I spent some time with a friend recently, and probably will not again, who claimed that her high school boyfriend is now “gay”.
“Oh, that’s nice,” I said, which apparently was the wrong response.
“How is that nice? He likes men now! What does that say about me?!”
I looked at her puzzled. My immediate feelings a mix of confusion and annoyance. I looked at her in her eyes and said: “It is not about you.”
“What do you mean?” she said.
“First, sexuality is on a spectrum. You do not have to stay stagnant on one end or the other. His preferences can come and go as he pleases and he should not have to be judged for that. Two, it doesn’t matter what happened in high school, Y’all are two adults now and to turn this around and make it about you is insensitive and selfish. ”
Later that night, I am scrolling through my newsfeed and see all these articles on Janelle Monae. At first, I was like “Yass, get it”. Then I am seeing more and more articles, a mix of positive and negative, attempting to shed light on what it means to be pansexual. I am thinking to myself, what is going on. Of course, the zeitgeist was all over it.
As Michel Foucault (1976), famed French philosopher, stated: “What is peculiar to modern societies is not that they consigned sex to a shadow existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret.” From a historical perspective, it is inherent in our culture that we discuss sex and try to expose it, however contradictory, society insists that its broadness remain taboo. My point is, we constantly talk about sex and sexuality in the media yet hardly through an educational lens. Too many denizens try to limit the discourse to include only what they feel is right or twist other labels as an unnatural existence.
Flashback to a few months ago, I was sitting on the floor of our living room and I told Austin if I had to subscribe to a label, I guess the closest would be pansexual. He said, “yeah, that sounds right.” I went on to say, even though I do not need to explain myself, that “I’m just attracted to funny, smart, and quirky people, their biologic sex or gender expression does not matter.” And as the loving, supportive partner that he is, went on to say “like, just because we’re together that does not define your whole deal.”
Up until that point, if I were to be in a discussion about sexuality, I would simply say I am sexually fluid. It felt right and all encompassing. That sometimes would be met with, “that sounds like your confused”. When on the contrary, I believe it is an absence of confusion; I have an open mind and an open heart. Some would say “But your dating someone of the opposite sex”.
I just want someone who loves me and who gets me, the end.
In the grand scheme of things, it is not the worst problem to have. Some, unfortunately, have their sexual identity on the verge of erasure or completely erased. Some, are met with such repugnant reactions because what, who, or how they love it is not accepted, seems weird, or is confusing. Lastly, some have their ways of life threatened or lives ended.
The idea of a binary in such nuanced constructs such as race, sexuality, and gender always seemed nonsensical to me. It is like forcing people to wear socks that are too small. They keep slipping down and after a while, you get blisters from the friction and you suffer in silence. Maybe that is not a great analogy, but bear with me. Sometimes. you finally find a great pair of socks and you never want to take them off. Sometimes, the socks fit but they are just a little off, like a hole in the toe, but you can get over it.
I like to think that is kind of how labels work. Sometimes they do not fit, sometimes they are great, and sometimes they will do until a better one comes along. Or, maybe you just like to be barefoot (raises hand!).
Foucault, M.(1976). The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction. New York: Pantheon Books.
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