Craig scandal brings issue of sexual identity to light
Gay, straight, bi, MSM all valid terms, researchers say
ELIZABETH PERRY Friday, September 21, 2007
Sen. Larry Craig’s (R-Idaho) arrest last June for allegedly soliciting sex from another man in an airport restroom and his insistence that he is straight has reawakened the debate over sexual behavior, identity and orientation.“I am not gay. I have never been gay,” Craig said at an oft-quoted Aug. 28 news conference. “I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis Airport.”
Kort, a gay therapist who specializes in gay affirmative therapy, said it is possible that Craig might well be homosexual in terms of orientation, but not identity. He said being “gay” is an identity, while being “homosexual” is an orientation.
“I treat many men who are homosexual and do not wish to be gay,” Kort said. “They cannot and do not change their orientation, however. For these men, and Larry Craig may be one of them, being gay is the furthest from how they see themselves. He may be a straight man who enjoys occasional sex with men or he might be a homosexual or bisexual man, but would never identify this way because it is an affirmative identity that does not fit for him.”
That view is controversial among many gays who reject the notion that “gay” is an identity. Some scientists and researchers in fields ranging from psychology, AIDS research, blood donation and more, use the term “men who have sex with men,” or MSM, for their purposes. It’s useful to them because it removes the stigma associated with terms like gay or bi and while questions of the latter terms raise a bounty of identity issues, MSM is more concrete and quantifiable.