A few notes: Firstly, this was written to be told aloud, and so intentionally ignores some written grammatical functions because they sound terrible aloud. Secondly, if I find or generate a good recorded version, perhaps I’ll post. Thirdly, this piece is about sexual identity, so if you don’t want to know about my work in that identity space, don’t read!
Ok? Cool – enjoy if you’d like to!
I study astrology. Not like “Oh, you’re a Libra, too!” astrology, or even
“What’s your rising sign” astrology.
I study to go deep. A few months ago I was looking at my 7th harmonic chart and noticed my Venus is debilitated. This might not sound like a big deal to you, but my thinking was just…
I’m never going to have sex again, am I?
That’s when I realized I was overdue to revisit what I thought about my sexual identity.
I came out early.
It was 1999. I was in 7th grade and I had my own computer, which was a make-up gift for an ongoing divorce between my parents and not having anyone at home to interact with. Coming out early always sounds so courageous, but given the way the arc of my life has played out so far, the message I was trying to convey was, not surprisingly, a little juvenile.
I remember sharing with one of my new friends that I thought I was bi — through AIM. No real world heroic “I think I’m going to throw up” moments — just me
in a dark room
I was new to California, a recent transplant from Texas. Being bisexual seemed safer than just saying I was gay, meaning that I was a lesbian. I didn’t like the word lesbian — it reminded me of frogs. And while I hadn’t managed to identify anything that felt remotely like sexual attraction to boys or men or anything masculine at all… I thought I’d try out the label.
It’s always been the intersections that cause me the most trouble. Having been raised as a girl, coming out to my mom about my first girlfriend wasn’t as harrowing as reconciling having a girlfriend while being a Muslim AFAB.
The intersection made a sticky topic a dangerous feeling one, affecting my day to day life and, it felt like, the fate of my soul.
My mother framed this declaration of an emerging identity as a lifestyle choice, which I took to mean she was implying I was choosing to burn in hell. Less than a year later, I got myself into an elite boarding school on the east coast, where it felt like I was taken in and raised by a pack of white liberals, several of whom were in fact self identifying lesbians.
I used high school to master the art of being an angsty emo punk nerd, and in college that evolved into being an awkward early stage transbro — baby faced, weight fluxxed, and newly interested in men.
Transitioning my social gender identity was definitely when I lost the clarity of my sexual identity. Was I bisexual? Pansexual? Was I still attracted to women at all? Did it matter if, regardless, my identity was always going to be misunderstood anywhere I went? When I co-led the Rainbow Alliance in college, no one wondered what I had to do with the queer kids. I was super obviously queer in dreads, neons and black, and making out with my six foot tall blonde bombshell girlfriend. Gay as the day is long.
For the past ten years, though, mostly I’ve been invisible. Unless I find a man to make out with at a queer dance party, or talk about my partner without pronouns for a few minutes, generally I feel like the straight guy coming in and ruining everything. I show up on the internet as a loosely disjointed node in a mostly foreign community. A transplant with unclear connections, sliding under the radar as mostly good but slightly random. At least, this is how it feels to grow in finding my place in the St. Louis community at the age of 33, nearly all my formative life experiences having occurred somewhere else with people I rarely ever see, or will never see again on this Earth.
And in all that swirl, I’ve stopped claiming anything and let me heart get closeted inside that invisibility. It’s come to be that there are so many things I feel like I can’t say to be who I want to be. I worry about being grateful for the wrong things, or being grateful from the wrong space of my heart. That this is even possible is discouraging. I worry about being grateful from a place where I see myself as unworthy, as an aberration, as a sinner, as unethical.The contradictions cannot be contained and have gotten so much more tangled than I thought they could get when I was a kid. My personals ad might read “Poly-am spirit bottom holistic productivity nerd, ISO leather clad alpha daddy for mind blowing transcendental quests across dimensions”.
So I am learning how to speak my dreams again.
In one, I imagine myself as the perfectly weird embarrassing dad who raised the smartest, most politically rad, artistic kids. Their maladjustment was due to us skipping 2 years of public school to travel around the country and homeschool where we were, volunteering in local communities, farming, learning about how similar people who are so different can be. When the stint of irresponsibility was due to be over, we resumed something of more grounded lives. They would both apply to and get in to the boarding school I attended — only one would go while the other would choose to stay at home because they had projects or a business to build that couldn’t be disrupted. We would live in a house where everyone had their own room and everyone put in the work to help make it perfect form them. Changing the flooring, painting the walls, installing the right light fixtures — everyone learned together and everyone got to build their own environment for success. College expenses would be easy because neither would want to go, having worked in internships throughout high school and willing to take on work while building their own dream livelihoods.
They would be raised with complementary, low-key neurotic parents, bent on modeling the grace and acceptance of love without making it monastic. We would be affectionate and sex positive, even if our relationships might be asexual in practice. We would each have our own friends and be active in community. We might even pull off how love doesn’t need to be exclusive, and that humans don’t need to be tribal in how they privilege relationships.
In another, I am wishing he would reach out and hold my hand. His eyes on mine, kind, tired, and hopeful. He called me because he wanted to meet up for pinball, pizza and beer, and talk about how the world is coming to an end with a sense of abandon. His hand holding mine pulls me into the present and asks if I could let all the complexity go for a minute and just be there with him. When I try to see his face, it fades away like sand in the tide and my vision goes dark.