Defending the Raven

Bisexual. Married. Man. Open. Read On.

Sex is a 3-Letter Word & Identity is an 8-Letter Word

[This is a long one. I’m trying to be briefer in my posts, but I think this is an important one to let my mind wander on.]

One of the things I love most about life is how seemingly unrelated things smack into each other and together have whole new meaning. I recently got two responses to my posting asking people who lurked on my blog who never said anything to say hey. The two responses couldn’t be more different.

The first is from a straight guy, let’s call him Hawkeye, who seems to have more in common with gay and bi guys:

I am not bisexual or gay — although I think there are days I could definitely be talked into it (does that by definition make me bi? *scratches head*)

I just find that I have a lot more in common with gay and bi guys and it’s always refreshing to read about other guys that are “struggling” through life and not necessarily hiding behind a mask of bravado and macho. Plus I’ve had a history of struggling with being misidentified as gay throughout my teenage years–and as I’ve gotten older, I pretty much don’t care and feel like a gay man trapped in a straight man’s body! 🙂

The second is from a bi guy, let’s call him Tarheel, who is going through the common struggle that most bi people go through:

I just discovered your blog and I wanted to send you an email to introduce myself. I’m a 32 year old bi male. I find it comforting to read your blog… to find out that being bi and in a relationship with a woman can actually work. I’ve struggled with that for a very long time. Admittedly, it’s mostly my fault. Many of the women I’ve been with knew I was at least interested, but I’ve only told a couple of past girlfriends that I was bisexual. (I think there’s a huge difference between a woman knowing you like your ass played with and knowing you’re bisexual.) Even though some women were accepting, I held back. I guess I hadn’t accepted myself for who I am. [A] couple of months ago, I started dating this beautiful woman who knows I have been with men in the past. It turned her on and she expressed interest in exploring that side of my sexuality with me. I was elated, to say the least. Unfortunately, this didn’t last. We broke up last weekend. More precisely, she broke up with me. We weren’t dating exclusively and she had gone on a few dates with this guy who she apparently fell for very quickly. I’ve been struggling ever since then and it’s very rough.

I envy the wonderful relationship you and your wife share. You’re a lucky man. Hopefully, I can one day find someone as understanding and accepting as your wife to spend the rest of my life with. Until then, I’ll trudge through life the best I know how.

Then PerfektDad posts what seems to be a final entry to his blog yesterday morning that kinda wraps up all the stuff he’s been going through over the last year.

Now all these things got me thinking about identity and defining who each of us are.

I have identified myself as bi on this blog numerous times over, but that’s a falicy. So is being straight or being gay.

The biggest problem that people in this world have is that we try to define ourselves in neat little packages. Sex and identity are more complex than that. Hawkeye says he’s straight, but identifies more with gay and bi guys. He even admitted that he could be talked into some man-to-man interaction. Tarheel knows he’s bi, but struggles with it in persuing relationships with women because it is a very difficult concept to introduce to women. But you also feel guilt in not expressing that part of you. PerfektDad couldn’t imagine his life any different than with his wife, but yet he got tripped up by the bi thing, and self-admittedly screwed up in exploring that part of him again.

I’ve always thought of sex as a sliding scale between straight and gay, but that’s that implies that everyone sits somewhere on the scale. But do we actually? Are we always in one place?

But then it also brings up a bigger point that PerfektDad touches on. Are we defined by our sexuality? The further irony to this whole post is that I started writing this blog yesterday, but couldn’t really develop my thoughts properly. Then I went out with friends for drinks last night and two conversations matched this all perfectly…. So two more stories:

We have a female friend, let’s call her LoneStar, who has been away on a work assignment all summer. She’s never had any boyfriends since the time we met her in college about 9 years ago. She’s had a couple random “kinda hook-ups,” but they were very casual and very limited. She’s a very independent woman and is the type who will find a true relationship when she wants one. The casual dating / casual sex thing just isn’t her. However, while she has been away she started a fling of a relationship with a guy. But he lives on the West Coast and there are other extenuating circumstances that might made a full-time relationship impossible. However, the fact that she had the fling was very surprising.

Another friend, let’s call him Doc, sorta-kinda came out as being gay — something we’ve always expected of him for a while. But the biggest shocker is that he’s been ina relationship with a guy for over a year and a half. We’ve met this guy, never knew his deal, and kinda thought he was a little sketch because of things he’s said and done. Plus he was 42, previously married, and has kids. However, now that we know that our friend and him have been dating for 18 months all the weird encounters and conversations fall into place and make total sense. Plus the circumstances of how it came up, the boyfriend basically told one of our friends at a party, makes the situation weird because it’s obvious our friend didn’t want to tell us, but the boyfriend was sick of his closeted boyfriend.

So in these two circumstances we have a friend who is very limited in her experience (the27-year old virgin??!!) and another who couldn’t be honest about who he is with his close friends who are all very accepting and weren’t really surprised (the biggest shock was that he’s been dating someone for a year and a half).

But why is that a big deal? Why is it such a big deal that LoneStar doesn’t really date? And why is it such a big deal for Doc to admit that he’s dating a man?

As PerfektDad says he’s defined by bigger things than being bi. What’s most interesting is that sexual identity seems to only truly define someone when it’s outside of a heterosexual “norm.” I mean even LoneStar gets the stigma of not wanting a relationship. Even Hawkeye gets questioned because he identifies/acts more “gay” than he should(?!?!). There isn’t a straight pride week, but if you live in a big city gay pride week is a huge deal (in positive and negative ways depending on where you are). And then why, for people like Tarheel and me, does being bi automatically bring up questions that challenge our interest in women?

I am all for personal expressions of who you are, but when did sexual identity become such a controversial, big deal for others? When did one person’s sex life become such a challenge to someone else’s (I’m trying to stay away from the political, but I think the inference is clear here)?

I guess my wife and I are lucky because the expression of ourselves that most people see is a “traditional marriage.” However, we both know that our mutual bi-ness and our sexual explorations with others also defines us. But that’s the point, it defines us for US and not for anyone else. Should that matter?

However, why should we be lucky because people can look at us on the outside and not feel threatened by us?!?! I’d love to be able to be open about our mutual bi-ness, but don’t because of the baggage of judgments and questioning that it comes with?

I suppose I’ve asked more questions then answered, but there has just been too many signals thrown up in front of me not to talk about. And I figure this is the best place.

Please, comment. I’d love to hear what other people think. Be anonymous, e-mail me separately, whatever… I’d love to get other viewpoints on this.

—————————

p.s. To Tarheel: It sounds like you’re on a great journey of self-discovery. Enjoy the ride and see where it takes you. You may feel alone and question yourself along the way, but if you’re honest with yourself I have no doubt you’ll come out the other side the person you know you are and want to be. It’ll also be the person that everyone else probably already knows you are.




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August 23, 2005 - Posted by | Uncategorized

5 Comments »

  1. Glad my last post was able to be a part of this. And as for that sliding scale between straight and gay…I’ve always thought I’ve moved around it.

    And here’s a note to everyone that’s reading this and trying to deal with some of the same issues: Don’t think that sexuality has to define you. If you want it to, that’s fine. If you don’t, then don’t let it. Some people will question things, make assumptions, or spread rumors. Fuck them (and I mean that symbolically not literally). Don’t worry about who you tell and who you don’t…that worry would be never-ending. All that you do have to do is accept yourself and be able to live with yourself and the people you love. Getting there is up to you.

    PD

    Comment by Perfekt Dad | August 23, 2005 | Reply

  2. Thanks for all the words of encouragement! I found your blog at point in my life when I needed to know that I’m not the only one struggling with this. (I figured I wasn’t, but it’s nice to know specific people.) And it helps to hear success stories. You have no idea how much better I’ve felt since I read your blog. I’m still in a dark place, but I also just got dumped 2 weeks ago, so that’s to be expected.

    Thanks, again!

    Comment by Tarheel (aka Duke Fan :) | August 23, 2005 | Reply

  3. Tarheel,
    Well, I’m glad reading my blog helped somehow. When I was going through things I never even thought to look for others going through the same thing. I just stumbled along on my own thinking I was alone. Never even assumed there could be others like me.
    Hopefully a lot of what you are feeling IS the recent raw emotions of the break-up more than anything else.
    Mark

    Comment by Raven in NYC (aka Mark) | August 23, 2005 | Reply

  4. I’m one of those people that abhor labels. IMO, all labels (straight, gay, bi, etc.) should be gathered together and tossed away. Labeling someone is completely pointless. To me, labeling someone is just society’s way of trying to justify a person(s) actions by branding them with a label that “defines” what they’re all about and honestly, nothing is ever quite that simple.

    To the outside world, I’m considered a straight married woman with a child. But I’ve been with a woman and if the opportunity presented itself, I’d be with a woman again. In society’s eyes that would have me flirting with bisexuality.

    But you know what I think?

    That I’m just me and I don’t need a damn label branded on my ass to define what I am. I know what I’m all about and those who love me know what I’m all about. That’s all that matters to me.

    And you’re right, it’s a pity that people can’t be open and honest when it comes to expressing their sexuality out of fear of being ridiculed. It never fails to piss me off. But I console myself with the fact that typically those who pass judgement on others based on their sexuality are just narrow minded assholes that aren’t secure in their own sexuality so they feel the need to pass judgement on others to compensate for their own inadequacies.

    Live and let live, never be afraid to be what you are and fuck those who don’t understand.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 23, 2005 | Reply

  5. I agree with the sentiments that have been voiced here. Anytime you start throwing labels around there is always someone that doesn’t quite fit so what do we do? Come up with another label. My advice to anyone dealing with their sexual identity is work it out for yourself and when you decide what you want or what fits then do it and to hell with what everyone else thinks. Life is too short to spend it trying to live up to everyone else’s idea of who you should be.

    Comment by Mister Freeky | August 23, 2005 | Reply


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