Re-Thinking Our Sexuality
Despite progress on other fronts, the constructs and prejudices of heteronormativity continue to pervade our private lives and complicate our personal relationships. I’d like to see us challenge some of the common walls that inhibit healthy sexual expression and identity.
Here are some suggestions for dismantling these barriers.
This is 2013. In an age of proven medical treatment and safety precautions, HIV is no longer a valid reason for sexual exclusion. In fact, individuals who are not tested and do not know their status pose a much higher risk to sexual partners than positive individuals who are being treated.
Studies show that one out of five people living with HIV are unaware that they have it. This means that the likelihood of a sexually active adult completely avoiding contact with a person who has contracted HIV is slim to nothing.
Penalizing someone with HIV for his honesty isn’t in the best interest of your health. Assuming we’re talking about someone on retroviral drugs, the virus has been essentially eradicated from bodily fluids. While the normal level of precaution should be taken, your risk of contracting the virus is actually lower than it would be with the average person on the street. So don’t deny yourself meaningful experiences based on outdated science.
Glancing through online profiles on gay hook-up sites can be a step back to another century: "Masculine only"; "No Blacks or Asians"; " "No one over 30." Others may not wish to express their personal prejudices so openly, but too many of us retain conscious or subconscious feelings through social conditioning.
Rather than limiting encounters only with those who meet a set of preselected requirements, let natural sexual tension enter the equation. If you feel sexually inclined toward someone whom you wouldn’t normally expect to find attractive, go with it. You may discover something new about yourself.
Meanwhile, try to take notice of your own prejudices, and work to understand them and eventually overcome them. On some level we all have been instilled with prejudices. It’s unavoidable. But by acknowledging and addressing them, we can work to build a stronger community. So broaden your horizons and step outside your sexual comfort zone. Not only is it personally liberating, it also exponentially increases your chances for a date!
Reject Sexual Monogamy
I’m not suggesting that everyone is required to be promiscuous. Rather, don’t allow another person to take ownership of your body. What you do with your body should always remain your choice. "Gay rights" includes disregarding sexual connections based on nuclear family standards. We shouldn’t feel the need to make monogamy the standard. A quick glance at the news will quickly disprove how well that’s working out for heterosexual unions.
Studies show that open marriages last longer and are happier than traditional closed marriages. Allowing a partner the freedom to own one’s own body (safely of course), expresses a deeper level of commitment. Open communication and trust are essential to building healthy relationships.
Furthermore, LGBT individuals face a unique situation in which traditional standards of monogamy historically have not provided a good fit. Straight couples often socialize platonically with people of the same gender, which creates a situation that doesn’t lend itself to sexual tension (although that’s certainly not written in stone, either). Same-sex couples that enjoy socializing with others of the same gender can’t erase possible sexual tension. Rather than attempting to fit into a poorly formed mold, we need to continue creating new standards that encourage health and happiness in our relationships.
Quit Categorizing Friends
We put people into boxes because it makes life easier. But those boxes can interfere with the natural flow of relationships. Consider the "friend zone": Restricting friendships to the non-sexual sphere ignores the ways in which we express intimacy. Friendships are quite intentionally intimate relationships. Denying friends more intimate forms of expression based on puritanical or heteronormative standards might prevent you from finding true love when it’s right in front of you. If a sexual connection exists with a friend, don’t allow that to become a point of disruption. Make it an avenue of connection.
Use these suggestions to become aware of your own restraints and prejudices - and help end the self-censorship of love and intimacy that has resulted from centuries of superstition and social pressure.