Sexual Identity and Coming Out
This paper analyses how sexual identity can be defined and interpreted, especially in correlation to the experience of sexual desire, understood as empirical knowledge, and the integration of sexual orientation to the overall identity through the process of coming out.
The first chapter introduces the ongoing conversation about sexual identity following the application of relevant theories to a case study. The second chapter focuses on the role of experience, as it will be demonstrated that many authors agree on it being the starting point to fully comprehend sexual identity. The section will be then completed with qualitative data provided by an experimental workshop aimed to investigate if people can be attracted by someone else not knowing their gender.
In the second chapter of my dissertation, I discuss how experience, understood as empirical knowledge, is the fundamental starting point to analyse sexual identity. However, heterosexual people cannot experience the feeling of a homosexual person and vice versa. The aim of this experimental workshop is to understand if it is possible to feel attraction to another individual not knowing the gender, and therefore maybe experience feelings for a gender we would not have thought possible.
The last chapter describes how sexual identity can integrate with the overall identity of an individual through the coming out experience. In fact, as it will be explained, ‘coming out’ does not refer only to the declaration of an individual of his/her non-heterosexuality, but it is a longer and more complicated process, as will be evidenced with the coming out of Ellen DeGeneres, one of the first and most documented on public television twenty years ago.
Overall, the aim of this thesis is to provide the reader a tool to understand a sexual identity that differs from its own, and therefore maybe change its perspective about what can be considered normal.
With this practice research, I tried to understand how people react after reading a story telling how someone fell in love, not knowing the gender of the story teller. In particular, I was interested to see if the volunteers in the experiment could develop any sexual attraction for the story tellers, and therefore how they would react eventually discovering the gender.