 'opposite sex' hunger. But that craving was still aberrant. Dorland's calling heterosexuality 'abnormal or perverted' is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary's first Supplement (1933), a 'misapplied' definition. But contrary to the OED, Dorland's is a perfectly legitimate understanding of heterosexuality according to a procreative norm…

The twentieth century witnessed the decreasing legitimacy of that procreative imperative, and the increasing public acceptance of a new hetero pleasure principle. Gradually, heterosexuality came to refer to a normal other-sex sensuality free of any essential tie to procreation. But only in the mid- 1960s would heteroeroticism be distinguished completely from reproduction, and male-female pleasure sex justified for itself. ...

For in 1923 Webster's defined 'heterosexuality' as a 'Med.' term meaning 'morbid sexual passion for one of the opposite sex.' Only in 1934 does 'heterosexuality' first appear in Webster's hefty Second Edition Unabridged defined in what is still the dominant modern mode. There, heterosexuality is finally a 'manifestation of sexual passion for one of the opposite sex; normal sexuality.' Heterosexuality had finally attained the status of norm."

Bisexuality is currently often spoken about in terms of "bisexualities," but the same is not true in recognising a spectrum of sexualities called "homosexuality" or "heterosexuality." The APA definition recognises bisexualities, but to be consistent, the words "homosexualities" (Bell and Weinberg, 1978), "heterosexualities," and "asexualities" should also be used to designate the diversity of sexualities that have existed in human cultures throughout history (Dorais, 1994: 135; Note 2). In addition, Dorais warned against potentially serious problems stemming from the present definition of "sexual orientation" and the varied operational definitions of homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual that are generally used to apparently "advance" the understanding of "sexual orientations." These definition problems pose serious challenges in the selection of study samples by researchers wanting to investigate genetic associations in homosexuality. To conduct research with the current definition problems, according to Dorais, would likely result in the production of "a bad piece of science fiction" (Dorais, 1994: 146). Others have articulated similar views (Dowsett,1998; Muscarella, 2000; Gallo and Robinson, 2000; Terry, 2000; Brookey, 2000; Wilson, 2001) and warnings have been issued to anthropologists about the great dangers of applying current "sexual orientation" perceptions when seeking to understand men in ancient Greece and Rome, and in other more contemporary cultures. The paper, "The myth of the heterosexual: anthropology and sexuality for classicists," begins with:
"This is not an article on ancient sexuality. It s an article on how to think about ancient sexuality. In particular, it is an article on the widely differing systems that cultures throughout time and the world have used to classify people and their sexual acts. Our own particular system divides people into two major classes on the basis of whether they have sex with others of the same sex or not (heterosexual versus homosexual). This is a surprisingly rare system anywhere in the world and a comparatively recent development in the west (1). The system shared by the Ancient Greeks and Romans was quite different and divided acts and people on the axis of active versus passive (2). Similar ways of categorizing sex are much more widely spread, both historically and anthropologically, but this system, too, is only one of the many patterns to be found (3)" (Parker, 2001: 313-4).

Notes: 1: "Foucault 1985, Greenberg 1988, Halperin 1990; McWhirter, Sanders, and Reinisch 1990. J Katz 1995 is especially refreshing." - 2: "For some overviews, see Housman 1931, 408 n.1 (= 1972.1180 n. 2); Dover 1973, esp. 148-49, 1978, 16, 168-70; Richlin 1992, esp. 131-39 (contra Richlin 1993, see n. 24 below), Veyne 1985, 29-30; Foucault 1985.46, 84-86, 210-11; Wiseman 1985.10-13; Halperin 1990, 1996; Winkler 1990, Parker 1996, 1997; Walters 1997; C.A. Williams 1999.18. Even Boswell: 'This 'penetration code' …was clearly not related to a dichotomy of sexual preferences, but to issues of power, dominance and submission' (1990.72)." - 3: "The overviews of the classical Arabic active/passive system by Schmitt 1995: 15-16 and Rowson 1991 are particularly useful in showing the close parallels to and interesting differences from Greek and Roman sexuality" (Parker, 2001: 314).

Holt Parker's paper ends with a piece of wisdom for all seeking to understand human sexualities cross-culturally, and historically as based on the information now available on the subject:
"Our division of hetero versus homo then, however vital to our society, to our visions of ourselves, is a parochial affair. To return to the linguistic model, if we impose our [sexual orientation] categories on another culture, we are making a crude mistake. When it come to 'talking sex,' we are at best speaking with an atrocious accent. At worst, we are speaking incomprehensible gibberish" (348)
A major problem in all sexual orientation research and genetics research in particular is related to specifics in the "definition of homosexuality" that also has been problematic in many fields of study, including psychology as noted by Madson (2001: 12-13), when teaching about the history of human sexuality as reported on by Pete Segal (2002), and for all who have been attempting to speak about same-sex sexual behaviours in South Asia (Khan, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001). For example, in some animal research, male animals are defined to be homosexual only if they accept to be mounted by another male, this being the female behaviour required for insemination. In sheep research, however, the homosexual label has been given only to the rams seeking to mounts other rams (Terry, 2000: 179). In human research, Billings highlighted the "definition" problem in an informed evaluation of the methodological problems associated with various types of genetic research seeking to explain homosexuality in humans:
"[Although] traditionally genetics has been most successful in explaining dichotomous traits, sexual orientation is a continuous characteristic of human populations. Males and females can be defined as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual or otherwise. The range of behaviours within any two groups created for research purposes will either reflect selection (and thus not be representative), or will overlap substantially... Thus, it may be impossible to conduct research on homosexuality using genetic methods, or to genetically analyze any human characteristic, when the studied traits cannot be reliably ascertained in a large number of individuals, across a broad range of environments" (Billings, 1993: 36).
Given the highly problematic situation associated with the definition of human sexualities, as well as other problems, Billings' conclusion was prophetic and timely related to the highly publicised results of finding the elusive "gay gene" supposedly located in the X-linked DNA segment (Hamer et al., 1993). He predicted that "this site will likely be eliminated as the location for the 'gay gene' by further experimentation, conducted on different subjects, by other interested researchers" (Billings, 1993: 37). Within two years, support for his prediction was reported by Canadian researchers (Rice et al. 1995; Finn 1996) at the same time that the Hamer team published a second study apparently replicating earlier results (Hu et al., 1995). The Canadian study was finally published (Rice et al., 1999) with considerable media coverage given to the results negating the "X-linked DNA segment" hypothesis. The research carried out by McKnight and Malcolm (2000) has also challenged the results of the Hamer research group:
"At this preliminary stage we have not found support for Hamer's suggestion that a gene on the X chromosome is associated with having more gay male relatives in your immediate family, or more likely to be on your mother's side… We have found a strong effect for gross reproductive rates and given the excess of aunts in the gay sample, and in the straight sample who have a gay relative, this argues that what we are seeing is most probably a maternal line fecundity effect rather that maternal-line homosexuality effect" (p. 237).
Concurrent with the research for a gay gene, considerable attention was given to the negative implications for the postulated "gay gene" that many gay-identified males believed to exist (Chamberlain, 1999). Over the years, comments such as "I have been gay ever since I can remember" have been endlessly stated to justify "essential" thinking. Yet, I have also been French Canadian "ever since I can remember" and none of it is biological, except for having a biological system that made the acquisition of my cultural attributes possible, including the French language. By 1999, however, papers were still being published (e.g. Rahman, 1999) that emphasised the apparently considerable evidence that gay males were biologically more like females, all based on unreplicated research results, and continued reference to Hamer’s results as a good explanation for this phenomenon. No one has noted, however, that if some males are more like females biologically, would this not imply that two such males in a relationship would be genetically quite similar and therefore be more like a third sex? The implications here would be that they are not homosexual given the male-male / female-female definition of homosexuality, unless the definition was expanded to now include a shemale/shemale definition. Furthermore, given their similarity, it is also possible that such relationships may not work if the Bem (1996) theory, "Exotic becomes erotic: a developmental theory of sexual orientation," is correct. That is, we are sexually attracted to the ones "perceived" to be different from oneself. In the paper, "Exotic Becomes Erotic: Interpreting the Biological Correlates of Sexual Orientation," Bem presents an interpretation that challenges the genetic underpinning for one's sexual orientation.
"According to the theory, biological variables such as genes or prenatal hormones do not code for sexual orientation per se but for childhood temperaments, such as aggression and activity level" (Bem, 2000)
There are many problems with genetic research on male homosexuality, and especially the aspect of this research that commonly report that parts of homosexual male brains are more like the corresponding parts in female brains, with Brookey (2002) noting that "most biological research begins with the assumption that male homosexuality is a state of physical effeminate pathology." Rarely mentioned in association with such conclusions are the results of the research that has sought to credibly identify differences between the brains of males and females:
"But the anatomical work [on male homosexuality] has come under heavy criticism by William Byrne, director of the neuroanatomy laboratory of neuropsychiatric disease at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center. 'A general problem with this work is that there have been dozens and dozens of reports of sex differences in the human brain since the middle of the last century. But not a single one of these has been corroborated, except for the one that men tend to have slightly larger brains than women'" (Finn, 1996).
Another significant problem in the gay gene debate is related to the current world view that "100% heterosexuality" is the majority "sexual orientation" given the evidence of exceptionally common manifestations of bisexuality in the Ancient World (Cantarella, 1992). The Ancient Greek practice of pederasty is of special significance given that all boys, in a certain social class, were expected to have loving relationships with older males who also enjoyed more than "sexual" relationships with their boys. However, some commentators have suggested otherwise, indicating that the boys may not have enjoyed any aspect of these relationships. "In the case of classical Greek practice there is a strong current of scholarship which sees the same-sex relations as pretty well universal in the male population, but limited in time and context: the relic of an initiation rite. (One detects a sense that being an initiation rite somehow makes homosexuality acceptable - boys will be boys, and moreover, they'll get over it!)" (Thorp, 1992, p. 59).

This highlighted thought was nonetheless contradicted by Thorp's citations indicating that, as a rule, love without a hint of abuse was a major attribute in these relationships. The Sacred Band of Thebes illustrates this fact (Carpenter, 1917) and also challenges the idea that these highly venerated "love" relationships were just an initiation rite, or maybe a form of child sexual abuse (Note 3). These pairs of lovers went into battle together and thereby negates the often assumed highly vulnerable and naïve nature of these boys. They were not the equivalent of the modern "feminine" (fragile) stereotypical gay male (containing some truth) reflecting the 20th century professional and social belief that homosexual males are inverts, meaning "like women" (Ellis, 1906; Hekma, 1994). This perception, often propagated at the end of the nineteenth century by influential effeminate homosexual males such as Magnus Hirschfeld and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (Hekma, 1994), became the dominant belief in the American military by the early 1940s (Purkiss, 1997). The inversion theory continued to be taught well into the 1960s as the title of Judd Marmor's 1965 book indicates: Sexual Inversion: The Multiple Roots of Homosexuality.

Thorp argued that, in addition to the universal expression of male homosexuality in the form of pederasty in Ancient Greece, there were apparently some males who preferred other males all their lives, and they were perceived to have accepted a role "analog[ous] with the role of women in copulation" (p. 61). Given their description, it is possible that these men were similar to present-day transsexual males and, if this applies given the rarity of these males, they should probably not be called "homosexual." Later, I will address this common perceptual link between modern homosexual males (males sexually attracted to other males) and males having a high degree of femininity, but an important realisation must be made at this point. On the basis of the Ancient Greece fact of life for male citizens, it is apparent that human males have the potential to not only greatly enjoy same-sex sexual activity, but they may also experience great love for another male in association with their sexual attractions.

Some individuals today also appear to have acquired this knowledge as implied in a report on some individuals by Kenji Yoshino, the author of the paper, "The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure" (Note 2):

"Some people have this really utopian vision of bisexuality: Twenty years from now, we're all just going to wake up and realize that we're all bisexual" (Bass, 1999).
The words "bisexual" and "bisexuality," however, embody the belief that there are only two sexes, but this is not quite true. Given the reality of intersexed people and that five sexes have been proposed (Fausto-Sterling, 1993, 2000, 2000a), problems with current definitions for "sexual orientation" are evident, compounded also by some human realities related to sexual attraction as noted by Kessler (1998) and quoted by Fausto-Sterling (2000):
"The limitation with Fausto-Sterling's [1993] proposal is that ... [it] still gives genitals ... primary signifying status and ignores the fact that in the everyday world gender attributions are made without access to genital inspection.... What has primacy in everyday life is the gender that is performed, regardless of the flesh's configuration under the clothes."
Fausto-Sterling then states: "I now agree with Kessler's assessment. It would be better for intersexuals and their supporters to turn everyone's focus away from genitals. Instead, as she suggests, one should acknowledge that people come in an even wider assortment of sexual identities and characteristics than mere genitals can distinguish." Unfortunately, a word is not yet available to designate individuals who would be sexually attracted to other humans whether they are deemed to be male, female, or intersexed. It would appear, however, that the average ancient Greek and Roman males did have such a sexual orientation, even though socially imposed behavioural restrictions applied.
 

NOTES
 

Note 1

All binaries have increasingly been questioned as illustrated by Englert (1995) quoting Robyn Wiegman, a co-editor of the 1995 book, Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity: "Wiegman points out. The current concepts of heterosexuality/homosexuality, black/white, male/female, are artificial binaries: 'The more you think about this, the more you realize that these binaries cannot hold up. The actual multiplicity and variety of humans on the planet is absolutely non-binary, yet we're so wed to the binary concept and it scares us to think otherwise…" Challenges to the binary concepts have been reflected in titles of books such as Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond sexual dimorphism in culture and history (Herdt, 1994) and Beyond Gay or Straight: Understanding sexual orientation (Clausen, 1996), and in essays such as The five sexes: why male and female are not enoughThe five sexes, revisited (Fausto-Sterling, 2000). In a study of working class males from the Australian city of Nullangardie, Dowsett (1994) not only placed current concepts of sexual orientation in question on the basis of the evidence, he also stated "the usefulness of the now-classical concepts of sexual identity and gender identity will be questioned as being too narrow and locked into questionable binary oppositions" (p. 11). In Bangladesh and India, Khan (2000) emphasised that "[c]ontemporary research on sexuality and gender have clearly shown that bipolar categories, such as man or woman as gender categories, and heterosexual or homosexual as sexual categories, are "not useful to describe the range of identities, desires and practices" (personal discussion with Carol Jenkins, Care Bangladesh, 1999) existing in South Asia. The terms "gay" or "homosexual" are also too constricted by a specific history, geography, language and culture to have any significant usefulness in a different culture from their source. In this we should be talking about sexualities, genders, and at the least, homosexualities and heterosexualites."
 
(Fausto-Sterling, 1993) and

Note 2

Tremblay (1998) summarised the status of bisexuality in the research world by stating that, even though Kinsey's 1948 research indicated significant bisexuality in males, it was only as the result of AIDS-related research that the concept began to surface again in discourses by researchers. "Essentially, sexual orientation has been presented as a homosexual/heterosexual dichotomy, with nothing in between. For too long bisexuality has been perceived as a transition and, by definition, unstable, linked to adolescence, to the absence of a female partner (as in the case of prisoners), or to economic reasons (as with prostitutes)." (Translated by Pierre Tremblay.) This rejection of bisexuality was also highlighted in an analysis of papers published in 17 family therapy journals from 1975 to 1995. The study reported that only .006% of the articles (n = 77) focused on homosexuality issues, and that "only two [of these] studies included bisexuals, indicating a dearth of knowledge in this area" (Clark et al., 1997: 248), with a corresponding absence of "bisexuality" from the consciousness of family therapists. This fact was witnessed in 1994 when I attended a meeting of professionals concerned about homosexually oriented youth and their problems. Calgary's leading expert on "homosexual orientation" issues (a family therapist of high stature who headed the list for related referrals by my family doctor) reported that, in his practice, bisexuality was responded to as a non-existent entity. One's clients were to be either homosexual or heterosexual and 'therapy' would proceed accordingly so that the results, even if some clients were being harmed, would not be in conflict with the therapist's beliefs about the binary nature of sexual orientation. Some of these problems have begun to be addressed in papers such as "Working With the Bisexual Client: How Far Have We Progressed?" by Hayes (2001).

In gay and lesbian communities, the general response to bisexual individuals has been to negate their existence because they were perceived to challenge the belief that only heterosexual and homosexual people existed. Tisdale (1998) writes: "Many gay activists see any talk of bisexuality as diluting the coherence of the community, particularly damaging in a time of attack... Others simply don't believe in bisexuality, seeing through the lens of their own difficult coming-out experience... Bisexuals hear the same things from straights and gays, friends, lovers and perfect strangers: You can't be both. You can't be neither. You just haven't faced the truth. You're secretly wishing for A or B. Insert gay, insert straight, and it comes out the same - something essential is denied." Button (1998) reports similar experiences: "As a bisexual woman... I have been called a fence-sitter, disease-carrier, AC/DC, confused, etc. by gay and lesbian communities."

Bowers (2000) describes his experiences in the San Francisco gay and lesbian community: "GAY INTOLERANCE. Sound contradictory? It's not. And I'm not talking about so-called heterophobia, the mainstream's latest claim to victimhood. I'm talking about real prejudice from parts of the gay and lesbian establishment, right here in the Sexual Mecca. Even more surprising? It’s aimed at another queer population: bisexuals. About two years ago, I came out as bisexual. I anticipated many hurdles, but I could never have predicted this one… Biphobia creates ugly stereotypes: We're confused. It's just a phase. We're harbingers of disease. We're really gay, but we're in denial. We're really straight, but we want to experiment. We can't be trusted, because we'll desert same-sex partners for 'heterosexual privilege.' It's telling that these bisexual 'facts' don't come from bisexuals. Reminds me of Jerry Falwell or Anita Bryant telling gay men and lesbians the 'right' way to live." Concerning such widespread abuses of others, Glorianne Leck wrote: "It is my intention in this writing to show that homosexual and heterosexual (i.e., gay and straight) is a limited classification that, although indicating that there are sexual diversities, has also led to an oversimplified misunderstanding of sexual social oppression and sexual confusion. Those confusions are clearly destructive for those individuals who are caught up in the politicization, the oversimplification, and the embedded misunderstandings about adolescent sexualities" (Leck, 2000: 332).

The situation for bisexual individuals is summarised by McLean (2001) in an Australian study of bisexual youth and their problems: " Traditionally, Western society has divided sexuality into two categories-homosexual and heterosexual. This binary insists that heterosexuality and homosexuality are mutually exclusive categories, and supports the belief that anyone whose sexual identity falls outside of these categories is psychologically maladjusted, confused about their sexuality, or unwilling to commit to one sexual identity category or the other. Dominant public discourses endorse heterosexuality and homosexuality as legitimate sexual identities, but do not recognise that some people are neither exclusively heterosexual nor exclusively homosexual… [Bisexuality] is understood as a number of stereotypes, images of the bisexual as promiscuous, needing multiple relationships in order to feel satisfied, untrustworthy in relationships, or as 'fence-sitters, traitors, cop-outs, closet cases,' reinforce the legitimacy of the heterosexual/homosexual binary and ensure the difficulty of publicly identifying as bisexual… The awareness that bisexuality was not recognised as a legitimate sexual identity was exhibited by the young bisexual people interviewed in two ways; in their persistent need for secrecy about their bisexual identity, and in their perceived discrimination for being bisexual from both the straight world and the gay and lesbian community… Many of the young bisexual people I interviewed said they felt pressure to not identify as bisexual, but to lie and pretend to be heterosexual, and sometimes as gay or lesbian."

In an interview, Kenji Yoshino, the author of "The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure" published in the Stanford Law Review (Yoshino, 2000), summed up the situation for bisexual individuals: "Advocate: It's a conspiracy. Yoshino: Yeah. My theory is that both gays and straights have agreed that, no matter what else they disagree on - they disagree on a lot - they'll both agree about this one thing, which is that bisexuals don't exist. Because they have different but overlapping interests in erasure. If the realm of bisexual possibility exists, it becomes impossible to actually prove that you're straight or you're gay. If you're straight in a world where bisexuality doesn't exist, then you can prove you're straight simply by adducing cross-sex desire: like, 'I have a wife, I have a girlfriend' - if you're a man - kind of thing. Right? Whereas, once you introduce a bisexual possibility, the fact that you have cross-sex desire does not [prove] that you don't have same-sex desire. Given that same-sex desire is stigmatized, people who want to identify as straight are going to have a lot invested in making sure that they can prove that they're straight. Because otherwise they'll lose heterosexual privilege... One of the things that both straights and gays, according to their own accounts, feel [is] threatening about bisexuals is that bisexuals are seen to be gender-blind" (Bass, 1999).

The elimination of bisexuality began in the professional world with individuals such as Sandor Rado (1940). He was quoted in the following way: "...biologically speaking, 'there is no such thing as bisexuality either in man or in any other either vertebrate,' except for developmental disturbances that are clearly recognizable as 'inconsistencies of sex differentiation' (p. 464)" (Quoted by Marmor, 1981: 14) Many in gay communities and professional worlds bought into a generalised view of this ideology (written to invalidate Freud's belief in an innate human bisexual nature), to the point that bisexuality was widely given a non-existent status by the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, there were great abuses by gay and lesbian identified individual (and professionals with similar beliefs, including therapists) of individuals daring to assert that their sexual attractions included both sexes.

Individuals who are well versed on issues related to sexual orientation as represented by the Kinsey (1948) 7-point "homosexual to heterosexual" scales for behaviour and fantasy, Klein's sexual orientation scale or grid (Weinrich et al., 1993; Keppel and Hamilton, 1998), and especially contemporary and historical cross-cultural anthropological knowledge of human sexualities (Carrier, 1981; Murray et al., 1992; Werner, 1998; Murray and Roscoe, 1998; Halperin, 2000) are likely to begin acquiring perceptions similar to the one presented by Peter Voeller (1997). After attending comprehensive lectures on sexual orientation given by Lois McDermott, Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Voeller summarised the thoughts he took from the lectures. "The idea of sexualities and the fluidity of human sexual experience, shown by her figure of a total of as many as 400 homosexualities, heterosexualities, and bisexualities. This theory has unfolded in order to capture not only the well-established and clear-cut distinctions like gay and straight, but also newer distinctions, like transsexuality and transvestism, in order to distinguish more of the variety within the broader rubric of sexual orientation."
 

Note 3

Enid Bloch (2001), in his paper's "Sex between men and boys in Classical Greece: was it education for citizenship or child abuse" generally used suppositions, as oppose to evidence, to propose that all the Ancient Greek men involved with pederasty were child sex abusers. His major focus was on Athens, noting here that the institution of pederasty varied in Ancient Greek city-states (Murray, 2000: 34-42, 99-110). Block therefore uses Socrates words as made available by Plato in Phaedrus: "Eros is 'inspired madness,' it is 'the greatest of heaven's blessings,' and the soul possessed of it flied heavenward… Most significant, not just the man, but also the boy has erotic feelings. ' His desire is as the desire of the other, but weaker.' Socrates claims. The boy wants to use and touch and kiss his lover and go to bed with him. He is 'burning with passion which he understands not,' and in that state he can refuse his love nothing. If the lover is a virtuous man, and self-control and philosophy prevails, together the souls of man and boys can reach Olympian heights" (192). Although Block attempts to turn such a description into a 'child sexual abuse' situation, or more like into a sex abuse possibility, Phaedrus was written in a world where the men involved with adolescent males had, themselves, once been in the boy's situation. Therefore, they would know best (or much better than Block or ourselves) what they had felt as boys in a love relationship with an older male, and later as young men who would then have the welfare and education of boy entrusted to them. These facts also greatly inform us about the concept of "sexual orientation," given that most males can grow up to greatly enjoy relating sexually with another male (with associated strong love responses) in one society, and that most males in North America now grow up to be quite different generally. This knowledge almost precludes the conclusion that same-sex desires, or even opposite sex desires, including related love responses, are innate in nature. That is, this knowledge makes suspect all claims that same-sex desires are related to genetic anomalies, or even to the effects of hormones on male/female human development, including the proposition that same-sex desires are associated with males who have female-like brain parts as some genetic researchers have proposed.

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