“Take me to the other side”
I’ll start by saying that my thoughts are largely in line with what Bird on the Wire said. Not, obviously, the biographical bits (libertarian, bah ;) but the ideas of greys and that people are so fucking judgemental about these things.
I have a friend who is a butch lesbian dating a transman, and she mentioned the other day how that kind of throws her identity as a lesbian into confusion (especially as he moves farther into his transition). She was more talking about what other people thought than self-identity. And everyone hanging out there was like, whatever, you know we don’t care about that, we like you both and that’s that. One comment was along the lines of, obviously not everyone is going to understand, “but to family you’ll always be family.” It was so sweet, and i really think it’s just a perfect, beautiful comment, but we had to point out that that simply isn’t true. Because some people in the gay community like to keep the definition of that community very narrow.
Now, labels, i have mixed feelings about. I consider myself gay, but i don’t take that too seriously, possibly because of how i got here. I just broke up with my first girlfriend, and i’d say my first serious relationship. Before that i dated 4 boys (and 1 or 2 things that weren’t dating). I was always at least kind of attracted to both sexes. And i thought of myself as straight,
I know, i know. I knew queer kids, i was in a queer studies course, i had crushes on girls, and it never ocurred to me that i might be a lesbian? Well, no.
I thought it would be silly to jump to conclusions. But i wasn’t really attached to being straight, i’ve always had a pretty accepting, fluid view of sexuality. So, when i first started dating Jake, everyone kind of assumed i was bi. I just kind of went with what everyone said (much like when i was ‘straight’), because it made a bit of sense and i didn’t care much.
I’m still attracted to some girls and some boys. So why gay? Well, for one thing, when you talk about your girlfriend people figure you’re a lesbian. So, partly, as you can see, i just give in to popular opinion as to my sexuality. Along with which, i don’t want to be in the social limbo that the term bisexual causes with a lot of people. But more seriously, i can’t see a relationship with a guy going very far. (Never one to rule anything out, but these are my current thoughts.) There is some kind of communication and connection that, to me, seems way less likely. The idea of straight sex has always kind of scared me (i mean, you could get pregnant!) More recently i realised something less clear. I’m into kinky sex, and i don’t think it would work for me with a man. Something about the cultural power relationship that is already there no matter what really fucks up the idea of power play and all that jazz.
But i said i had mixed feelings, and that was all pretty anti-label. But that is the details, and the details are where labels break down, as they ought.
When used properly, i love labels, and i love stereotypes. First off, most of the time when sexuality comes up i am absolutely not prepared to go into the last 5 paragraphs (nor would it be appropriate). I say i’m gay. Because it’s damn near true, it’s easy to understand, and it generally gets the point across (whatever it is).
I like stereotypes because i like, i embrace, the things they say about me. (Disclaimer: obviously, they can be used badly, but i think that is no reason to shun them completely.) And, when it comes to it, i can pick and choose who i actually am – which parts of a given stereotype are true – and i can let people know. But i like that when people saw me and Jake, they thought “oh, femme and butch,” and they may have thought that i was more submissive, the cook, more dependant, she’s stronger, pays for dinner. All more true than not. And, yes, they probably thought any number of things that were not true as well. You can correct for the details if it becomes important. And people have a lot (no, not total) of control over what labels and stereotypes they play into.
Well, anyway, that’s long, and it’s time for dinner. My two cents. What can i say, my thoughts are cheap.
“Dulcimer Stomp/The Other Side” – Aerosmith