Stepping Out Of The Closet: How We Can All Accept Sexual Fluidity

by Vasundhara Jain

Not too long ago, I was caught up in a conversation in which a teenage boy was being teased for being gay. That "accusation" made the boy blush, mostly because it was a girl who was bullying him.

I assured him it didn’t really matter whether his sexual orientation was straight, gay or anything between.

Then, he said to me, “You feel very strongly about gay rights. Are you a lesbian? You know, if you are, you can come out of the closet — you are among friends, here.”

I was taken aback. Being called a lesbian didn't bother me; it just struck me that, should I identify as anything but straight, I’d have to “come out of the closet.”

As in, I'd have to make a hullabaloo and embrace my identity in a social ceremony that would only shower me with polarized criticism and praise.

Do straight people need to perform this ceremony? Have you ever noticed anyone exclaim, “Hey, I need to confess, I am straight?” Why are there only "closet homosexuals" and "bisexuals"?

It is time we all step out of our restrictive closets. Most of us hide our feelings so deeply that we never get around to acknowledging that we are all encased in big closets of fluid sexual orientation.

I should probably explain the term "sexual fluidity." The concept floated around in my head for a long time, until a book — "Sexual Fluidity" by Lisa Diamond — opened up a whole new world to me. Sexuality is fluid; it is neither consistent, nor definable.

Imagine a scale of sexual orientation, and let it stretch from straight to same-sex attraction with a midpoint of bisexuality. We are grossly wrong in our interpretation of this scale when we assume there are only three checkpoints: homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual.

There is the whole span of the scale with infinite points, wherein one person's orientation may exist. Moreover, it is highly possible that you find it difficult to pinpoint the same position on the scale throughout a period of time; your choice is subject to change.

I have a friend who has, for a long time, debated whether he should call himself gay or bisexual. In all honesty, he simply doesn’t know. He feels differently on different days.

If he cannot find a reasonable position that suits him, we would do this young man, and many more like him, a life-changing favor by not asking for definitions.

Over a dinner conversation, I once asked a friend whether she identifies as bisexual and she replied that she has a boyfriend. At that time, her answer didn’t make sense to me, as I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. She could be bisexual, have a boyfriend and be perfectly happy.

A while later, she continued on to say that maybe she just never found the right girl when she was young and never consider all of her possibilities.

A very straightforward explanation: We are attracted to people for their qualities. We don’t fall in love with a person for his or her body (usually). The qualities that subconsciously attract us are universal and could exist in any man or woman.

The way we are wired and the qualities we seek are simply more often easily found in the opposite sex, which is why we are generally attracted to the opposite sex.

Another friend recently exclaimed feeling frustrated with the guys she dated and expressed a deep desire to date women. In her case, she found boys eventually turned out to be emotional wrecks; she believed women would be more suited to her desires.

She agreed with me that sometimes we recognize hidden facets of our personalities when we are forced to look beyond what we are programmed to see.

The vastly reported heterosexual majority are people in the closet. Many who embrace one sexual identity and inherently deviate from it are invariably in the closet, too. Anyone who perpetuates the concept of the closet for sexual minorities is in the closet, under a dust cloud of oblivion.

Heterosexuality happens to be the reported majority, but it is by no means the default for the human race. Why, then, should we push all non-heterosexuals into the closet?

We are born into a free world; I don’t see any reason why I should try to choose an identity from a menu that does not display all the options.

It is a good time to do away with the closet completely. Let's walk out from the cobwebbed closet once and for all. Let us dust away hypocrisy. Let the smells of wrong ideologies drift away. It is time to step out into sunshine -- we have been in the closet for far too long.