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Response to “Can We Expect More?”

April 17, 2003
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See http://365gay.com/opinion/Eleanor/Eleanor.htm for the article.

I recently read the article “Can We Expect More?” written by Eleanor Brown on the 365gay.com website, and while I can’t say that I take offense to it, I do have to say it makes me uncomfortable. Not because she’s a homosexual writer writing about the homosexual world, but because, being a bisexual writer, I feel that she is missing something.

It is true most literature taught in schools these days is centered around heterosexuals. School systems are slow to change and the slightest protest from the far right will send most principals scurrying to quash any signs that the precious children might be receiving anything but a nice conservative education. A student wanting to learn more about homosexuality has to look beyond the classroom, and often even beyond his or her own school libraries. Most students wanting to learn more about homosexuality have to wait until they go off to college and are no longer under the scrutiny of their parents, teachers, and administrators when they want to learn something new.

I admit, when I was in college, I had to be corrected by my homosexual and bisexual teachers for my misconceptions of homosexuality. I had a linguistics professor correct me for referring to homosexuality as a “choice” because for most people it’s not a choice, just the way they are. I was raised heterosexual and didn’t know any better. But college is about learning. I’d like to think that I took the lessons of my teachers to heart, the most important of which was the need to try to see things from both sides and try to find what is at the core of both issues.

Whether you are heterosexual or homosexual, it can be uncomfortable to read about the love lives of people whose sexuality is different from your own. Even if a heterosexual is open-minded enough to be accepting of the homosexual lifestyle, most people will still have some underlying tension in regards to what they perceive to be sexuality “opposite” of theirs. However, I think that the core of this issue is not whether or not someone can be comfortable with or how much acceptance one can expect to “exact” of their opposite sexuality, but how we, as a race, can be accepting of sexuality in general as a physical expression of emotion.

Heterosexual intimacy is no better and no less wonderful than homosexual intimacy. Both are subject to the emotional highs, lows, and manipulations of the persons involved. Due to cultural barriers that have only recently been cracked in the slightest, expressions of heterosexual intimacy in literature has been almost (but admittedly not quite) as limited as expressions of homosexual intimacy. These are barriers that both have had to break through, and each has dealt with those barriers in their own way. It is my belief that being perceived as out of the mainstream has allowed homosexual writers to flourish and mature more quickly beyond those barriers, and thus the perception that literature on homosexual intimacy is more insightful.

The core of this issue, then, is not that homosexual or heterosexual intimacy, literature, or even sexuality is better than their “opposite,” but that each culture has some gaps to bridge before they can truly claim to understand one another. Demands for understanding from either side are clearly not the best way to do so. Instead, understanding must begin at home. Homosexuals, heterosexuals, and even bisexuals must understand that at the core of it all, it’s about expressions of the emotions that we all feel. Gaining that understanding, and offering one’s hand across the cultural gap to teach that understanding…

That all one can ask.

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