Passing the time during our commute home from work, my wife and I began talking about sexual orientation. We talk about the weirdest stuff when we are alone together so talking about the issue wasn’t out of the norm. Somewhere in the conversation, she told me that she was a Lesbian and, since I am married to her, I am too.
This got me heated. My face turned red and mind went fuzzy. This happens often when I am so infuriated by something that my body reacts before my brain processes the emotion: like instinct. This is a weakness on the list to overcome someday. (It is quite a long list.)
But why was I upset? She was correct; I am married to a woman. To others we do look like a Lesbian couple. In previous years, I would agree with that statement but only because the Lesbian wasn’t me.
In my youth (up until last year), I labeled other people as Gay or Lesbian by what I saw on the outside: by who I saw holding hands or showing love. It struck me in that moment that people are doing the same to me now and I feel uncomfortable with it.
Passersby think they know enough about me when I am affectionate with my wife to call me Gay. Strangers do not know my name, that I like to read, or that I’m in the midst a long internal discussion regarding the best Studio Ghibli movies (My Neighbor Totoro holds #1 now with Spirited Away gaining ground in #2) but they think they know sexual preference. They call me a Lesbian.
Gay, Straight, Lesbian, and Bisexual are words used to sort/identify people by sexuality. But sexuality is too fluid to fit into only one category.
Now, let’s replace the labels with shoes (stick with me through this extreme over-simplification). We have four: hiking boots, pumps, sneakers, and sandals. Some people only want to wear the one type of shoe and that works for them. But what about those who like wearing hiking boots and sneakers or pumps and sandals. I don’t want to be just a hiking boots girl nor do I want to be pegged only by who I love.
If I wore hiking boots all of the time, I would feel a need to fulfill the expectations of all stereotypical hiking boot wearers. I would feel obligated to start hiking, use glass water bottles, and compost my own poop.
Calling myself a Lesbian would make me feel the same way. I know that not all Lesbians wear boots. I know not all Lesbians fit the butch stereotypes or rally for the cause. But if I wore that label, I would feel obligated to fulfill those expectations and that just isn’t me.
So that day in the car, after I found my mental calm happy place, I told my wife, “Down the road, I may feel more comfortable saying, ‘I’m a Lesbian.’ But right now, I’m not. I’m just finding comfort in being ‘me’.” She recognizes my feelings and gives me understanding and room to be myself, without labels.