Recently, I was at the zoo with my friend. We were standing at an exhibit with peacocks and peahens, among other birds. The peahen was quite pretty, with a pop of color around her neck, like a scarf, which blended into gray. But compared to the peacock — his long, vibrant feathers stretched out behind him like art, his chest puffed out in a princely fashion — the female seemed a bit lackluster. (Insert sad trombone noise here.)
“You know, in nature, males are often the most beautiful,” I told my friend. “Hey! That’s kind of what it’s like to be gay.”
Women are beautiful in their own right, I acknowledge that, but it’s men who stand out to me. My initial attraction to a man isn’t always — in fact, often isn’t — sexual. Instead, it’s an instantaneous admiration of his beauty. “An involuntary reaction to external stimuli,” as a friend once said. To put it simply, male beauty is something I notice. There’s something about the aesthetics, composition, and essence of men that appeals to me; whereas, it’s easier to glance past those qualities in women. I imagine it’s the same way (only reversed) for straight people.
Of course, I’m not attracted to every man, in the same way straight men aren’t attracted to every woman but are attracted to women in general. That’s where the word “attracted” gets a bit complicated. Same-sex “attraction” (there’s that word again) isn’t quite as sexualized as many people imagine; it’s not the same as temptation, desire, or lust, although it can turn into those things, or overlap. (We’ll talk more about this in future posts.) Our language is imperfect and limited, but I think the easiest way to describe being gay is that I’m primarily attracted to men.
With that said, I know plenty of men who are primarily attracted to men but found themselves surprisingly attracted to a woman — and then they fell in love, got married, and had babies. None of these men consider themselves “ex-gay,” as they remain primarily same-sex attracted; that is, they didn’t become attracted to women in general, but to a woman. They found one particular “peahen” that was more beautiful than the other peacocks. Oh gosh, maybe this isn’t the best metaphor…
So that’s one way to describe a gay orientation. These are just quick thoughts after a trip to the zoo, so please don’t read too much into them. And to all the peahens out there, you’re pretty too!