sex·u·al·i·ty Pronunciation: ˌsek-shə-ˈwa-lə-tē Function: noun Date: circa 1800 : the quality or state of being sexual: a : the condition of having sex b : sexual activity c : expression of sexual receptivity or interest especially when excessive http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sexuality
I am extremely intrigued by sexuality because I want to understand what makes people attracted to the same or opposite sex; however, I am more interested in homosexual attraction because I feel that there is something important to gather from the tension of widely accepted heterosexuality and the existence of homosexual relations.
Sexuality and sexual identification is complex. We get close to defining it, only to find out that sexuality cannot be understood within society’s ‘normal’ parameters. It seems that these parameters of heterosexuality are expanding slowly to acceptance of queerness, but then we come across ‘exceptions to the truth’ that blur our vision and complicate our understood system of sexuality (i.e. Are intersex relationships gay, bi, or straight?) In order to understand sexuality, we must deconstruct our current perception of it to examine the smaller aspects in an unbiased light. We will speak and think out of the frame work we were grown into.
My theory I believe that we are sexually attracted to individuals, not the sex of the person or the type of sex we can have with them. Sexual identity only exists as a social construct because of our society’s obsession with creating categories. Using a system that only has three categories (gay, lesbian, bisexual) is dangerous because it limits our thinking of sexuality as if it is something we were born with, something that needs to be discovered, or something that once accepted within oneself, must be permanent. Since our understanding of sexuality is still quite foggy, I feel that once one of the three outcomes previously mentioned are obtained, we think we’ve figured it out. I think there is a possibility that we are all bisexual but have been socially conditioned by society to feel attracted to the opposite sex; however, I am not ignoring that fact that some people just may be more attracted to one sex over the other (the standards of hetero or homo sexuality). I would like to look at sexual identity more as a preference, rather than something that is absolute.
Is Elio bi or gay? A classmate commented in their blog that the book left them with so many unanswered questions, one being: Is Elio bi or gay? A part of me would answer, Why does it matter? Another part of me is just as curious.
Elio’s story… Was his struggle with finding himself due partly to the standards that society puts forth? Or is he just flat out confused? If so, is it because he felt he needed to identify with one of the three categories? Do these categories hurt a person more than they help? I think Elio’s coming of age story is a great way to examine sexuality. I also feel that his account helps explain my view that sexuality has a certain ambiguous essence about it.
Following are passages that I pulled out from the book that show Elio’s attraction to both sexes. My point is to show how and why Elio searches for a lover; that is, he is looking for an emotional connection with someone to fill the empty gap in his heart, rather than focusing on the sex of the person and worrying if he or she can satisfy him sexually, and so his sexual attraction revolves around intrinsic values.
“Watching him wearing my clothes was an unbearable turn-on...It was the porousness, the fungibility, of our bodies – what was mine was suddenly his, just as what belonged to him could be all mine now...perhaps the physical and metaphorical meanings are clumsy ways of understanding what happens when two beings need, not just to be close together, but to become so totally ductile that each becomes the other. To be who I am because of you.” (141-142) “To be who I am because of you.” To be, in this moment, gay because he is speaking of Oliver?
“…they [Oliver’s feet] were snuggled under my callused foot and I needed to protect my protector.” (142)
“I loved her smell, loved her mouth…Barely half an hour ago I was asking Oliver to fuck me and now here I was about to make love to Marzia, and yet neither had anything to do with the other except through Elio, who happened to be one and the same person.” (144-145) Is he suggesting his bisexuality here? He seems indifferent about his attraction to either male or female and either sex seems to satisfy his needs (whatever that may be).
“The fruit was leaking all over my cock. If Oliver walked in on me now, I’d let him suck me as he had this morning. If Marzia came, I’d let her help me finish the job…I saw that its reddened core reminded me not just of an anus but of a vagina, so that holding each half in either hand firmly against my cock, I began to rub myself, thinking of no one and of everyone…I scanned my mind for images of Ovid-wasn’t there a character who had turned into a peach and, if there wasn’t, couldn’t I make one up on the spot, say, an ill-fated young man and young girl…” (146-147) Again, either sex seems attractive to him.
“Would I always experience such solitary guilt in the wake of our intoxicating moments together? Why didn’t I experience the same thing after Marzia? Was this nature’s way of reminding me that I would rather be with her?” (150) Is this guilt the result of going against social norms? Or is Elio’s mind telling him he is more attracted to females? It seems to be more of an after effect of his homosexual experience because the previous slides suggest his equal attraction to both sexes.
“…the smell of his sweat, which was the smell of my sweat, and next to me my man-women whose man-women I was…” (161) Top? Bottom? Equal power? Both women, both men, or man and woman, straight, gay, or lesbian He seems content to be in the situation he is in regardless of the identity it would fall under.
“His smell reminded me of Marzia’s…” (170)
“Or is intimacy the desired product no matter where you find it, how you acquire it, what you pay for it-black market, gray market, taxed, untaxed, under the table, over the counter?” (172)
“How nice to hold a woman’s hand…” (179)
“…when it comes to the senses all humans speak the same beastly tongue.” (190) This was the section where the poet talks about the clerk in his hotel that looked like a boy who looked like a girl and who was therefore just a boy. I think “the same beastly tongue” refers to love, which every human knows of, regardless of what sex the lovers are.
Biology, evolution, and the ideal family structure support the category of homosexuality, while creating the other for homosexuals. A scientist will say: that the pieces of a man and woman fit to function; that they are the only two who can produce another of their own kind to extend the bloodline into future generations and without man and woman, there would be no us. And while this is all true, who is he to quantify desire? Who is he to deem homosexuality as ‘unnatural’ when we can sit in the wilderness and watch animals take part in homosexual acts? It seems that scientists view sex, pleasure, and desire through primary sex organs and have forgotten that emotions and attraction contribute a percentage to good sex (whether or not it involves reproduction). A historian can list the numerous accounts of homosexual and bisexual relationships dating back to BC and ranging from Two Spirits to the Greeks, probably even before the terms for sexual identity even existed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality#History
I’m not saying I’m right and society is wrong. My model of sexuality and sexual identity is not perfect by any means, but if you allow yourself to think without constraints, you can see my point. Challenging the system is the only way to understand that you probably can’t neatly define sexuality. I’m not trying to change your beliefs; I’d just like to open your mind to other possibilities.