Ever feel like there’s a mass market for wrong information about homosexuality and bisexuality? Do you leave a conversation with a friend or finish reading an article or website and wonder if what you’ve learned is the truth or one of those nasty myths? Just about any subject you’d hear about has them … and homosexuality and bisexuality is no different. Now Scarleteen’s taking the time to debunk some of the most common misconceptions.
We believe that all people have the right to choose what’s right for them about sex and sexual orientation without fear of discrimination. In order to assist in breaking down the barriers, it is vitally important to be able to distinguish between the facts and the myths. All of us, at one time or another, has firmly believed that something was real or true when it very much wasn't. Here we look at some of the myths surrounding sexual orientation and the truths that lie behind them.
FACT: Nope: all sorts of people like anal sex play. It's a matter of personal preference. In fact, not all homosexual men like anal play – there is no connection between someone's sexual orientation and whether or not they like anal sex.
The anus is full of sensitive nerve endings, and this can be very stimulating for people of any gender or sexual orientation. Some men find that they like anal sex because it stimulates their prostate gland.
FACT: Lesbians are just like all other women. Which means: they wear whatever they feel most comfortable with on any given day. And that can be anything from high heels and miniskirt to jeans and a t-shirt to button-down shirts and boots. Lesbians don't have a dress code, and you cannot tell if someone's a lesbian from the way they dress (unless they're wearing a shirt that says “I'm a lesbian”, that is).
Check the research: The Secret Power of Lesbian Style
FACT: Ever heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child? Well, it pretty much does. Children learn from all sorts of different experiences and role models. But what qualifies people to be good parents, or surrogate parents, isn't their gender or their sexuality. It's their compassion, respect, patience and dedication to raising a child.
What children need is love, caring and understanding, and anyone of any gender or orientation can provide that. So, a homosexual couple can do just as good a job of parenting as a heterosexual couple.
FACT: You know, for this, we'd have to first come up with a definition of a 'girly guy' or a 'tomboy'. How does a guy have to behave to be considered ‘girly’? In the same way, how would a girl have to behave to be considered a 'tomboy'?
Is not wearing skirts enough to be considered boyish? But that just brings us back to the lesbian dress-code, doesn't it? Ultimately, we're all individuals with our own tastes and likes and dislikes, and those aren't necessarily an expression of our sexual orientation. How someone dresses, what games they like to play or what movies they like to watch isn't hardwired together with their sexual orientation. Those things aren't connected, and thus someone's tastes or behavior is never a good way to gauge their sexual orientation.
Check the research: Scarleteen: She's a Tomboy, so she likes girls, right?, Wikipedia: Tomboy
FACT: I've often thought that it'd be great if this was true. At times when I felt isolated because of my sexuality, it would've been neat to pick other homosexuals out of the crowd and connect with them. Or if there's a girl I like and I'm not sure how she'd react if I brought that up.
All in all, it'd be a great super-power to have. But that's just what this infamous “gaydar” would be: a super-power. Homosexuals aren't inherently different from heterosexuals (and the boundaries there tend to be pretty fluid, anyway) and thus there's no way to know if someone's gay unless you ask them.
FACT: This misconception likely comes from the way in which heterosexual relationships seem to have roles that are clearly divided according to gender. The girl is weak and passive where-as the male is strong and active; however, this is hardly true for most hetero relationships. It is also untrue for homosexual relationships where the ideas of gender and gender roles are often pretty hard to define in the first place.
Some people may be naturally more active or more passive, but this is a personality trait, and not something that's connected to one's gender. And in a healthy, balanced relationship, there would be an interplay of activity and passiveness, rather than one person always charging ahead and the other following along.
FACT: There's still a lot of contention over what does and does not 'lead to' homosexuality. Most scientists seem to be in agreement by now that it's an interplay of nature and nurture. That is - it's a combination of one's genetic make-up and the influences of one's environment growing up.
This is much more complex than simply saying “lack of factor x will lead to homosexuality”. Science aside, a simple look around in your group of friends and acquaintances should help you to prove this myth wrong. How many friends do you have who grew up with a single parent, or who had one parent who was away from the home a lot due to work? Did they all become homosexual?
Check the research: All Psych Online: Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture?, Wikipedia: LGBT Parenting
FACT: Sexuality isn't as rigid and constant as popular opinion would have you believe. In fact, sexual orientation tends to be very fluid and shift back and forth over the course of one's lifetime. Someone who has always considered themselves homosexual may fall in love with someone of the opposite gender. Another person who's been identifying as bisexual may come to realize they are exclusively attracted to one gender. In the same, someone who's been heterosexual all their lives may find themselves feeling attracted to a particular person of the same gender.
Attraction has so many more factors than just our own gender or the gender of the person we feel drawn to, and thus it's no surprise that we may not always limit ourselves to one gender for all our lives. Most recently studies believe that only a very small group of people is exclusively homosexual and heterosexual, everyone else lies on a spectrum between.
Check the research: Avert: Why are people called homosexual or gay, and what does it mean?, Health Hype: Female Sexuality is Relatively Fluid, Sexual Health: Sexual Orientation: Identity, Fantasy and Behavior
FACT: If someone is bisexual, it does not mean that they will automatically always be attracted to every single person. It just means that their attraction is not limited to one gender. It doesn't mean that they're attracted to more people – there'll still be other factors that determine who they feel attracted to.
Similarly, being bisexual certainly doesn't mean having no impulse-control and no respect for one's partner. Just like anyone else, a bisexual person who's interested in a committed, monogamous relationship will dedicate themselves to making that work. Their sexuality isn't an indication that someone is more likely to cheat or choose not to enter monogamous relationships in the first place.
FACT: If you spend most of your life around people with blond hair, you’ll wake up one morning with naturally blond hair. When looking through this idea with another topic for discussion it’s easy to see how strange the theory really is.
Homosexuality isn't a disease, and thus it cannot be contagious. So nope, you cannot catch 'the gay' like you would the cold. Sexual orientation also is not a conscious choice; you do not wake up one day and decide to be gay, or straight, or bisexual. Spending time with someone of a different orientation from you may make you curious about that and may broaden your horizons, but it cannot alter your sexual orientation.
Check the Research: Scarleteen: The Bees and the Bees: A Homosexuality and Bisexuality Primer