Background:

Once upon a time, I regularly participated in the Usenet group alt.teens.gay. (No, I was not a troll, but thanks for the benefit of the doubt.) I made a habit of saving the responses I wrote to certain posts, knowing that they might come in handy some time later when a similar issue would come up again. This is one example that I later learned was very helpful.

The Question:

>how does one change their sexuality?  or even sure what it is?  can you
>force yourself to change?  is it possible?  your thoughts on this...
The Response:

Okay, here goes.

How do you change the color of your skin? Is it possible to change the color of your eyes? Your hair? Can you change your ethnicity? Is there a way to change your gender? Your intelligence? Your age?

The cold hard reality is that you can not really change any of these things. Sure, you can apply dyes, lenses, makeup, affectations, surgery, and other tricks so that you appear to others as being different than you really are. But none of these things changes your actual nature. If you dye your hair, it eventually grows out in its true color. Colored contact lenses merely cover the eye's true color. You can acquire tremendous knowledge, but it will not really alter your innate intelligence. You can have a clever surgeon make you appear to be the opposite sex, or years younger in age, but these are merely deceptions. They do not alter who and what you really are.

The same is true for sexuality. If you are gay, you can pretend to be straight. You can act, speak, walk, and affect the mannerisms of a heterosexual with stunning accuracy. You can date members of the opposite sex, even engage in sexual intercourse with them, get married, have children, and continue this "normal" straight lifestyle for as long as you live. Countless others have done so in the past, and continue to do so today. Plus, you can do so with whatever state of mind you put yourself into or have suggested to you. It may even be possible to completely believe that you have changed your sexuality, and feel what must be the tremendous relief to think that you are finally what everybody else in the world wants you to be.

But will this bring you a lasting happiness and inner peace?

However successful you may become in achieving this state, it is at its very heart a lie. Believing in something so completely, and with all the faith of the world's most truly spiritual leaders, does not in itself make that thing you believe in the truth. There are countless works of literature that have been written throughout recorded history which rely on this as their core message. George Orwell gave us a good familiar example in 1984, where we see that even though the state can beat and torture you into believing a lie which you KNOW is a lie, they are forced to execute you after they are through "purifying" you because they are ultimately powerless against the individual's eventual realization of reality. By eliminating those who can see the truth, they perpetuate the lie that sustains their power.

But I digress. You ask about being sure of what your sexuality is. This is a common and natural question which most often begins in adolescence. At what point you eventually decide on the "answer" is ultimately up to you. Sexuality is rarely an absolute, and the most common misconception about it is that it is completely polarized. According to modern scientific studies on the subject, very few people can be catagorized as being 100% heterosexual or 100% homosexual. Most of us "exist" somewhere in the middle of a very wide scale between the two extremes, and tend to "gravitate" toward the end of the scale upon which we naturally reside. It is common for "gay" people to be sexually attracted, to some degree, toward certain members of the opposite sex. If the chemistry is there, gender seems to be irrelevant. The same is true for heterosexuals feeling attraction to members of the same sex, although it is much easier for them to disregard such impulses given the culture that we live in. In the very middle are those who qualify themselves as bisexual, which to my way of thinking would be the easiest state of being: equally balanced on the scale. Of course, there are bisexuals who say that this is the worst position to be in, attracted to anyone who has the right chemistry, regardless of gender.

The best answer I can give you about knowing what and who you are is to trust your instincts. Analyze your fantasies, and you will find the answer you seek. The very fact that you posed the question suggests to me that you already know the answer. Do not fear it or reject it, no matter how much it may rail against your upbringing, your beliefs, or what you wish and hope to be. If it disagrees with the image that you have for yourself and you deny its truth and fight it, you will be in for a long road of heartache and emotional self destruction which can cause psychological wounds that can take years to overcome. And in the end, you will find yourself right back in the place you are now, only much older and very likely alone.

Which brings me back to the issue of wanting to change what you are. What is your real motivation for doing so? Happiness? Acceptance? Finding the inner peace that this question of sexuality serves to prevent? There are those who participate in this news group who would offer you "solutions" to your problem which are based on you turning to the guidance and prescriptions of their interpretation of a higher power, sacred scriptures, and the like. You may yourself have faith of a religious nature, and I do not make any judgements regarding these, whatever they may be. However, I find that those who offer such solutions, at least in this forum, are often the same ones who are condemning of the state you find yourself in now. Part of the reason that you feel motivated to change your nature is that they have been successful (through their pervasiveness in our culture and throughout history) in making you believe that what you are is intrinsically wrong. One of their most destructive failures is their inability to understand that sexuality is separate and distinct from sexual behavior. This statement is in itself the threshold to an entirely different discussion, so I will not pursue it further. Suffice it to say that those who claim to have the ultimate answer still don't understand all the questions.

The bottom line is this: Know yourself, accept yourself, be true to yourself. A well-known prayer among followers of Christian faiths is "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." The wisdom to know the difference is the crucial part, although the whole thing is focused on change. This implies that wrong things are made right, and right things are made wrong, however you want to look at it. There is nothing in the prayer about leaving things the way they are because you have no business messing with them. As if God put people here for the primary purpose of changing everything that He had made, whenever humanly possible, whether it was God's will to change it or not. Every force in the world is constantly trying to change you, every moment of every day you live on this planet. Fate sometimes deals you the hand of being the square peg. If you let them, societal drones will take you and pound you into their round hole of conformity until you are broken into pieces and destroyed. But if you choose, you can accept your fate - embrace it, discover it, become it - and find peace. It won't be easy not being a round peg, but nobody ever said that there wasn't a square hole where you could fit in just fine.

Well, I've just reduced myself to using children's metaphors, so I will leave it at that. I hope I have been of some help.

It is my belief, from personal experience, that a persons sexuality can change.

First, let me state that I am referring to all kinds of human sexuality, not merely the homosexual-heterosexual spectrum. My own experiences deal mainly in changing fetishes and paraphilia; however as what research I've done on the subject seems to exclusively uncover information about gender attraction, I will have to rely on that spectrum for most of the points in this writeup.

The idea that sexuality is fluid seems to be mostly espoused by bisexuals, and those that strongly identify in one of the ends of the spectrum tend to think this claim to be about sexual identity more than about sexual orientation. I've seen claims that "sexual fluidity is really a kind of changing self-assessment against a backdrop of constant but obscured self-nature"1.

I am not going to argue over the fluidity of sexual identity. The answer to this should be obvious. What I question is the assertion that one's sexual self-nature is constant, and that a change in sexual preferences is merely an effect of realizing more about one's own nature. Many such changes are probably products of just that, but in my experience, as well as according to a few other opinions I've managed to dig up, not all are.

If we are to assume that sexual self-nature is a constant, then we can further assume that once a sexual interest or attraction (orientation, fetish, etc) is discovered, it cannot disappear again without resorting to self-deception. My personal experiences contradict this. I have found within myself a number of different sexual urges and fantasies throughout my life, only some of which have remained with me at a fairly constant level since I discovered them. Others have a tendency to fluctuate from weak to very strong, and the rest have largely disappeared from the phase space of my sexual interests. The second, anonymous writeup in sexuality is fluid is another example of a fluctuating sexual interest, in this case the interest in other men.

With these two examples of sexuality that changes and fluctuates both ways, the conclusion is that sexuality is not necessarily set in stone, and that whatever one's sexual nature is, it is prone to change over the course of a life. It is not a far-fetched hypothesis, then, to claim that sexuality can be changed willingly (or even forcibly, though trying to do so would be is reprehensible). If the cause of such a change could be found, it should be possible to "artificially" modify a persons sexual desires.

I do however think it possible, and indeed quite likely, that whatever desire is to be modified needs to be present in a person in some degree beforehand. It may well be impossible to induce a sexual interest in men in a man who has no attraction whatsoever in other males. I also suspect that "core" desires, desires considered by the person to be the most important part of their sexuality, is a lot harder to change. Still, from personal experience, I know even these can change in intensity, and so not even these should be entirely impossible to modify.

Note: After thinking about it, I have concluded that the above does not in fact cover my views on the subject matter very well. I'll leave it as is, with this added paragraph and a much vaguer conclusion; The sexuality of some people can change. I find it likely that it is possible to modify some of the sexuality to most people at least to some degree. Still, some aspects of some peoples sexualities may be entirely biologically determined, or for other reasons impossible to change.

1 http://www.yawningbread.org/arch_1998/yax-100.htm

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