I’ve had SO many conversations over the past few days (can’t imagine why) about “post-gay” that I’ve decided to do a FAQ. Here are some questions with answers. If you can think of other sensible questions, please add them in the comments below.
What is Post-Gay?
Post-gay is a perspective whereby someone with same-sex attraction decides not to form their sexual identity around their sexual orientation. This means that whilst accepting that they have same-sex attraction, they do not define themselves in any way by that and refuse to accept the idea that their same-sex attraction validates same-sex behaviour.
You can read a longer explanation here (from when I first coined the phrase).
Is Post-Gay just another term for Ex-Gay?
No. Someone who is post-gay might still be exclusively homosexual in their attractions, they simply reject the idea that their sexual identity or behaviour should be defined by or dictated by their sexual attractions. In most cases it is inappropriate to use the terms ex-gay and post-gay together since many people who are post-gay are not and would not want to be called ex-gay.
Isn’t Post-Gay just about suppressing sexuality?
No. Imagine that you are married or in a civil partnership. You walk down the road and you see a person you are sexually attracted to. Is it suppressing your sexuality to ignore that attraction, not to act on it? In the same way, choosing not to respond to same-sex attraction is not suppressing it.
Indeed, in order to be truly post-gay one needs to be fully aware of one’s sexual orientation and accept it. It is only in the realisation that one is same-sex attracted that one can then make the choice not to form one’s sexual identity around it. People who are in denial that they are attracted to people of the same-sex will create a tension within themselves that they will find difficult to maintain.
Can people change their sexual orientation through therapy?
This is a difficult question as there is plenty of anecdotal evidence on either side. The only way that question could be answered definitively would be by a replicable controlled longitudinal study with an independent control group for comparison. Such a study has never been undertaken.
The only study that has come closest to this gold standard is the Jones and Yarhouse ExGay Study.
Some people who describe themselves as post-gay may experience a shift in their sexual orientation, but this is not a defining or necessary characteristic.