What defines sexual attraction? According to modern society, it is determined by the genitalia (i.e. gay versus straight). I find this to be entirely unsatisfactory of an answer. As young adults, we are often completely unaware of what we are and are not attracted toward sexually. It is natural for us to fear the unknown, so we simplify it to this idea of genitalia.
However, as we grow in both age and experience, we develop the ability to identify what we are attracted toward. How did the unknown become known? Our experiences give us a starting point. This starting point can be represented by our first sexual experience.
I had my first sexual experience at 18 years of age. It was with a man. From then on forward, gay sex become slightly less of an unknown for me. In other words, the starting point I had managed to capture for myself involved homosexual relations.
This fear of the unknown does not simply disappear. We do not suddenly all become experts in the field of sexual attraction upon losing our virginity. We simply build an identity off whatever starting point we each find.
This is typically where the categories of “straight” versus “gay” comes from in my opinion. If you lost your virginity with a member of the opposite sex, you are categorized as “straight”. If it was with a member of the same sex, you are labeled as “gay”. However, the genitalia of a person’s first sexual partner can potentially be entirely irrelevant to the development of that person’s sexual attractions.
Upon losing my virginity to a man at age 18, I continued to fear all sex that was not gay. Gay sex became an obsession, as I did not wish to face my fear. In other words, the homosexual category did not identify my sexual attractions. It actually identified what kind of sex I feared the least. As I gradually opened myself to my fear of heterosexual relations, I realized the fallacy of my current “identity” as a gay male. This led to a tremendous revelation. Outside of gay sex, I continued to be just as unaware of what I was attracted toward sexually as I was before I lost my virginity.
Becoming well-versed in gay sex did not equate to becoming well-versed in what I was attracted toward sexually overall. It simply meant becoming well-versed in gay sex.
The accomplishment I made was finding a type of person I found myself sexually attracted to enough to have sex with at least once in my life. However, this did not define what I was attracted to for the rest of my life. It simply marked the starting point. The vast majority of the time, people rarely stray from their starting points (i.e. trying a different kind of sex). It is marked as “experimentation”, which is mostly taboo and unexplained.
The very idea of experimenting (in my opinion) is to search for a different starting point despite the fact that one has already been found. This involves recalling who one was as a person before one adopted a stable sexual identity. It means acknowledging the unknown territory still present despite the sexual attractions that have developed. Such an ordeal is terrifying as it involves facing the unknown directly. Such an ordeal means temporarily removing the label one has already applied to oneself without knowing what may come of it.
However, one has nothing to fear other than fear itself.
I can think of myself as a gay person, a bisexual person, a pansexual person, a sexually fluid person, and a person who is open to discovering new starting points. The only reason I can is because I have gone back to that “blank slate” so many times. It is less of an unknown to me because I have explored my sexuality outside of the labels. Instead of looking to the labels, I looked to myself.
By no means is my original sexual identity gone to me. I continue to identify the most with what I have the most experience with (which is gay sex). However, I still have managed to develop different perspectives and find just as much satisfaction in them. As a result, I am no longer afraid of sexual attractions.
Rather, I am attracted toward them. I have found that attraction between individuals is a thing that happens. When it does happen (and it is mutual and consenting), it is a beautiful thing. I want to open myself to the beauty of this world. Personally, that means never closing myself to discovering a new starting point.
I always try to remember that a blank slate is not something to fear. It leads to adventure and it lives in the present moment.
A Frolicker of Sexual Fluidity