chapter  2
45 Pages


Sexual orientation is a mixture of the physical and the social, and it too presents its own set of complexities. But sexual orientation is not simply a matter of physiological arousal. It is also part of a social identity, and one can easily see ways in which sexual orientation can be constructed. Some people even deceive themselves about their own feelings of attraction, especially when there is a social, familial, political, religious stigma attached to having such feelings. People "pass" as having a different, more acceptable sexual orientation. In its broad sense, it may include homosexual feelings and tendencies as well as same-sex sexual activity; in its narrow sense, it is confined just to same-sex sexual activity. Thus some religious traditions, for example, have banned homosexual behavior, but not the orientation and feelings that usually accompany such behavior. Insofar as the condemnation of sexual orientation leads to shame, it may be particularly harmful.