Re: Homosexuality: male & female

Yousuf Khan (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 17:23:53 GMT

On 17 Sep 1996 14:47:52 GMT, Susan <> wrote:

> (Yousuf Khan) wrote:

>>Who knows? The numbers are probably estimates based on the author's own
>>personal experiences. If the author lives in a part of the world where
>>homosexuality is more visible, then he could come up with higher numbers.

>I would hope who ever generated the 10% number did more than cruise the
>local scene at make counts! But I guess one can never assume.

Probably it is more the norms of their society. If homosexuals are more
open in that researcher's society, then it is more likely that they will
come forward to be part of the questionaire, and not give false answers for

>>Stop right there. There is a difference between a bisexual and a
>>homosexual. You are coming very close to stating that a homosexual can be
>>converted to heterosexuality, because there are all of these bisexuals out
>>there who can switch back and forth so easily.

>Sorry, that wasn't what I meant. I was trying to convey that there are a
>range of attitudes towards homosexuality and how it is defined, if you
>look cross-culturally. The idea which is part of U.S. culture, and a
>number of others, that homosexuality is fixed and unchanging, is not
>necessarily true cross culturally. In a number of other cultures, there
>is more fluidity in how the role is enacted and understood, with people
>able to drop in and out of homosexual behavior (as opposed to the
>homosexual role as the U.S. defines it) as their life changes. The
>presence of bisexuals in this culture suggests that this may be true here
>to some extent as well, but I was not suggesting that it is true of those
>who identify as homosexuals here.

Perhaps what you are seeing in those "other cultures" is because it is the
same as what is defined in western culture as bisexuality, not

The fact that you are talking about "dropping in and out of homosexual
behaviour" suggests bisexuality right away. A homosexual won't be able to
do such a thing nor would a heterosexual, it's just impossible. But
bisexuality seems to be extremely common, more so than full homosexuality.
It might even rival the magnitude of full heterosexuality at least from
what I see in my own society.

>I am not suggesting that either kind of cultural understanding is
>necessarily more accurate or better, just that there is a range of
>understandings. I am also not suggesting that homosexuals here can or
>should "convert" to anything. I just wanted to show the range of ways
>other cultures interpret the fixedness of homosexual behavior.

Sexuality is only changeable if it is bisexuality that is involved.

>I am not about to argue that point with a homosexual in the U.S. What
>they feel about their identity is paramount, as far as I'm concerned.
>If they feel it's fixed, then it is. Period. But in the New Guinea
>example I cited, there is no stigma attached to the "homosexual phase"
>that all men go through. It is not considered better or worse or more or
>less true than the later "heterosexual phase." It is all considered a
>normal part of sexuality. Homosexuality is important because you can't
>become a proper man without it, while heterosexuality is important
>because you can't have children without it.

What is it with anthropologists and New Guinea? As soon as they want to
make a statement it seems something happens in New Guinea and the rest of
us are supposed to accept it as fact. If it's on the other side of the
world it must be different.

I've heard a lot of excuses made from special cases and misinterpretations
of behaviour of other cultures. In fact, a homosexual friend of mine from
India, was trying to convince me that all men in India go through a
homosexual phase. I know for a fact that it isn't the case because I'm from
India myself. I then asked him to explain exactly what he meant by this
homosexual phase. He was talking about the fact that all boys sleep in one
room, often in the same beds, staying separate from girls until marriage.
He had his first homosexual experiences in these settings, and he assumed
that all men also do the same in a similar situation; I told him that I had
not heard of such a thing, nor did I ever witness any such thing while I
was there. I have no doubt that homosexuals and bisexuals might have their
homosexual experiences in such circumstances, but it was by no means
something to interpret as happening to all men. (I would assume the same
situation arises for females in India).

So I would like you to specifically explain what you mean by the
"homosexual phase" in New Guinea.

>>"Bisexuals and homosexuals are all the same thing", is what I'm
>>sensing here. You can't take cases of bisexuals and say because bisexuals
>>can be attracted to the opposite sex, that homosexuals are capable of the
>>same feelings. Why not just say, "Bisexuals and heterosexuals, they are all
>>the same thing"; and then say because bisexuals can be attracted to the
>>same sex, that heterosexuals therefore can be attracted to the same sex as
>>well. Doesn't work does it?

>Again, I didn't mean this. Basically, in the New Guinea example, there
>is only one category-- sexual human-- where here there are three
>categories-- heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. I find this
>interesting only because it is a different way of understanding the same
>set of behaviors (i.e. various kinds of sexual attraction), and being an
>anthropologist, that sort of variation interests me. But there is no
>inherent rightness to either version, in the grand scheme-- just what is
>meaningful to those who's roles these are.

Hopefully you will have explained this up above.

>>What is so hard about it? You are attracted to the same sex but never to
>>the opposite sex, then you are homosexual. You are attracted to the
>>opposite sex but never to the same sex, then you are heterosexual. If you
>>have been attracted to either sex at some time in your life, then you are
>>bisexual. Forget about lumping bisexuals and homosexuals together -- they
>>are not the same thing.

>I understand that. But I personally know two people who started out
>heterosexual (and they were truly attracted to the opposite sex, not just
>playig the game of social norms), then became homosexual. At the moment,
>neither could imagine ever being attracted to the opposite sex, and both
>identify as homosexual. So if you were counting at one point in their
>lives as opposed to now, how would they be counted? And which would be

Bisexual. There is no requirement that they be equally attracted to both
sexes equally either temporally (at the same time) or spatially (at the
same magnitude).

>I suspect, and this is just my opinion, that there may be more
>fluidity in sexual attraction than we in the U.S. acknowledge. But in
>terms of gender, there is strong pressure to choose a role and stick to
>it, perhaps as some studies suggest because the U.S. is very
>uncomfortable with ambiguity.

It's got nothing to do with US culture.

Nobody is giving up their feelings just because they feel they have to call
themselves something. There are heterosexuals, they only desire the
opposite sex, they cannot get attracted to the same sex because they are
revulsed by the features of the same sex. There are homosexuals, they only
desire the same sex, because are revulsed by the features of the opposite
sex. Then there are the bisexuals, who have fewer revulsions and more

>I understand the importance of
>establishing identity, and I support those who identfy as homosexual to
>be homosexual

Do you actually believe that they have chosen to be homosexual because they
needed to choose an identity?

>(not that they need my support,but I wanted to go on
>record with it!).

>But I do wonder what would have happened to all of us
>if we had been raised in a culture where roles were less strictly defined
>in terms of sexual preference.

We would have turned out exactly the same, period. There is some role that
environment plays in sexual development, but they only affect the degrees
of our attractions and revulsions. Heterosexual females would like a
slightly different looking man, and a homosexual female would like a
slightly different looking woman, in another culture; and of course,
bisexual females would like slightly different looking men and/or women.

I still get the feeling you can't distinguish between a homosexual and
bisexual, because you are still trying to explain homosexual behaviour by
lumping in bisexual behaviour.

>>There are many people who give absolutely no outward indication of
>>homosexuality, but they are. These aren't the special cases, these are the
>>majority cases. Homosexuals are walking amongst us now, and we won't be
>>able to tell; they aren't even trying to act deceptive by hiding their true
>>nature, because this is their true nature: completely normal in every
>>aspect of life except one.

>That was my point, actually. If the numbers are based on self
>identification, then there may be validity to them. But if they are
>based on some third party assessment (which IMO would be stupid, but not
>unexpected), then I was wondering if "borderline" (and I use the
>word in the sense of people making such observations, not in terms of
>real sexual preference) males would be counted gay while "borderline"
>females wouldn't.

I see, you must be assuming that if you are to be fully gay that you must
look and act like it. If you seem completely normal but you are gay, then
you must be a borderline case with some bisexual tendencies, right?

For example, they must have the lilt in the accent, the funny walk, should
be pretty good at dressing, and might be a hairdresser or interior
decorator if they are male.

Yousuf Khan

Yousuf J. Khan
Ottawa, Ont, Canada
Nation's capital