I'm aware of course that boys and girls have always "played doctor" and picked up a certain amount of "knowledge" from the schoolyard rumor mill. And some of that will always be the case, I suspect. But I can't help but think that an ambivalence towards the sex act itself can't (ahem) bend a vulnerable branch away from normal sexuality.
To say that I'm ambivalent about sex is an understatement. My father never had a self-conscious The Talk. When I had my first emission, it was my mother who cleaned up the sheets I thought I had peed. My father said it was nothing to be ashamed of, just an accident that happens when you grow up. Which isn't exactly wrong, and I accepted that and moved on without giving it another thought. I knew babies had something to do with sex but never connected it to those weird muscle cramps between my legs until I learned the mechanics of the sex act when I was about 17, by looking it up in the encyclopedia. (In this case, it was the Teen Intellectuals equivalent of sneaking a peek at National Geographic.) My lack of interest in girls was chalked up by others to my being a bookworm. When a high-school friend asked me if I'd like to go on a double date (us and two girls, that is), I said "no" so vigorously that he told me later "you acted like you were offended by the very invite." Understand as well, that any identification as gay or pursuit of same-sex sex was even farther from my mind than dating girls. I simply was not interested in the genital areas at all. To this day, I cannot even imagine my mother and father in bed together, even though I am quite aware it happened (at least twice; probably more often)
Now don't get me wrong ... I am not now and never was a prude in any overt way. I can tell an off-color or even downright-filthy joke with the best of them. I watch R and NC-17 movies without a qualm, and am rarely offended, except by its use for titillation. And even blunt depiction and frank discussion of homosexuality do not per se offend me. (Pornography does make me wince, but only when I have my, so to speak, social clothes on.)
But what I'm suggesting, from my own experience, is that to speak of "sex as an act of love" is simply speaking a foreign language. Maybe that's not the right metaphor -- perhaps speaking a language one knows the grammar and syntax perfectly but not the meanings of the words. Oh, I've read Christopher West and all -- I know how the words fit together. I can even talk about it intellectually in a persuasive way -- I had a strange encounter with a waitress at a sports bar a couple of months ago I may describe soon. But at some level, it simply isn't something within my experience.² And perhaps that is why so many same-sex-attracted men, even those who identify as gay and maintain their satisfaction with that, have so little difficulty with overtly loveless promiscuity (I have had sex with more than 40 men -- only one under any impression that I loved him.)
¹ If anyone is still reading...
² Which makes it a *good* thing that I've never believed that one's own experience creates either morality or truth.