Friday, January 1, 2010

Human Sexuality: Identity- or Incidence-based?

By Madame Curie

I am have been torn for a long time now between whether or not I should take this blog in the direction that this post inevitably will. A juxtaposition of events - specifically, an internet conversation at Main Street Plaza; discovery of the blog Evolution of a Lesbian (thanks, Faithful Dissident!); and a conversation between my husband, Mister Curie, and I - prompted me to finish this post, which has been a long time in the works. The topic is that of sexual identity.

A recent blog post by Andrew S over at Main Street Plaza evolved into an unexpected discussion of the label "Same-Sex Attracted" for non-heterosexual Mormons. While Andrew argued for the inherent value of labels as a means of dealing with life, I argued against their use.

I really hate labels, especially labels associated with human sexuality. However, I simultaneously think that such labels can be important and useful during the process of sexual self-identity. These two contradictory emotions war within me whenever the topic of sexuality arises. I think the reason for this is because I don't self-identify with any of the labels, although I feel secure and confident in my own sexuality.

I am sensually attracted to female anatomy, and I find male anatomy fairly repulsive. This has pretty much always been the case since I was an adolescent, with the notable exception of my husband, who I do find attractive. I had a rather traumatic experience with a college boyfriend that really brought home the male anatomy repulsion. The obvious conclusion would be that I am a lesbian. The problem, though, is that I don't like the companionship of most women, but neither do I like masculine guys. In fact, I would much rather spend all my days comfortably with a gay man than with most women. Oddly enough, most of the guys I ever dated turned out to be gay.

So, how does all of this tie in with distaste towards the SSA/SGA label? I mean, clearly I would be one of those that the church would say was SSA, but "lucky" because I was incidentally heterosexual enough to find my DH. My distaste of the SSA label derives from the comparison of my experience in understanding my sexual identity, and that of my DH.

In the past several months, my husband has started the process of understanding his own sexual identity. He would like to explore this issue by starting as a regular contributor on this blog. I always thought that the sexual self-identity process was one that most adolescents and young adults dealt with. The difference, though, is that while he has had numerous positive non-heterosexual experiences, he has never allowed himself to question what that meant from an identity perspective. This is because he knew what that would mean for him from a church perspective, and was terrified to label himself. In contrast, because I didn't feel like specific labels were "dangerous" or that I should or had to be attracted to one sex or the other, I felt much more comfortable examining my sexual identity from an early age. I never felt a compulsion or fear of labeling myself as lesbian or bisexual, but was instead happy to have incidental sexuality - friend first and sexuality later. While it didn't make my journey of self-discovery a comfortable process, I must say that I would have found it far more difficult to address as a married parent.

I have been amazingly unsurprised by my husband's questioning. I guess if anything, I was more suprised initially to learn that he wasn't gay, since I liked his companionship so much. Our sexual relationship has always been unique, but it has also been satistfying for us both.

All of these things beg the question - Is it worthwhile for my husband to explore his sexual identity? Or is human sexuality more incidental, and we should just thank providence for finding each other? My gut instinct is that he should examine his repressed feelings, journal entries, thoughts, emotions, etc. I had a journey of sexual discovery, and I am far more confident sexually as a result. I feel extremely emotionally and sexually secure in our marriage, and I am not in the least bit threatened by his questioning. In fact, if anything I think I would place him as far more homosexual than heterosexual - and that's fine with me. We are happy in our marriage. We have found a stride that works for us, and I don't see that as changing. Still, there is the age-old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and each of us worries that addressing DH's sexuality may hurt the good thing we have going for us.

On the other hand, I don't necessarily like the idea of placing labels on each other or even really on this blog. If it helps Mister Curie to understand and process by writing down his confusion, and getting the support of others who may have had similar experiences, then I think it is great. The problem is that I don't want the blog to be judged based on the labels we do or don't choose to give ourselves. Does that make sense?



  1. There is absolutely no harm in DH fully examining his sexual identity. He may not find answers, I don't think I have and I may not, but I am content with the possibility of not having a clear answer being an outcome as well.

  2. Mister Curie01 January, 2010

    I understand your distate for labels, as people rarely fit into neat little categories, but understand how labels can help an individual to identify with a group and find support. My distate for the SSA label is that it is specifically used by the LDS church and does not seem to be an effort to help a group identify and find support, but rather seems to separate such individuals from the larger LGBT community and singles them out for intervention rather than support.

  3. You might be interested in Duncan Roy's blog. He has a lot to say on sexuality and all of its complexity:

  4. Well, isn't this interesting? I can see why you took the position you did in the MSP post, now.

    In response to your questions that you put in bold...I agree with Quiet Song...I don't think there is any harm in MrC examining his sexual identity. I guess you also have to ask: are you both content with the possibility of not having a clear answer be the outcome as well?

  5. Here's an interesting post with a MoHo's take on the label "SSA"

  6. Andrew S - "are you both content with the possibility of not having a clear answer be the outcome as well?"

    I think I am comfortable with not having a clear answer. My favorite response to things recently has become "Life is messy." I think part of my desire to explore this aspect of myself is due to my disaffection. As a TBM I was defined by the Mormon culture. Without that view, the question of "Who am I?" has grown loud in my mind. This is just one aspect of who I am, but it is an important aspect of me. I am sure that there will be other aspects that I need to explore as well. I don't necessarily expect that I'll fit into a neat little box. Life is messy.

  7. Since labels have their benefits and their drawbacks, I think it should be left to every individual how they want to use them to apply to themself.

    I certainly never envisioned all of this when I attended your ring ceremony and reception years ago! I wrote a long comment about homo/bisexuality but then I deleted it because I think some of what I wrote could have been taken the wrong way, which is so easy to do in print. I'd much rather talk with you in person about it. The main and most important point I wanted to get across is that I support you both (as does Peter) and I look forward to following you on this journey.

  8. Donna - Thank you for your support.

    I don't think either of us envisioned this journey when we we got married either. It is quite the roller coaster. We look forward to having you along for the ride.