I spoke with Shawn Binder over at VICE’s new outlet for the ladies — Broadly — earlier this month. Shawn had an interesting query for me re out gay men who have sex with women.
In his words:
[The] piece I’m working on is focusing on why self-identified gay men (not closeted men) still choose to sleep with women.
Why do you think an out gay man would be drawn to having sex with women..?
Shawn followed up his initial query with a few speculations, including something interesting re what possibly goes on in the mind of a woman who agrees to have sex with a man she knows is gay and another interesting question about power.
I was really interested in Shawn’s questions and this issue overall, all of which tap into our continued tendency to want to “fix” (and in, have a fixed definition for) different versions of sexuality. The idea that there’s a “correct” way to be gay speaks volumes. Though our world is moving towards acceptance, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s evolving in terms of the epistemological absolutes (read: fixed definitions) that *must* be there to guide us. BUT, when Shawn’s media query came through I was still in Oklahoma book tourin’ and speaking at OU — so instead of specific responses, he got a passage of general thoughts, which he incorporated into his piece.
The sum of my comments to him are reprinted in context below. (They seemed a little wedged into the actual article, and context is key!)
Enjoy! What do you think?
As Kinsey showed us (like, 80 years ago!), sexuality is complex interplay between practice, desire, and identification. And as we know, even in 2015, our world is still fraught with judgment, discomfort, and a litany of inequalities related to power, gender, sexualities, and identity.
As such, people could engage is sex behaviors that aren’t conventionally considered “part of” their declared identity because they’re not yet ready to identify – or “admit,” as you say – some of their desires. Or it could be a power move, borne of a desire to assimilate to some wider social norm individuals may feel pressure to abide by in some way. Or it could be something else.
Sexuality is complex. And when you take marginalized positions (or ones that are still quite invisible or dismissed, like bisexuality in men) in conjunction with social pressures, behaviors that seem to contradict what we (supposedly) “know” to be true seem to emerge.
Questions about gay men who have sex with women, be they about the men or the women, come down to two things. First, our age-old inability to consider sexuality as a complex, multifaceted, and evolving dimension of humanity. There is no one way to be gay, for example. And second, our deeply embedded cultural desire for an answer. It may be that there is no answer. Or, it could be that the answer is “complex sexual desire.”
Image via Broadly/VICE
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