Humans are more sexually fluid than we thought. Your teacher, your significant other, your coworkers, your bosses, the barista and the candlestick-maker all share sometime in common in addition to their humanity: none of them is 100 percent straight. Actually, a new study found that no one is 100 percent anything, be it straight, gay, bi, or otherwise. Sexuality is still a massive aspect of human identity, but arousal is not as clear-cut as previously thought. People can be pansexual (attracted to people of all gender identities), mostly-straight, aroused by (but not necessarily attracted to) members of their same sex, and/or any other number of configurations on the sexual spectrum.
We’ve unpacked the new study and answered what are likely to be your most burning questions.
WHAT DO THE STUDIES SHOW?
Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Ph.D., along with a team of psychologists and students, has been exploring this field for years. Their recent publication, Gay, Mostly Gay, or Bisexual Leaning Gay? An Exploratory Study Distinguishing Gay Sexual Orientations Among Young Men, has been making waves along with other prominent work in the field, such as, Pupil Dilation to Explicit and Non-Explicit Sexual Stimuli, and Sexual Arousal: the correspondence of eyes and genitals. Such research led to the publication of Savin-Williams’s book, Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity among Men, in which the author asserts that arousal in humans is not a definitive thing. Straight becomes “mostly-straight.”
Basically, the studies examined the relationship between pupil dilation of male-identified and female-identified participants who were shown hetero porn, queer porn, and a mixture of both. Pupils dilate when it’s dark to let light in, so when you see positive stimuli, the pupils dilate as a way to let the light in.
Think about it. What kind of porn do you watch? Some guys only watch girl-on-girl porn, because they’re that straight. Even then, a lot of porn marketed to men tries to replicate hetero sex with toys and language. If a penis happen to appear on your screen, it’s not the end of the world. Your pupils might grow at the sight of it without you even realizing it.
Why should men have to choose?
In popular culture, songs like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” encourage female sexual exploration. In contrast, men are expected to stick with either male or female sexual partners, and if they’re not with women, they are written off as queer (if not totally gay), making it difficult for mostly-straight men to socialize with mostly-queer men for fear of being associated with them.
Gay men have a lot to learn from this as well. Misogyny is present and vicious in the gay community. Maybe acknowledging their arousal to those who don’t identity as men can lead to a kinder, less vicious world.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
Stimuli are great, but they don’t necessarily dictate your actions. There’s always more to discover about the self and interacting with others. Safety is paramount no matter what your sexual or gender identity, so make sure you educate yourself on safer sex, always ask for and receive consent, and do research on Truvada. But also, consume queer art, support queer businesses, bake cakes for everyone, consider furthering scientific knowledge of “big dick energy,” and above all else, be kind to those different from you. You might have more in common than you think.