I was re-watching the first season of The L Word this afternoon, only half paying attention while I worked the 250th row of my 53rd afghan and drank my afternoon cup of hot green tea. At some point–somehow–I became a 43-year-old, heterosexual married woman with a couple of step-kids, but in the twenty-some years immediately prior to that, I was pretty serious about being a lesbian. And the truth is, I still consider myself part of that world. The feeling becomes all the more acute when I’m in the company of lesbians or when I watch this show: I still can’t help smiling when Shane comes on screen; I still innately understand and commiserate with Bette and Tina, and I still think Alice and I were meant to be.
This afternoon on the screen, Shane is talking about sexual fluidity, trying to convince Dana that things aren’t so cut and dried as she believes. There was a time in my own life when that particular idea would’ve been difficult for me to swallow as well, but it’s certainly several years in the rearview now. In my late 30s I had this therapist, see. And while she was all coupled up and happy (as was I at the time), she indicated that should I ever find myself with a few free hours, I really should check out this book, Sexual Fluidity. I’m not sure why she suggested it. Probably it had to do with my areas of research and interest–which often tended to run into the vicinity of gender studies–but it could be that my very enlightened and educated therapist also had hella-great gaydar, and I was throwing out mixed signals. In any case, I read the book. At least…I read the book in that way graduate students read books when they only want the gist and not the technobabble. I like to think I got the point, though admittedly I’m not so sure if it’s conclusions were much different from those reached by Alfred Kinsey back in 1948. Kinsey posited sexuality on a spectrum; Sexual Fluidity seemed to have the same idea, but also claimed that the spectrum wasn’t fixed and might slide in either or both directions over the course of a lifetime or an afternoon.
The thing is, I don’t think the fluidity part actually fits me at all. I don’t feel like I’ve suddenly skated over to the boy side any more than I used to feel that I had moved over to the girl side. I do not at any time think: “I like women” or “I like men.” Instead, it seems to me that I have always loved with specific people in mind, regardless of their biological sex. I love/am attracted to John or Jill, not I love/am attracted to a generic chunk of hims or hers simply because they’re blessed with the right genitalia.
At this point, my LGBT friends and family would likely insist that I take ownership of my true label or shut the hell up, and honestly, I would if it didn’t make me, my husband, my ex, my mother, and probably everyone else I know cringe. Is it just me, or do bisexuals get a freakin’ awful rap even among ourselves? It’s like…for all our liberal claiming that sexuality doesn’t matter, that rights to marriage, etc. ought to be the same for all couples, we really really REALLY don’t like the idea (or the conception, or the intimation) that sexuality is ever a choice, and bisexuality pretty much proves that notion. Gay and lesbian Christians like to take their argument to their straight brothers and sisters’ doorstep by appealing to commonly held values: “I was born this way–God doesn’t make mistakes.” But bisexuals and their partners are often manifest physical proof that this claim isn’t true, or that, at the very least, “born this way” has become a lot harder to pin down. Were bisexuals born preferring one sex, mandated to switch when they turned 20, and then destined to switch back again a few years later? Did God really preordain all of that? This is the kind of intellectual leap that our black or white society doesn’t like to make (despite the fact that they assume God performs much more complicated feats than this every minute of every day all over the world).
As for me, my problem isn’t God-related. I’m not sure what I think of God, but I know I don’t much care to have anyone else’s conception pushed at me as the only possible Truth. Whatever God-idea I eventually arrive at will be one that I know I can live with (and I think the world would be a better place if more people considered God on a personal–instead of a political or societal–level). Anyway, my problem isn’t God, it’s people. It’s straight people. It’s LGBT people. It’s my own fucking SELF, for the love of God. Why does it matter to you (or to me) that I’ve been with both men and women in my life? I’ve gone where I thought I was supposed to be and I’ve stayed as long as I could. Along the way–the whole way–I’ve been honest about who I was and what I wanted. My suspicion is that, in doing this, I’ve been quite a bit more decent than most of the other people in the world.
And yet, when I married my sweet husband last year (after knowing him and his entire family for 25 years and knowing without a doubt that it was freakin’ FATE), I felt like I was suddenly and unequivocally ousted from the group I’d been a very vocal member of for the entirety of that 25 years. The truth is, I don’t feel any different. I didn’t wake up the morning after my courthouse wedding and think “I’m not a lesbian anymore.” I still feel the struggle with every fiber of my being. I still take it all SO PERSONALLY…at least until I remember that it isn’t so personal anymore. Now that I’m married to a man, I’m in quite the little pickle: I still feel like a lesbian and I still consider them “my people.” And yet they would not be at all pleased to count me among their number, nor would they appreciate at all that I occasionally remain silent and don’t volunteer the information that I no longer belong. For as much as we all like to act like we’re on the same page and “it’s all good if it’s love,” I just can’t shake this feeling (which I freely acknowledge has no basis in actual facts): I’m on the outside now, whether or not I choose to own the B in LGBT.