Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Shit, am I really a lesbian?

via tumblr Curves and Confidence
via tumblr Curves and Confidence

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!).

UGH.

Labels.

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?

 

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Coming Out Among Strangers

 

My one piece...a bathing suit :)
My one piece…a bathing suit 🙂

My bestie, Ruth, lives a few hours away, and invited me down for the night while her husband was bachelor partyin’ it up in Vegas. It was SO NICE to get away, even just one night, and have some good girl talk. She and I met in college and have somehow managed to push through our phone-anxiety and talk weekly for something ridiculous like NINE YEARS. Whoa.

While visiting, we headed to one of her friend’s houses, for an awesome One Piece Party (where all you could wear was a one-piece outfit plus undergarments. SO FUN!) with a bunch of other lovely introverts. There was ping pong, and a backyard fire, and dancing to Soul Train in the living room. So lovely.

And while I was there, the talk about relationships came up. There was this lovely single girl there, also wearing a bathing suit + tights combo, and my bestie was trying to set her up with this single dude friend of hers. But all night I just got this vibe that she actually was interested in ladies. We were all sitting on the couch, talking to another single girl about the perils of being single vs having a relationships. My bestie said that it was really nice to have the house to herself for the weekend, even though she missed her man. I processed aloud that I was in a strange situation because I hate feeling caged in, and yet here I am getting into this situation where commitment is happening. The one girl asked what I meant, and I explained that I had a husband and a girlfriend, and that if  my husband were out of town I’d be wanting to see her. And her response was “wow, I don’t think I could do that.”

What I loved is that she was just so not judgey about saying that. Seemed interested in knowing it worked for me, but generally musing she didn’t think it’d work for her. Cool. My first stranger coming out.

Soon followed, in part by the copious amounts of yummy vodka spiked juice, the vibe girl sitting down on the couch entering the conversation about being single and not. And she casually asked me what my deal was, and I explained the situation. And she perked up, saying “I’m a unicorn! And I’m so into the whole poly thing, so cool. I’m trying to meet this lady right now, who seems really cool, but she has kids like your girlfriend, and is having all these hesitations.”

Wow.

I met a poly gal in person all for just being open and out. And I loved that my initial gut read was spot on when I had just felt that she might have been less into the dudes and more into the ladies at the party. Yay for gut instinct.

And yay for more positive coming out experiences. With the exception of the first online outing that was ‘negative at worst, neutral at best’ I am at so many positive ones. And feeling more confident and secure in myself and my ability to trust those around me.

 

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage (Book Review)

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After my dismal foray into the FetLife forum, I decided to just continue reading blogs and blooks. And a quick Amazon search led me to this book by Jenny Block, and the description seemed to fit me so well already that I purchased it in one quick click.

It arrived yesterday, and I’m done reading it today, which means A) I had a lot of time on my hands, and B) it was a quick read. It read partly like a memoir-gone-self-help-book, which I appreciated in most parts, but got tired of in others.

What was refreshing about the whole book was how honest she was about her thought process, while also making some assertions about society at large on the issue of monogamy/non-monogamy. And I appreciated that she hasn’t been doing it for years and years and years, so it read more like the blogs, here, that are still continually exploring their relationship with open marriage and/or polyamory (or both? definition?).

I think the reason I liked it so much is because, deep down, I really want what happened to her: married to a man, in love and long term commitment with a woman, and with a husband who is open to open marriage but doesn’t act on it that often. Just writing that made me have a twinge of ick in my belly, in thinking that I could possibly ever want Keith to not explore, but still sometimes thinking I have more of a right to explore because I’m bisexual and he knew going in that I was attracted to both men and women (though, while married I’ve been attracted to some men, though rarely).

I know that just the little insecurity creeping in, and is more of a head thing than a heart thing, because when I see how connected we’ve been lately, and how much more free he feels (like it looks like he’s lost weight from the decision), I can’t help but want him to keep exploring and relating to others, both in a sexual or in a non-sexual context, whatever feels right for him (and us). But there are certainly those moments where I feel this disgusting entitlement  feeling, and I don’t like it!

Overall I would recommend the book, though it’s probably one you could borrow from the library, and not necessarily one that you NEED to own. Though I thought it was vanilla enough that I could happily order it for my sister or close friends to read to give them an idea of how our open marriage is working, that might dispel some stereotypes/myths that they might have about open marriage = orgies or swinging or things that it certainly could  contain, but don’t necessarily need to.

The last few chapters seemed redundant, though, which is why I feel like it could be a book borrowed and not bought. I overall really like it, and am so glad I purchased it. I underlined a few little gems, and am excited to discuss the overall message with Keith tonight!

What books would YOU recommend on the subject of open marriage or polyamory?

I asked a girl out!

Now that I’m back from my Vegas weekend, I have time in my schedule to go on a proper date with Anne. But I am so unskilled in the whole dating department that I was terribly nervous to ask her out. I mean, it seemed pretty apparent that we’ve been on the same page since the beginning, and she certainly seems interested in going on a date with me, but until I asked, I couldn’t know for sure. 

It’s interesting the thought process I’m going through now that I’m out. Because growing up I had certain rules in my mind for how men and women should interact as far as dating. Every experience of me going outside the gender norm (and asking a guy out) had been met with resistance or outright rudeness. And so those experiences reinforced the value that my church had taught, that guys were supposed to initiate and girls were supposed to basically wait around until a guy took some interest. 

But with girls…how does it work? Does asking her out make me too forward? Would anything happen if both of us was waiting for it to happen but to shy or awkward or nervous to say anything about it? I know what I’m feeling is reciprocated, so I just decided to take the plunge. Since she’s busy with school, and work, and kids, and her own life, I put it in her court saying in the course of a texting conversation, “I want to take you on a date,” and asked if she was free sometime this weekend. She suggested Friday night, and so I said I’d plan something. 

Keith thought it was cute that I was researching date options, and said, “oooh, Ms. romantic,” when I suggested this fancy restuarant on a marina that has a great happy hour dinner for really cheap (comparably). I love that he’s sweetly teasing me about it, because with him I am not as lovey-dovey romantic in nature. I find that I enjoy practical romance, like when he got me a really cool new book for our anniversary, rather than flowers. So he thought it was cute that I was planning such a stereotypically romantic date night for my girl. 

Today she asked me where I was taking her, and somehow she hasn’t ever been to this restaurant! I’m actually really surprised because it’s a local favorite for many people, and it makes me happy that I’ll get to show her that experience! But ya’ll, I’m super nervous…I’ve never been on a date by myself with a woman. Sure I go out with my girl friends, but there’s never been that sexual chemistry piece I’ve had to wade through. Though I know that’s reciprocal, too, as she asked me today if walking along the boardwalk would entail making out 🙂

Sigh. I’m smitten. But I’m rule driven, and have no idea how to navigate a same-sex relationship where there’s no designated ‘guy’ and ‘girl’ roles to fill. I ask her out the first time, will she ask me out the next? Do I pay for the bill? Do we ‘go dutch’? Do I kiss her first or do I wait for her to kiss me? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

But I did it. I asked a girl out on a date. Well, I guess I told her that I wanted to go on a date, and she said she would. So that’s something, right? 

Any advice ya’ll on navigating the new ‘rules’ of dating? 

My Experience Coming Out (Part 5)

I have a bestie, Ruth, who I’ve known since college. We’ve talked every day on the phone for the past NINE years, and that’s saying a lot because I HATE THE PHONE! She’s seen me through amazing and hard times. She’s seen me go from fundamentalist Christian, to practicing Agnostic, and has loved me through every phase in between. She had read my recent coming-out-as-NotStraight article, and so she has been aware of my sexuality for a bit. And honestly, she wasn’t surprised at all. And she was supportive in every way possible.

So I knew that telling her about Anne wasn’t going to be an issue, but since she lived 300 miles away from me, our relationship is reduced to stealing phonecalls whilst driving home from work. Or, in this case, home from her dad’s wedding. It was a long car trip she had, and I was a part of the passing-of-the-miles. I find phonecalls to be awkward for sensitive subjects that haven’t had a segue, but I needed to just confess, so after I listened to her experience at the wedding, I just launched into my coming out speech. And, of course, her response was amazing, like I knew it would be!

We talked about sexuality, and polyamory, and how straight-as-a-board she is, and how she wished Keith and I well in our venture. And since then has followed up in a non-forced way, letting me gush about Anne’s love of literature, and even crack the joke that she’s basically a bisexual Ruth (something my friend Mari might feel uncomfortable about me saying).

I’m now out to all the people closest to me, and it feels really good. I’m waiting on second date, and now that I’m home from my weekend trip to Vegas, I can schedule something with her. But our texting relationship is going really well! I am excited to hopefully someday soon introduce her to Ruth, so she can see just how cool she really is!

My Experience Coming Out (Part 4)

Scheduling is hard. With very few childcare options available, Keith and I asked his parents to watch our son so that we could go on a date (with Anne) on Friday night. But it just so happened that my sister was also in town that day, having spent the night before with us. Since she lives a few hours away, and the trip had been planned for months, I didn’t want to make her reschedule for our potential love life change. And so she came, and we hung out, and I planned to not say a word about my evening date (even hoping that it would calm my nerves to not think about it). Because my sister and I were raised in the same fundamentalist Christian home, and because she still lives in the same rural conservative town, and because we had been not as close in the past year, I just figured I would never come out to her because how would she understand?

So, the morning of my big date, we were sitting in the living room drinking mimosas and watching the kiddo chase the dog around the coffee table, and she suddenly started asking questions like:

“Have you ever thought of doing a threesome? Or how do you feel about monogamy? And marriage, like, do you ever get bored in your marriage, or jealous, or want to open it up to other people?”

Holy hell, the questions were peppering me like bullets. If we had stayed in a neutral territory, talking about marriage, or theoretical, or even focusing on her relationship (together for 4 years, living together for 3, possibly getting engaged soon(ish)). But how could I, with those direct questions rapidly fired at me, not tell her? My little sister, coming to me for advice on her relationship, by wanting connection in knowing she wasn’t the only one thinking of, or wanting, or being nervous and wanting, things to be different somehow.

At first I tried to get around it, but then I said, “so, this might come as a shock to you. And I’m going to tell you, because you asked, but it’s sensitive and I want to know you won’t go blabbing it about. Because I wasn’t going to tell family at all yet.”

And then I launched in, beginning with the bisexual bomb, and ending with the date that night with a woman and how nervous I was. Her response was beautiful. She laughed when I said, “remember when you were in high school, and you told me mom and dad thought I was a lesbian?,” because she had come to me at one point, since I wasn’t dating, and told me they were concerned. She hadn’t remembered that incident, but said that it wasn’t surprising to her that I wasn’t straight, and then she said:

“You know, just because I’m straight, and live in Tiny Annoying Town, doesn’t mean I’m judgmental. I have some really conservative friends who make Roger (her bf) feel uncomfortable because he’s much more open, and I never want to be that person. I’m excited for you, and can’t wait to hear how the date goes!” 

And then she said that she couldn’t imagine doing a threesome with a woman, but would be interested with another dude, and we had a good laugh about how very odd I felt that was (because my other bestie, Ruth, has said something similar before, and I have no interest in two penises near me at one time), and it felt like this really great bonding experience over a vulnerable topic that we were raised to believe was taboo. She then opened up about her own sex life, and their fantasies and explorations, and how she doesn’t have anyone to talk to about it because all her friends are in Tiny Annoying Town mindset. She said she was jealous that I got to live in a Big Liberal City with plenty of acceptance and even anonymity, because truthfully, if i wanted, I could take my potential girlfriend out on the town in parts of the city and I wouldn’t run into anybody I know in my other life.

We went out to breakfast and then shopping. Since she’s super into fashion, she wanted to help me pick out a cute outfit to wear on my first date.  She even tried to convince me to wear a trendy fashion necklace accessory, but I stood my ground, because I wanted to seem somewhat like myself and figured if I gave the impression that I can pull of trendy accessories on the first date, then I’d have to keep up that facade!

 

 

My Experience Coming Out (Part 2)

Monday night ritual, for the past few months, has been pizza and beer/wine/champagne with my bestest in-town girl friend. She totes her two sons over here, or I tote my son their direction, and we eat dinner and gossip and watch our boys grab toys from each other and cry play with each other. It’s kept us sane while our husbands are in class, or working late hours, and has allowed us to connect quite deeply. And so, that Monday night, while our kids ran around in my backyard, I turned to her and said:

“Mari, I have something to tell you, but I’m afraid you’ll be judgey.”

My word-choice was poor, as she had taken my coming out blog post SO WELL, and was SO SUPPORTIVE, and I hated that I had used judgey in a sentence with her. But I was afraid. Because while we are besties, our sex lives and even spirituality/morals/ethics vary wildly. To use a label to sum her up with a broad brush stroke, she is my most conservative friend. But there I was, on our wooden backyard bench, saying:

“I am going on a date on Friday. With a woman. And I am really excited, and nervous, and I really like her. And Keith will be there. And I’ve never felt feelings like this toward a woman, and she’s in the same life experience as me, and I’m really nervous and thought you should know because you are the closest person to me, and I’m not going to tell many people yet (or at all) and I just thought you should know.”

She suspected something was up.  While out to dinner the previous week, her husband was teasing me about some phone numbers I had gotten a few weeks prior out drinking after a soccer match. When I said we had plans on Friday he was all like, “oh, you meeting up with one of those girls?” and apparently my shocked expression and lame excuse had left her suspecting that something was up. But she didn’t want to press the subject, especially since there was a mutual friend present and he isn’t aware of my newly exposed identity. So there we were, sitting together, and me nervous about rejection, and her response:

“You are my friend. I may be more conservative sexually, and I may not understand it, but I will not judge you. I am not judgey about it. I think it sounds cool, and you seem happy. The hardest part I have is that I knew Keith in middle school and it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is who he is, in comparison to who he was back then.”

Phew.

My biggest obstacle was hurdled. The one person I felt NEEDED to know because of the amount of time we spend together had handled the news like a pro. I knew in my gut she would be supportive, but based on that last out-on-a-limb experience that didn’t go so well, I wondered if my gut feeling was way off. But it wasn’t. I was out, and supported, and it felt really good.

 

My Experiences Coming Out (Part 1)

The last few months have been a blur of gradual coming outness. I had written a coming out response to a recent news article, and it made the circulation to some select friends and family that I felt comfortable in sharing. In that blog I wrote that I was NotStraight, which was my catchall description, because I wasn’t yet comfortable saying bisexual (because of all the various meanings associated with that word. And the reaction in my life was AMAZING. I felt like most people had probably sensed my NotStraightness, but had not labelled it as such. Nobody was surprised. Everyone was amazingly supportive. It felt so good to be out, at least in name only, and accepted.

And then, a few weeks later, my world was rocked by meeting this girl who was like WHOA ya’ll. I mean, whoa. Having never dated a woman before, I never imagined meeting someone who fit me so well in terms of personality AND was looking for the same thing. Being a married bisexual woman, with a child, I am not looking to date someone who

wants me to leave my family and ‘run away’ with them Thelma & Louise style. And there she was, this beautiful, intelligent, well-read woman with a husband and kids of her own, and no intention of running away with a woman. In fact, she had ended her previous relationship because that woman had expected her to leave her family, and that was something she just wasn’t going to do.

Whoa.

Suddenly I am thrust into this experience, leading up to our first date, where I was having all the feelings  and wanted nothing more than select friends to be in on this knowledge with me. So I took the plunge. At first I reached out online, to a fellow blogger (from my other anonymous family blog) who I had met off a website geared toward non-traditional families. Knowing she had dated women in college, and has a high sex drive, I was excited to share with her my new found feelings toward this woman, and the fact that Keith and I are exploring open marriage or polyamory (still such a newbie I’m not quite sure what term we fit into?). And her response shocked me.

She said: I would never… I’m pretty bound into those marriage vows. I guess this is one thing we don’t have in common. . . I’m kind of at a loss for words here. . . I just can’t relate to wanting to go outside of my marriage, so I don’t really know how to respond/support. I can listen I guess, but that’s pretty far out of my wheelhouse. It seems like those things are really hard to pull off without someone getting hurt/confused. But I wish you the best!”

Talk about being dismissed. I, in one fell swoop, I felt like I was lumped into slutty cheating sex-fiend who can’t “totally be into my husband” like she had said in another part of her message. Because that is NOT what is happening here. I didn’t seek it out, and while I’m grabbing life by the horns, it is not without the blessing and encouragement of my husband. I was shocked. I figured that my IRL friends might be shocked on my acting on my bisexuality by dating a woman while married to my husband, but I was so shocked that  supposedly such an open minded blogging friend could project so strongly onto my own experience. And I am not so naive to think that all of this is going to be easy  or without it’s challenges (and possible heartaches), because I’m not just starting an office affair and fucking someone in the janitor’s closet risking getting caught. We are on the same page, communicating extensively, and still very much in love.

Based on this experience, where I had mustered up the courage to share, and risked (and got) rejection and judgment. But, I couldn’t live in the closet forever…it felt too important to keep to myself…