If I Could Change My Sexual Identity

The quick answer here is NOPE! It would I imagine involve much too much self-doubt and introspection to answer any other way after over 50 years of quite dedicated queerdom. To be very honest this is not something I have even given much thought to and certainly none since the late 1960’s. Also falling in with Harry Hay in the late 1970’s resulted in the essentialist view of the queer world being drummed into my little head. That made any thought of wanting to be heterosexual sacrilegious and having one’s “queer card” pulled by none other than Hay was unthinkable.

It is though a provocative proposition that deserves more than a one-word answer. Broadly speaking I am firmly in the essentialist-theory camp of gayness. Which simplistically put means that we are “born this way”. Though at one time in my more rigid youth I thought if men and women were being honest and they really preferred their own gender then the claim of bisexuality for example was just a dishonest dodge.

I do now though and have for years believed bisexuality is real and has really gotten short shrift at times from the larger queer world. For me personally bisexuality always seemed like a whole lot of work since I have trouble with one sexuality. Bisexuality as a legitimate and intrinsic form of sexual expression has just needed more non-judgmental queer space to flower though community work in this area remains to be done.

What if I was bisexual back then? Having acknowledged my own intolerance here in regards to bisexual folks I must wonder if back in 1965 whether or not I could have explored a legitimate sexual interest in women. Then I might very well have succumbed to the tremendous pressure of the heterosexual dictatorship. Would I then have explored sexual relations with a woman and liked it, perhaps even married and had a few kids? I do come from a long line of Irish Catholics who seemed to be extremely fertile.

Suffice it to say though for better or worse that I am and always have been a firm Kinsey Category Six. Having had sex with a woman twice and honestly being told by her that I was really not very good at it, I got the message. Those encounters were no incentive whatsoever to go any further down that path. In fact I was so bad at it I should have been reported to the sex police and forbidden to ever try that again. It was hard for me when engaging in sex with this woman to make my mind go completely blank and simply rely on my teenage ability to get a hard-on and ejaculate by simply being buffeted by nearly imperceptible friction. Those days too of course are long gone but not forgotten.

As I think I have written on one other occasion this message of not being a very good hetero by any one’s measure was reinforced in the late 1960’s by a priest in my hometown. I had rather pathetically sought out counseling from him about my deviance, mostly if I am honest because it was not easy being queer back then. I was frustrated with how hard it was to find satisfying gay sex. That was of course before I had incorporated and explored the Harry Hay notion that all we have in common with straight people is what we do in bed.

My near constant state of teenage “blue-balls” relieved somewhat by masturbation was becoming more and more difficult to deal with. Good porn was not readily available in the 1960’s at least not in the Midwest. It is really hard to get those Catholic Church claws out of you and I was still vulnerable to freak-out religious lapses back then so I suppose I sought out religious counseling in one last futile attempt to flip. At the end of our only session on the way out the door my parish priest put his arm around my shoulder and said: “Pat, you would make a great priest”. That never happened by the way and there were no more counseling sessions with that man. I have wondered though if there wasn’t maybe a missed opportunity there. Not of course deliverance from my “affliction” but rather missing out on possibly a good lay, he certainly fit my daddy fantasy.

I did though have sex with a couple of priests in the 1970’s and was often tempted to say; “you know you are really not very good at this”. I did give them the benefit of the doubt though and assumed that once they had moved beyond being a “practicing homosexual” their lives would dramatically improve in the bedroom. I hope that happened for them especially for the sweet guy who came into Denver every few months from a rural parish in western Kansas to seek solace at the Empire bathes. I did all I could to help him with his sexual practice.

I have often found the term “practicing homosexual” to be very odd. Oh sure any behavior sexual or not often requires a bit of practice but like riding a bicycle it comes naturally rather quickly. I would prefer to have my sexual life described as exploratory rather than practicing. I am way beyond the practice phase and hope my exploratory adventures continue albeit at a much slower pace from decades ago but sadly restricted somewhat by that old HIV business.