Diane Bayeux | Rethinking Sexual Orientation


Lines of Perspective | There’s too much emphasis placed on a change in sexuality — love who you love




W hen I was younger, my best friend and I decided to switch gender roles, simply because he had always been curious about the appearance of a woman and its apparent advantages. He wouldn’t mind putting on makeup and such for a party and would borrow my derby shoes because he wanted to add extravagance to his black and somber ensemble.

In return, I borrowed his buttoned-down shirts and tied my hair back. People started asking questions. They didn’t wonder about me, but about him. Our friends started wondering whether he was gay, with his thin figure and his feminine facial features. They could not accept the fact that he would dress up differently from them just out of curiosity and would be different from them for some time.

They automatically assumed that his cross-dressing defined him sexually too. However, the situation is similar to when boys under the age of 10 put on their mothers’ dresses and walk in their heels in front of the mirror. This does not indicate anything other than curiosity and imitation. As children, we want to become like our parents because they are the people we see regularly and whom we attempt to model our lives after.

Different events surrounding me, that do not affect my own person on any level, have made me think about sexual orientation a lot these past few weeks. I am not talking about setting up rules and reconsidering my own, but rethinking the rules put on genders and ways we love. The norms of society have made it okay to be alarmed at the announcement of a change, but it shouldn’t be so.

A friend recently announced to her parents that she was in a relationship with a girl. She was stressing out about announcing it, acknowledging the fact that parents never accept change in their children right away, whether be it a different sense of style, a new interest or acquired taste, a different path of studies or else. It is normal in the sense that parents have only seen and raised their children one way and it therefore takes them time to accept the fact that their children sometimes choose to live differently. It becomes not so normal when parents overthink it and wonder if they did something wrong, as if choosing to love someone of the same sex has a biological or mental aspect that is easily switched on and off.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, “Sexual orientation is the preferred term used when referring to an individual’s physical and/or emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender. A person’s sexual orientation is distinct from a person’s gender identity and expression.”

Some parents and other people forget that choosing to love someone of the same gender does not have anything to do with their own person or ideas. The person remains the same and will not start acting in another way. The ideas of my friend, her actions, her habits, her mind and her intellect remain the same. She simply decided to be with someone who shares the same gender.

For me, deciding to like someone does not depend on gender, but on the interest you find in the other person, be it the way you feel around him or her, his or her mind, the mutual taste you both have and the like. Sometimes, a person puts you in the happiest state you’ve ever been simply because of the way he or she brings you attention, listens to you or functions as a human being. You cannot prevent yourself from feeling this way just because it is not considered normal to instantly change orientations. Coming out seems to have taken on a much more important stake than it’s supposed to. It’s not supposed to be that way. There is no one type of person that can bring you everything you need and want. There is no gender binary and no sexual constraint. Love who you love.

Diane Bayeux is a College freshman from Paris. Her email address is dbayeux@sas.upenn.edu.

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