When assigning a label to define one’s sexual orientation, it has historically been limited to one of the top three. Yes, there is a fourth. One that there have been numerous discussions about, which is Asexual. However, that issue has been widely debated among professionals in the field of Sexology and Sexual Therapy. I am not getting into that debate here and now. Perhaps not ever within this forum. For today’s purpose, just try not to think about that for the moment. Or you can contact me for more information regarding asexuality if you think that is a matter which is important to you. For now I am going to talk to you about a sexual orientation that has, until recently, been largely ignored. An orientation which falls somewhere between two of the top three. Today I am talking to you about sexual fluidity. Particularly, sexual fluidity amongst men. It has been coined “mostly straight.” There is a book with that title written by Ritch C. Savin-Williams (Harvard Press). It is a series of interviews the author has conducted with mostly college-age men. It is informative and helpful for anyone interested in the topic.
For years, we have recognized that women are more likely to be seen as sexually fluid. That is, their attractions are not as fixed as those in men. Actually, I see it more as men are traditionally less likely to proclaim any sexual attraction to other men, even in theory. There are a variety of reasons for this. Primarily, the stigma attached to a man who might even consider a sexual encounter with another man. Of course, it is fairly well known that under specific circumstances, like when access to women for sexual purposes is limited or non-existent. There is arguably no real sexual attraction, given the circumstances, under those conditions. Socially and culturally, men are not allowed the option of exploring sexual liaisons with other men. Even disclosing having fantasies about sexual contact with other men can be perilous. Yet, men who have sex with men and do not identify as gay or bisexual is prevalent, and has been for millennia. Today, however, more and more men are discussing their sexual attraction to and for other men.
As the world becomes more aware of a strong LGBT presence, and the growing dismissive attitude toward labels for people is becoming better known, men are gradually showing their interest in sexual behaviors which are less clearly defined. Sexual fluidity is one of the areas of interest. Younger men especially have been more recently reluctant to declare just one sexual preference, wanting, it seems, to “keep their options open.” This is a central theme of Savin-Williams’ book. It’s encouraging to see that men are becoming more open about looking at sexuality as an area of their lives that is more personalized and individualized. It is also good news that this generation isn’t quite as hung up on labels, too. In my practice I have seen many men who have been exploring their same-sex attractions yet don’t identify as gay or bisexual because of it. They aren’t coming to therapy in order to change, but to help them to accept their sexuality and to deal with some of the resistance they anticipate might come from some significant people in their lives. It has been very helpful for these men to hear that it is more common than they even dared to hope.
I hope to revisit this subject in the near future right here on our website, and remember, I am still planning to start a therapy group for the MSM population (men who have sex with men). So if you are looking to meet and talk with others in similar circumstances, please contact me as soon as you can. Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings.