Sexual orientation is a complex and value-laden topic. Perhaps the most well-known research on sexual attraction is still that of Kinsey. His work indicated that sexual attraction lay across a continuum with approximately ten percent of people exclusively attracted to the same or the opposite sex. For eighty percent of people sexual attraction is not exclusively toward men or women. When we translate this finding in terms of the parts we may find that eighty percent of us have some parts attracted to men, others to women.
Sadly we do not live in a society where the diversity of sexual orientation is respected and appreciated. Homophobia may be defined as the irrational fear or hatred of homosexual persons. It prevents many heterosexually-identified people, men in particular, from exploring same sex intimacy (emotional, physical, and not necessarily sexual) even though they may be desirous of ‘closer connections’. Homophobia may be internalized by parts that regard same-sex attraction as disgusting and these parts will send shaming messages to the parts experiencing the attraction, in order to protect the system from becoming “deviant”.
Studies of young people repeatedly show that youth who identify as gay and lesbian are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than other youths, and 30 percent of all completed youth suicides are related to the issue of sexual identity.
In working with parts that experience same-sex desire we ask the protectors about their fears regarding these parts (often that they will “take over” the system with negative consequences). We reassure the protectors that no change will occur with the agreement of the entire system and that it is safe to get to know these parts a bit better. If the protectors agree to step to the side then we can get to know the parts expressing same-sex desire, listen to them and help them to unburden the (shame, fear, worries etc) that they are carrying.