The recent opinion editorials and responses highlight how much of a flash point this topic is in the LGBT community. As fun as it is to banter about, what does the research suggest? In the case of bisexuality, the picture is “Yes, there is bisexuality.”*
Every once in a while the research makes the picture more confusing. The “*” requires us to look at the fine print. The fine print almost always requires a clarification of what we mean by the term “bisexual.” The lack of precision in understanding the term is the source of much of the confusion.
Starting with the granddaddy of psychology, Sigmund Freud defined bisexuality as the ability to get sexual pleasure from a male or female. Strictly speaking, he emphasized genital satisfaction and suggested since all of us can be sexually stimulated by anyone we are all bisexual. Obviously, this view has significant limitations.
By age twelve, growing up in Philadelphia, Eakins was already displaying his talent for art. After studying art in Pennsylvania and Paris, finding himself more interested in human anatomy than the Impressionist movement, he went on to develop his anatomically precise style.
A letter to his father in 1868 made his fascination with the human body clear: She [the female nude] is the most beautiful thing there is in the world except a naked man, but I never yet saw a study of one exhibited … It would be a godsend to see a fine man model painted in the studio with the bare walls, alongside of the smiling smirking goddesses of waxy complexion amidst the delicious arsenic green trees and gentle wax flowers & purling streams running melodious up & down the hills especially up. I hate affectation.
How one can look at art such as Eakins and still find the human body shameful or anything other than nature’s finest work, is beyond me.
Eakins is credited with bringing photography in to the world of art. With these college students, he captures the beauty of the male form, human energy, and male camaraderie.
The Swimming Hole (1884-5) (above), is considered his finest study of the nude. The figures involved were his students and friends.
Makes you wonder why anyone would want to wear clothes.
A photograph of Thomas Eakins (left) and a friend.