Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pieces of the Past: Putting the Puzzle Together

By Mister Curie

It was only after my disaffection that I was able to see a pattern in my life indicating that I was not strictly heterosexual. This is part of a series of posts as I try to account for all the pieces to the puzzle of my sexual orientation. By documenting the pieces of the puzzle, I hope to be able to put the picture together. Only by being as completely honest with myself as I can will I be able to understand who I am. This tenth post in the series will try to put the puzzle together.

Well, I have now examined the majority of the pieces. There are probably some missing details that would help the picture a little. Perhaps there are some memories I have forgotten that will surface with time. But I think this is probably sufficient to get an accurate understanding of the content of this puzzle. So, what does the puzzle show? What label is going to be most helpful going forward?

Perhaps the most useful tool for evaluating the puzzle will be the Kinsey scale and Klein grid. Human sexuality cannot be described as a dichotomy of gay and straight (with perhaps bisexuality in the middle). Just as I learned there are many shades of gray between the black and white dichotomy of "Truth" taught by the church, I learned that there is a whole rainbow of color when it comes to human sexuality beyond the extremes of gay and straight. From Wikipedia:
The Kinsey scale attempts to describe a person's sexual history or episodes of their sexual activity at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual.
Kinsey himself said:
Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.
While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history... An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life.... A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist." (Kinsey, et al. (1948). pp. 639, 656)
The Kinsey scale is as follows:
0Exclusively heterosexual
1Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3Equally heterosexual and homosexual; bisexual.
4Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6Exclusively homosexual
XAsexual, Non-Sexual
There is also an extension of the Kinsey scale, known as the Klein grid, which I will employ here to try and interpret the puzzle. Klein characterizes sexuality in various aspects of life.
(1) Sexual Attraction: To whom are you sexually attracted?
There was my high school girlfriend (until I fell out of love with her), and I am currently sexually attracted to my wife, but there were also numerous mission companions, and I respond readily to pornographic images of men. I'd have to give myself a 5.
(2) Sexual Behaviour: With whom have you actually had sex?
Officially had sex would only be my wife. However, wrestling with my mission companion to the point of nearly climaxing (and I probably would have continued until climax if I hadn't felt so guilty) might count as well. So this would be a 1 for number of encounters, but a 3 for number of partners.
(3) Sexual Fantasies: About whom are your sexual fantasies?
I think most of my sexual fantasies have been about men. I don't recall ever even having a wet dream about women. I have certainly had sexual fantasies about my wife, but she reminds me that those are probably more about ME with my wife, rather than actually about her or her body. So this one is probably a 6.

(4) Emotional preference: Who do you feel more drawn to or close to emotionally?

In general I am emotionally closer to men and seek out male friendships, rather than female friendships. Of course, it was easy to justify shunning women while a missionary or after getting married "so my heart wouldn't wander." On the other hand, I am very emotionally close to my wife and we have a wonderful emotional relationship and I definitely feel like she understands me better than anyone else. This one is probably a 5 when it comes to the number of relationships.

(5) Social preference: Which gender do you socialize with?

So I pretty much spend the majority of my time with my wife, naturally. However, before getting married, I always hung out with the guys. If I had to choose a group to hang out with, I'd probably choose men (as long as they weren't doing too stereotypically male behavior - like watching a sports game). When I helped out with a recruiting event for the med school recently I ended up at the table with all men. Again, this is probably a 5.

(6) Lifestyle preference: In which community do you like to spend your time? In which do you feel most comfortable?

So I spend most of my time in a heterosexual community, but I have spent an increasing amount of time in the MoHo queerosphere and have felt very comfortable there. I would probably be more comfortable in a homosexual environment if I could get past some of my latent homophobia. So maybe I'll put myself at a 3 right now.

(7) Self-identification: How do you label or identify yourself?

So until recently I identified as heterosexual, then I switched to bisexual to reconcile homosexual feelings with being married heterosexually. Some people interpret the Kinsey scale to mean that anything other than a 0 and a 6 means a person is bisexual. Others interpret the Kinsey scale to mean that only if you are a 3 can you be called bisexual. Overall I think I'm probably a 5 on the Kinsey scale (and I've noticed a sharp turn in my attractions toward the homosexual spectrum since I started to accept my homosexuality). I definitely can't claim to be equally attracted to men and women, even with the abundance of attraction I feel for my wife, so I don't think bisexual is the correct label for me. I guess I'll embrace the homosexual label. Looks like people were right: "Bi now, gay later." I'll put myself as a 5, my wife is a very important exception to my general homosexuality.

And yet, despite accepting myself as homosexual with a 5 on the Kinsey scale, something I read on a website I can no longer find early in my journey, comes back to me. I was researching bisexuality and the site was geared toward a younger questioning audience and said that perhaps the defining question on what being bisexual means is: Who do you see yourself growing old with? And the answer to that is an unequivocal Madam Curie. Our relationship is fantastic on so many levels and I've never met another person who connects so well emotionally or intellectually with me, who understands me so well, or who accepts me so unconditionally. We have built so much together in our life together and I can only see myself in a committed relationship with her. I love her so much! And our sex life, while perhaps unique, works wonderfully well for us.

So, I am gay, and I'm happily, ecstatically married to the most wonderful partner in the whole world. On to figuring out how to make this MOM thing work . . .


  1. I'd never heard of the Klein grid. I like it.

    I find it interesting to contrast your coming out experience with my own. I see the purpose of mine as primarily a way to figure out how I can best find that partner with whom I can be eternally happy. You, however, already have your ideal eternal partner and are simply trying to understand yourself better. I draw no conclusions from our contrasting experiences; I just find it interesting.

  2. I find your case very interesting because of the fact that Madame Curie has said that she herself may not be heterosexual. If this is the case, then she may not need from you anything emotionally that you can't give. For example, she didn't grieve when she figured out you were gay. In add odd way it's no longer mixed orientations. It's not exactly matched orientations either.

    You might think that this kind of 'mutually mismatched orientations' might make things worse, but I think there's an argument to be made that it might actually reduce the level of incompatibility versus a traditional mixed-orientation marriage with one straight and one gay spouse.

    I think there are many variations. This is one of the reasons why it's very unfruitful to judge any of these marriages from the outside.

    Good luck to you both, and please keep blogging!

  3. @EL - it is interesting. You're right, I'm just trying to understand myself better and hope that the process doesn't hurt the wonderful marriage I have.

    @MoHoHawaii - thanks for the insightful comment. I agree that it certainly isn't the typical mixed-orientation marriage. We would love to find some other gay and lesbian couples to swap notes with (I heard a rumor the church actually encouraged gays and lesbians to marry each other for a while), but haven't found any yet. We are still trying to figure out if a mixed-orientation-squared marriage (or mutually mismatched orientation marriage, as you put it) increases or reduces the level of incompatibility. At the very least, it truly allows us to empathize and understand each other. It also gives us another thing in common, in a paradoxical sort of way.
    We definitely plan to keep blogging. Posts up to this point have largely focused on the past, there's a lot more to explore in the present and the future.

  4. @MoHoHawaii- I just want to thank you for your comment. Yes, I think my being not exclusively heterosexual helps a great deal in this process. In a lot of ways, Mr. C would have preferred to have stayed closeted. I've been pushing him out ;-) I think its important for him to accept and know himself. I accept and love him as he is, intrinsically, and try to provide the safest, more loving environment possible for him to "come out" to himself in.

    For me, I am very happy to be married to a gay man. Our relationship has always been founded on something so much more than physical attraction. I always wanted someone who would love me for my brain and heart and not my breasts. I got exactly what I wanted. I recognize that our marriage wouldn't work for everyone or even, probably, for most. But I love our marriage just the way it is.

    Life is messy. And good.

  5. I hadn't seen the Klein grid before this either. I like. It allows for more fluidity than the Kinsey scale. I feel like I have to put myself in a box on the Kinsey scale, and incidentally, I believe I'm like a 1.5 and there's no box for that. :P

  6. Re #5 - Social Preference
    Isn't there a large majority of heterosexual women / men who hang out with other hetero women / men?
    Particularly within Mormon culture?

  7. @Na'Me - The Klein grid is simply meant to be a helpful tool, but a high score in different categories do not necessarily mean a person is gay. Particularly in relation to #5, social norms can greatly influence social preferences. But it does highlight what many gays will tell you, that homosexuality is not solely (or even mostly) about sex. The Klein grid is useful for categorizing many different aspects of homosexuality. For me, I think #5 is indicative of homosexuality because I was at BYU with a lot of pressure to date, but I wasn't interested in dating, I preferred to hang out with other guys, and I developed crushes on those guys I was hanging out with.