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May 7th, 2020

It’s In The Wiring

When I was a young man, and out to myself and mostly comfortable with it, I was invited to go on a motorcycle ride with a friend’s girlfriend, to see her father’s place. It would be, so she said, of interest to an artist such as myself. And so it was. She was rightly proud of him, but also a tad reluctant to let people meet him. He was of the sort of random creative genius whose artwork could not be contained. He’d made himself a house inside an old airplane hanger the interior of which seemed like an art museum. A haphazard yet fascinating art museum.

‘C’ invited me on a drive to see him on her BMW motorcycle. It was only the second motorcycle I’d ever taken a ride on, the first one being her boyfriend’s Harley. Her boyfriend and I were pals going back to when we were both teenagers and by that time he’d let me have lots of rides on his hog. I loved it. Plus, the design of the seats on a hog were such that the passenger on the back rode a tad higher than the driver, allowing you a better view.

‘C’s BMW had a seat that left the passenger staring into the back of the driver’s helmet unless you were taller, which I wasn’t. I got on and she started out and I put my hands on her hips because that was the only place I had to keep a grip on. She didn’t seem to mind.

As I said, by then I was out to myself, had been for years, and fairly comfortable with the idea of being sexually attracted to men. I knew at some deep down level that it wasn’t a matter of being afraid of women like the couch psychiatrists said. I wasn’t afraid of them, I was never sexually abused, nobody turned me homosexual. I simply had no interest. Women were not on my radar the way guys were. Some guys. Cute sexy guys (see my recent art posts). I wasn’t repelled, I just had no interest.

And just then all I wanted was to make sure I wouldn’t fall off the back of ‘C’s BMW. So I reached around and held onto her hips. It was the first time I’d really put my hands on and held onto a woman in my own age group. I had plenty of hugs from mom, and maybe though I don’t recall some of my other older female family and the other church women. This was a young women who, had I been a heterosexual male, I should have found myself attracted to, at least to some degree. She was lithe, physically fit, beautiful according to my left brain. My friend was head over heels in love with her.

My hands instantly discovered how soft and…well…squishy her body was. And my instantaneous reflex deep down inside was along the lines of Oh, that’s…odd…

This was a fairly outdoorsy, athletic young woman. And yet her body was…soft. Well defined, shapely even, according to my left brain anyway. You wouldn’t look at her and see anything overweight about her. But her body was…soft. Which I understood to be how it was with women. Logically I supposed this was something that excited heterosexual males about a woman’s body. But that was the first time I’d actually felt it. And it seemed strange. By then I’d had my hands on the hips of her boyfriend, ‘B’ many times while riding with him. For a short time I even had a crush on him. But if he wasn’t a perfect Kinsey 0 he was close to it. 

I remembered something much later after our ride…how ‘B’ had given me a ride on his hog one hot summer day. We had on our helmets, jeans and light summer shirts. His was opened in the front. Suddenly he told me to hang on, because he was going to punch it…something he knew I loved. That Harley might not have been race track material, but it had massive amounts of torque. When you got those flywheels going and banged it up a gear it was stunning. So I reached around and this one time my hands connected with the bare flesh over his stomach, felt the muscle under his skin, and instantly this electric sexual thrill shot right through me.

I never told him.

But there it is. In a nutshell, the difference between a male body and a female’s. It’s not just genitalia. It’s the physical totality of it. One is exciting. The other is…meh. That isn’t something you learn like a bad habit. It is how you’re wired.

When I was a teenager this was something the heterosexual majority didn’t seem to want to know. But we knew. To a more limited degree I knew the moment I came out to myself, while crushing on a male classmate. It was how I was wired. Nothing else made sense to me. And if you’re ever wondering why the secular and religious right have been on a scorched earth culture war against science and education, here’s a data point about that…

Dr. Richard Friedman, Who Debunked Homosexuality Myth, Dies at 79

In an important book, he challenged the widely held Freudian notion that same-sex attraction was curable, finding it instead rooted in biology.

We have been telling them this since Stonewall…those of us not so badly damaged we desperately sought out a cure for something that needed no cure. But science has been telling them this same something about us for decades now, that they’ve never wanted to hear: That human sexuality, let alone reality, doesn’t not care what their religious and moral dogmas say. It is what it is. And what it is, is older than the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone us. We bear within us every waking moment of our day the living history of hundreds of millions of years of life on earth. And those ancient tides will pull and tug on his whether or not they make sense to the lives we live now. We can be our best, only when we honestly try to understand how those threads move within us. Only then can we learn how to honorably live with them.

His 1988 book, “Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective,” showed that sexual orientation was largely biological and presented a case that helped undermine the belief held by most Freudian analysts at the time that homosexuality was a pathology that could somehow be cured.

When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird. We are not that different from our heterosexual neighbors. We can make our contribution to civilization. But we have to be allowed wholeness. Damaged humans, do damaged things. To themselves. To each other. 

There is nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. Science has been telling them that for decades now, and that is one reason why science, reason and education became the number one enemies in their scorched earth culture wars. We were just the convenient scapegoats of men who hate existence, and beauty, and the awe and wonder of love and desire, and everything fine and noble a human can be, that they cannot. 

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