I have read and reread Marla's recent post. Thanks, your words were like a drink of water for a queer wondering through the desert of heternormative gay activists.
Recently, I have started dating a new boy. He is an amazing guy who has shown alot of patience with me and open kindness when meeting my INTRAA family and friends. He has integrated himself very well into my friendship group and has even signed on to help us with some projects. Yes, I got very lucky.
We have spent alot of time talking - a common occurance during new relationships, I know. Our two main topics so far have been politics and relationships.
Our backgrounds and the ways we understand ourselves couldn't really be more different.
I was raised in poverty by a single mother who dated lots of men(sometimes more than one at the same time - sorry mom if your reading this). I remember when I figured out that I was attracted to boys. It never exactly seemed like something I had no choice in. I remember thinking girls are cool but boys would be more interesting.
The self-narrative of gay from birth seemed to be way to confining and slightly scripted. I never really wanted to be pitied and certainly felt like alot more than who I wanted to sleep with separated me from the other boys surrounding me. In all fairness, the worldview and self awareness that came with me being queer seemed to put more distance between me and straight people than the gender or sex of those I was sleeping with. Being queer probably caused me to eventually escape from Appalachia - had I been straight I would probably be working in my home town, have a wife, two kids and what I imagine to be a very butch pick-up truck.
Since coming out at age 15, the way I describe my sexual identity has shifted more than once. For about two years, I considered myself a gold star gay. Meaning I was the I only like men with penises type of gay. I saved my allowance to be able to donate to the HRC and thought Drag Queens were dragging down the rest of the good respectable gays. Bisexuals??? What the fuck was their problem. During this whole time, I was of course totally out as gay, pursuing men and still dating women. Inconsistent - yes, of course.
Then I fell in love with a transman. I am not going to go into alot of detail about this because it is elsewhere on the blog. Since that relationship there has been girls. Mostly lesbians, but who is counting? Needless to say narratives of gayness as a clean discreet identity confound me.
My boyfriend has had a very different experience. His family is remarkably nice, white and middle class. His parents are still married and are very happy. He tells a story about his family leaving their church to support him after the church begin to be anti-gay. My family doesn't go to church but will tell you quite clearly that I am probably going to hell. He has never made out with a girl and doesn't have any desire to do so. He has had one serious boyfriend before and slept with a significantly smaller number of people. The first night we talked about politics he told me that he felt like he was just like a straight boy except for who he was attracted too. He doesn't understand sexualities as "classes of people."
This is just the beginning of the complications.
Monogamy has never exactly been my strong suit and scares me a little. He is a romantic and thinks it just makes sense. Remarkably enough, so far we have been able to talk through all these things without fighting and tend to end up happy with each other. We challenge each others thinking.
The aspect of the conversation that may be the most peculiar is the guilt I feel. I worry that he deserves a very straight "gay" life with a white A-frame house, a picket fence, a kid, and a two income life style. I am drawn to those things in theory. In practice a goldfish is a little too much pressure for me most days and nine to five jobs make me want to poke my eyes out. When I have them, I just don't go to work.
A few years ago, I saw this bumper sticker with shadows of man, woman, kid, and dog in front of a house. The text said, "Queer = The Chance To Imagine More." This captures my understandings of the blessings that my sexual identity has brought me.
If we stay together, I am sure we will figure out how to talk to each other about these issues in more complex ways and come to some understanding that celebrates his "gold-star" gay status and my confusing queerness. Until then, when he says "I don't think of you as gay at all," I smile and kiss him. And then, most likely, go back to answering emails about INTRAA.