James W. Hicks, M.D.

"I Consider Myself Straight…"

In Myths on September 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

Most of us value being able to fit in and do not want to make life more difficult. Straight is the default condition. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer all denote more marginal identities, accompanied by stereotypes, and many of us do not feel comfortable taking on such labels, at least not without the support of an accepting subculture. Women, and also men from ethnic minority groups, may be particularly reluctant to take on another possibly pejorative label based on their sexual interests, when they already face prejudice and discrimination for reasons outside of their control.

For some men, straight represents more than an interest in women; it conveys masculinity, normality, and an assertive and insertive role in sex. A man who sometimes has sex with men but is always the “top” may feel more straight than gay or bisexual; in fact, he may feel more straight (i.e., masculine) than men who only have sex with women. The problem lies not so much in the terms but in our assumptions about what sexual labels mean and what are appropriate sexual roles for men and women.

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