Pin Up Sexuality

ImageYou can’t quite pin a person’s sexuality to a wall. Sure, you can produce alluring images that reflect a sexual act. You can create art that is titillating.  But you can never capture the true essence of a single person’s complex socio-sexual horizon by freezing it in time.

There’s an element of “pin-up” sexuality that permeates the gay community, and it’s particularly perplexing here on the range. We often turn to pornography or online hook-ups to satisfy our sexual appetites because the inherent isolation that comes with being gay in a place like Kansas leaves few choices for healthier outlets. We rarely talk about it, but those of us in the LGBT community have gotten used to our sexualities being highly compartmentalized. As a result, the sexual relationships we form are frequently fragmented or underdeveloped.

Before I lose you hetero-readers to the “ick factor” of having to think about gay sex, let me remind you that we homos have to stomach more than our fair share of opposite-sexing. Sexual health is part of a community’s vitality, so anyone who cares about living in a wholesome world should be interested in this “pink pin-up problem”. Open your minds a bit and you’ll see this issue is more about sociology than it is sin.

Today, we can get off by cueing up our smart phones. Access to sexual imagery has never been easier. When you’re formulating a sense of your own sexual identity, there really is no digital Pandora’s box. There’s so much more to one’s sexuality and sexual orientation that the carnal act of sex, though. Within that truth, a tangled problem tangoes.

Gay people often see themselves represented for the first time in a porno. That’s a jarring statement that deserves some consideration.

If you are heterosexual, when did you first see another person emulate your sexual essence? If you had straight parents, it was the moment you were born. If you didn’t, I’m sure it was only a few minutes after that! We live in a heterosexual society. We’re saturated with boy-girl narratives in all elements of popular culture. Movies, books, and songs are full of opposite-sex tales. We form our identities, in part, by associating ourselves with representations of who we can become. We color our lives with the paints of others. Our sexuality is one of many elements to who we are, but what happens when there are few representations to draw from?

We want so desperately to know we aren’t alone; to be reassured that we aren’t the only one. That means we’ll go anywhere to find ourselves.

The consequences are complex. Pornographic images produce unrealistic expectations about body image and sexual pleasure. They’re devoid of humanism, making sex a solo activity, and later sexual encounters potentially awkward. Porn is also exclusively focused on sex as a corporal act. To be truly sexual, one has to bring their whole self to their partner. Spirituality, intellect, and sociability matter to LGBT people, too.

It’s easy to “pin up” our sex lives, though.  There aren’t many places outside of clubs or bars to meet gay people in this town. A holistic community is still very much in formation. In the mean time, a lot of us are bumping into each other on Grindr or conversing via Craig’s List. No one teaches you how to be intimate with a person of the same-sex. Even the most supportive of parents probably don’t know how to talk to their gay kids about how to form an appropriate relationship. There’s that “ick factor” again. It’s uncomfortable, so we avoid it. Can we afford to ignore the health problems that it parallels, though? AIDS hasn’t been eliminated. People still get infected with HIV. STDs happen. Beyond the body, though, there’s the soul. We all deserve more than a social media dating app profile.

There are more positive LGBT representations now than ever before in the media, but what about our local community? Celebrities have marginal impact on forming our identities; it’s the people in our daily lives that make indelible imprints. Coming out is a public health issue. Don’t fool yourself into thinking a lack of gay representation will lessen the chance that your kid will be gay. We homos don’t have much choice in the matter. The choice is in how we all live our lives. If you’re straight, encourage your gay friends to talk to you about their dating life. Try to help them out if they’re alone by introducing them to new people. Check in your “inner-ick” at the door. Don’t let someone you care about compartmentalize an important aspect of his or her life.

Let’s stop pinning up our sexuality and start owning up to the wholeness of who we are.