Saturday, March 31, 2007

Reflections On Bisexuality

I've mentioned a few times throughout my blog that I thought of myself as bisexual for years. I also have agreed with the idea some people express that anyone can fall in love with anyone and thought that was how I was. Now I think the Kinsey Scale makes more sense, even if it's male-heavy. My understanding of the Kinsey Scale is relatively few people are a 0, 3 or 6. I don't know whether people change places on the scale or if they come to understand themselves better through interactions and experiences. But if very few people are actually a 3, then it would make sense for the majority of those who thought they were to realize preferences. It's just that, what does it mean when your preferences seem to change?

For me, it could possibly have just been knowing next to nothing about homosexuality while I was growing up. When even the people telling their stories say that they were gay even before they knew what it was, that doesn't apply to everyone. I do think I have always been not straight. I thought girls were pretty on TV all the time, and my sisters used to tease me about that. I remember always liking girls who were not really pretty by society's standards. They were more average or plain and slightly nerdy-looking. Forgive the lack of black in my list, but I don't remember seeing many black women on TV when I was a kid: I liked girls like Tracey Gold from "Growing Pains" and Kellie Martin from "Life Goes On." Apparently, I have always liked smart women, because these were the kinds of characters those two women played. I also liked Jennifer Grey from "Dirty Dancing."

I remember liking boys on TV, too, though. And trying to jive that with my feelings towards men and women today, one of the most likely conclusions I come up with is that I engaged in a little bit of brainwashing. I didn't understand "gay" or "lesbian," but I understood that women and men were supposed to like each other, and I always thought that was natural. It wasn't that I didn't think being gay was natural, just that I almost totally had no concept of being gay existing. I do think I always liked the girls on TV more, though, looking back.

I connect my childhood with today by recognizing that I do, and have always been able to, know when a guy is good-looking. All the women listed above starred with heartthrobs, and I was aware that they were heartthrobs and good-looking. So I thought they were good-looking and voiced that. I still think Kirk Cameron is good-looking, even though he's off on this religious cr...thing. And even when I didn't agree with my female friends about a famous guy, I would act like I did. On "Beverly Hills 90210," all the girls seemed to like Luke Perry. I preferred Jason Priestley, but whenever my friends talked about Luke Perry, I'd agree with them.

Today, there are guys whom I find really attractive and would probably go on a date with if asked. In celebrityland (well, kinda), I think Justin Guarini from the first season of "American Idol" is just I mean, I know he's kind of a joke now, but everything about him is adorable to me. At school, I see good-looking guys all the time. One of the interesting things about me is I often end up with crushes on guys who are gay. Two of the cutest guys, to me, at my law school are gay. But there's another cute, nice guy who has a fiancee. And anytime I'm on the main university campus, I see a good-looking guy.

At the same time, I can't really imagine having sexual relationships with these guys. I have spoken to women who act over-the-top when it comes to men's private part, as if it traumatizes them. I can't imagine being like that. I'm also a female chauvinist, but that just comes with my personality--I hate everybody and, yet, I love everybody. There are good things about men, and there are bad things about men. All in all, I find them more preferable to deal with than women...but, for some reason, I'm more attracted to women (probably because I'm masochistic). There are so many good-looking guys, and I have liked guys before and still get crushes on them. But it's not the same as with women. I think this has always been true, but there were times when I didn't realize it...perhaps because I didn't have the context for realizing it.

Before I ever met a girl I liked, I met a boy I liked...and then another one. So I didn't notice anything missing or have the context for comparison. Then I met a girl I liked, and I didn't know if she was just an aberration or what was going on, but I went with it and didn't really question it too much. I had known her for a year when I went to college. And at college, I was definitely checking out the guys more than the girls. I had a crush or two (or three), but I still liked the girl. Nothing happened with those guys, but that's because they never asked me out. One really didn't know I existed. One flirted with me, and the other seemed interested and asked for my phone number but never called. Had any of them asked me out, I would have gone.

I really envy those times, not really because I was more "normal" back then, but because I had more self-esteem in the relationship department. I hadn't yet been mistreated by women, and men have never mistreated me. If there's any reason why I wish I were straight, it would be that--men treat me better than women do, and they are so easy to figure out. Back then, I would think a guy is cute, walk up to him and start talking. And guys, not being the snobby little things that women are (unless they're gay), would talk to you back. I can speak badly about men with the rest of 'em, but I must say that I don't like when lesbians put men down, for some reason. I feel as if they think not having to deal with men is a blessing and that dealing with women is so much better, and I really would beg to differ. I'm scared to death of women and would approach a man before I'd approach a woman for anything romantic.

By the end of college, I had realized that I had another crush on another girl (finally getting over the first one) and understood more that, okay, the first girl wasn't "special" in that sense. Ever since then, I have been more focused on women than men. Initially, I don't think it was because I liked women more, but more because this was something I felt I had to explore and learn more about. But I was going right back to the little conservative nothing from which I'd came, and so my only option for exploring was the internet. For months, I was addicted to lesbian chatrooms. It was fun, because I got to live out all my stand-up comic dreams in the chatrooms...I always love it when I succeed in making people think I'm funny. But, you know, people act crazy online.

One thing a few of the girls that I became "friends" with outside of the chatrooms could tell about me was that I was "decent," and this actually resulted in my breaking a few hearts. Some girls online became interested in me because I was a "good person," and I just didn't return their interest. After growing tired of the jerks in the chatrooms, I started staying away from anything related to the chatrooms, including the decent girls I talked to on instant messenger outside of the chatrooms.

I skipped something--before I left school, I went to a lesbian bar with two straight girls from my class on sexuality. I would bet anything that this was a tame bar in comparison to other GLBT places. People were basically just dancing and drinking. It was a very awkward environment for me, still, but the one thing that made it so much better was the DJ played the exact kind of music I like all night. I bet that is even different from how the typical lesbian bar is, because the music was so incredibly mainstream. Or maybe bars in the South(east) are just different, because I've never been to any kind of bar or club that fit the description others across the nation give or depicted on TV. They've always been somewhat enjoyable--not too drunken, not too raunchy.

The lesbian bar, though, was clearly a white lesbian bar. There were some blacks there--one was a gay black guy I knew from school. And I have to add this little story about him. One year at the beginning of the school year in college, I was vaguely interested in becoming more involved with the GLBT community, but not necessarily as an out person. I walked up to the GLBT student activity table, and he said very happily, "An ally!" Hmmm. Ally. I always thought that was funny, even when it happened. I wonder if he seriously thought that, if he ever suspected me or what. Back to the bar. There were these black lesbians, one of whom tried to hit on me. At that time, it was just too awkward for me since I wasn't used to women hitting on me. I knew I liked women, but I wasn't acknowledging labels at all for me. I was still thinking of myself as primarily preferring men.

Once I started trying to focus more on interacting with and dating same-sex-loving women, I pretty much never turned back. Like I said, I do find men physically attractive and would go out with certain ones. But I know now that it's not the same. I am more attracted to women, and I am more curious about what it means to be a lesbian. I question whether or not the fact that I am not certain that I could have sex with a man means I'm a lesbian. But to be fair and honest, I don't know if I could actually go through with sex with a woman. So maybe I'm just nervous about sex. I now think about women more than men and check out women, at least, more than I used to--but probably more than I check out men, also. I do think (i.e. fantasize) about having sex with a woman, which is something I don't really do with men. And gay scenes are more exciting to me than straight scenes, usually, whether they are girl-girl or guy-guy.

I think we all--even people who are straight--have a tendency to think sexuality is the same for us all. I perceive this as one reason why people have such a hard time accepting the concept of bisexuality, as well as why many straight people have a hard time accepting the concept of homosexuality. As gay people, you're put in a position to know and understand there's an "other" and that, yes, some people experience sexuality differently and some people grow up with a burden in their minds. But this is one of the reasons why gay people frustrate me so much. I would expect gay people to generalize less than they do, not only about bisexuality but about what it is all gay people go through as they grow up and what coming out means to every gay person.

As someone who has been able to compare growing-up stories, reasons for not coming out and the like with other gays, I am easily reminded that I am, once again, made an "other"...only this time with respect to other gays. I think this is so for bisexuals, but, for me, I mean because my story differs in so many ways. There's no "I knew I was gay at age 6," "I played doctor with other little girls and had my first kiss with one when I was 13," "I lived in fear of my secret being found out and being rejected by everyone," or "I played the part to fit in, pretending I liked men and having sex with them, and that's how I conceived my child."

I mean, to hear gay people talk, you'd think we all had the same story. And I think this is one of the reasons why so many gays assume we do all have the same story. That makes it hard to understand any gay person who doesn't have that story, or to believe that any other gay person doesn't have that story. But the fact is some of us really do like men and women, some of us basically don't like women but do like men, some of us would swear up and down that we don't like men at all and love women only, and so on.

And so I've had lesbians stop talking to me once I revealed that I am--as I thought at the time--bisexual. I understand not wanting to be dumped or cheated on in favor of the "other." I understand that, from a story like mine, you can question whether or not one day I'll change and like men more, and what of the poor woman whom I'm in a relationship with then. I know there's always a risk with relationships, so speaking strictly on the GLBT tip--there are so many "others" within this "community" that you just never know. There are bisexuals, trysexuals (i.e. straight girls experimenting), "real" gays who end up attracted to someone of the opposite sex, gays who only want sex when you want a real relationship, a partner you trusted for years and years who cheats on you or even who grows apart from you, and so on.

There are so many ways to get your heart broken in the gay community alone, and those ways are generally not contingent on whether or not the person is a bisexual. Being left for someone of the opposite sex might be the ultimate for you, but why all the petty sex battles? Because that person can give him/her something you can't? That would actually be a reason why I'd feel less hurt. The fault is not with me. There's nothing I did wrong or could have done to prevent her from leaving, if that's the case. The fault is not with me. It's like being rejected by someone you ask out who says she's not a lesbian. It's not because you're inadequate, or at least that's not what she's saying. If I'm going to be rejected, that's the easiest rejection to swallow, for me anyway.