Let’s talk about… well… just me, actually.
I think most people at this point realize that sexuality can be extremely fluid, at least for some people. Some of us may go through many changes which affect our identities. I certainly have. I’ve run the gamut and come back to the start, I suppose. So, let me take you on a journey.
Like most kids who grew up kind of sheltered, I assumed I was straight. I knew I liked boys, so I couldn’t be gay, because gay girls only liked girls, not boys. And that was what I knew: Gay™ or Straight™.
My first introduction to bisexuality came in high school when I was fourteen, when I developed a crush on this boy we’ll call Alex. Alex was a raver, all decked out in bright colors and those plastic “kandi” bracelets. He gave me one of those bracelets and I was totally smitten. He told me he was bisexual and my mind was blown wide open.
Honestly, the revelation that bisexuality existed was literally like throwing a switch. I’d always had crushes on girls, but I never would have said I was “confused” about my sexuality because I knew I liked boys and that meant I was Straight™. Like many little queer girls who didn’t have any notion of sexuality beyond Gay™ or Straight™ I considered my crushes to be admiration or envy. Honestly, I had all those posters of the Spice Girls because I wanted to be like them, despite never having wanted to be a singer or dancer in my life.
I literally was like, “Oh, that’s what I am. Awesome!”
There was a brief time in high school I thought I might be a lesbian, but I think that was just wishful thinking because I was so sick of Men™ and their bullshit. I never actually identified as a lesbian, I just found my attraction to men unfortunate. I’m really only including it because I did actively avoid relationships with men for a long time. I don’t think that made me a lesbian, but everyone else thought it did.
My sexual identity began to shift when I was about seventeen and I began questioning my gender. I knew I wasn’t transgender—I didn’t feel like I was a boy, I didn’t want a penis, I was… moderately okay with my breasts about 80% of the time—but I knew I didn’t really feel “like a girl,” either. That was when I found communities of genderqueer, genderfluid, and other nonbinary people and, again, everything made sense.
That was also when I learned about pansexuality. Pansexuality was more inclusive, I was told, and I wanted to be more inclusive. I wasn’t just attracted to men and women, but all genders. So, I adopted the term pansexual in place of bisexual.
I stayed pretty firmly rooted in pansexual into my twenties, even as I grew frustrated trying to explain what it is, how it’s different from bisexuality, and hearing stupid kitchenware jokes that made me want to violently murder people with violent murder until they were dead from being murdered violently to death. Seriously. Don’t tell a pansexual person, “So, you have sex with pans?” You’re not funny; you’re not even original.
Sometime in my early- to mid-twenties, I started identifying as “queer.” I did this for multiple reasons:
- It was an easy way to encompass my gender identity and sexuality in one handy term.
- I hate the way some lesbians kind of side-eye pan, bi, and other polysexual people, and I just got sick of feeling unwelcome in LGBT spaces. “Queer” as an identifier allows the other person to make their own inferences and I don’t really care if someone thinks I’m a lesbian.
- “Queer” has often been used as a slur, despite having been the original term for LGB people. I wanted to take it back.
When I was about twenty-three or twenty-four, my sex drive kind of up and disappeared on me. This may have happened for a number of reasons: birth control and depression are my top two. But, my lack of a sex drive continued for years, even after I stopped taking my birth control and got out of my depressing situation. In high school, I had researched asexuality as a possible explanation of why I wasn’t interested in having sex when all my friends were. But, back then the definition of asexuality was pretty limited and most of what I read about it was touch-aversion and no sex stuff, period. I was always a pretty frequent masturbator, so I didn’t think that applied to me.
But, after two years without wanting to have sex with another person (fictional characters aside, because obviously it’s easy to say, “I would totally fuck Loki,” because Loki [the Marvel character; not the Norse god] doesn’t actually exist to fuck), I started questioning again. Now, there was a lot more information available and asexuality wasn’t just about the touch-averse, but encompassed an entire spectrum.
I really struggled to adopt that label, though, because in my mind the fact that I was even willing to have sex made me not asexual, even if I only enjoyed sex because of the joy of giving my partner pleasure. But, even if I rarely talked about it, or flip-flopped in being “out” about it, until I was twenty-eight, I did personally identify on the asexual spectrum.
Gray-asexual panromantic, because I didn’t think I had enough qualifiers attached to my identity.
But, a few months ago, I started feeling sexual again (after four. fricking. years.) and that brought another shift. Actively wanting sex kind of negates my personal definition of asexuality as it would apply to me. So, I went back to identifying as queer.
Lately, I shift between queer and bisexual, and I’m going to explain why.
I still love “queer” as an identifier. I still like it for the reasons I listed above, and also because there’s something aggressive about using something that’s often considered a slur as a personal identifier. Have you heard the saying, “Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you”? That’s how “queer” makes me feel. “Queer” is kind of like a political statement, for me. It is a definitive way to say to Straight Culture™, “No. I’m not like you and I don’t want to be.”
But, “queer” is also vague. I’m less comfortable having my sexuality being open for interpretation. When I let people assume I’m a lesbian, I’m still closeting myself because I’m not a lesbian. It frustrates me that I am made to feel excluded from LGBT spaces because I also like the occasional dick, but the solution to that is not to let people assume I’m a lesbian. The solution is to say, “Yes, I like dicks and vaginas and any of the genders they’re attached to. I’m not straight. I belong here and if you don’t like it that sounds like a you problem, not a me problem.”
But, why the switch from pansexual back to bisexual? Well, for starters, it’s easier to explain. Most people know what bisexuality means. For another thing, and I’m not trying to knock anyone who identifies as pansexual, but for me it felt a little snowflake-y. Again, that’s not to say that everyone who identifies as pansexual is a snowflake; not at all. But, for me personally, I never identified as pansexual because the term connected with me, but because I felt like I had to in order to be politically correct. Which basically made me a snowflake.
Another reason why I’ve gone back to bisexual instead of pansexual is I’m frustrated by bi-invisiblity. “Bisexual” historically encompassed more than just men and women. Always. But, people started shying away from it because some folks decided to twist its meaning and make it seem exclusionary. As a result, people who identify as bisexual are themselves excluded from not just Straight™ spaces, but LGBT spaces, as well. Straight People™ think we’re dirty gays. Gay People™ think we’re Secretly Straight™. Pansexual People™ think we’re unenlightened. I hate all of that and I hate the idea of another teenager who’s trying to find themselves essentially being bullied or manipulated into adopting a label they maybe don’t really identify with the way I did.
I know that eventually this might all change again. Such is the fluid nature of sexuality and of identity as a whole. We’re always growing, always shifting, always learning new things about ourselves. Though I may not identify with a lot of those labels anymore, they’re no less a part of me or who I was. They’re still a part of my journey and they’re no less valid because they no longer fit.
I love you all.