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The Fluidity of Sexuality

 
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Working with teens every day the thing I notice the most is the quest for self-definition, or "I am that which I associate with .... I am OTHER than that which I disassociate from." It's a necessary developmental milestone for adolescents, a way of separating from the known terrain of childhood, from the values and habits of the adults in their lives, and really learning to discover who they are.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and even reality shows like American Idol during which voting for your likes is part of the show grab this idea and run with it - as "liking" or "not liking" something becomes a character defining status, as if our ability to tell the story of who we are is perpetuated mainly by the things, people or ideas we associate with.

It worries me that American cultural values seem to promote and encourage an extended adolescence, where aligning our identities with our likes and dislikes can create an ongoing shallowing-out of perspective. After all, isn't one of the hallmarks of growing past adolescence the ability to hear more than one side of a story, to see more than one perspective, to tolerate more than one way of life, one type of sexuality, religion, lifestyle, body weight, choice of profession?

In a rigidly defined world where "I am that which I like" someone who loves their eggs scrambled and not fried will call themselves a "scrambled egg person" and may be predisposed to eschew those who are not.

But sexuality doesn't really work this way. Many of us define ourselves by what we like or dislike sexually, but in slamming and locking the door on ourselves and our possible sexual fluidity we are also inviting in a mentality where bigotry, discrimination, and intolerance can come into power.

In a safe and healthy, trusting relationship, you can begin to discover that things you may have been uncomfortable thinking about or acting on in the past can become more palatable and even enjoyable. Heterosexual people still become attracted to people of the same sex, and homosexual people can still find their hearts beating a little faster over someone of the opposite sex now and again.

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