June is a magical month, as it is the month of Pride. This year, I won’t be in New York City to celebrate, but I thought I’d make my triumphant return to Word Wednesday to talk a little bit about ME. What a surprise, right?
When it comes to divulging my “orientation,” I’m not always the most forthcoming. But it’s not necessarily for the reasons you might think. The idea of being anything other than straight was never scary to me. In middle school, my friends and I would refer to ourselves as “bimentalists”: we saw ourselves as fitting somewhere between totally straight and bisexual, at least in theory. When the movie Kinsey came out, we gravitated toward the Kinsey Scale and enjoyed figuring out where we landed. All of that said, I still thought of myself as ultimately only being attracted to men. Well, boys, as it were.
It wasn’t until later that I began considering, once again, what and who I was into. I was in my late twenties, and the idea of having a relationship with another woman became more and more appealing. There was a schema shift, and I learned to view the world a bit differently. What had been a somewhat buried interest rose to the surface, and I began to pursue it. In my own uncomfortable, insecure, bumbling way, of course.
What I discovered is that I leaned much more toward a six on the scale than I had originally thought. As much as I was open and welcoming to the idea, there was some part of me that didn’t allow me to engage with that side of myself. Maybe it was a defense mechanism to ward off potential suitors, or maybe it was rooted in the fact that most of my crushes were intellectual in nature. Pursuing someone as a result of attraction was somewhat foreign to me. As my therapist would say, I wasn’t inviting my inner Blanche Devereaux to the table. I much preferred holding my crushes at an arm’s length, and only developing feelings for people who were unattainable. That way, I could safely stay in my comfort zone of nothing meaningful ever happening.
As confident as I am in my attraction to both genders, I hesitate to shout it from the rooftops. I fear that people won’t take me seriously since I came to the realization so late. Even the most well-intentioned people are occasionally guilty of borderline bi erasure, or at the very least downplaying the validity of this side of me. I often get the question, “So, are you still into both boys and girls?” As if I was only temporarily toying with the idea. In the absence of actual partners of either gender, people often have trouble deciding how they perceive my sexuality. And because I’m nervous about being seen as illegitimate, or not worthy of the label “queer” or “bisexual,” I don’t often go out of my way to counter others’ perceptions.
I know who I am and how I feel, but finding the appropriate label proves to be tricky. I have it in my head that certain events must transpire before I can have any firm grasp on my exact categorization, even though I know how flawed that way of thinking is. I don’t ever take great pain to hide how I identify, but I definitely don’t put it at the top of my list of descriptors. And that makes me sad.
So, this Pride, I am taking a bit more of a stance than I usually do. I’m 30 years old and I don’t know the exact term for how I feel or what I want—but I know that I am attracted to both genders, and could see myself in a relationship with either. For me, it’s all about the person. And, in the end, labels don’t really matter. But it’s one of the ways we learn how to interact with one another, and in the absence of a firm declaration, I often flounder. Label me what you will, but I hope that you’ll accept me—even in this nascent stage.
Happy Pride, everyone.