I have a strong objection to labels, especially when it comes to sexual orientation. The options we are offered now are: Straight (Heterosexual), Gay (Homo-sexual) or Bi-Sexual (Attracted to Both Sexes). These options include a lot of baggage and expectations for appropriate roles and behaviors within each. Let’s explore some of these.
Heterosexuality: Will only want to be in romantic/sexual relationships with persons of the opposite sex. Expected to maintain traditional sexual role of masculine tendencies for men and feminine tendencies for women. Expected to choose monogamous relationships to exclusion of any sexual interest or feelings for any other for life.
Homosexuality: Expected to be in romantic/sexual relationships only with persons of the same sex. Promiscuity is expected to be the general rule. Must choose a sexual role that is either masculine or feminine within relationships and live consistently as such – Butch or Fey.
Bi-Sexual: Not usually trusted by either straight or Gay people for real relationships because they are not dedicated to one choice or another. Considered by both to be promiscuous and untrustworthy in commitment. Often pushed to make a choice as gay or straight.
In all of these scenarios, it is thought to be helpful for others to be able to assess your identity within the culture to make others feel safe in understanding “who one is.” Unfortunately, in my practice, I have discovered many variations on these themes that create confusion for those who do not fit within these paradigms. What about Guys that are into “She-males?” Does this make them gay? If a person of the same sex happens to touch and sexual arousal takes place, does that make one gay? What does it matter?
When we are born, if you watch a child’s natural sexual progression (if possible without imposing sexual shame in their development), you will find that children are just curious about their differences and feelings. Touching and connecting with another just feels good. They only judge these behaviors when their “image makers” tell them that it is not okay.
Most of the sexual trauma that children experience is the result of societal programming that begins with the slapping away of the hands when they first touch themselves. It amazes me that people are taught that the most natural way to soothe one’s self by connecting with the genitals is not acceptable. In the Mexican culture, often parents will help a crying baby to soothe by holding their genitals and they think nothing of it! Remember how soothing it felt to touch yourself? This condemnation of self-soothing through genital touch teaches us that our sexual feelings are not okay, that we need to look to others to find soothing and self-acceptance, and that our natural inclinations are not to be trusted. This is the beginning of how we create that separation from trusting our own inner guidance that takes us away from our connection with our Higher Power. And we spend the rest of our lives looking outside ourselves to our authority figures to learn how we “should” behave and respond. And, of course, we will never measure up and our self-esteem becomes eroded and disabled.
If you take a look at other cultures that do not have such strict codes of behavior around sexual orientation, you will find that there are many for whom sexual expression need not be limited to any gender. In fact, in the times when the Goddess religions were prevalent, sexual orientation was not important to the culture. When the warrior paradigm took over, then land ownership and territory and braun became more important, then value for masculine attributes increased. When this occurred, leaders that were aware of their mortality realized that in order to retain the spoils of war (property, slaves women and children), it could only be passed on to another. As they determined that they wanted to retain their property within their family or tribe, they would have to control the parentage of the children. And the only way to do that was to control a woman’s sexuality. Thus, the importance of sexual orientation evolved to what it is today. If we dig deep into the foundations of this, we then realize that this is not a religious or moral issue; it is merely an economic one.
As we identify ourselves with these sexual orientation labels, we may find in our discovery that we are still trying to fit ourselves into others ideas of what it is to be Gay, Straight, or Bi. We are attempting to follow a script not of our own making. Rather, it is an unwritten set of rules and expectations that some have ascribed to in the past.
How relevant are these traditions to you as an individual today? Some areas fit. But the areas that do not match our inner truth cause us to feel only more inadequate – especially if we have made a choice that is not the classically approved Heterosexual paradigm. Then, those that do not identify with the traditional Heterosexual role have a double-slam on living and feeling “wrong.” How does one build self-esteem from the myriad messages that say they are basically not okay? Some use this opportunity to transcend the programming, but remnants of those negative judgments still run in some subconscious undercurrents of non-self acceptance, no matter how far many have come along the way.
We are in a magickal time, where some of our society has realized that some of the ancient traditions still have value today and some do not. As mature adults, we can now allow ourselves the option of re-evaluating what we have been taught to determine which have current relevance and value. We are in a magickal time where we realize we can write our own script, according to our own compassionate inner guidance. We no longer have to fit our square peg in a round hole. Instead, our inner guidance will help us to discover what is most appropriate for each of us in our own individual journey. Actually, we are all already doing so already, whether we admit it or not. We take in whatever we are offered, assess its appropriateness and value to our own lives, and leave the rest. I don’t think I have every met anyone who ascribed 100% to what they have been taught.
Sometimes, labels can be helpful. If you definitely insist on a gender preference, then claiming the Hetero or Homosexual label can help to clarify your position. However, it is important to remember to retain your own personal integrity and write your own script of how you will explore and express that in your own life.
I recommend that we toss these labels as often as possible and that instead, we listen to the truth from within, moment by moment. What feels loving and appropriate to our own, personal needs, and what does not? All rules, agreements and personal laws are merely in place to provide a navigable structure in which to understand our place and relationship to the world and society in which we live. None of these should ever be etched in stone or expected to be permanent, as that is not human nature. As each of us evolve, and our wisdom, understanding, and needs change, we will need to make adjustments to such structures. Remember, change is the only constant. And the more flexible we are with ourselves, the less inner resistance/pain we will experience as change becomes necessary.
Who are you now? What will you allow yourself to experience and become? I believe, the more we open to our inner truth and give ourselves permission to honor and follow our natural inclinations, the more we will know ourselves and fulfill our potential.
It is said that Creation is the loving act of God wanting to know all of Him/Herself. If we are created in the image and likeness of our maker, then this is the answer to the perennial question “Why are we here?” It is time to stop following so many of the “rules” and start listening to the promptings from within to return to our connection to the Divine that each of us has within.
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