I am a big listener of the American sex columnist Dan Savage (pictured above). In Savage’s latest podcast he spoke about a new study that showed that despite what we might think, straight men are generally more depressed and anxious than their out gay and bi counterparts.
Savage argues that he thinks that this is because straight men aren’t as sexually liberated as gay and bi men (note: I will talk wholly about men in this post because the study focused on men, but I think these ideas could easily cross gender lines). It’s rather anathema to what we would normally think, but it actually makes sense. If, and this is obviously a big if, you are gay or bi, are out (all of the men surveyed in the study were out), and live in an accepting part of the world, you can actually be quite sexually liberated. This sexual liberation can have quite an impact on mental wellbeing.
Let’s look at this through a straight man’s perspective. Straight men have to continuously ‘prove their heterosexuality’. If a hetero man wants to go to a Broadway show, be a gymnast, or engage in some anal fun with their girlfriend, they’re automatically labeled ‘gay’. Their identity and sexuality are directly linked; to be straight you have to be masculine. Do anything that isn’t masculine and your sexuality is questioned.
And this paints a picture of a more sexually restricted straight world than we like to think; one in which people are forced to constantly check their behaviour to make sure it links with how society says someone of their sexuality should behave. Whilst we may say “what do they care if people think they are gay”, the reality is that having to constantly prove your sexuality is stress inducing. For all of us who have come out, you can know the relief it brings.
Whilst we often complain about stereotypes for us queer dudes we actually don’t face as many of these pressure. For most gay or bi guys, the moment you come out equals the moment when people stop questioning your sexuality (although this might not be the case for bi people). You can be the most femme rugby player, the butchest ballet dancer, or a mixture of any identity you want, and no will question your sexuality because of your identity.
And that is a liberating part of a queer world. Whilst not everyone has access to this world yet, and we have more barriers to break down, we can now see elements of sexually liberated world. If this study says anything, it’s a pretty sweet world too.
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