Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why The Sexual Binary Doesn't Make Sense To/For Me

A few minutes ago, I was explaining to someone about why I prefer to consider myself as queer and not "gay", "straight", or "bisexual". In my experience, the choice between gay or straight just doesn't work for many people.

I spent years of my life trying to fit into one category. The first person who ever had a crush on me while I crushed on them was a boy. He was my "boyfriend" but we only talked on the phone twice and we never so much as held hands. Hey, what do you expect? We were still in the single digit age group! Throughout my adolescence and all but the last couple of my teen-aged years, I had some meaningful relationships with both females and males but I wasn't sexually active, so I'm sure those years count towards determining anything other than the fact that I had no desire to sleep with anyone.

If someone is currently involved with a man, as I am, does that mean they are no longer or not necessarily attracted to women? I don't think so. If our sexuality is only determined by our current partner, then that would mean those who aren't partnered don't have a sexuality. That just doesn't make sense, at least not to me. My sense is that one's sexuality is determined by several factors that, of course, includes whatever relationships someone may be in at a given point in time.

It has taken me many years to figure out why the sexual binary just doesn't seem applicable to my life. It isn't simply because I'm able to love women and men. It's because I am not a binary kind of person. I am the product of many generations of voluntary ethnic mixing. I've had several inter-racial relationships. I have lived being perceived as both disabled and non-disabled. I have been a conservative with progressive views. Taking all of that into consideration, it's easy for me to see that it would be unusual for me if I did feel comfortable in any binary system.

In some circles, there seems to be a lot of resentment towards those who refuse to see the world as black and white or, in this case, gay or straight. It's 2007. Sometimes it really amazes me how some people just can't seem to understand the fact that sexuality is a continuum, not a dichotomy. Maybe they're really just hoping that we'll all just stop making it so dern uncomfortable for them to remain oblivious to reality.


cripchick said...

hear hear.

The Goldfish said...

I feel exactly the same. Some folks propose omnisexual or pansexual to take the binary out of bisexual but to me it sounds like an omnisexual wants to have sex with everybody.

It was a big crisis in my teens that, apart from the fear of being a pervert (which is what I was brought up to think of lesbianims), I didn't realise it was possible to fancy men and women. So for years I was trying to work out which of my feelings were authentic and which were self-deceipt.

Queer is great, I love the word queer for all sorts of reasons, but it embraces everyone that doesn't fit into the straight bracket.

Anonymous said...

What really gets me is when I find gay men and lesbians talking about this sort of stuff, they say all kinds of affirming things about how the GLBT community is supposed to be about accepting yourself and being who you are, and they use this argument to try to shut out nonconformists or tell them they need to get with the program and conform.

It's not universal, but I've seen it too many times.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean this in any flippant way, but about sexuality - I think all of us would be queer if we found ourselves stranded on a desert island with a person of the same gender as our selves - especially if there were no ships in sight.

Sign me a straight

bint alshamsa said...


I REALLY think that's true but some people might get kind of riled up if you told them that. Some people really want to believe that they could absolutely NEEEVER sleep with a gender other than the one they currently partner with but, as my granmére use to say, "Hard times will make a monkey eat black pepper". ;)

Daisy Deadhead said...

Bint, great post. I am like you! My culture has encouraged heterosexuality and made it "easy" for me to engage in, but I found when I lived in a majority-gay environment (San Francisco), it was just as easy for me to go the other way. I've also heard men who've been in prison say that it's much easier than they thought it would be, and after awhile, they didn't think anything of it. It became "natural"--which says a lot about what we consider "natural" and how it is intrinsically related to our personal circumstances.

Anonymous said...

What are you thoughts on the Kinsey Scale? I always found it to be an interesting concept.