Sexual Desire & Homosexuality

Same-sex marriage is a constant headline in the news and rightfully so. When I was
younger, social norms made me believe that same-sex marriage was “wrong”. As
a heterosexual, young, self-centered male, I didn’t give the social notion a second
thought because quite simply – it did not affect me. In college, things changed. I now
had homosexual friends – male and female – and the topic became more real and
present in my daily life. Under Social Control of Sexuality, the author of the article
compares same-sex marriage to mixed-race marriage, mixed-ethnic marriage,
mixed-faith marriage. I consider myself a well-informed, educated person… but I
had never thought of sexuality in this way before. Mixed-race marriage was against
in the law in our country until 1967. That was only 45 years ago, the ageß of many
of our parents! Historians say that we must study our past to prevent making the
same mistakes again in our future. How has our society missed this mistake that was
rectified only 45 years ago?

“You may break the rules or follow them, but you can’t forget them.” We are raised
to think a certain way – by our parents, teachers, friends, the media, politicians
– that creates unspoken rules that impose limitations on the way we think about
or perceive sexual norms. I have homosexual friends; I enjoy their company and
friendship the same that I do my heterosexual friends. But at the end of the day, I
can’t help but think that their homosexual preference is something “wrong”. Before
you label me a homophobe, hear me out. Growing up in the south, I was immersed
in an environment that was constantly teaching me that homosexuality was a sin;
it was disgusting and wrong and I should hate people who engage in homosexual
behavior. These “rules” of thinking were forced upon me at a very young age. I
have chosen to break the rules – to not participate in the ostracizing of homosexual
individuals and extend to them the same respect and friendship I would to any
other person. Shamefully though, I cannot forget the rules that were etched into my
brain as a child. As much as a value my friendships with my homosexual friends, the
notion of homosexuality as something “wrong” is a rule that, as much as I truly want
to, I cannot forget.

Schwartz and Rutter make it clear that sexual desire is anything but clear. There
are biological explanations, evolutionary psychological explanations, social
constructionist explanations that all make valid arguments and present valid
theories in regards to sexual desire and gender. Personally I think a blend of all
research disciplines makes the most sense. In any case, we only have immediate
control over one discipline – social constructs.

Homosexuality makes headlines because as a society, we are still imposing
the “rule” that homosexuality is wrong. I could start listing off court cases that have
demonstrated the fundamental right we have as individuals to freedom of choice,
but instead I will just say this – throughout its history, this country has enforced social decisions that time and time again we come to realize are, quite simply, wrong
– one of the greatest examples being slavery. These decisions are made and forced
upon us, but inevitably, we realize how incredibly idiotic and mistaken we were
to make these decisions in the first place. It takes years, decades, centuries, even,
to rectify the damage these social decisions make on our society’s mental view on
certain issues. The social damning of homosexuality is a mistake. We are making a
mistake that even when resolved will show consequences well into the years of our
children and grandchildren.

My parents moved to this country to ensure that their children would grow up in a
society that was less hostile, suppressive and controlling than the one they escaped.
Why do immigrants view the United States this way? – Because we are a progressive
nation. In most cases, I agree with this notion. But when it comes to embracing
the diversity that in fact defines our country, I think we have a long way to go. The
United States prides itself in being a “melting-pot” society but I think it’s time to
practice what we preach.

3 thoughts on “Sexual Desire & Homosexuality

  1. I’m glad you were able to change your views on homosexuality and broaden your view on sexuality when you came to college. I did as well… the fact that we were taught as children that LGBT was “bad,” “not normal,” “wrong,” and were able to break free of these constraints hopefully shows our societies progression in to a different kind of societal “norm” for sexuality. I recently found of that one of my best friends at college is gay and I support her 100%…

  2. I am from the South too and I understand where your coming from. It is easy to get caught in that trap. Either you think the way they do or you suffer the consequences. Just about everyone in my family felt the same way too, and I will not lie, jokes were made at the expense of some people. But in college your experiences help broaden your perspective. All persons can broaden their views and learn new things. In recent years i have noticed my old home town becoming more gay accepting. i know more people out of the closet back home too, and life for them is not as harsh publicly as it once was. in highschool the gay kid was all ways picked on, but now that we’re in college it just feels like we’re too old and to aware to allow things like that.

  3. upluto: In your post you say, ” Shamefully though, I cannot forget the rules that were etched into my brain as a child. As much as a value my friendships with my homosexual friends, the notion of homosexuality as something “wrong” is a rule that, as much as I truly want to, I cannot forget.” I think what you refer to here is the real power of socialization. “Unlearning” these “rules” or ideologies, I believe, is a life long task. Being an ally to a group that is discriminated against when you are part of the group that has power and/or privilege and that does the discriminating (consciously or unconsciously) means always thinking critically about your positionality and your assumptions. It is hard work, but it is the work of social change.

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