To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{February 7, 2010}   Cake has layers!

So, a while back Bond had a post on sexual fluidity, and how, in her opinion, sexuality isn’t fluid. I’ve been thinking about it since.

I both agree and disagree with what she was saying, because while I don’t think sexuality changes like water splashing around in a dish, I do think sexuality changes over time and there isn’t a specific barrier. In that it’s a steady forward change with no boundaries, I think it can be called fluid. I left a comment describing what I’d always imagined fluid gender to mean, which was more like a river or stream; always moving forward, often changing, but without an obvious stop and start. “Here we’re whitewater, and across this line we’re deep!” No no no.

Ephraim pointed out that the flowing river metaphor also implied people don’t have agency over their sexuality, that it gets buffered all around by outside forces, changed without their knowledge or acceptance. I don’t think that’s the case, but Ephraim was right; I just couldn’t think of a better metaphor.

Then the other day I was in a class on sexuality other than gay and straight (mostly bisexuality, though I’d hoped they would discuss other sexualities), and people were tossing around that fluid metaphor, and I kept thinking about Bond’s assertion that sexuality doesn’t change moment to moment like water does, and Ephraim’s comment about agency, and I finally realized something.

My sexuality has been constantly changing since I was born, that’s true. At the same point, I feel like I was born with a specific sexuality; like I don’t really have a choice over whether I’m gay or straight or bi (or queer!) — I just am. I was born that way. And yet, it’s taken a lot of time, and a lot of changing, for me to get where I am now (and I have no idea that I’m done figuring this out, yet).

It was that last part that caught my attention. The ‘figuring it out.’ When people ask me things about my sexuality, I often will finish up with, “But I don’t think I’ve figured it out, yet.” Which implies that there is a truth there to figure out. That it isn’t changing, so much as… becoming unburied.

Imagine for a moment that I’m born already queer-sexual. I’m hardwired to like queer people. Now, as I’m growing up, things are going to influence me — society is going to layer on expectations and bury any kind of non-normal wants, desires, and behaviors. It’s my job as I reach teenage and adulthood, then, to start shoveling off those layers.

First I was attracted to men, but not always. Not often. But that’s what was expected. Then I realized I didn’t have to do the expected, and I shoveled off that layer that society had put on me, getting a level closer to what my actual sexuality is.

Then I liked men and women, because that was bisexual. But that wasn’t quite right, either. I shoveled off another layer to get a little closer to my sexuality.

Then I liked butch women; closer to my sexuality. Now it’s queer people. Closer still.

Maybe I’m there, now. Maybe I’m not. I have a hunch I’m still shoveling, though I’m closer now. It’s been a gradual process, though layers implies clean breaks. Still, if you try and remove the layers on an onion, other layers peel up too and the top layers only peel partially, so that at no point is there a clear cut, perfectly removed layer. (I would rather not be compared to an onion. Cake has layers! *grins*)

In class the other day, I finally made the comment that I didn’t feel like my sexuality was fluid. I felt like it was one specific thing, something I was born with, and that the outward expression of my sexuality had changed over the years because I was trying to find what it was and it took some exploring.

There isn’t a clear path. You wander a little this way, a little that way, have to stop and find the trail again. It changes, but it doesn’t evolve or… or randomly flip. It was always there. It’s only changing because I’m finding my way, finally, through everything I’ve been taught to the truth that’s, at the moment, a little bit hard to find. Maybe for some people the path is more obvious. I dunno about you guys, but my path has been quite sneaky. 😉 Maybe, if I were aware of my sexuality as a little kid, I’d be able to find it easier now. But I had better things to worry about then — like My Little Ponies. *grins*



Love this. I think it’s so true that a lot of the time, what people mean when they say “sexuality is fluid” is actually “I haven’t figured my sexuality out yet.” I identified as “fluid” back when I was in college… back when I was not entirely convinced “am I gay? really? for real? how do I know? I dated a boy once? twice actually? so it must be fluid!” but I feel SO much more like *me* now that I’m no longer “fluid.”

So, yeah.

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