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Labeled and Mislabled in Livonia

  • Posted on April 11, 2016 at 5:48 am

Dear Christine,

I have a question. Do you have anything to say about the misdiagnosis or misclassification of a bisexual person as  either heterosexual or homosexual? I dated a small amount of women and had a small amount of sexual experience with women, but it has always felt much better to me thinking about men than women.  I went to therapy because of depression and family problems, I first presented myself as heterosexual, then bisexual, then homosexual.  I consider my self as a “Top.”  The therapists told me gay top men are rare and you are not officially gay until you went all the way with a person with your own sex. I have terrible experiences with psychiatrists forcing me to like women, saying as a top I should be heterosexual. I would not say have zero attraction to women, sometimes I can be very attracted to them but I have always felt better and more comfortable about men in a sexual way. My first sexual experience with a woman was at 20 something, my first sexual experiences with men started at 30 something. I want to lead a homosexual lifestyle that values monogamy and integrity. I might date women as small amount (but I never want to have sex with a woman in the traditional way). At most I could give a sensual massage to a woman.  I want to lead a homosexual lifestyle, I still call myself bisexual but for most part I would rather avoid women sexually.

Signed Labeled and Mislabeled in Livonia,

Dear Labeled,
It sounds like you have been through a lot of therapy, and maybe not the most affirming, helpful types.  Since homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality are all healthy, normal ways of being, I prefer not to “diagnose” or “misdiagnose” anyone’s sexuality.  Sexual identity is very personal, and each person  expresses themselves uniquely.  Some people only have same sex partners but do not take on the label of gay or lesbian or homosexual.  That’s understandable, because labels are political things, and if you use a label, it is notifying other people about an aspect of you that you want them to understand, and if you use “gay” they will understand you to prefer same sex partners.  If you use “straight” they will expect you to be a heterosexual.  If you are more comfortable with bisexuality, which assumes some openness to both sexes, fine!  Be you, completely you!

In my humble opinion, being a “top” or a “bottom” doesn’t make you homosexual, or not!  What you feel and what you are comfortable with is who and what you are, not a position. Years ago, I had a gay couple come to see me and they told me that they were concerned that I would not see them as a couple because they did not live together.  Their last therapist told them they had to cohabitate or not be able to say they were in a committed relationship.  This was obviously long before gay marriage became legal.  There are lots of couples that are in committed relationships (same sex, opposite sex) but don’t live together for a variety of reasons.  Where you live, what position you prefer, none of that really matters to anyone except you and the person you are in relationship with!

If a therapist or a psychiatrist is forcing you to “like women” I’d encourage you to get a second or even a third opinion.  A psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or licensed counselor worth their salt ought to be open minded enough to help you discover who you are, not try to make you fit other ideal of theirs.  You are hiring these folks to help you, not to make things worse for you!  Pick a therapist who gives you the space and safety to explore who you are without pressure and without judgement.

Remember to be honest with yourself, first and foremost.  If you are attracted to someone and want to have a romantic relationship with that person, present yourself honestly with that person.  If you want monogamy and integrity, make sure you tell that person exactly what you need and expect.  Find out if that person is looking for the same qualities and characteristics you have.  And enjoy!  And have fun!

Feel free to write again with more questions.  I hope this has helped you.
Christine C Cantrell, PhD,
Psychologist