Monday, February 16, 2009

Loving my queer nature

Inspired by Gay Aspirations and by various other signs and portents this weekend that told me to remember the positive, I thought I would write about the good things that owning my queerness and bisexuality has brought into my life.

First of all, let me just say: I was never anything else. I was twelve years old when I experienced my first same-sex attraction. But when I discovered I was attracted to boys a year or so later, I wrote off the possibility that I was anything but straight, in part because I didn't know it was possible to be both. (Never mind the fact that my feelings for my first crush still tormented me all through high school.) Now, of course, I can look back on my life and recognize the feelings I had over the years for both men and women, but I lived in denial for a very long time.

So it is an incredible relief, incredibly freeing to get to the place of self-acceptance I'm in now, and more, to be increasingly out. I feel like I can be myself, be authentic in a way I never was before. People have noticed the change and mentioned it to me--that I seem happier, more open, more confident, more present. It takes a lot of energy to suppress a huge part of yourself the way I had been, and now I have that much extra energy to put forth into the world. (This is one reason I'd argue that "bi privilege" is a false concept or at least extremely limited--sure, we can "pass" as straight or gay to avoid biphobia, but that doesn't take into account the price of passing, which requires sacrificing/concealing a crucial part of who we are. In my experience, that's hugely significant.)

On the shallow side: there are so many beautiful women in the world! Giving myself permission to look at other women with lust in my heart was a revelation. It brought a joy into my life that I didn't know I was missing and opened the door to relationships that I once only dreamed about. As it happens, on a purely physical level I am more attracted to women--or rather, given a group made up of 50/50 males and females, I'll probably see a high ratio of attractive women to attractive men. So the world got a hell of a lot sexier when I accepted that attraction.

However, many of my deepest and most irresistible attractions have been to men, and I also find androgyny to be deeply sexy, so go figure. It's not simple. Which is another part of living in this space that has enriched my life: it's a constant reminder that nothing is simple, that very little in life breaks down to A and Not A. That dichotomies are almost always false. That society's paradigms are almost always wrong. There are three sides to every coin, and the world is so much more interesting in its shades of grey than it is in black and white. This awareness colors everything I do, from my spirituality to my career, and I believe it makes me a better person--not better in the sense of better than others, but a better me.

This may be going out on a limb and betraying my heathen sympathies, but I believe that there is a shamanistic quality in living "between" that is inherent in being bisexual, transgender, or genderqueer. Shamans travel between the physical and spiritual worlds to bring back wisdom and insight that has the power to transform and heal those worlds. And so we, as queer folk, travel between the worlds of male and female, masculine and feminine, and/or same sex and opposite sex attraction. By doing so, by declaring our truths with courage and refusing to be invisible, we can be agents of change and transformation. We challenge the very foundations of traditional gender roles and ideas about sexuality in ways that can only improve society for everyone--because everyone suffers to some degree from the imposition of false dichotomies.

So for me, my queer nature is a source of joy, pride, and personal/spiritual empowerment (which is, unfortunately, not the same as political empowerment!) Furthermore, my as-yet tentative engagement with the LGBT community has brought me into contact with some amazing people and revolutionary ideas. While I didn't choose to be queer, and while it's not always easy, I wouldn't choose to be straight if I could. I would lose far too much of what I hold dear.