My gender & sexuality are matters that I have been largely quiet about lately, despite the fact that they have been at the forefront of my mind. The perfectionist in me wanted to be sure that I knew what to say — that I knew my own identity before I shared it with others. But I’m starting to believe that perhaps “the right words” will not come unless I practice… unless I open myself up and make myself vulnerable. And if the last 3 years of blogging have taught me anything, it’s that growing through my fear & vulnerability is one of the unexpected beauties of EROcentric.
I used to say that I was “mostly straight and mostly cis.” I staked my claim as a 1 on the Kinsey scale, despite the fact that the beautiful individuals who caught my attention were more often women. And when I discovered & intensely connected with the term “demigirl,” my gender on Facebook remained quietly female. I have never felt queer enough, and I feared taking those labels without any quantifiable evidence to back me up.
My experience is extremely limited. I’ve only been in two (monogamous) relationships for the entirety of my adult life. And they’ve both been with cisgender, heterosexual men.
It was easy to push all my middle & high school crushes to the back of my mind when they never amounted to anything. When the religious & societal shame prevented me from ever acting on them. When the girl I painted a picture for never appeared to be interested in me. And it was equally easy to simply say that I was a “tomboy” when that term has been used to describe me for my entire life.
But at damn near 30-years-old, I was suddenly given the (terrifying) freedom to explore those parts of myself that I thought were long buried. My environment & my support system changed. I got tossed into the local LGBTQ+ community head first — and I’ve spent the last 5 months trying to pull myself together and learn how to walk within it.
I have been blessed to find myself among individuals who understand that identity & behavior are not one and the same. That gender & sexuality are fluid, and sometimes they change day-to-day. That humans are complex and even the ever-growing list of labels we have are just a starting point; they never quite seem to account for everyone.
This is the first time that I have felt a true sense of community… and yet I have also felt like an outsider/an imposter. On November 8th, my dichotomous status was no longer just an inner struggle. It had exploded into every aspect of my experience and I found myself interacting with a world of chaos through the lens of privilege, shame, anger, fear, confusion, pain & (gloriously) pride.
Inside, I am feeling all of the fear, anger, and pain that comes from identifying with a group that is targeted under this revival of hatred & violence. I feel pride in identifying with a community that has a history of resiliency and action. But as a privileged individual who passes as both heterosexual & cisgender (not to mention: white), I do not feel valid in claiming those emotions.
I find myself analyzing the entire concept of “coming out” on a near daily basis. Is it a necessary rite of passage? What is the “correct” way to have these conversations — and how does that differ within the context of family vs. friend? How long before I feel forced to speak my truth? …Which relationships will I lose?
I am like a child, taking tiny hesitant steps & testing the waters of acceptance. I share queer memes on social media, I write about my experience on this blog, I nonchalantly toss hints into conversation — and I wait to see if anyone will ask for clarification.
The majority of people in my life will probably not be surprised. I get the distinct impression that they have suspected this for years — perhaps they even understood it long before I did. But then my mother assumes that the only reason I am afraid is because my work paints an obvious target on my back, and my otherwise non-religious father disdainfully comments on “what the Bible says about gays,” and I am buried alive by the weight of my secrets.
How do I navigate this journey?
In the days following the election, I sobbed in the arms of my partner. I cut ties with the majority of my family who (perhaps unknowingly) expressed that my life does not matter to them. I sat with my supervisor and tried to absorb some of his pain and frustration at not being seen as human. I marched in protest through the streets of my city. I experienced grief at a magnitude that I can only compare to the loss of my maternal grandmother 9 years ago. And amazingly, I felt myself evolving.
In the most basic of terms: I currently identify as a poly(or perhaps pan)sexual demigirl with she/they pronouns.
Polysexual – On the surface, I tend to be more sexually attracted to individuals who express their gender with at least a modicum of (healthy & secure) masculinity, regardless of their biological sex or gender identity. However, as both a panromantic individual & someone who very closely ties sex with love, I highly suspect that this preference would fall away with the addition of an emotional connection.
Demigirl – I experience only the barest association with being “female,” and am mostly confused by the entire concept of gender as it relates to my personality & body. In my gender expression, I am currently finding comfort in a greater level of androgyny.
She/They – If you say “she,” it will not cause me pain or gender dysphoria (most of the time). But “they” holds the power to convey that you accept, embrace, & support me for who I truly am.
If you’re a visual learner & would like to view my “genderbread person,” click here.