One typical way of fighting heteronormativity is to answer the question, “When did you decide you were gay/lesbian/bisexual?” with “When did you decide you were straight?”
It turns the question on its head and gives the straight person a new perspective from which to evaluate their sexual identity.
However, the fact that a straight identity is most often assumed, unless otherwise specified, tells us a lot about the power heteronormativity still holds in our culture. The only identities that are questioned and challenged are non-heterosexual.
Porn star Madison Missina talks to Mia Freedman about the differences between sex with men and sex with women. Post continues after audio…
The state of our culture, however, hides a different reality at the psychological level. Research into the development of heterosexual identity in young adults shows that the most secure and happiest heterosexual individuals actually came to adopt this identity through exploration and experimentation.
One particular study by Sally L. Archer and Jeremy A. Gray, published in the journal Identity in January 2009, showed that heterosexual people with the highest sexual satisfaction and happiness were those who had consciously explored their sexuality.
In other words, the most sexually satisfied straight people are those who took the time to explore different sexual identities before settling on heterosexuality. Interesting, right?
How Do We Choose Sexual Identities?
To understand what this study means, we first need to explain a few concepts. The first one is that of identity development.
The usual time for exploring and trying out new identities is the teenage years. We grow into adults and have to find our own identity, separate from that of our parents. That also includes our sexual identity.