Have you ever dived into a lake, and then barrel rolled under the water a few times until you no longer know which way’s up? That feeling of floating, spinning, twirling…when under my own volition, it feels fun and exciting to lay motionless for a moment to realize which way is up, watching my bubbles rise to the surface, guiding me to my next breath of fresh air. This was a past-time of mine as a kid, and I did it in pools or lakes or any body water big enough for me to splash around in (note: I might have unsuccessfully tried it in the bathtub).
But contrast this with being thrown from an inner tube or being knocked over by a strong ocean wave, or being tossed into the deep end by a ruthless family member. That feeling of spinning under water, with panic outweighing the fun adrenaline sense of whoa dude! You know the difference.
I fee like I’m somewhere in-between those two feelings, like walking out into the waves and feeling the sand slip away from under my feet. I’m searching, searching, searching for a label to try and pin this sticky thing of sexual identity on. I came out as NotStraight (my very eloquent dip into the other sexuality pool), and then just defaulted to saying bisexual, because whoa people didn’t quite get the whole NotStraight thing. And bisexual neatly expresses why I am, in fact, married to a man. And why, in fact, I have had boyfriends in the past. And why, in fact, I have only just had my “first” sexual experience in the lady pool (with childish “experimentation” and drunken college makeouts with ladies. Bisexual explains it…right?
So I’ve spent my free time diving into the community. Reading AutoStraddle and watching Netflix documentaries like Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, or Chely Wright’s coming out story, and in the latter I couldn’t help but feel really…convicted (to use a Christian term I grew up with) when Chely talked about having dated men, but knowing she was, in fact, a lesbian.
With Anne, we refer to each other as lesbians. And yet we’re married to men. We talk about being attracted to pretty lesbians, like Chely Wright, and yet how it’s an energy attraction that we feel. Anne has some butch lesbian friends who talk about seeing women on the street and thinking “whoa, I wanna bang that chick” (to use crass language), and she (and I) don’t resonate with that, because I see a pretty girl and think she’s beautiful and how nice it would be to brush her hair or sit and drink coffee in her presence. And yet, get me alone, with my thoughts, later, and all the fantasies come crawling out. I don’t see guys and drool over them, either, so it’s not just a lady thing.
I cannot deny that I have been incredibly attracted to a handful of men over the years. And yet, if I were to really be honest, I resonate with the word or concept of lesbian much more than I do with the concept of bisexual. I can’t quite explain it. It doesn’t make rational sense. Lesbians like ladies. Bisexuals like ladies and men. I like men and ladies. But don’t really feel like the bisexual pants fit quite right (I’m muffin topping all over the place here people!).
They’re so unnecessary, I know.
But I also know that sometimes before you can transcend and feel comfortable beyond and without a label, you first must embrace and living within its framework. And I feel like I’ve been thrown into that deep end and barrel rolling and trying to blow bubbles to find my way to the surface. Reframing my past in light of my present and thinking…was I just living a lie? Were those feelings for boys misplaced or influenced by a Disney fairytale culture? Am I really a lesbian?
And, if so, what does that mean?