Without wanting to sound too like the opening of an underprepared essay, what does it mean to be ‘gay’? We’re not going to get all Queer Theory on you – there isn’t the space and we don’t have the know-how – but it does seem worth asking in light of our investigation this week.
In our survey of over four hundred Oxford undergraduates, only around thirty five percent identified themselves as completely, one hundred percent, straight-as-a-die hetero. The rest put themselves on a sliding scale somewhere between utterly homo and straight-with-a-dash-of-pink. Sexuality in Oxford is, it seems, no longer a binary, but a spectrum. (In the town that gave us Brideshead and the Oxford Union, it is perhaps no surprise that ambiguous sexualities are not a problem.)
This fluid attitude to sexuality is reflected in the behaviour of those surveyed, too. One in five men had had full gay sex, many more than identified as ‘gay’; and ‘straight’ women also said they’d gone further than a one-for-the-lads drunken snog. You don’t have to be ‘gay’ any more to enjoy kissing, touching, or even a relationship with a member of the same sex. And as you would expect, most of the respondents to the questionnaire were open minded when it came to all matters homosexual, from the ‘coming out’ of a family member to gay adoption.
The overriding theme coming out of the data seems to be: everybody’s at it and nobody’s judging. And isn’t that a lovely conclusion? University is a time for new things, after all. If you’ve ever felt the urge, here might just be the place.