Born this Way or Shoved Into a Gay Box?

Wise words from a wise lady.

Wise words from a wise lady?

We live in a world of tasty sound-bytes and “Born this Way” has, through its simplicity and well-meaning heart become an LGBT slogan for an American generation.  I’ve heard/seen it uttered as the ultimate trump card in a debate against those who belittle queer sexualities by arguing it’s a choice (therefore, immoral) more times than I’ve seen Star Wars, (and that’s a fucking lot) and every time I’ve ended up scratching my head wondering if the slogan ultimately does more harm than good. “It’s not fair to say I shouldn’t have same-sex attraction, I was born this way, I can’t help it any more than you can help your hetero-lust, dammit!”
Ethically it’s very dangerous to deprive people of their choices
Casting my mind back to days when I was a homophobic teenager (as I mentioned before that I was), I recall thinking in a similar way.  The simple logic of “Why would anyone choose this life for themselves?” Coupled with the notion of “it’s a little disgusting, so I guess people must be compelled to do it against their will,” persuaded me that there was a gay gene of some sort, forcing us to act out its morbid ideas of sexual fantasies that the rest of us never could and never should understand. (Nowadays I wonder what evolutionary benefit a gay gene would offer.  How would it replicate itself through natural selection exactly?  Thoughtful answers appreciated.  Creationist ones, not so much. Comment below.)  I didn’t dislike gay people; I just felt sorry for them and refused to try and understand their desires.
Growing up in England we’re not overwhelmed with this same style of rhetoric, perhaps because the gay debate is a little more divorced from religious debate.  Or at least there’s less potency to the religious debate.   Nobody ever pressured me or my friends to live a strict religious life or follow a religious moral code. Religious concepts rumble on in the background but Christianity doesn’t take over our culture, and my own secular atheist mind-set is rarely frowned upon.   The impression one gets from American culture is that religion is a big deal and that being gay does not mesh well with religion.  God will not be impressed with you if you make the choice to have homosexual sex since marriage in The Bible is between a man and a woman. Religion often relies on the power of its rhetoric, and anti-gay religious groups have chosen to focus on the rhetorical idea that “choosing” to be gay is a sin against God.  It’s a gay apple, really (eateth of it and you’ll discover the joy in being queer as well as naked, but you’ll be cast out of heaven!)  What has clearly proved useful for LGBT groups in the past is to have a rhetorical comeback of their own that religious groups struggle to argue against.  The “born this way” message of  “God made me this way, I have no choice,” really screws with their ethical systems.  If he made you that way then why would he punish you for it?
When you’re a teenager going through puberty and scrabbling to learn about your place and purpose in the world, it’s easy and seductive to latch onto the idea that you have no choice and that your emotions control you completely.  Life and lust is confusing at the best of times, and if you’re 15 and you have gay thoughts that set you apart from a rabid anti-gay crowd, it can be potentially very frightening.  I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are adamant that they wouldn’t have chosen a gay life for themselves because of the social outcast they felt it made them, and certainly it’s hard to think that someone would willingly make their own life that difficult if they didn’t have to.
People are, then, likely to develop a set of sexual preferences based on their discoveries at puberty and then form their teenage-adult identity around them and be defined by them.    And it’s this obsession we have of thinking in male/female binaries that’s causing problems: what is never discussed is that people also have an equal tendency to shape and define their sexual preferences over time, depending on where they are and what they are doping in life.  Sexual preference covers a whole lot more than male/female, it covers a wide spectrum of taste from body size, age, hair colour, ethnicity, to activities such as kink & BDSM, romance, voyeurism, exhibitionism, watching porn and so on.  As a teenager it’s impossible to appreciate that you can and probably will – gay or straight – jump around a spectrum of sexual taste throughout your entire adult life.  (My own tastes, for instance, change from month to month.  Sometimes I’ll be into women, then Asian women specifically, then ripped men, then androgynous men.  Then just Scarlet Johansson) Therefore “Oh fuck, I think I’m gay” becomes an all-powerful and all-pervasive thought, and a defining thought.   In a less controlling world that thought could just as easily have been “oh fuck, at the moment I am feeling same-sex attraction.”  See how the latter, whilst still distressing, doesn’t hole you up in a box for life?  It’s the difference between “ I am gay” and “I like gay sex”.  Of course, I’m categorically not stating that there’s anything wrong with identifying as homosexual, I’m simply pointing out that we’re all in an awful hurry to label ourselves up, and we feel as a society that puberty is the time to do it; and I think we are in such a hurry because we desperately want and need an identity for ourselves.  We want to know who our friends will be and what box to check on the census forms.
The problem is  the way that the rhetoric we use likes to divide things up into simple binaries and throw them into simple boxes so that we can make simple sense of them.  If, for instance, it’s not the case that I discovered my sexuality by waking up one morning and thinking “I think I’ll try out  gay sex today” then it seems to be argued that being gay “cannot be a choice”.  Being gay comes with a lot of negative societal consequences and so for a lot of LGBT supporters being gay “cannot be a choice.”  If gay is not a choice, then therefore it must be genetic – And there we have it, the battle-lines have been drawn from which no-body will budge.  It’s a WWI trench warfare of words between the LGBT and Religious homophobes.
I don’t really see how there can be a bisexual gene that allows desires to shift and change over the course of a lifetime.  Desire may not express itself as a simple choice like picking a movie or a flavour of ice-cream, but it does involve agency on the part of the desirer, and the will to actively entertain and pursue the multiple desires that s/he is capable of feeling.  Desires grow within as we contemplate them, entertain their possibilities within our brains and consider the different pleasures that different scenarios might bring us. 
I’d describe it as something of an existential choice.  It’s a choice that society is eager to deny because society is afraid and doesn’t want to understand it, just as I was an afraid teenager who wanted to feel that sexuality controlled us and that we could never harness our desires or enjoy expressing them in a free and liberated way.  I’ve talked about how men and women are strongly defined by a patriarchal society elsewhere, and this seems to be another consequence of patriarchal power politics.  Men have to be one way, women another or the power systems in place will, it seems, crumble right around us.  It’s my own assertion that to break the restrictions that society constantly tries to place upon us through media, advertising – efforts to box us up and sell us dreams that mostly won’t ever come true – we need to embrace existential choice and take a greater ownership of our passions.  The huge problem that I have with “Born This Way” rhetoric is that it’s an apology, a defense for being gay as if a gay lifestyle somehow needs to be apologised for.  “I’m sorry, I don’t fit in with the structure of your society properly, but please accept me as I am and I promise faithfully not to cause any trouble.”
It’s ethically dangerous to deprive people of their choices and unfortunately a lot of people seem to feel that it’s more dangerous to give people the opportunity to make their own free choices about how they want to live their lives.  I for one am happy to state that I wasn’t born this way.  I wasn’t this way until I reached my early twenties.  But why on earth would you judge me for my sexual choices?  It needs to stop.

Clara’s Dream

Clara's Dream

Clara’s Dream

“How did I get here? I don’t know where I am.”

Clara closed her eyes and gently floated away into an uncertain alcoholic euphoria. She could just hear the gentle ticking of a windup clock marking out every single beat of time; marked out as every gentle beat of her heart marked out a beat of her pleasure; marked out every bead of sweat that gently formed and then trickled down her delicate naked back, down over her soft pleasant round buttocks and slowly dripped cool wet patches, unnoticed onto the floor.

Smells of Clara’s perfume and stale, long forgotten vodka hung in the air, mingling together eccentrically in Clara’s dark place, a sensuous chanel tinged opium. The hot, sweet sweat of sex consumed her, leading her ever onwards into heavier indulgence.

Clara closed her eyes; in the dark she could not see, just feel and drink and taste. Her tiny nude body, on its knees, straddled face down across a hard bed, held roughly round the hips by strong masculine hands, was dripping with thick honeyed oils. The man’s thick tool thrust violently inside of her in time to the gentle ticking of the clock and the warm, pulsating beat of her heart. Ankles bound tight, hands cuffed firmly behind her back Clara could not move but for the sharp thud of her body smacking into the firm bed, and the thrusting of her tight oily glistening ass backwards and upwards into the air.

Clara felt helpless, and her thoughts, thoughts of how she got there, thoughts of where she was going to, drifted ever upwards into a cloudy, constricted helpless dream.

As Clara closed her eyes and drifted into that helpless dark she opened up her mouth and licked the cherry lips covered in vodka and lipstick. Alcohol tinged her breath, sugar sweetened her lips. She opened up her mouth wide and invited them to enter into her, even though bound and taken there was no other choice. Two impressive members belonging to two succulent young men were playing together and kissing one another in all imaginable places, taking lustful pleasure in one another’s erections, readying themselves for Clara’s taking. They lightly rubbed their cocks across one another’s and together they slid them into Clara’s beckoning hole.

Clara’s body trembled as her heart pounded faster and faster; and faster it beat as the thickness swelled and throbbed in her mouth, the thrusting in her dripping pussy about to erupt into thick sticky pleasures. The clock ticked faster, beads of sweat multiplied and flooded in cavalcades down her back, the rhythmic ache in her cunt intensified into a blistering heat. Clara’s petite frame tightened, clenched, and her alcoholic haze lifted her towards the heavens. The clock chimed the hour and two throbbing cocks together burst, releasing their heady substances into her waiting mouth. Clara clenched, choked, plunged forward; her heart stopped beating. Thick, sticky ooze formed inside of her two hot warm places. Drops of cum dripped slowly, unnoticed, out of her cunt and formed cool wet patches on the floor. Streams of liquid gushed down her throat, remaining there, the rest thickly coating the dual cocks that still slipped in and out of her mouth, searching for one last taste of Clara’s sweet sugar.

Cries and moans drowned out the sound of the clock. Clara’s faint heart beat again, slowly and irregularly, no longer marking the time as Clara’s sudden orgasms rushed her to another pleasureworld. Vodka, oil, sweat and sperm mingled together with Clara and her Chanel No.5. She moaned and lost her other senses.

“I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how I got here,” she muttered inaudibly, still sucking excitedly on the cum drenched cocks. “But I don’t think that I ever want to leave.” She closed her eyes again.

Vampyros Lesbos

Although the movie does have a “fear of the female” theme going on and its lesbian themes are less a celebration and more an evil enchantment, this movie is still quite far out for a sexploitation softcore pic.  More importantly the imagery is beautiful, as is Miranda Soledad.

Being Bisexual is Fucking Awesome

Being Bisexual is AWESOME.

This morning I wanted to drop the negativity and the pseudo-intellect for a while and take a moment to reflect on something I feel about living a life as a bisexual person. That is: Being bisexual is fucking awesome. I wanted to share something about my coming out that I never have before and that’s how amazing I felt when I understood certain things about myself and sexuality.

I grew up firmly heterosexual.  That might sound strange to a lot of people, but during my teenage years I had no doubts about myself, no angst, no feeling of not-fitting-in.  I was lucky for not feeling any anxiety about my sexuality: I was less lucky because I was a little homophobic.  It’s good now to feel that I have an understanding of how teenage homophobia works but looking back and putting myself in the shoes of someone who thought gay sex was a little weird and wrong, it’s also a little creepy.

Anyway, I grew up heterosexual, and then I grew up.  I got a boyfriend, went to university, read a lot of books and realised that women were also hot.  I don’t want to dwell too much on the reasons for my change of heart here but it was a gradual change and I eventually opened of my eyes about attitudes, gender and the ways that one could be attracted to another.  To say that this realisation was anything less than amazing would be a massive understatement.  Finally I was throwing off the shackles of my shady childhood homophobia and embracing something completely new and undiscovered.  I was getting off to girls and I loved it! I was apprehensive about telling my boyfriend, though.  We were both still young and had things to learn about one another – what would he think?  Would he embrace the stereotypes?  Would he think me unfaithful, a dirty slut or just plain stupid and confused?  Would he instantly assume that I’d leave him?  Yet he needed to be told, because I’m me and I wanted him to know all about me, and so told he was; though I’m not entirely sure that picking a bout of intense lovemaking was the moment to do it; I absolutely do not recommend trying that one at home, if you’re gonna come out to someone, do them a favour and make them a cup of coffee and sit them down beforehand. “So, I’ve got something to tell you, I think I’m bisexual, I kinda fancy girls.  I know it’s a bit weird..”

“Awesome.  I’m bi too.  I’m glad we got that out in the open.  It makes sense really, doesn’t it?”

It’d be fair to say that the rest of the lovemaking went well.  Strangely enough we didn’t even feel the need to sit down and talk about it, we both knew why the other thought that way and how it felt and what it meant.  The relationship evolved organically around our newly discovered sexuality.  I’ve since told friends and family and no-one really cares.  Maybe that’s just London/UK culture?  I’m not saying there isn’t negativity or phobia in my life, of course, but if we look to the people closest to ourselves then generally I’ve found that there’s more positivity than otherwise. So, I wanted to write this post as a positive note to highlight that challenging your own sexual assumptions can be an incredibly positive and liberating thing and that if you’re with the right people, accepting it is not going to be the awful thing you might initially think.  We hear so many terrible stories about the hell and confusion that people have been through because society creates myths and fears around being gay or bisexual and I wish there were more that could be done to make everyone’s experiences as rewarding as mine have been.  I write fiction these days and I do it because we need a voice; I do my best to make sure the fiction I write challenges both gender assumptions and sexual assumptions, showing sex and women and bisexuality in a positive light, showing that being bisexual is liberating.

Because the truth is, being bisexual is fucking cool.

And it’s cool because: You don’t have to feel that you need to live a certain and way and in accordance with a certain type.  You can be who you want, fancy who you want, sleep with who you want and be the person that you want.

When the world tries so hard to put us in a stereotyped, gendered, sexually predictable boxes, isn’t that the most liberating thought?  I think so.  So, whether you’re openly bi or not, whether you sleep around promiscuously, or fancy others from afar, whether you’re in a committed monogamous relationship or love the single life, take a moment to think that you’re awesome because you’re bi.  And if you’re reading this and you aren’t bi… stop to think that maybe bi people are a little bit awesome for being brave enough to recognise who they are. So, does anyone else have any positive coming out stories to tell? Does anyone else feel liberated through the realisation of their bisexuality?

Bisexuality vs Pansexuality vs The World! Or why I Identify as Bisexual.

“Congratulations, it’s a boy” or “Congrats, it’s a girl” are probably the first words you’ll ever hear and as such they will come to define the very essence of your being. From the moment of their utterance your mother and father will be making plans and assumptions about your life and how you will live it based on the information they give. How you look and behave, what you like to do, your emotions, behaviours, career, educational ability and … your sexuality. Even the conscientious parent who determines not to bring up their child with gender bias will not be able to escape many of these assumptions and certainly, even if they could, the rest of whatever culture you live in, from school to media and advertising and friends will fill in those gaps.

Blue for boys, pink for girls...yeah, you know the drill.  Do girls innately like pink?

Blue for boys, pink for girls…yeah, you know the drill. Do girls innately like pink?

The boy/girl binary creates us and consumes us . One can easily imagine an alternate world in which the first words uttered are “Congratulations, it’s a blonde” or “Congratulations, a brunette” an how different would the world look? Instead of whether you have a penis or vagina, babies would be divided up on the basis of their hair colour, told what they like and how to behave and what they find attractive. Simply blonde’s fancy brunettes and brunettes are crazy about blondes. It doesn’t matter what’s down below (or out front) it’s their hair colour that’s important to attraction and who their best friends at school are. I can equally imagine someone telling me that this thought experiment is absolute garbage because the difference between boys and girls is innately obvious, whereas there’s no obvious difference in the way people behave according to hair colour (despite the fact that for so many years redheads were considered to be “temperamental, of course) but that just goes to show how much stock we place on the identification of our personalties with gender. “I was born like it – this is me, I can be no other way

What’s this got to do with why I like to use the term bisexual rather than pansexual, and with what I find attractive after dark? Well, these things have everything to do with binaries and gender and how we perform our gender roles, and if you look at my thought experiment, it’s also about how damn easy it could be to subvert gender norms should we, as a society wish to. How ridiculously arbitrary societies notions of gender are when you put it in black and white terms and how one can slip in and out of gender roles if one understands the simple (yet so complex) nature of their construction.

My understanding of gender and my sexual identity are staggeringly important to me. I’m no Academic expert but I didn’t just make them up overnight, I’ve actually been considering the issue for many years. Just recently, however I’ve come face to face with this issue of Bisexual vs Pansexual on internet forums and through articles and I’ve been repeatedly asked – or should I say, told – to challenge my assumptions. As someone who always thought of herself as bisexual I was suddenly faced with discussions with a tight knit group of people who very strongly believed that if I didn’t actually call myself Pansexual then I wasn’t appreciating that there are more than 2 genders (as if a gender is a real thing?) and that I would therefore be erasing transgendered people and I’d be a bit of a nasty person. As discussions evolved I also began to repeatedly bump into this “cisgender” word and I was also told to use that as an identity. I am no longer a woman, I am a “cis-woman” and talking about myself in any other way suddenly got some very disapproving responses. Not one to run away from a new ideology I considered the issue and ultimately decided that I didn’t agree with using the term cisgender and I politely (but assertively) told a transgendered person why.

“According to the way I understand gender,” I argued “You cannot actually be a different gender from the sex you are born,. I don’t need to state that I was born a woman and I also live my life as a woman. I just am a woman and society dictates to me what that means. It’s not such much as being a gender that exists “man or woman” but gender is a term one uses to explain how one’s identity is constructed from a group of assumptions that are made about a person based on their biological sex (phew!)” I was greeted with angry – and in my opinion ill-considered – responses to the likes of “obviously not because I am a different gender to what I was born and you are trying to erase trans-gendered identities.” And so on. I don’t think that I’m trying to erase anybody. I think of myself as someone that is quite sensitive to the fact that minority groups have a difficult time in terms of both understanding of their situation, and regarding the negative effects of violence and discrimination. (that is, they suck) I’ve always thought of myself as someone who would stand up and fight for the right for transsexuals to live the life that they wish to and not be discriminated against because they choose to change their body to suit their own sense of identity. I don’t claim, however, to understand everything, or even much, about their lives and the way they live them and the pain that they go through.

And yet I also felt angry because I’d presented a philosophical argument about gender and I was being told that if I thought that way I was being discriminatory. So I thought about it some more and I thought about my idol “Simone de Beauvoir” – “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. and I still drew the same conclusion. As a woman, or a man, as I grow up I grow into a role; a role that is out there in society waiting for me to happen. Women are this, women are that, women like pink, dresses, literature (not maths!) and babies. They are emoptional and caring where men are brutish but smart) Of course, it not that simple at all, but you get the idea, we are produced as people by the ideas, assumptions, actions and education of the society and culture that we live in, in a way that’s actually grown more and more complicated over time. My womanhood, like other aspects of my person hood (if one can think to separate them – probably not) are created within me as I grow older and I take on and process information about the world My understanding of who I am develops as I grow to understand concepts of masculinity and femininity and sexuality and how they relate to me and the people I identify with.

And yet, this notion of cisgender tells me the opposite. It says two things. As I am born I am innately something, a man or a woman. As a ciswoman I am a woman whose “gender-identity” matches her biology and that says these two separate things are fundamental to my identity as a person. Secondly, it tells me that there are concepts for masculinity and femininity that are somehow fixed and if the two don’t align then they need somehow to be realigned. And this is all a problem for me because fixing – locking down – gender roles is, in my opinion, dangerous to feminism and dangerous to our ability to existentially define ourselves outside of gender roles.

We are prone to think in binaries. At least, we think in this boy/girl binary. If I, as a girl, choose to wear trousers and play football I am called “a tomboy” I’m a girl gone wrong. I’m a girl who has adopted masculine traits. I’m a girl who isn’t a girl. If I choose to have sex with a woman I am a lesbian and not straight (and I take on a whole bunch of other traits, like butch). What if, I often wonder to myself, we erased this binary concept. What if I liked wearing trousers, had boobs, played football and also liked Barbie. Oh, and I’m good at maths and literature? Do I need to put a descriptor on that – can I? What if, in our thought experiment it wasn’t just blondes and brunettes, but also people with red hair, black hair, grey hair (all sorts of anime hair, blue, pink etc). Who would be attracted to whom? Would there be a compulsion to lock it down and say blondes and black hair like brunettes, red and grey and vice versa. Can you imagine a world in which these different traits could be split up and applied so simply and smoothly? You would probably break down and admit that everyone could be attracted to everyone else … then you’d go away and find another binary to make life a whole lot simpler because, as complex as gender binaries can be, saying “I’m like this because I was born like it is beautifully simple”

Where does Rainbow Hair fit in?  I dunno, but I think it looks gorgeous...

Where does Rainbow Hair fit in? I dunno, but I think it looks gorgeous…

I am loathe, ultimately, to define myself in terms of “I might be this, or I might be that” I am me. As far as that goes you’d possibly think that I’d embrace the pansexual label. Only the pansexual label was adopted by a community that has ideas about gender and sexuality that I actually don’t agree with and apparently wants to impose upon me. To reiterate, I support transgendered people with every inch of my body and soul, and I wish them all the best in every way, and I will vocally support their right to live their life as they choose, but I do not personally hold to the ideas that they do. I would not want to see anyone persecuted or harmed or “othered” because of their ideas or creed, whether that’s religious or sexual or otherwise political … but equally I think those people should have the respect to allow me to have my political and philosophical opinions without stating that I can categorically only support them if I agree with them and that my philosophies erase them. OK, I am not a Christian – or religious – and I will philosophically challenge a Christian on any point of doctrine, but I still support them as people. If not being a Christian is an affront, I sincerely cannot help it, and the same is true here since I cannot intellectually call myself a ciswoman.

I carved out my identity as a bisexual when I rejected societies binaries many years ago. For me “bisexual” didn’t ever mean “limited to two”, it referred to the ability to break away from the two options of heterosexuality or homosexuality that I’d been given all of my life (being gay was discussed at school, being bi was not). In a sense it meant “the third way” and it meant embracing everything that fell on the line in-between men and women on the sexual scale. Bisexuality and pan sexuality basically mean the same thing, though bisexuality has always meant ideological freedom to me, whereas pan sexuality has always been represented by people telling me I’m “doing queer/gender/gay wrong”.

And so I call myself bisexual because it remains liberating to me. If you like pansexual though, go for it. If you want to change your biological, sexual, or gender identity in any way, then go for it.

I’m not sure we really need labels for all of this anyway since I’m for a world of many colours; preferably all attracted to one another for their own unique qualities. If anything, I’m an existentialist.