Jun 24, 2009

I'm gay, but my boyfriend isn't.

I was thinking about grad school applications the other day, and what I might put in my personal statement. The one thing I know I'm going to have a lot of trouble with is providing the story of my life. So my idea is to use this blog as a starting point for thinking about my history, digging a little deeper into what makes me the me I am today. Each post will consist of a look at one of my personality traits, strong beliefs, etc., and hopefully through this I'll be able to come up with a more coherent framework for my life story.It's day three of Pride Week here in Toronto, and that coupled with the fact that I just finished listening to a lecture series on the sociology of sexuality has got this whole notion of homosexuality on my mind of late - more so than usual. Therefore, I'd like this first post to be about why I am (not) gay, and what this term means to me.

I consider myself, today, to be what some people would refer to as a "bisexual". This means, at any given point in time, I like both boys and girls. Horray. Except the one thing that I've learned over the years is that its simply not that, well, simple. For example, the term suggests that the bisexual person is attracted to both men and women equally. This is certainly not the case for me. With every year that goes by, I find I have been attracted less to the idea of men in general, and more attracted to the idea of women. I say "idea" because I really think that it is more about the concepts than about individual people. In other words, I'm not only attracted to the way women *look*, but the very *idea* of women. It's difficult to explain but since I understand what I mean I won't expound on it any further. :)

To complicate (because as a lib arts student I love "complicating the narrative"...) this further, when I *am * attracted to someone of the male sex physically, it tends to be because he is exceptionally "manly" looking. There is absolutely nothing I find less attractive than a male who looks androgynous or even frankly feminine. Even skinny jeans on guys make my nose wrinkle a little. But, show me an androgynous female, and I can almost guarantee you I'll find her attractive. Figure that one out. Not that I'm only attracted to boyish looking girls. For the most part, the more curvy a girl is, the better, in terms of her actual physical body.

Another highly disconcerting thing about the concept of bisexuality is the sheer amount of BS you have to put up with from *both* straight people and "totally" gay people (of which I believe in about as much as unicorns, btw). The (straight) girl I sat beside at the Pride Parade info session the other day was telling me how many of the "lesbian" girls at that info session were very concerned about having to march with the "bisexual" girls. They wanted them to be in seperate groups. Seriously. This, to me, is like black people voting for Prop 8. It's the same kind of tender love and care for your personal minority identification, but then you get another equally disenfranchised group and somehow these minorites forget all about the crap they've been through and go right ahead and hate on the other minority group. Bisexuals are not "real" gays. Well what the hell is a "real" gay person? Or a "real" straight person? When you look at the variety there is out there in reality, these convenient labels we use to categorize individuals into strict groups just don't hold up. And then, of course, all of the "straight" people think (at least if you are a female bisexual) that you're only kissing girls to taunt the boys and get their attention. This is made much worse due to the fact that virtually no one is aware that you, quite frankly, can be totally straight one minute and totally gay the next. That's number 2 in the top 5 reasons I loved The L Word. They really showed this like nothing else I'm aware of (however, that being said, the number 1 reason I didn't like The L Word was because of their treatment of the "bisexual" characters on their show which was frankly horrible).

So, essentially, the whole "bisexual" thing doesn't work for me on a number of ways, and I'm increasingly uncomfortable using the term. But these feelings of discomfort and confusion remind me quite a bit of the rest of my life, to be honest. I can remember when I was about 10 years old, it was the late 90's and absolutely every girl had posters of all of the Backstreet Boys, the guys from N*Sync, and even some pictures of those gents from 98 Degrees up on their bedroom walls. They used to go on endlessly about how "hot" they all were, and who was their favourite, and all of this typical tween age stuff. And then there was me. Me? I loved the Spice Girls. I remember sitting there and listening to one of my friends (who is now, to illustrate my point about the L Word, actually a lesbian) blabber on about how hot Nick Leshey is and me thinking..."why don't I feel like this". I can't tell you how many times I asked myself that same question. Of course, I had never seen a lesbian, and really had no idea that that was even an option. I do think that some women are completely hardwired to like women and only women, and even if they had never been introduced to the concept would be forced to think it one way or another, but (maybe unfortunately) I'm not one of them.

Now, just because I didn't like boy bands doesn't mean I was "born a lesbian" or whatever, I only introduce this little memory because it's the first time I can remember really sitting back and realising that I'm somehow not like these other girls. Later on, in my early teens, I became intermittently obsessed with women like Portia de Rossi and others, but I never thought of dating the girls in my class or anything, as, like I said before, this just wasn't an option. When I look back at my friendships from my early teen years on, I realise that there were at least two or three girls that I genuinely liked and I have to say that that's probably the most upsetting part of this whole thing, that I constantly feel like I've missed out on half of my life. Missed opportunities, possible missed loves. It's really too bad.

This brings me to highschool. In the four years I was there, I dated a few people, all male, and let's not get into that please. haha. I fell in love, with a male, and I was generally content with this and content in my knowledge that I was certianly not gay and even that the idea of two women together was kind of icky. I also won't get into why this was my automatic response, I know the reason, and while it doesn't involve physical abuse or anything horrible like that, it involves a moment where someone very important said something to me when I was very young. This stuck with me all the way until what I now consider to be the turning point in my life, at least as far as my sexuality goes. One of my friends, someone who I and everyone else in my highschool considered pretty much the nicest person ever, came out as a lesbian. I knew she was gay for some time before she told us all, but her actually saying it for some reason was the real game changer for me. Suddenly, in my world, for the first time, it was possible for a girl to be nice, honest, caring, and just an all around good person and also happen to like the ladies. This..."normalising" of lesbianism made something in me click, really, just like a light switch. And then, once it happened, so much of my life that had been completely confusing and just generally messed up finally made sense. I owe a lot to this person, although I've never told her that. And today it is the main reason why I believe so much in being open and honest to other people about what makes you different. This includes me being an atheist. It's just how like if someone who's religious, and has been told their whole life that people who don't believe in god are angry, mean, sarcastic jerks who only want to criticise and belittle you. Then, the religious person meets someone and sees that they're totally nice and just like everyone else, and then finds out that they're an atheist. If they don't run screaming for the hills, chances are they're going to end up disagreeing with what they've always been told. Maybe they won't become an atheist, or realise that they always were one, but they will still be more understanding and think in less absolutist terms.

And this also forms the basis of why, despite my dislike of parades, I support the gay Pride Parade and what it hopes to achieve. For all of those young girls out there who feel like the just don't quite understand why they're so different, and what that means, or just for people who think they're "totally" straight, maybe seeing this parade will open up their world just a little bit. Maybe they'll meet someone nice as they pass by the parade on their way somewhere else, or they'll sit at home and think about what it means to be "gay" or "straight" as they see commercials for Pride week on CTV. If this happens even a tiny fraction of the time, I think it's worth it. So happy Pride.


  1. Interesting, have you ever thought that maybe being in a relationship with a man allows you to idealize women more easily? Which is not to say you're not bi, just that the reality of one, doesn't compare to the fantasy of the other. Just a thought, women often confuse me. :)

  2. I might agree if I had never been with a woman. I'm perfectly aware that women are bitches. :) They're just prettier than men. It's more complicated than that, but yeah.

  3. I like your writing style; your words are captivating. The tone is refreshing and real.
    Keep writing and I know I'll keep reading.

    A Fan.