Being raised in a Southern Baptist household, but also just being raised in our society in general, there were a few pre-filled labels slapped on my chest from an early age—female, straight, Christian, future wife & mother. Growing up, I didn’t question those labels, had no problem with them being stuck to my shirt. But at 24, I’ve shed a few.
The first one to go was Christian, and that was a long time coming. I now identify as agnostic, because I appreciate that the literal definition is “without knowledge.” In regards to God and death and the purpose of life, that definition suits me just fine. The next was mother, which I’ve already written a blog post about here. Now, I do still identify as female, and I also think I’d like to get married one day, if and when I find my person. Whether or not wife is what I’ll want written on the label, though, is to be determined.
But there’s one more label I was given that I’ve allowed to define me: Straight. And before I keep writing, so as not to dangle some very personal and intimate carrot in front of you, dear reader, I’m going to go ahead and tell you that I’m bisexual.
My first sexual experiences—not the raging-teenage-hormones experiences, but those curious encounters so many of us have as children when we’re first discovering what our bodies are capable of—were with other girls. Growing up, I always found women’s bodies strikingly beautiful and artistic, but particularly in these last few years, they’ve become something I desire in a way I can identify as different from merely appreciation. Before I moved to Michigan, there were women in Missouri I was intrigued by and attracted to, but I held fast to the label I’d been given. Despite the fact that I’ve supported the LGBTQIA+ community for some time now, I felt a sense of shame for the thoughts and feelings I entertained myself—so much of my Baptist upbringing still sticks in ways I’m always shocked to realize.
I’ve had some real shitty experiences dating and sleeping with men, as I know so many women have, and each time I hope it will be different, but it rarely is. And, for me personally, I can only be asked to “suck that dick” or to “put on a show,” can only watch a man violently jerk himself off, can only endure a certain number of self-satisfying comments about the XL condoms he has to use so many times before I start to ask myself if all this is really worth the pit in my stomach when I receive so little satisfaction, emotionally or physically, from the situation. Full disclosure, the last time a man gave me an orgasm was about two years ago. (If you’re reading this and we’ve had sex at some point in the last two years, I faked it. And even though I went out of my way to assure you I didn’t fake it, I did, and I’m sorry I lied.)
But even after all I’ve said and written about my experiences with men, I don’t think this is the way it has to be with them, and I’m still on the lookout for ones to prove me wrong. However, I’m excited to open myself up to dating women too. Everyone wants the chance to be known intimately, even though it’s scary as hell. Everyone wants to feel understood and like it’s okay to just be, to exist as they are. I’m so happy with my life right now. I’m getting paid to teach and to write, and I’m living in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I have kind, passionate, and supportive friends and colleagues who are fighting to keep the arts alive and thriving, are fighting for the rights of women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community to take up the space they deserve to take up. I have two incredibly supportive parents who love me in such a big way. (When I told my mother the other day that I’m going to start dating women as well as men, unsure of how she might respond, she told me simply and with such care that she supports me no matter what and just wants me to be happy.)
As happy as I am with my life, I would love to have a person to share it with. I crave and cherish my alone time, but I would be so happy to find someone good and kind and strong and passionate; someone intelligent, filled with curiosity and compassion; someone who can make me laugh and is content to just be. And it is such a relief to admit, to myself and to everyone else, that I’m not looking for the right man for me, I’m looking for the right person.