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Posts Tagged ‘coming out’

Coming Out Day was the other day (I forget which day, but this will be a retroactive post in its spirit, ITS SPIRIT OK). So here is my coming out: I am queer and pansexual and I think I am polyamorous. I will theoretically have relationships with anyone who has the inclination to have one with me. This, I am sure of. The polyamory part is new to me. It’s kinda like I’ve just woken up wearing a hat: a large, flowery hat that I cannot remove, and because people will tend to notice this kind of thing, I have to come up with a name for the hat and buy a hat box to keep it in. I am also a woman, but because my sex-‘n’-gender are readily socially intelligible to the average schmuck, I don’t think that counts as coming out.

So pansexuality. I don’t use that word very often because it is scary to me. Every time I use it aloud I adopt a defensive posture, ready to shout ‘well YOUR FACE IS A BOGUS POSTMODERN CONSTRUCT’. Because saying ‘bisexual’, which was my word du jour until very recently, is scary enough. Slutty, greedy. (Both true, yay!! Oops. I mean, WHAT A SHAME.) Fickle, naïve, fake, poseur, really gay, really straight, trendy. (Not true).  But saying ‘pansexual’ is scarier because most people cock their heads sideways and go to the place in their minds where there are images of orgies with happy cartoon squirrels blocking out peoples’ naughty parts. Pansexual is scary because it does not, as far as I can tell, imply attraction that adheres to a binary construction of sex-‘n’-gender. It implies potential attraction to people who are neither male nor female, or both, or one and then the other.

I am fine with this, deep inside my identity place. Men are good. Women are good, Genderqueer people are good. Bigendered people are good. Everyone is pretty fucking good.  I do not see a WRONG WAY GO BACK sign anywhere here. Do you see a fuss here? There is no fuss, except other people’s fuss. Other people’s fuss sucks. I don’t use ‘bisexual’ any more because it DID fuss me inside, it fussed me because it was inaccurate. It also fussed me because it makes me think of binarily gendered toilet doors and a small group of people standing outside looking excluded and sad. I didn’t want use a word that was those toilet doors, especially when it wasn’t even the most correct word. I am not those toilet doors, damn it. I’m going to stop saying ‘toilet doors’ now.

So that is my attraction-gradient: queer and pansexual. Usually now I just use ‘queer’, but ‘pansexual’ is the smoothly engineered term. The aerodynamic one that I would use more if my defensive posture didn’t hurt my lower back.

Polyamory is my new hat. I have two partners and I’m not sure that there is anything else for it but to call a hat a hat. Or to call having two partners ‘polyamory’. There’s just a hat, okay? It’s new and I’m scared of it. I’m scared of having to explain why I’m wearing this hat. I’m scared of having to explain that it’s not even the average kind of polyamory hat, because one of my partners is asexual. I’m scared that I won’t be able to fit through doorways with my hat on (not really but youknowwhatImean).  I feel as if this label has been thrust upon me. Though I have known since forever that I am a greedy enough slutbag* to potentially want multiple partners, it has never been in the forefront of my consciousness enough to demand its own checky box. I am uncomfy and I don’t know whether I like this word enough to keep it and pet it and call it George. (I think I just changed my mind in one paragraph. Keep your expectations of coherency low and you won’t be disappointed.)

So that is my coming out. I asked someone once if I could refer to myself as Neutral Greedy McSlutbag, but they said no.

*Slutbag here used in an affectionate and reclaimed manner to refer to myself. SLUTBAGS UNITE!

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O hai guys.

I have been really busy being unconscionably lazy, but I have a very serious question that has been bugging the shit out of me for some time. It’s a language limitation question, and it is of a Personal Nature. I am so open to suggestions about this issue, you have no idea. I am like a sweet wrapper after an overexcited six year old has carefully torn it into a long, single strip, tied the ends together, and got all his other sugar-hopped pals to jump through it. I am a giant ear, waiting to receive your ingenious solutions to my irritating terminology gripe.

So here’s the thing. There is a person. Most of my readers, all 25 of you, know this person. For those of you who don’t, she is taller than the average circus freak, likes to cut up the dead into chunks, and her head currently has a pleasingly shaven texture. We love eachother very, very much. If she wanted to convert to ascetic mysticism, move to Yemen, and live in a bark hut, eking out a living by catching local birds and weaving their entrails into baskets, I would whip out my viscera crochet hook and go with her. She is asexual; I am not. I am in a sexual relationship with someone else, whom I can handily and accurately describe as my boyfriend. She’s not my ‘friend’, because that word does not cover the commitment, intimacy, and occasional pirate wenchitude involved in our relationship. ‘Girlfriend’, ‘spouse’, and ‘partner’ all have misleadingly sexual connotations.

What I want is a word that doesn’t have to involve an extended conversation about our personal histories when I describe our relationship to other people. These conversations usually result in me (and her) feeling a combination of ignored, scrutinised, disbelieved, laughed at, infantilised, objectified, or slightly violated. I need a word for what we are, or even a phrase, I’m not shooting for the Moon here, that describes transparently the state of the union. We love eachother, we are in a relationship. We want to ‘build a life together’ (this is the point where I officially abandon any effort to sound less like a Centrelink pamphlet) that involves all the things that long-term partnerships usually do, without the bonking. I have/will have other partner/s that I will probably sleep with. She is not ‘single’, and I am not in an ‘exclusive relationship’ with her or my boyfriend. Ideally it would also involve some implied imperatives: saying ‘this is my girlfriend’ usually also means ‘do not mack on her while I am around’ and, even in polyamorous situations, ‘the other one of us will probably be involved in any relationship you wish to pursue with her’. We do not sleep together, but we are together.

This is generally compounded by my stick insect mortician partner’s asexuality, which most people characterise as nonexistent, pathological, or SO INTERESTING OMG that it magically obliterates her/our privacy. Or there’s the occasional person who paradoxically finds it a massive turn on. Unfortunately for their various projected issues, she is just a normal person who doesn’t want to have sex with you.

So there is the situation. I don’t want to resort to ‘co-pilot’ or ‘life partner’, please Jesus God no, and not many people grok ‘hemiasexual queeromantic marriagelike cuddlefest’ upon first hearing. Are there any words that connote anything similar to what we’re doing here, or am I grasping at asexual lesbotronic domestic partnership straws? Currently I’m using ‘hemiasexual queeromantic partner’ for her on facebonk, and ‘sexual heteromantic partner’ for my other squee-ee-eeze. Are you smrter than I am with words? Give me other options.

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Dear Ms Carnivore,

It has recently come to my attention that women are more interesting, in a libidinous sense, than I had previously given them credit for. In between exercising my newfound perving interests and nursing truly hopeless crushes, I took time to inform my parental units that girlfriends, hypothetically speaking, are as much a possibility for their daughter as boyfriends. My mother, in tones of woe, replied that she thought so. My father, with resignation, informed me that he thought that’s what they could expect when they sent me off to a women’s college. (Subsequently we had an awkward family moment, and that was it for the Coming Out Crisis, happily.)

However, while exchanging a Christmas telephone call with my best friend, he felt the need to ask me (‘don’t cross, I am your best friend, and I have to ask’), where exactly I stood on the matter of ladies. Once I had set him straight, he informed me that that was perfectly ok, and he thinks it’s a phase all university-going women go through at some point.

Now, my brother’s friends had warned him of something similar when I first went away to Women’s College (and by ‘warn’ I mean sniggered in both anticipation and derision). And now I wonder: why is it that so many people think education, in women, leads inevitably to lesbianism or variants thereupon? As a right-thinking bisexual yourself, you will no doubt answer, first, that this is because female homoerotics are a very smart option. However, none of the people I have just mentioned are given to thinking well of homoerotics, in general, and all of them delivered this ultimatum in varying degress of dismissiveness, derision and disapproval.

I am inclined to blame some form of heteropatriarchal prejudice. Being young and untutored in the ways of hetero-patriarchy blaming, I find myself at a loss as to how to proceed. I submit my dilemma to your superior analytical wisdom.

Sincerely,

ineptshieldmaid
http://ineptshieldmaid.livejournal.com

Dear ineptshieldmaid,

Firstly, congratulations on Coming Out, and may you have joyous Sapphic relations. As you say, I am also a queer, and I unhesitatingly recommend the inclination to all.

Secondly, congratulations on obtaining the full set of Collect-’em-All Garden Variety Queerphobe Action Figures. With a Worrying Mother, Mildly Disappointed Father, Dismissive Friend, and Horny Acquaintances, you could sell the entire troupe on eBay for a substantial amount of money, as long as you don’t take them out of the box.  As you’ve noticed, they each come with a unique and indispensable opinion on your personal sexual orientation, and a common belief that their thoughts on the matter are of an importance level approximately equal to matters of crucial national security.

It is true that, as a woman who happens to have lived at a tertiary education institution, your bisexual orientation was almost inevitably going to be chalked up to spending years in close quarters with hot young thangs. Why this stereotype persists, I’m not sure; possibly it is assumed that young female college students are susceptible to some kind of Boob Overdose, like a deer caught in headlights, whereby once a critical number of breasts have been viewed, the young woman in question is henceforth fixated. More likely, the Lesbian Until Graduation stereotype, or LUG, exists as a means of removing legitimacy from bisexual and lesbian orientations and relationships. As you can see, it functions differently according to the proclivity of the invoker; some dismiss it as Just a Phase, some question whether bisexuality can be classified as a “real” sexual orientation if one “picked it up” during college or university, and some, like your brother’s friends, frame it in terms of its titillation value.

The common denominator among all these reactions is that your sexual preference is being assigned a value by people who think they know you better than you do. Rather than taking your coming out at face value, and being supportive and non-judgemental, your bisexuality is being critiqued against the normative benchmark of heterosexuality. It must, therefore, be assigned a cause and a duration, which you have already been kindly gifted; the next step is for someone to suggest a cure, which can generally be found in the common utterance, “You just haven’t found the right man yet”, or, if you’re really lucky, “Here’s the brochure for a church program I thought you might be interested in.”

Thus, your perfectly normal sexuality has suddenly become a mysterious tropical disease. You will probably find a favoured way of coping with these bizarre attitudes to healthy human behaviour; some popular courses of action are Not Talking About It, Slow And Gentle Re-Education, and Outright Provocation. I personally recommend the latter; after a few weeks of randomly uttering, “Cor! Look at the tits on her!” around your parents, they will probably learn to leave the topic well alone unless they are also willing to engage in some healthy, family-bonding objectification.

Lots of Love,

Eleanor Carnivore

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