When it comes to our sexuality, we are complex beings that cannot be categorically confined.
A past sexual exploit does not label you for life as sexual experimentation happen and desires can change over time.
And is there a need for labels, anyway?
A woman—who feared her new boyfriend might be gay because of a same-sex fling he had 25 years ago—sent a distress signal to an advice column.
And while this woman's boyfriend may presently love her both emotionally and physically, she still saw him as someone who is incapable of having amorous feelings for a woman.
Woman thinks her bisexual boyfriend is secretly gay because he’s ‘flamboyant’ and it’s textbook bi erasure https://t.co/4v4JJyIt0r— PinkNews (@PinkNews) 1572890937.0
Using the pseudonym "Private Eye," the woman wrote
Slate's sex advice columnist Stoya about being recently divorced and embarking on a new relationship with her maybe-gay boyfriend.
PE was incredulous when he allegedly explained to her that his gay romp in the sheets from many years ago was a "one-time thing."
"I doubt it because his stories conflict. He is kind and loving in every way. But he's done several things that make me question him."
She compiled evidence to support her suspicions that he is unequivocally a homosexual.
She knew he must be gay when he commented about his friend's penis size as "dead weight."
From her perspective, no straight man would talk about such things, because:
"How would he know that?"
Next, she was perplexed when her boyfriend expressed how he thought that a male actor from a film they were watching was "beautiful."
In response, she thought his comment was:
"an odd way to describe another man."
Another time, she heard him talking to a man with an "effiminate voice" who asked her boyfriend:
"What do you need today?"
That led to him ending the call and acting "upset."
She concluded with:
"Finally, when we visited a city with a very large gay population, he knew the gay neighborhood … well. This actually happened in two cities, one of which he lived in while married and separated."
Advice columnist Stoya responded by saying she was unclear about the woman's intentions but offered her thoughts on the situation.
"You seem really hung up on this. I don't think you have a smoking gun that this man is gay, but I also suspect you conceive of gay and straight as a binary situation."
Stoya explained that sexuality is a spectrum that sometimes "intersects with other spectrums" and gave examples:
"like gender expression, relationship structure style, and sexual interests—and some people are off in an asterisk-shaped paradise."
"Maybe he did sleep with a guy more than one time, and maybe it is part of his sexuality, but that doesn't mean it defines him."
She ended her advice by encouraging PE to expand her perception on sexuality, but only if she wants to continue the relationship.
"If you want to stay with this guy, you're probably going to need to work on broadening and nuancing your framing. If you don't want to stay with him, I'm not sure why you're writing."
Pink News found that similar letters have proliferated advice columns with women voicing similar concerns. But this trend only serves to erase the identities of pansexual and bisexual people.
While sexuality can be strictly heterosexual or homosexual, sexual fluidity is far more common based on study after study.
Would this woman still raise a fuss had the boyfriend admitted to previously sleeping with women?
Probably not since both were apparently in heterosexual marriages previously.
Christine Kaestle, a developmental health scientist at Virginia Tech, told Science Alert:
"Sexual orientation involves many aspects of life, such as who we feel attracted to, who we have sex with, and how we self-identify."
Hopefully the woman who sought advice, or rather complained about her predicament, became enlightened. Or she might be better off with someone else.