The spectrum or range or continuity of human sexuality was today’s show topic with Robyn Ochs. She is a workshop leader, sometimes professor and prolific author on gender identity and sexuality. Her website is here, replete with a link to her most noted book, Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.
We ran a little overtime. So anyone listening who missed the last eight minutes can hear them here.
We got into the messy, politically related aspects as well as the intended topic. Those are inevitably linked.
She started by describing a workshop exercise she says she has led over 1,000 times. Do listen in to how she gets the participants to define how they have identified their sexuality over time, and then gets everyone to place themselves in relation to the others in the room. There are many I-never-thought-about-that moments and often the surprises of people who define themselves as straight, bi, pansexual, homosexual, asexual and on and on, overlap in how they fit along a continuum of identity. She said the labels thus become less different from each other as they move along the range of descriptions.
To the tricky questions related to the binary concept of straight/gay, she said that both people of all ages are changing perceptions, broadening them, and that those who fear or are confused about the concepts are in for more change. She noted that older people are changing perceptions too. She had little patience for those who use code phrase like lifestyle to imply that a bisexual or homosexual chooses gender identity arbitrarily. She finds it odd that they seem to think that heterosexual-identified people have lives and other people have lifestyles. Instead, everyone has a life, including sexual identity, which may change over time.
Ochs was also plain in saying that the concept of choice here is absurd. She said, “I’ve never met a single person who has decided whom to fall in love with.”
She’s seen terrific improvement in support for the range of sexuality, as well as such overt effect as same-sex marriage legalization. Even in her own family and friends, she’s found a marked shift toward acceptance. Part of this is awareness of people identified as gay, bi and more. This trend is linked to three factors:
- People are going public with their sexual identify at an earlier age
- The marriage-equality movement is making more people aware of overt discrimination
- The media coverage and such shows as Glee and The Ellen DeGeneres Show are showing more types of people as likable
Click below to hear her describe the workshop and her insights on that spectrum of sexuality.