An Alternative View of Labels

Like one of the authors of the articles below I have always wondered if labels concerning human sexuality do us more harm than good. I think there are arguments for both sides and I find the interplay of ideas particularly interesting.

Here are two stories of people who though they were stalwart adherents to a particular way of being until someone special helped them discover an unexpected truth about love.

I Came Out as A Lesbian – Then Fell In Love With A Man

How My Sexuality Changed When My Husband Became My Wife

As you can see by the titles, the first story follows a traditional view of relationships while the latter has a more non-traditional story arch. I hope you enjoy them and whoever you love now or come to love in your life, I wish you the greatest happiness.

Biphobia & Orlando: Am I gay enough to grieve

So this woman wrote a wonderful article exploring the competing feelings that she experienced as a bisexual after the Pulse night club massacre. It’s about a two minute read and well worth your time.

https://medium.com/@elledowd/biphobia-and-the-pulse-massacre-add1dd9b27be#.a2fz3vk6n

By contrast: for me this was the first time I felt gay enough. The knot I had in my stomach for the two days after told me that every fiber of my being belonged to the queer community.

The Little Pink Bottle That Could

DSC_3842cThis may look like an ordinary water bottle (I don’t know anything about the bike shop so don’t ask) and you would be correct. However, at one time it’s symbolism extended far beyond its function.

I acquired this sports bottle semi- unintentionally. I had entered a mountain bike race at Kickapoo State Park in Illinois which was put on by a wonderful local group called the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club. As is part and parcel of mountain bike races (at least in Illinois) the organizers were handing out grab bags for racers part of which was a clear or pink bottle. As you can well imagine, being a guy, I was handed a clear bottle. I took it and began to walk away from the registration table.

Then I stopped and began to think better of my decision. You see, ever since I watched the Giro d’Italia, which is a nearly month long bike race around Italy, I fell in love with pink as a color for cycling. In the Giro the leader’s jersey is called the Maglia Rosa and as the name might suggest to you the color is a brilliant rose pink. The pinkish hue is everywhere; on the cars, billboards, podium, bikes built especially for the occasion and on the confetti that falls precipitously at the finish. Yes, by the end of that twenty-some-odd day race I could never see pink again without seeing it for it’s flashy, race worthy badassery that is on display during that event.

The truth of the matter was I became hooked on the pink bottle as soon as I saw them, but until this very moment I had accepted the clear bottle as a matter of social conditioning even though I didn’t want one. I was about to remedy this. I turned around and asked, “Actually, could I get a pink one instead?”

That’s about all I remember. I don’t really remember the event itself. I think there was a little blood, a shitload of sweat from that good ol Midwest humidity and a mid pack finish for me.

At this point in my life, I had firmly accepted that I was pansexual but it seemed a rather academic point rather than a pragmatic one. I was married so exploring this newly realized identity was not exactly a viable option. I was comfortable with this. Plus, I didn’t solely like guys so being married to a woman didn’t undermine my identity.

If I can offer an aside, It’s important to note that I was also living in a conservative part of the country where being different isn’t exactly accepted. People aren’t wrong when they say the Midwesterners are nice. You can have a conversation with almost anyone on a whim. Just make sure to keep things on a superficial level or you may not like the topic once it shifts from the weather.

I always tell people that the Midwest (at least the rural portion) consists of a thin veneer of nicety concealing a seething cauldron of hatred beneath. At least every other day I had to back someone down from making some kind of horrible statement. Whether it was demonstrating xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, transphobia or what have you. It was tiring to say the least.

In fact, right around this time I remember a coworker/neighbor of mine taking a line of joking, that she started, the wrong way. Through the drags of her cigarette and with a good amount of hatred and disgust she called me a faggot as I parted her company. All of this before anyone aside from my wife at the time even knew that my sexual interest deviated from women.

I should say at this point that there are also some quality people in the Midwest and they deserve their credit. It must be admitted though that the small town mind pervades this geographical area more so than other parts of the country, save for the south perhaps.

I’ve lived in my new home state for almost two years now and I’ve been 100 percent out the entire time and have never had to back anyone down from anything racist, homophobic or the like. It feels like an emotional vacation, but I digress.

So now I had this pink water bottle which I loved, but did I dare use it in rural America? At first I began using it just as a way to haul extra water in my cooler on ride days. So when riding laps at my local trail I could stop by and refill my Camelback. I had to take a few friendly jabs about it but it was easy to say it was my Giro pink bottle even though the color didn’t match the Maglia Rosa. Then I started taking it to work daily as my go to bottle for the day. When anyone said something about it I quickly stated my fondness for it, “Are you kidding? I love pink, that’s my favorite bottle!” All of it was true.

What went unspoken was that in a weird way this became a means for me to push a boundary, admittedly a small one, on gender norms. This was literally the only pink thing I owned because as a man I wasn’t supposed to. If this sounds like bullshit, it is, but I swear to you this dynamic exists and is alive and well. Carrying this bottle was a way for me to signify that I was different.

Yes, I loved the color and I would have used it regardless of my sexual orientation. Even though the color pink has nothing definitive to do with being queer, it became a secret symbol of my queerness. It was a way for me to take that part of me out into public even if no one else knew what was going on. This gender-bending symbolism slowly gave me confidence.

Before I left the Midwest I came out to a few people close to me. It was the next step in my evolution and as weird as it may sound that pink bottle played a role.

Recently, I noticed this bottle was missing from my collection. I had long chalked it up as lost and had forgotten about it until my ex-wife walked into my place with it the other night. I had left it in her car and so it had remained for months.

As I washed it and placed it in the dish rack I realized that I still loved the color. A pink bike or team kit? Yes please. However, the bottle itself had lost it’s hold on me. I still like it but it’s no longer my favorite. It’s a bottle now, nothing more than a utilitarian object with a symbolic past.

I’m out! I’m queer, bisexual, and/or pansexual. I’m a faggot, whatever you want to call it I don’t really care. I paint my fingernails and toenails, I cross dress for myself and for my partners. You see, I don’t have to deal in hidden symbolism anymore. I am my own living symbol and that feels better than carrying around that pink bottle ever did.

 

Orlando, You Have My Heart

I can’t fully explain to you what the shooting in Florida means to someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community. Even though this country has taken a number of positive steps recently to show us a measure of respect, legal measures do not constitute social acceptance.

Night clubs such as the one in Orlando are sanctuaries. Places where those of us in the queer community can seek the comfort of like individuals. Even if we’ve never walked in the door there is something reassuring about knowing those places exist.

Now that feeling of safety is shattered. The camaraderie we seek and need has been used against us. Everyone in the queer community across America has the same sick feeling in the pit of their stomach today.

To my gendered and agendered family you are not alone in your pain or in your hope. The same desire for togetherness and community that brought us together in Orlando on that fateful night will see us through this tragedy as well.

My heart goes out to all of you in Orlando. My heart goes out to all of you everywhere. I love you.

Gender-splaining

I was having a conversation with a woman last week about me identifying as cisgender and it occurred to me that more than a few people still don’t know these new words that have cropped up over the years or the importance of them. For those of you who may have questions about the terms used to identify gender here is a short introduction that will have you up to speed quickly.

http://mic.com/articles/139805/cisgender-v-transgender-v-gender-fluid-here-s-what-these-gender-identity-terms-mean#.fu8X0x7sz

Happy Pi Day!

If you aren’t familiar with Kimchi Cuddles, I highly suggest checking out some of her comics spreading awareness about poly, queer, and genderqueer issues in the most hilarious way possible.

piday

Growing up as a polyamorous person stuck in monogamous relationships, I never knew how to explain that my interest in another never took away from the love I had for my partner. This comic hits the nail on the head for me.

 

~~Merasmin~~

Info Transgender People Wish You Knew

The article below is called Eight Things Transgender People Do Not Owe You and it’s a call to check our cisgenderedness (BOOM! new word right there fuckers) at the door (okay perhaps cispriviledge works better). Every time I see an article like this I prepare myself to be educated on what I’m doing wrong. I’m not perfect, but I try my damnest to be a better person each day than what I was before. Luckily, I haven’t made any of these transgressions but I’ve come perilously close to a few of these.

If you have made these mistakes it’s okay to feel regret about it, just make sure to focus that remorse correctly. Regret alone accomplishes nothing. Instead use it to guide your future actions or apologize for something you may have said in error.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/02/trans-people-dont-owe-you/

Do You Love An Idea Or A Person?

http://elitedaily.com/dating/someone-loves-idea-you/1321834/

I can add another sign to tell if someone was in love with the idea of you or the actual you. If they use one of the reasons for their initial attraction as a reason to break up then it’s likely you were idealized to some extent.

I’m pretty sure this happened to me. I had a beautiful relationship, or I think it was, with a pretty dynamic individual for almost three years. Shortly before we started dating she told me that she had always wanted to date a bisexual man. I knew I was being fetishized to some extent and that her urge was built upon what she believed a bisexual guy would be like, but it is important to me that my partner accept my sexuality and on that front this seemed like solid ground.

Fast forward to the end and it was the primary reason given for our breakup. She accepted me being pansexual intellectually, but had a negative visceral reaction to me liking men. Identity issues are a big deal for me so for the person I cared the most about to reject me on a very fundamental level was deeply hurtful to say the least.

I struggled with this for awhile, until I read the article below and it started me thinking that maybe this is what had happened to us. The idea of dating a bisexual guy was a romanticized one. The actual experience was apparently drastically different for her and it was too much to handle.

I want to leave you with a slightly different approach to handling the reality of who a person is. For me learning the ways someone violates my expectations is one of the exciting things about getting to know them. In the television series Firefly there is a line that has always resonated with me, “It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another.” It’s about nuance and the juxtaposition of the ideal verses reality. It’s what I love about people and eventually it will be one of those things that someone loves about me.

So what about you? Has this ever happened to you and which side of the relationship were you on?

Poly and Pansexual: The benefits of being out

I have to admit that I don’t have the slightest idea of who Gaby Dunn is, but then I live in a box informed only by my specific news interests and fueled by copious amounts of punk rock so this is not surprising to me. However, I don’t have to know her other works to appreciate the wisdom in this one.

What she speaks to here is one of the things I have started doing. I’m out to pretty much anyone. It’s one of the only ways to control my identity and prevent bisexual erasure. If I let people know that I’m pansexual then they won’t necessarily think me straight when with a woman or gay when with a man.

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-love/polyamorous-pansexual