This makes me a lot less cool than I like to think I am. Apparently, sexuality has gone open slather among the hip and the young and heterosexuals are suddenly like, so….straight. Square. Nerdy.
The cool kids are all hetroflexible, polysexual, ambisexual, pansensual, bi-curious, bi-queer, metroflexible, heterosexual with lesbian tendencies—or just sexual. All gender bets are apparently off.
Labels and boxes need not apply. It’s all about keeping your sexual options open, people. You never know who you might want to grope tomorrow.
In one New York co-ed high school, there’s an informal daily gathering called the Cuddle Puddle, where boys and girls meet between classes to loll about on the floor draped all over each other while kissing and cuddling. Boys and boys, girls and boys, girls and girls…..there are no pigeon holes here.
These teenagers don’t feel they have to define their sexuality let alone that their sexuality has to define them. Times have changed and for some, it’s no longer about being gay or straight or lesbian. It’s just about being….whatever.
Seventeen year old Cuddle Puddler, Elle uses herself as a window into this new sexual dynamic, describing to New York magazine how she met her boyfriend at a recent party: “I kissed five people and, like, hooked up with two going beyond kissing. One of them was a boy and one of them was a girl. The reason I started hooking up with the guy is because he was making out with this other guy and he came back and was like, ‘I have to prove that I’m straight.’ And I was standing right there and that’s how our relationship started.” Wow. That’s, like, so romantic.
Back when I was at high school, few things would have been more socially ostracizing than rumours of same-sex tendencies, let alone actual gay pashing in public. But happily, many of today’s teens are a whole lot more accepting of sexual diversity, both in others and in themselves. And why wouldn’t they be?
Unlike when we were growing up, the pop cultural wallpaper of their lives is plastered with hetroflexibility. From Mischa Barton’s character in the OC getting some girl-girl action (and falling in love) to Paris, Britney, Kate Moss and Pink all kissing girls in public. As Christina Aguliera (who kissed Madonna on television before marrying her boyfriend) recently noted: “The female form is much more erotic than the male, who doesn’t think that?”.
If you’re under 25, there’s little shock value left in kissing someone with matching genitalia. If anything, it’s been replaced with cynicism. “I think genuine bi guys are the rarest of all sexual incantations,” scoffs a 20-something guy I know. ”The overwhelming majority of bi girls are phony straight girls looking to make themselves seem cool or sexy. Or in the case of Lauren from Big Brother, trying to get an FHM cover.
But there is still some resistance. Not everyone younger than you is jumping into the Cuddle Puddle with gay abandon.
One of my female Gen Y friends makes this observation: “I think it’s very much still case of bi girls being hot, whereas bi guys are still viewed as potential disease vessels. And despite trying to be outwardly open-minded by saying it wouldn’t bother them, I don’t think any of my female friends would be cool with their dude swapping holes for poles.”
A male Gen Yer agrees: “I have one guy friend who is genuinely bi. He is one of the most confident, outgoing guys I’ve ever met and his philosophy is simply if he meets someone and he’s attracted to them as a person, it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. I’ve often liked to think I would be the same – but I’ve never been attracted to a guy. If any of my girlfriends had been born the same person, but a man, would I have been attracted to them? Uh, no, they would just be the first person I call to see if they wanna go have a beer or buy some sneakers.”
As a Gen X nanna, I can’t help getting anxious about nasties being transmitted with all this cross pollination going on. Do the hetroflexibles worry about that?
“People do worry about HIV, but not nearly as much as in the 90s,” admits a 24 year old girl. “Pregnancy and the clap are more the concern in my circles. And there’s still the stigma of men being the carriers, not women, although there are plenty of urban myths about a set of 20-something pretty young things in the eastern suburbs who have HIV.”
“Everyone does have a pretty lax attitude to HIV,” confirms a 25 year old guy. “I am a serial long-term partner type dude, but even still… I don’t’ use condoms when I’m dating girls who I know are more than one night things. But with one-nighter girls? I always do. It’s stupid I know….”
Yeah buddy, it is stupid.
When I asked a couple of my girlfriends who have pashed girls why they think I never have, they said it’s because I’m too straight. In a lifestyle sense. It seems if you’re over 25 and fundamentally heterosexual, you need something else to help push your boundaries. As one 30-something puts it: “When you add drugs or alcohol and the possibility of a threesome; suddenly no one is ‘bi’ or ‘gay’; everyone’s just wild.” Ah labels. They’re so nineties.