The issue I'm talking about is sexuality. The links between sexuality and mental health issues are numerous. Not to mention the fact that up until the mid 20th century, any sexual preference other than male:female was actually considered a psychological issue. In some countries, homosexuality is still illegal.
It's bizarre really as before the High Middle Ages, no one really cared! Or if they did, they didn't make a fuss about it. From the tail end of the 12th century, attitudes towards homosexuality became hostile. It was branded as "unnatural". Studies have shown that all sexuality is embedded in our genes, it's not a choice, yet people still seem to condemn those who engage in such relations.
When people ask me about my sexuality, I clam up. Almost as much as when people say "...so what kind of music are you into?". There is no simple answer to either question.
As far as sexuality and/or sexual preference, I don't define myself as having a "preference". I like people. Human beings.
To me, it does not matter if you are male, female, transgender (either way), intersex, none binary, gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual... The labels are endless. I don't feel that I subscribe to any. I find intelligence sexy. I guess if you want to define me in this respect, I'm a sapiosexual. If you can make me laugh, that's sexy. I also find confidence very sexy. Don't confuse this with arrogance. There is nothing that turns me off more than arrogance. If you have blue eyes, you're in with a better chance than your brown/green eyed counterparts... But that's about it for me. I don't care how you identify yourself.
I'm also not strictly monogamous. There is always a collective gasp whenever I reveal this. As if polygamy makes me some sort of monster. It doesn't. Monogamy is not natural to humans. Contest this all you will but it's a fact. People may choose monogamy but it doesn't come naturally. Monogamy, like many other things, is a very new social construct. I would argue it's down to the church but that's another subject for a different time! Is there a label for this? I don't know, probably. It's just not important to me at all to define it.
When I speak to people about sexuality, I often pose the question "how do you know if you're straight if you've never tried anything else?" The response I usually get is "I just know". I don't believe this for one second. You can't "just know". If you gave that as an answer for anything g else you'd be an idiot. Imagine if in a maths test where it states "show your workings" you wrote "I just know"... Such an answer wouldn't suffice. I'm not saying everyone should try it but you can't "just know". You can believe but that isn't the same. The world isn't black and white. We're not in Kansas darlings, it's technicolor and we're all in Oz! People "just knew" the earth was flat until Christopher Columbus went and ruined that!
The life that I live brings me into contact with a wide array if people. I'm incredibly lucky to have some seriously open minded friends, it's a quality I value above most others. That's not always the case though. I do know some people that are so narrow minded, so singular that it hurts. If they identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and are attracted to someone of the opposite sex, that's fine. What I dislike is the way they respond to those who don't fit with their idea of "normal".
Normal is one of those terms that I dislike. I often put the term in inverted comas as that's where I believe it belongs in the context I use it. However, normal does exist. For me, it is only within the confines of science. Like it or not, everything fits on a bell curve. This bell curve has ranges either side. If you are "normal" you are in the middle of the normal range. The 95% if you will. You can deviate either side of "normal" as long as you don't go too far. That will put you into the "abnormal" section outside of the bell curve. As I say, in science, this is ok. I still don't like the term but it has it's uses. In psychology the's days the terms used are "typical" and "atypical". These terms are not desirable either but I guess somewhat more preferable.
Even with science in mind, normal varies. In one community, it may be deemed normal to have six wives, that's not accepted in the society I grew up in. This is known as "cultural norms"
I have long since given up on trying to define and/or defend my sexuality. I have no issue with people not liking my choices. They're mine to make and I would never force my choices onto anyone else and it's their choice to disagree, just because they disagree though does not make them right. It's one of the things I will never understand about human beings. Why do you even care?! Is it really affecting you if John and Jane Doe down the street were actually born Jane and John? If it does affect you then I am afraid to break this to you but you are the one with the problem. I have encountered a lot of negativity surrounding my sexuality. As a teen, I was verbally bullied for being a "dyke" "rug muncher" "lesbo"... You name it, I've probably been called it. In my younger years this bothered me. I'm sure it also contributed to my mental health issues. However, it's now something I choose simply to not deal with. If I'm asked directly about my sexuality, I will try to be as honest as I can but I often find myself talking to a blank face!
I had an issue with "coming out" a few years back. I use inverted commas here as I didn't actually consider that coming out. I figured everyone knew I had sexual interests in men as well as women (I didn't even dare to venture further than this...! I have also been in a polygamous relationship which I didn't exactly keep secret but I wasn't shouting it from the rooftops!) I remember so distinctly the look on an individual's face when I victoriously announced to a friend that I'd snogged a girl at my birthday. She asked and I told. The individual in question didn't seem to grasp what I was talking about. She asked if I meant a girl. I explained, of course that's what I meant. She paled. This "revelation" clearly unnerved her. When she asked why I would do that, I responded simply "because I like women (duh!). Said individual didn't speak to me for quite some time after that!
A few years ago I went to World Pride in London. Boy George happened to be performing - he's a guilty pleasure of mine - and I called this person to let her know (given that she was a fan). She asked me where he was at and I told her Pride. She asked what that was. I said " you know, gay pride...?" Her response was "eugh, gays!" I had no response for this! This particular individual is very close to be but I realised there was no point in saying anything back. She has also chastised me on many occasions for saying out loud how attractive I find a woman. Sometimes, I will say stuff just for the reaction because it amuses me no end! No matter how many times I do it, the response is always the same.
It is human nature to fear the unknown. It is a survival instinct that has evolved with us to help us learn to run from something with sharp teeth and powerful jaws. We would do well to maintain this instinct as we don't want people climbing into lion enclosures at the local zoo in order to pet the big friendly kitties. What we can stand to change is our response to the unknown. Again, it is innate to fear the unknown but these days, with the "information superhighway" at our fingertips we can find out pretty much anything about anything! The fight or flight response developed way back when is no longer necessarily the best response method and if you need to know about something, just ask!
To that end, I am going to start a small series of blogs in relation to sexuality and mental health. If you have a story you would like to share, come on over to my Facebook page or drop me an email and we can knock something together.
Until Next time,
Keep Smiling :):