Re: Homosexuality: male & female

Julia E Smith (
19 Sep 1996 13:32:35 GMT

Just a general observation. It seems to me that there are two separate
issues which many people are confusing. The first is "how do people
identify themselves?" The second is "what do people do?" The problem is
that the terms homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual are used for both
things. Clearly, the two issues are somewhat related: it is unlikely
(though possible, as has been pointed out) to identify as a lesbian
without sexual experience with women. This person has an *identity* as a
lesbian (and maybe as "homosexual" as well, but her *behavior* would
identify her as heterosexual, and over time, presumably, as bisexual.
Likewise, men who have sex with other men may *identify* as heterosexual,
but their *behavior* is clearly bisexual or homosexual.

The difference is fine...Anthropologists are always interested in *both*
what people say and what people do. It's even more interesting when there
is a conflict between the two. Why these conflicts exist is one of the
most interesting questions out there.

Julia Smith
University of Pittsburgh