But, is it sex?

A recent article in the Advocate about some preliminary work being done at the University of Portsmouth, England on the evolutionary importance of homosexual activity posits that same gender sex has been as important a factor for the survival of the species as has procreation because of the bonds it has fostered between people. In other words, not only is the urge to spread our seed a vital and necessary part of our development but so is intimate bonding with others of our gender.

That works for me, and hopefully it will be helpful to the bind that many men who love to be intimate with other men but who do not identify as gay find themselves in. This bind has two dimensions, the categories about sexual identity, gay, straight, bi, etc., that have dominated our thinking for the past half century or so, and the notion that sex is mainly about procreation.

It’s amazing to me to hear some of the stories that have been created as a way to get around this dual tabu – things like I am not gay or bi, but bi-curious, or we did not have sex because I did not have orgasm. What I see in this is the power of categories to run roughshod over our lives. Personally, I do not like categories, especially ones that try to define me. Sure, I call myself gay, but so what? It doesn’t determine my lifestyle, whatever that word means, nor does it keep me from having sexual thoughts about attractive women. It certainly does not challenge my sense of manhood, and maybe because I have no idea of what manhood should be nor do I care. I simply am.

I take great comfort in the notion that if being intimate with members of our own gender were not a potent and natural force necessary to the preservation of our species, it would not be so widespread across cultures and still exerting a powerful influence at this point in human history. Whatever ways in which we identify ourselves, we can find meaning in our own intimate homosexual relations as being part of this great flowing river of an erotically charged humanity that has been dancing to this tune since time immemorial.

The researchers in Portsmouth are definitely on the right track, and I hope their work will contribute to new ways for us to think about the importance of homosexuality. Unfortunately, we cannot erase the categories we have for gender identity or of what constitutes sexual activity. But, we can enrich them by acknowledging the positive place that homosexuality plays in our lives. Because it is futile to deny the powerful urges we have for sexual intimacy with our own gender, the time has come for us to expand our thinking and to move beyond such limitations on our identities. Isn’t it more healing to expand our thinking than taking such extreme measures as condemning people to death simply for expressing a basic and natural human desire? And yes, Dorothy, it is sex. Grow up and enjoy it!