Desire by Itself

  • William S. Wilkerson
Part of the The Future of Minority Studies book series (FMS)


Experience is a structured pattern of focal points and backgrounds. Sexual desire, as an experience, is neither isolated from context nor self-evident, but, like all experience, requires context and interpretation to have sense. The feelings of sexual and emotional connection some feel for people of their gender form in a context that conditions their meaning. The common coming out narrative of “discovering” sexual orientation distorts the actual process, which does not so much discover sexuality as consolidate it through interpretation and the creation of a new identity and a new project of the self. Even though we think that our feelings were always there before coming out, we forget, in the very process of this remembering, that our memory reconstructs the previous feelings in light of what they become. We now feel this way, and this new context projects itself backwards into our past, even without a choice to make a new past for ourselves, and our very feelings change retroactively. And if we could go back, we might very well see that before we came out, our feelings were not simply raw feelings of homosexuality, but ambiguous complexes living in a different context; they may have been alien, separated from the self, refused or denied, and rationalized.


Sexual Orientation Sexual Desire Sexual Identity Empty Container Context Project 


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© William S. Wilkerson 2007

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  • William S. Wilkerson

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