I come from one field that is very interested in the meaning of words, both where they came from and where they are going. I am now in a field that is very concerned with understanding how people think about things so we can use that to our advantage. Because of my background, and my analytical nature, I tend to analyze things, a lot. I am not alone in this. There are whole professions who do nothing but analyze. From soil science to marketing intelligence, everyone wants to understand exactly what it is we’re all talking about.
Thing is, no one ever wants to have a conversation about homosexuality. Straight folk get uncomfortable about it, and gay folk feel that the conversation is moot, since they generally believe that it is an innate characteristic, and therefore there is no need to discuss it. (again, I love my gay friends, and love that they read my blog.)
I can understand why some don’t want to discuss the definition of homosexuality. Often times when psychologists get together to do so, they come up with some really weird stuff. From theories of abandonment to abuse to interruption of normal childhood development to who knows what else. Frankly, I completely understand why a gay guy would find it offensive. The idea that there was some sort of deviation from normalcy that caused them to be as they are is to declare the to be not normal. No one likes being told they are not normal. ok, that was a fun digression.
So, what is homosexuality? I like the definition I heard from my first psychologist, Jeff Robinson. He defined it as sexual thoughts actions or desires towards those of the same gender. Fairly simple, fairly straight forward. The key is that it leaves out any mention of the cause. Jeff did this on purpose. He didn’t want to confuse the two, since the cause and the effect are not the same. He understood that each individual is different. He understood that the path to being sexually attracted to those of the same gender was not singular, but varied. He understood that there was not a statistically significant causal effect, even if there were correlative indicators. Essentially, he knew that it is just as important to leave certain things out of a definition as it is to put things in.
Without sex, it can’t be homosexual – its homoual, which isn’t a word. The first part of that was from Jeff, the second from me. The distinction is one that some may find to be splitting hairs. I find it to be rather important. The reason I find it to be important is that homouality is more common than homosexuality, but can easily become homosexuality simply by inserting sex.
I know, I’m a word geek. sorry. Thing is, there is this idea that certain emotional closeness between men is a homosexual thing. I would call it homoemotional, not homosexual. I have a number of male friends whom I love dearly, but with whom I do not want to have sex. I want to hug them, sure, but not have sex with them. thing is though, they may not be equally inclined. They may find that the hugging is a bit too much for them. I can understand that. I have had friends who hugged more than I would have liked. But when they hugged me, I didn’t assume they were gay. I didn’t assume that there was a sexual component. That is the part that society has gotten wrong.
Certainly sex should not be unless there is emotional closeness. But to say that because someone has an emotional attraction toward someone is to have a sexual attraction is the ludicrousness that we have decided to base our world views on.
Why does any of this matter. Well, for those who find they are emotionally attracted to those of the same gender, it can matter a lot. If the only place they can find a group of people who will reciprocate the emotion is among the gay community, they are likely to start associating the emotional attraction with sexual attraction. I know folks don’t like me to say this, but its Pavlovian.
I know I’ve kind of rambled in this post. I do that when I don’t have a story to hang my theories on. (I actually do have a story for this theory, but the person about whom it is is very private, and even though I would obviously would not divulge his identity, I don’t want to write about him without his permission. I love him too much to ignore his sensitivities on this.) My brother used to say that he who controls the definition wins. I don’t know that I am looking to win here, but I would like us to all be talking about the same thing. It just makes it easier, and hopefully results in less hurt feelings.
Thank you all for reading. It means a lot to me to know that I am not just typing into the ether. I would love to hear from you as well. If you could comment, I would be very appreciative. (your identity will not be revealed in any way) For those of you who need a hug, I have plenty of those to go around, but it may need to be digital for the time being.
Thanks for your love, and your support.