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Mary Portas says she can’t explain her sexuality

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  1. How refreshing to have that kind of honestly. Sexuality is different for nearly everyone and she’s explained her experience openly and honestly. I applaud her.

  2. Curiously, the idea that she might be bisexual never comes up. Anyone who has a relationship with both genders must be lying to one of them…

    1. Thank you! I was about to post the exact same comment. I am tired of bisexual invisibility, especially in the gay community. The only reference or acceptance of bisexuality I see is when someone refers to the L/B/G/T community.

  3. Personally, I don’t think that either female or male sexuality is black and white..

  4. Out definition of sexuality has always been defined by religion that imposes inflexible definitions.

    I think sexuality is far more fluid than we are conditioned to think it is. You see many heterosexual men who have deeper relationships with best male friends than they do with wife’s and girlfriends.

    I think we are socially conditioned to think of sexuality in a one dimensional way.

  5. Tenengyre “Curiously, the idea that she might be bisexual never comes up.”

    Maybe that’s because she isn’t. Many gay people are, or have been, in heterosexual relationships simply because it is what society expects of them, and they never question it. Sometimes it takes a long time for the penny to drop.

    As for Mary, I think she is wonderful, and she makes a great role model for LGBT people, instead of the usual stereotypes.

  6. A nice honest answer, this is very similar to a friend of mine and I fully agree that you cannot always put labels on sexuality; but people love to :)

    At the end of the day, who cares who you fall in love with, true love ignores sexuality or gender.

  7. “Many gay people are, or have been, in heterosexual relationships simply because it is what society expects of them….”

    There’s a lot of truth in that. Also, for women (and men?) the desire for children can be another factor. I DON’T mean that women consciously ‘pretend’ to be straight to have children, I mean that that can, for some women, have a subconscious affect on their views/attractions/decisions.

    It’s good Mary has spoken so openly about how she feels and I’m glad that everything worked out OK for her.

    1. But it isn’t HER truth:
      “She added: “I certainly wasn’t a suppressed lesbian thinking, ‘God, I can’t wait to get out of this marriage’, cos that would be just awful, awful, awful.”
      Those are her own words. Frankly, for me, she clearly falls into the bisexual spectrum and it’s sad to see so many here want to claim otherwise. Why is that?

  8. de Villiers 10 Jan 2011, 2:46pm

    > “Many gay people are, or have been, in heterosexual relationships simply because it is what society expects of them….”

    I suspect that most aren’t. I would have thought that it was likely to be biological and that the desire to reproduce with a person of the opposite sex would most probably be an evolutionary trait.

    Insofar as we have evolved from other primates, one would have to study the incidence of homosexuality within them. Although it has been documented, I understand it to be a low percentage in the single figures.

    If the starting point is the hereditary and evolutionary instinct to mate, I would suspect that societal factors to encourage heterosexual sex and/or relationships to operate at the margin.

    One would also have to ask why it was that society was ordered along such binary lines – to which I would refer back to that which I have stated above as to what was considered to be most common and intuitive on inherited and evolutionary grounds.

  9. de Villiers 10 Jan 2011, 2:48pm

    I pasted the wrong caption above. I agree that many gay people have been forced or conditioned into heterosexual relationships. What I wished to state was that it seemed that sexuality itself is more connected with biology than society.

  10. I applaud her honesty

  11. There doesn’t have to be a definition for one’s sexuality. Like other comments have stated, sexuality can be very fluid. I have had similar relationships as she has. I was married to two different men, and am now in a relationship with a woman. I have had experiences with very feminine women in the past, and my girlfriend now considers herself gender queer, as in her gender is very fluid. She flows from masculine to feminine from one day to the next. I don’t label myself bisexual because that term is too defined and rigid for me. Pansexual describes a lot of people who have been labeled bisexual. I love people, gender aside.

  12. I completely get where Mary Portas is coming from. If we agree that “gay-identified” people make up 6 per cent of the populace, doesn’t it stand to reason that truly “straight-identified” people (ie: people that have never entertained the thought or possibility of having sex with a member of their own gender) also make up 6 per cent of the population? We categorize sex into pigeon-holes because it is convenient and humans, by nature, like to label things as black or white, seldom pausing to consider the grey area in the middle. The big mistake here is to ignore the fact that sex is fluid, it is not either or (ie: gay or straight) down the middle. So, while we immediately label any man/woman who sleeps with another man/woman or indeed suggests that he/she would not write off that possibility, gay-identified people immediately scramble to label them “gay” when they are most certainly not: they are merely sexual beings who are not closed off to the idea of experiencing their full innate sexual desires and potential.

    Were it not for society’s taboos and intolerance of homosexuality, there would be a lot more open same sex liaisons among people who occasionally, sometimes or mostly shag with the opposite sex. Look at how open the Greeks were sexually before the Bible arrived and enforced a host of sexual disciplines that instilled guilt and fear into same-sex behaviour? What is interesting today is that society’s relaxing views towards homosexuality is seeing a return to same-sex openness, from straight-identified men who are not afraid to embrace and even kiss each other in public, to predominantly heterosexually-inclined men, perhaps like actor James Franco who, according to a recent PN story, do not automatically dismiss the idea of finding another guy attractive or even expressing that side of their sexuality physically.

    Indeed there are a host of porn web sites that have spawned in recent years, like Randy Blue and Sean Cody, that specialize in “un-gay” guys copping off together and having a great time in the process. Yet dare suggest to any of these guys that they are gay when they spend most of their free time shagging their girlfriends/wives senseless would be met with the derision and ridicule it deserves. Gay-identified people refuse to accept that sexuality is fluid because their experience is that they only find people of their own sex sexually attractive and therefore dismiss all other possibilities.

    This is the tragedy of the gay world, in my opinion, and explains the ghettoization and caricaturization of our sexuality by some gays into the very extreme stereotypes that the rest of us object to when featured on the BBC. If we just got that “gay” chip off our collective shoulder and accepted ourselves as sexual beings as opposed to an exclusive world into which entry is defined by who we slept with, all of the shame, guilt, mental illnesses and, ultimately, suicides that arise – particularly among men who are torn between what the gay lobby demands you be and the need to survive and function in mainstream society at large – would, I am convinced, be eliminated overnight.

    You see, at the end of the day we are our own worst enemy because we have created these boundaries – or prison walls – between “them” and “us”. The fact is that the biggest irony of all is that homophobia and intolerance are most rife from within these walls. Mainstream society is only reacting to these boundaries we erect and the demands that come from within them for equal rights and so forth when the key is just to live and let live. We are all human beings in this together, after all, and if the “gay community” just took one deep breath, chilled and was all-embracing our troubles and problems, I am convinced, would disappear overnight.

    It is this special recognition we demand and the need some feel to scream their who they sleep with that mainstream society reacts against, because sexuality itself does not discriminate or favour one type of sex above another. It just is, and we should learn to just be with our sexuality and learn to be tolerant of others however they choose to define theirs.

    1. bystander 5 Oct 2011, 4:06pm

      Agreed. There is an element of unknowability about the human sexual response – that is its potential – as Mary P’s case evidences. Instead of seeing everything through the prism of gay or straight (which are at best a kind of shorthand but do not describe the complexity of human sexual experience) how much better to simply regard everyone as just a sexual being. Imagine how much easier life would be for so many people – gay and un-gay! It would obliterate the conceptual and sometimes literal divide between heterosexual and homosexual. A divide is never good. Its important to be part of and feel the support of a broader community especially as we are an ageing population and need to look after each other.

  13. De Villiers -
    you’re joking. Whether or not anyone has a ‘desire to reproduce with someone of the opposite sex’, it is pretty clear that social expectations that you should pair off with opposite sex are enormous. Popular culture is saturated with it. Certainly when I was growing up any alternatives (even being ‘single’) were virtually inconceivable. I would venture to say that most l&g people up to the recent past have been married or seeking to be married, because no other avenue to social affirmation (apart from relatively uncommon exceptions such as being a priest or religious) was easily imaginable.

  14. Thanks for posting William. A very powerful contribution and plenty of food for thought. I think you may have a point…

  15. Hodge Podge 10 Jan 2011, 9:56pm

    “Curiously, the idea that she might be bisexual never comes up.”

    Bisexuality is complicated!!!!

    1. Bisexuality is very complicated! If the labels truly apply, i have been straight, bi, & gay. I’ve had the relationships with men, a few of them outstanding. But the problem always was i never felt toward a man the way i have and do towards women. And another thing, is how many lesbians cannot stand the thought of a bisexual, which happens to be another example of discrimination. I don’t choose who i am attracted to and no one deserves to be told they are wrong for that.

  16. de Villiers 10 Jan 2011, 10:07pm

    > I would venture to say that most l&g people up to the recent past have been married or seeking to be married, because no other avenue to social affirmation (apart from relatively uncommon exceptions such as being a priest or religious) was easily imaginable.

    I agree. I amended my post.

    de V

  17. I think in time society will mature to the point where we realise that sexuality is no longer controversial and labels are insufficient way to categorise diversity. ‘Gay’ will be seen as a historical attempt at grouping anyone who could not be considered ‘straight’.

    Maturity will occur when we can all talk honestly and freely about our sexual preferences without fear of ridicule as Mary has. I think Helen was right when she said religion had imposed inflexible definitions.

    I have also had relationships with men and women. Whilst at this point in my life I prefer men and accept myself as gay. Perhaps for convenience or again for social pressure and the need we have to identify with others.

    Occasionally I think about women but for me the term bisexual doesn’t feel like an honest description.

    Fluid sexuality is a more general description and certainly many more could easily identify with.

    At least until the day it no longer matters.

  18. Wow, how fantastic that so many posters on here do get it, and can see beyond the gay/straight label limitations we imprison ourselves within. It only matters to the fanatical gay lobby, of course, and to the closet cases who shout they are “straight” the loudest so as to (feebly) deflect any suspicion of their latent desires and proclivities. “You’re gay!” (tick). “Definitely gay!” (tick). “Gay without question!” (tick). Oh yes, do come and join our exclusive ghetto where men have to dress and look, behave and speak a certain way, and where we invite you to project your internalised homophobia at other gay-identified men, because that is what we are best at. Yes, that’s why we have the largest proportion of anxiety-ridden, depressive and suicidal human beings of any self-certified sub-group, and why “un-gay” men who enjoy the full expression of human sexual experience with both sexes either cannot identify with any aspect of, or are repelled by, the gay “scene” and choose instead to indulge their boy-on-boy fun off-campus, so to speak. “Oh, but they are bisexual don’t you know”, scream from the gay lobby, desperate to cling to their clipboards and confine human sexuality to a neat filing cabinet. Grow up people!!!

  19. Nice one Mary!

  20. A Homosexual 11 Jan 2011, 1:10am

    I always knew she was a dyke

  21. umm . . . the word bisexual, meaning having the ability to be attracted to either people of the same gender or a different gender than oneself immediately pops to mind

    a frequent saying being “the person not the parts”

  22. TheSuburbanBi 11 Jan 2011, 9:21am

    Mary’s got every right to not choose any label. Labels are not useless, though, as they come in pretty darn handy in personal as well as political situations… but there’s no reason anyone has to choose one of the usual or any label for themselves.

    That said, her definition of herself sounds like the definition a lot of bisexuals use to define themselves — happy with their ability to love and be loved by people of different genders — and perfectly happy with their current life-partner, no matter what gender.

    The near-consensus in the comments above that the word ‘bisexual’ is off the cards is sad really. The discomfort and ignorance so many people still show about bisexuals and bisexuality is frankly ridiculous in the 21st century (“Anyone who has a relationship with both genders must be lying to one of them…”?!).

    If someone like Mary throws out al labels because none of them fit, that’s one thing. But is she is ignorant of or bullied out of using a term for herself because of other people’s prejudice, then that’s a shame.

  23. de Villiers 11 Jan 2011, 11:26am

    > can see beyond the gay/straight label limitations we imprison ourselves within.

    I would have thought that they were not labels within which we imprison ourselves rather than descriptions of empirical reality. This is particularly in the English speaking world where words naturally are added and evolve to reflect new ideas or thoughts.

    Again, to consider whether we are in a “prison”, it is worth remembering why such binary descriptions developed – probably in relation to the majority of personal experience. It is also helpful to consider the incidence of sexuality within primates and other animals to explore an evolutionary and biological basis for sexuality.

    I would have thought that biology more than social construction would account for the natural feelings of impulse and attraction that most people experience.

  24. caboose:
    > I don’t label myself bisexual because that term is too
    > defined and rigid for me. Pansexual describes a lot of people
    > who have been labeled bisexual. I love people, gender aside.

    I don’t understand how bisexual is rigid. What does “pansexual” cover that bisexual doesn’t? Or are you simply another person who loves causing more linguistic and sexual/gender incomprehension, as your labeling bisexual as “too defined” might indicate?

    1. Pansexual means accepting all genders including both and neither as possible sexual partners….i.e. gender is not the main issue when accepting people as your sexual partner. Bisexual means simply being attracted to both genders.
      However there is a secondary meaning. Many people reporting to be pansexual refer to their attraction being fluid. Sometimes they like guys, sometimes they like girls and it’s not at the same time.
      I have experienced it directly. I spent most of my life being bi, very bi!
      However at the moment I have only female partners and have no interest in men period. You could say I was lesbian but I can’t guarantee it will stay that way. It’s actually a difficult sexuality to deal with until you simply accept that you’re going to be attracted to whoever that might be and you stop worrying about it.

  25. I was married for 12 years with two children, happy as happy can be, divorced, she is my best friend happy with her new partner and my man and my grand daughter are both lovely. One big happy family. Life is indeed a rainbow.

  26. Ronald McDonald 11 Jan 2011, 3:33pm

    @ William –
    You’ve got big issues mate. Sort your head out.

    @ Myself –
    you’re a lucky fella. Nice story.

  27. TheSuburbanBi 11 Jan 2011, 7:16pm

    @ myself: great story, impressive family, sounds like a happy and enriching life all round

  28. William,

    Best – and most beautiful – comment I’ve ever read on PinkNews. You should be commended.

    Someone else who can see past the cast-iron limitations society falsely imposes on itself.

    Thank you.

  29. Jason Tillman 13 Feb 2012, 8:55am

    I struggle to see whats fluid or confusing about bisexuality or homosexuality. Mary says herself: “But did I know that I’d had crushes on men and women in the past? Yes. So it was never like, oooh! ” She knows she has always fancied men AND women. What she does with her life and who she falls in love with is irrelevant. If you fancy both sexes (men and women) you are bisexual. If you Only fancy the same sex as you you are gay. Everyone is accounted for. it doesnt have to be any more complicated than that!

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