In honor of the United States Supreme Court considering same-sex marriage and all of the conversation that has generated this week, I’ve decided to bring back this piece that I posted two years ago.
Originally titled “The Miracle of Fluidity”
In an odd bit of serendipity, I noticed that I wrote this on March 28, 2011, exactly two years ago tomorrow!
I have received questions about my sexuality since I was a teenager. I remember the first time someone asked me if I was gay – we were in high school and the thought had never entered my mind. I was stumped. I think I mumbled, “Of course not!” and then went home to obsess about why someone would ask me that.
The question came up again several times in college and I was better prepared to answer – I know that I like boys; maybe I could like girls too, but I don’t know.
I’m not sure why this question kept coming up, unless it was because I didn’t date much. Maybe “not dating” = “gay.”
But then it happened.
I’ll never forget the day that I realized I’d fallen in love with a woman. She came to speak to me and I dropped a three-hole punch on my foot. I was 24 and it was the first time I’d experienced anything like it – not just attraction to a woman, but full body-and-soul attraction to anyone. We never got involved, but she was kind, loving, and generous with me and I’ll always be grateful.
Over the years, I’ve moved back and forth in my attractions between men and women. My major relationships have been with men, but some of my most profound learning experiences about myself have happened with women.
I’ve gone through periods of absolute certainty that I was a lesbian. Other times I knew for sure I was straight. A lot of the time I thought of myself as bisexual.
But bigger than all of that, most of the time I was ashamed. Not ashamed of my sexuality – thank goodness I was raised by parents who taught me that it’s okay to be whoever I am. No, the shame lay in a different part of my soul – the part that said, “Who am I? What do I call myself? People will think I’m one of those girls who can’t decide.” The sexuality itself didn’t lead to self-hatred, but my inability to consistently check off one of the pre-approved boxes did.
I remember being at a gathering of young lesbians in Boston when I was in my mid-20s and as we went around the circle to introduce ourselves one of the women said, “Even in this group I feel like I have to come out as bisexual.” I knew exactly how she felt – not entirely acceptable to the straight world, and not at all acceptable to the lesbian world.
Over the last few years I’ve heard a lot about how women’s sexuality is more fluid than men’s. Today it occurred to me that my sexuality is – and always has been – fluid. For the first time I feel like all that old shame of not being able to define myself can fall away.
There are things about masculinity that I find very attractive; there are things about femininity that I find very attractive. It’s not that I can’t decide. There are times in my life when my soul cries out to be surrounded by feminine energy. There are other times when my feminine self wants to experience the complement of masculine energy.
It’s not about plumbing, it’s about fully experiencing all parts of myself.
(click to tweet)
At this point in my life, I feel the call to surround myself with male energy, to fully experience my feminine self as a contrast and completion to someone else’s masculine self. As I look into the future, I anticipate that my life partner will probably be a man. And the biggest relief is that none of that diminishes who and where I’ve been in the past. I don’t have to be ashamed of any of it anymore because of that one little word – fluid.
Today’s miracle: Knowing myself as more than just a label.