Why Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner Matters to Straight People

Alfred Kinsey said it best in 1948: the world is not so easily divided into sheeps and goats.

In his ground-breaking surveys of Americans’ sex lives, Kinsey discovered that many “straight” people were not entirely straight. This finding has been confirmed many times by subsequent studies of both men and women.

Back then, you were either 100% hetero-erotic in behavior, fantasy, and curiosity, or you were “queer,” a bucket of miscellaneous identities at the edge of the world. But Kinsey realized that sexual orientation isn’t that simple. And so he devised the Kinsey Scale, on which sexual orientation is not a fixed binary, but is rather located on a continuum.

Suddenly, we had more ways to describe ourselves.

Now multiply that by time—who we are sexually at 40 is often slightly different than who we were at 20. Now add the uncertainty of the future—we don’t really know what opportunities, challenges, contingencies, and near-death experiences lay around the corner for us.

As people say on those dating sites, “it’s complicated.”

And that’s why the whole gay-transsexual-queer-whatever thing matters to straight people.

Because those “other” folks are paving the way for everyone else to accept themselves as they are, rather than each of us searching for a sexual category to squeeze ourselves into.

And that’s true not only of sexual orientation regarding gender, but of other sexual categories. “Kinky” and “queer” are the new non-categories, used by thoughtful and lazy people alike. No problem. Terms like “bottom” and “slut” are also getting used, twisted, and are in the process of becoming meaningless as well.

Sex is one of life’s few arenas where we really can create our own story and evolve our own truth. Except for that pesky little detail of unintended pregnancy, sex has very little objective reality. We can configure it as we wish, collaborating with a partner to create forms of expression that suit who we are, or wish to be. There’s no need to select an off-the-rack sexual identity—“bisexual,” “eco-sexual,” “vanilla,” or anything else.

And so straight men watch porn of men sucking each other’s penises. Straight women fantasize about kissing a woman when they want to climax with their husbands. People do, or imagine, sexual activities that don’t fit into “normal” categories. They’re sometimes troubled by this. As long as behavior is consensual, they needn’t be. Fantasies don’t even have to meet that requirement.

And remember, you don’t have sex with “men” or with “women,” you sleep with George or Maria (or with as many unique individuals as you do). No one sleeps with all men, so we don’t need to categorize you as “a person who sleeps with men.”

So what do you call a lesbian who has a weekend fling with a man? Sonia. What do you call a guy who likes to spank his partner one night, and be spanked the next night? Morgan. What do you call yourself? Anything you like—and you don’t need a category.

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