It’s no secret that my sexual orientation has morphed over the years. I’ve taken a number of different labels, each of which meant something to me at the time I adopted it, but as I switched between them, a gnawing falseness set in—a questioning of why I couldn’t simply stick to one identity. I knew it confused people. I often still use outdated labels with people who can’t keep up with the saga. I’m bisexual to my friends and my parents back home, who’ve known me when I dated both my first girlfriend (a pan-romantic asexual, what a beautiful juxtaposition) and my two boyfriends, one of whom I loved with all my heart. Bisexual still makes sense to them.
Meanwhile, I’m pansexual to many of my freshman year college friends, as a political statement about gender as much as an explanation of attraction, and I use the mouthful bi-romantic homosexual with my best friend, although that seems no longer accurate either. Right now, I’m settled with queer, which feels hip and as close to concise and my own self-understanding can get.
And this whole timeline has the aura of something I’ve written down many times before, although I can’t remember if it was on this blog or in a journal or one of the multifarious word documents hiding on my hard drive. But this article from Autostraddle reminded me why all these labels are important in forming the person I am today.
Reise from Autostraddle writes:
“So, what am I? I identify as bisexual because my relationships with men were not lies and I think that’s what bisexuality means. I loved them/sex… “Lesbian” seems like what I am but “bisexual” honors who I was, too — it wasn’t just a filling station from there to here, it was another highway altogether. I didn’t evolve, I changed. But that girl was real, too.”
“We want sexuality to be biological because we want sexuality to be instinctual and natural and out of our control… We don’t have faith in the rest of it because we doubt the permanence of anything we are capable of changing with our minds.”
And it’s true, isn’t it? The scientific community is desperately seeking a “gay gene” that legitimizes our presence as LGBT people, because if sexuality truly is organic and predestined, it is also beyond our control and somehow…more ok.
I’ve had trouble in the past accepting that I am allowed to morph—that an identity doesn’t have to be something I stick with for the rest of my life, that I can shed layers and grow new ones, no matter what the rest of the world says. But we are still accountable to them: the old friends, the grandparents, the family newsletter, those people and circumstances that do not closely follow our personal journeys and transformations. And we have been taught to fear the idea of changing too much and returning home to find that the people who once knew you best no longer understand the person you’ve become.
And that is scary.
But sexuality, the fluidity of what attracts us to one another, embraces that fear and uncertainty. It must, because its very idea is at the edge of society already. I don’t have concrete answers for how you face that uncertainty and that fear and all the dynamism that comes with it, because goodness knows I haven’t completely. But what I can advise is that you accept, at the very least internally, every label that you have ever ascribed. You are who you allow yourself to be, and your integrated whole, which embraces your past love, your future possibilities, and your now- THAT is truly the most beautiful and authentic person you can be.