Sex Ed in Bed
My passive father made me gay!
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

We all joke about our queer origins. His mother was the man of the house so he turned out to be a fag. She was a tom boy who played too much sports and now she’s a big ol’ dyke. He listened to too much Barbra Strisand growing up. As for me, when I learned about Greek mythology I ran around the backyard in nothing but a loin cloth made out of a hand towel. To this day I love the feel of a silky sarong.

With the lack of factual sex education in this country there are people who actually take these “cock-and-ball stories” quite literally and end up severely oversimplifying our sexual development. Furthermore, these oversimplifications fuel the Reparative Therapy movement. It believes that if a gay man who had a passive or absent father is given a “proper” father figure later in life, this will significantly enable him to become straight. It sounds so simple, right? And it couldn’t be more from the truth. As psychotherapist and ex-gay critic, Dr. Ralph Blair says, “The only people who believe that change [from gay to straight] is possible are the people who think change should be possible. That’s very suspicious.”

Our sexual makeup is complicated to the degree that no one thoroughly knows how it develops. There are some pretty good hunches, though: The nature theory believes that our sexuality is mainly developed genetically before birth, and we’re not talking about one miniscule gene that turns us gay. We’re talking about millions of strands of genes that when pieces together on end and layered, somewhere in the first nine months of growing, they somehow point us in a particular sexual direction. Wow! Does that sound simple? I don’t think so! The idea of finding a single gene that makes us queer just ain’t gonna’ happen.

The nurture theory believes that within the first four to seven years of life our early childhood experiences shape our sexual selves. This is the popular theory with the aforementioned ex-gays because they think if you just have the right “family values” everyone will grow up straight. I’ll write it again, and you can read it out loud this time,“It’s not that simple!”

Consider the classic example of the toddlers playing on the floor, eyes level to their mother’s high-heel shoes. A flexed calf and raised ankle eloquently balanced on a red leather bound four inch pump might be the first symbol of beauty and security for a rug rat. There are plenty of people who have this childhood memory and now get weak-kneed whenever a woman seemingly glides across a room in stilettos. Yet, there are plenty of people who have the same memory that aren’t necessarily aroused by pumps. They’d rather dress in them. There are even others who have the exact memory and could care less about what a person puts on their feet. How can the identical experience not create the identical response? Because (all together now) it’s not that simple.

Sociologists, John Gagnon and William Simon are known for introducing the concept of sexual scripting in their book, Sexual Conduct. They propose that a person goes through life operating from an internal script which informs them how to behave. This script begins at conception and it is constantly being written by everything that happens to us, everything we learn, experience and believe. Though we can comprehend patterns and pieces of it, one person’s script is as complex and unique as their individuality, and pretty much incomprehensible in its total sum. So our attractions may be started by nature, continued by nurture and they are constantly adjusting and growing. There may be trends that become outdated and therefore filtered out over time. There can be themes in our scripts that are so strong that we couldn’t change them if we tried.

As a sexologist, I’m not so much concerned on where our arousals come from as much as I want people to simply enjoy their “turn ons” as best they can. So even though understanding our sexual development is anything but simple, at least it’s not a prerequisite for sexual pleasure. What a relief! If that were the case, the human race would have died out a long before we would of had any fun at all.

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