Often on websites and forums we are presented with three boxes to check off and choose from: heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. What about people who land somewhere on the wide spectrum in between?
My belief is that sexual preferences are like water; for some people, fluid and ever-changing and for others, strictly solid and unwavering. However both have the potential to change form at any time. So, why is it that we are forced to ‘choose’ our orientation? Why does it matter what we call ourselves? I could never understand this obsession with categorizing the people around us. “She is straight, he is gay, and she is bisexual.”
I have tried to affix a label to myself in order to make things easier for the people around me, but it just never stuck. I found myself trying to change myself in order to fit the labels. Maybe some people can’t be defined by a word. Maybe there aren’t enough labels in the world to define all the different sexualities we are presented with in our day to day lives. And maybe that’s okay.
We may not be able to begin to explain why we are attracted to the people we are. Sexuality is not something we choose, or decide. Maybe we are born with it, or maybe we develop it somewhere along the line. Either way, we should have the freedom to like who we do without judgment from others.
Some people are lucky enough to know the way their heart works, and some people, like me, are still figuring it out. If you understand exactly how and why you are attracted to certain people, don’t take it for granted. But also don’t feel you need to explain yourself to anyone else. Everyone is entitled to their feelings. As long as it is legal and consensual, it is never wrong, and no one should every feel guilty for their sexual orientation.
For me, I have always felt lost when trying to ‘decide’ or determine my sexuality. I always had to have an answer to that burning question. And when I didn’t, people told me what my orientation was like they knew so much better than I did.
“You’re a kid? You must be straight. Children are too young to know what ‘gay’ is, so there is no way you could be attracted to the same gender.”
Truth was I was too sexually confused to be attracted to anyone. When you are young and looking to your elders to tell you right from wrong, you believe everything is black and white. In fact, there are so many shades of gray in between! I waited and waited for someone to tell me how to feel, and no one ever did. I realized it was something I would have to discover on my own.
Later, I started finding people attractive. Girls in particular.
“You like girls? You must be a lesbian.” People wanted to know, was I going to be ‘butch or femme?’ What kind of women was I attracted to? I was constantly explaining myself to others who didn’t understand. Some questions I just didn’t have the answers to, and I felt sad about it. Like if I didn’t know, then I didn’t know myself. And if I couldn’t figure it out, then there must be something wrong with me. I felt bad about myself.
Then I decided I was ready to date. And there was the online dating profile with the boxes to check. Feeling unsure, I asked my mom. She said if I wasn’t sure, to pick one and try it out. If I wasn’t attracted to the people I was meeting, then I could change my orientation on the website.
Deciding to give men one more chance, I set my orientation to straight and went from there. Boy, am I glad I did. I met an amazing man on my very first date, and 7 months later we are still together. But the question of my sexuality still lingered in the back of my head. If I love a man, I really can’t be a lesbian.
I talked to the man I’m dating about it.
“You still like women?” Yes. “Obviously, you like men. Right?” Yes. “Then you are bisexual.”
I didn’t feel like it was that simple. Something didn’t sit right with me. Why was it so important for me to have a label or a category? Couldn’t I just love and be loved? What does gender matter anyway?
So there it is. I am now labeled as a bisexual. And I was asked “Who do you like more, men or women?”
I am getting sick of all the questions. I just want to break down and cry every time. I haven’t dated enough to know, since I got so lucky on the first try, and I can’t explain why I find certain people more or less attractive, as it is something I have no control over.
I’m left with a choice. Do I give in and let other people define me, or can I find some way to live free of labels? There is only one way to find out.