Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Not About Sex

I generally refer to myself as "bi" and not "bisexual."

It's not that I have a problem with the term bisexual per se, but I think a lot of people only see the "sexual" part of the word. And that's a problem.

'Cause I've been in a monogamous marriage since the '90s, see, and here's the thing-- the whole bi part of my identity hasn't gone away. And that's a bit of a surprise for me, because for a lot of my friends who used to identify as bi, it did. They would say things to me like "Ehh, with no [same-sex partners] in my life I never think about it anymore." So I just kind of assumed that when my wife and I settled down and got monogamous, it would go away for me too.

It hasn't. Arguments over LGBT rights still hit very close to home, even though no law is going to be passed invalidating my marriage since it's an opposite-sex marriage. I still notice the occasional cute guy in a movie or walking past me in the mall. I still feel the need to talk to people who are in tune with me and understand who I am and not just accept or tolerate the fact that I'm different. And I still feel the need to break the stereotypes. (ie, Bisexuals are promiscuous, bisexuals can't be faithful, bisexuals can't be trusted.)

And with all this hetero, married, monogamous sex ruling my life since the late 20th Century, you'd think it would have gone away by now. It's almost like how the first twenty years of my life were, when I kept trying to deny it was there in the first place and it wouldn't go away then either.  What's up with that?

Oh, that's right-- it's a core part of who I am.

It's not about sex. Yes, sex does start with attraction, but I can honestly say I have no desire to have sex with the attractive people I meet. Yes, relationships often lead to sex, but not always. But when you tell some people you're bisexual, they think you're telling them, "I like to have sex with men and women." They hear it as "bi-SEXUAL."

They don't hear "after years of being called a fag I finally made peace with who I am, and I don't ever want to hide that again." They don't hear "I feel like my government and most religions are persecuting me, and it scares me." They don't hear "I'm bi, married, and monogamous, and I need you to understand that I'm not the only one, I'm just one of the few trying to change your preconceived notions about that being the exception to the rule."

They don't hear you saying "I just want you to honestly love me for who I am, because I love you and your opinion means the world to me, and it hurts me when you tell me to keep it to myself."

Telling me to keep it to myself is like someone saying "Would you please dye your hair? Porn stars have blonde hair, but you insist on letting everyone see you have blonde hair. I don't need to know you have porn-star-colored hair. If you won't dye it, you should at least keep a hat on, because I don't need to know about that."

I'm not talking about my sex life when I talk about my orientation. My orientation has nothing to do with my sex life any more. I'm talking about something as basic about myself as the town I grew up in or the church I went to or the pet I own. I'm talking about my civil liberties. I'm talking about not having to hide who I am, and not feeling like who I am is something to be ashamed of.

I'm simply saying "Yeah, I'm bi" in the same way that I say "Yeah, I'm Italian." A simple statement of fact about myself, my history, my identity, and yes, a touch of pride.

So I only refer to myself as "bi." Not that I have anything against the term "bisexual," but because there's more to it --and to me-- than the sexuality.