This is about a series of checkpoints that I have had the pleasure and the great confusion to pass through on my journey so far. Now, I don’t really think of people as their physical bodies so much as the radiation of their spirit, but it took me about 22 years to fully realize that radical perception.
The first stop, in a sense, was assuming that I was heterosexual. The first portion of my life I did not think to question the notion that as a femme person with a hole and not a pole – among other complex genotypic attributes which contribute to the phenotypic growth of a body and are then subject to harsh, arbitrary social categorization and ideals – I should find love and/or pleasure with a body who is in the opposite social gender category. I should say I realized after one year in university that I made most of my decisions while growing up based on what I thought other people would want or approve of me to do.
I consciously tried to act like the boys I saw because I knew they were being treated differently and with more respect than I was. I wanted to access the attention they were receiving. At the same time, I learned early on that people respond less kindly to someone they think is a girl acting like a boy than if she conforms to biblical sex/gender expectations. No wonder I grew into an anxious, insecure person. Socially, you just cannot win.
The second “stop” was realizing I did, in fact, like women, femme people, and people with holes, not just poles. Then – I don’t know if it should be part of the second stop or a third station all on its own – I had the familiar experience of coming to terms with my sexual being and expelling the useless shame from my body, mind, and soul incurred as a result of being aware of and internalizing some homophobia.
I remember back when I was in middle school and I had a bunch of friends who were coming out as gay or queer. I distinctly recall thinking, does this mean I’m gay? Do we subconsciously know this about each other and that’s why we all hang out? No, of course not. That’s not a thing, don’t be silly. Surprise! I am so gay. I had a sexy dream about a friend of mine, who was and is to this day my first true love – even though we only dated for around a week. Then later on, again, separately, for a month. Back in time – having woken up from this dream whilst sleeping in the same room as another girl friend of mine who does not identify as queer, I felt this strange, deep discomfort. I spent a number of years after that not exploring my love for women as much as my enjoyment of men, in part because I was so afraid of making my women friends uncomfortable if they were not…you know… “into that.” I didn’t want to lose friendships and my fear kept me semi-closeted.
Fourth station(?), I came out to my mom as bisexual and she was like cool, how was orchestra today? Then I told my dad and I can’t remember what he said exactly, but it made me feel like he doubted the legitimacy of my self-identification, like maybe he thought it was a high school phase. Later, my dad and I were counting the (out) queers in our family – there is that infamous “10 percent of people are gay” statistic that I personally cannot believe is accurate anyway – and I said, oh, also me! And he said, “Well… women’s sexuality is naturally more fluid.” #disqualified I guess? Bisexuality isn’t a real thing in women? What am I then?
My uncle is a caricature of That Uncle come to life, the entitled, bitter, and old cis-hetero white man who has had all the privilege in the world but zero self-awareness: a short fuse to a big ego. That is mostly beside the point but it helps paint the picture behind his homophobic and transphobic energy and actions. Once, over family dinner, I was sharing my pride in a denim vest that had effectively signaled my queer identity and even gave me a special moment with a queer stranger on the street, and my uncle blurted out, “UGH, stop with all the GAY!!” I think that was the first time I said the F-word in front of my parents.
Fifth, I decided in the summer of 2018 that I no longer wanted to be romantically or sexually involved with men. That same week I had a fabulous foursome with three men. I had to go through a lot of internal disentanglement processes with my social environment(s) to determine that, actually, I find joy and beauty in all the bodies, and distinctions exist within the behaviours, personalities, and perspectives which folx embody.
Sixth stop, and the most recent, I think I am nonbinary. It exists as an extension of the previous stop and in conjunction with a new line of realization that I simply do not feel a strong allegiance to one or the other gender within the binary. I feel freest within the ambiguity of the gender binary. The world continues to gender and sex my body, but it mostly slides off of me. Today, it is a privilege, above all. But most of all, I don’t think I am done with this journey. I am expecting more twists and turns of identity because I believe in the inevitability of change. Let’s all see what happens… 😛
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