in or out
guess there’s something wrong with me
guess i don’t fit in
no one wants to touch it
no one knows where to begin
i’ve got more than one membership
to more than one club
and i owe my life
to the people that i love
Ani diFranco In or Out
No, this is not a gay bash.
When I was in junior high and high school, the most devastating label you could apply to someone was ‘fag’ or ‘dyke’. So much so, that it may be that many, many otherwise sexually healthy people may well carry a core of repression defined by those activities that they believe to fall within the general category of ‘gay’.
But there is another corollary, also. At least back in the day, one of the worst things to be within the gay community, was bi-sexual. It was treated as a sell out, an unwillingness to ‘commit’ to the cause and the community. Some sort of strange aberration that should be put down.
In reality, most people are probably bi-sexual, to some degree or another. It has been fifty years since Kinsey did all of his sex research and developed The Kinsey Scale, a tool for exploring the full range of human sexuality. Yet we continue to treat it as some black and white dichotomy. I have to wonder if we treat it that way more as a backlash against Kinsey’s work. After all, the US, as a whole has become far more conservative in general, so perhaps that is exactly the case.
We’ve been spending a fair amount of time exploring The Sex Project, an online forum dedicated to discussing sexual behavior and interests with an extensive library of articles on techniques, trends and biological realities. Even there, the ‘gay’ moniker is applied to most anyone even considering crossing those artificial boundaries. If a venue for open sexual discussion is this infested, what chance do the rest of us have?
At this point, I can say with confidence that I am ‘bi-curious’ (yes, another label) and I suspect my honey is also. Although, for him, it is a much more difficult place for him to be than it is for me. (Both because ‘male homosexuality’ is a higher barrier and because of different personal attitudes about ‘the perception of others’.) Imagine how much easier we could find ourselves if we did not first have to wade through all of the psychological bullshit that has been dumped on us since childhood?
One other thought occurred to me as we talked. Ever heard of E-Prime? In a nutshell, E-Prime is a modified version of the English language, with the verb ‘to be’ excluded. Why? The verb to be (is, are) allows us to say things like “The table is brown”, which implies that you the table is the same thing as brown and vice versa. In fact, the table reflects a certain specific shade of brown light, it sits on the floor with a certain aspect(perhaps square, standing 30 inches high), it provides certain utility (as an eating surface, for example) and so on and so forth. So E-Prime forces us to look at objects (and people, animals, plants, etc) as temporal, multi-faceted, and complex objects that can not be simplified down to a single adjective.
With E-Prime, a person could never ‘be’ gay: they might perform a gay act, live a gay lifestyle, consider a same-sex partner, etc. But they can never be reduced to that single variable.
So, for now, I am considering the pleasure I may find in the arms of another woman. But I’m not gay.
(Originally published August 23, 2006)