What is it?
Plainly put, the term same-sex attraction or sometimes same-gender attraction is most often used to describe the feelings men and women have toward others of the same gender. Less obvious, however, is the innuendo behind the phrase.
Who uses it and why?
Organizations and groups that spread messages against gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people have a love affair with labels. They like to lump us into groups and use clinical language that makes it seem like who we are is more a choice or condition than just the way things are.
The term same-sex attraction is one such example. Like homosexual and homosexuality, same-sex attraction is an avoidance term. It sounds better than using gay, which people have come to associate with something bad or hateful. Plus, some people don't consider themselves gay or lesbian when questioning their sexuality. Using terms like same-sex attraction gives anti-gay groups and those unsure about their sexuality a way to describe same-sex feelings without negative association.
Is that such a bad thing?
Unfortunately, the phrase also opens a window for gay cure or ex-gay therapy groups to paint the physical, emotional and spiritual feelings gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people have toward one another as addictions. And like any addition, the words same-sex attraction imply that our thoughts and actions are dangerous and should be corrected when "taken to the extreme," as gay cure website SameSexAttraction.org writes.
Still, gay reparative therapy and gay cure groups, like SameSexAttraction, don’t go as far as saying being gay is wrong. They prefer to tug at our hearts and blame unwanted life circumstances and feelings on our attractions. They make it seem like being gay or bisexual is the root of our problems and by getting rid of these feelings, the pain and anguish will simply go away. Read what SameSexAttraction.org writes on their website:
"At some point in your life, you may have realized that you are sexually attracted to other men. These inner attractions can become intense, compelling sexual thoughts toward other men and may consume a great deal of your thoughts and energy. If the sexual attractions are not resolved, they can grow into obsessions that interfere with your ability to function at work and at home, and can be destructive spiritually. Same-sex attractions are usually more compelling than attractions toward the opposite sex because they spring from more than sexual desires—they are attempts to fill unmet emotional and social needs."
In this way, our same-sex attractions become the blanket cause of any and every unhappiness. Being gay becomes an unwanted feeling with consequences that can be avoided by fighting against those feelings. But, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Gay Men Talk About the Happiness They've Found After Coming Out
Terms like same-sex attraction and same-gender love are powerful tools for anti-gay groups, who know that words like homosexuality and gay already have pre-existing and definitive connotations. They play at the emotions of those struggling to come out and those who are out, but experience dark moments in their lives. These groups speak of a gay agenda, but the agenda is in fact theirs. They want to convince you and I that we can change who we are—not for our sake, but because they believe something is wrong with us.
What You Thought Your Knew About Gay Men
The word homosexuality is often used for hate. Similarly, same-sex attraction in the wrong hands is used as bait. After all, attraction reads more like empathy than dissent, especially to someone unsure of why they have feelings for the same sex in the first place.
In reality, ex-gay therapy groups have no vested interest in helping guide men through the coming out process; they seek to cure what they believe are unnatural feelings. Words like strong and needs are sprinkled in their messages to suggest that willpower against gay feelings is the solution. They offer solace and reassurance that "not all men find themselves involved in sexual behavior."
However, like the cloaked wolf waiting for an unsure Red Riding Hood to come home, they offer a single solution to ease the pain. Unfortunately for questioning gay men and women, it comes at the cost of suppressing their feelings and sometimes celibacy.
Ex-gay groups say there is only one alternative, but in fact there are many. Ask most out men and women and they'll tell you that the pain and anguish they felt before and immediately after coming out gets better. A great place to start is Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" videos.
There are also a number of straight people and parents that support LGBT people. Read Mary Ann's story and stories from other parents who support their gay sons.
Still unsure? Find help in places like the Gay Life forum where many find help in a safe and welcoming environment from gay men and women with similar experiences. Also, check out hotlines like The Trevor Project or school organizations like GLSEN who are there to lend a helping hand.
You're feelings aren't unnatural
Anti-gay groups may have some success under the guise of curing same-sex attraction, but what they ultimately miss are the real feelings gay men and women, bisexual and trans people have for one another that go beyond the physical and into the emotional and spiritual. These feelings come as naturally as the air we breathe. And like air there is an abundance of happy and healthy out individuals who breathe life into a reality that sites like SameSexAttraction don't want you to know about.