29 July 2011

The multiple dimensions of homosexuality

For me, attraction to the same gender encompasses several important aspects. Attraction occurs on the physical and sexual dimensions, but is also present emotionally and spiritually.  While this has become more obvious since coming out, it is not something that I appreciated when I was actively trying to suppress homosexual feelings.  Back then, I don’t think that I understood the strong emotional component of my homosexual attractions; it was easy to believe that the attractions merely encompassed a natural tendency to find someone else of the same gender good looking. The emotional component was present, I probably just didn't carefully and explicitly link it to my gay attractions.

I think that the suite of attractions I am able to have for a guy match, in kind and degree, the suite of feelings that a heterosexual man and woman have the capacity to feel for each other.  I cannot know this for sure because I am not straight, but I have lived a long time around a lot of straight people and have been pretty thoroughly immersed in what love and attraction means to heterosexual individuals and couples.

For those people who, for whatever reason, have an interest in de-legitimizing homosexual attractions and unions, making the case for the limited dimensions of gay attractions may be an attractive intellectual position.  Some might argue – like I ignorantly believed for many years – that physical and sexual attraction only are the key features of homosexuality.  From that perspective, it is much easier to paint being gay as a social aberration, a spiritual failing, or some sort of mental disorder or challenge.  Conversely, if homosexuality is viewed as one (minority, but legitimate) manifestation of all levels of attraction that one human can have for another, it becomes a much harder proposition to deny or discourage a gay person the chance to form meaningful same sex relationships. To de-legitimize homosexuality through moral arguments or legal avenues would entail an attempt to fundamentally limit a gay person’s ability to reach his or her social/romantic/sexual/emotional potential; to do so would be tacit complicity to limit the expression and development of a very key part of that person’s humanity.


  1. This is something I am increasingly beginning to understand as well.

  2. This is a good recap of the aspects of the conversation we had a couple of weeks ago that helped me understand what it means to be a gay man. Thanks for putting it in writing.