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I have a pal, Dave, who loves to say the following at parties: “This is my friend Charlotte. She’s a bisexual.”
Ah, labels. Bisexual is the word I hastily chose to describe my orientation at the age of seventeen and now, thanks to Dave, everyone in this room knows exactly who I sleep with. Thankfully, most people tend to leave sexual preference out of introductions these days (which I support wholeheartedly). This means that others will make up their own mind about what they think you are and aren’t. And, if you’re not 100 per cent straight or gay, be prepared for a certain amount of confusion.
I believe that everyone exists somewhere on the sexual continuum. But in terms of what you call yourself, others will always want to stick that label on you and stack you on a certain shelf in their pantry. Sure, you can inwardly and outwardly philosophise about your true sexual identity until you’re blue in the face. But is it really worth it? You can call yourself bisexual. You can call yourself hetero-flexible.
Whatever. However you ‘identify’ yourself, it doesn’t really make a difference – as the saying goes, you’re only as gay as you look. You don’t know that saying? It’s possible that I just made it up. But it’s oh-so-true. Let’s use an example: There’s a dude. Let’s call him Lester.
Lester tells all of his friends that he’s bisexual. He receives varied responses from said chums:
“Yeah. We know. We’ve all known since third form.”
“Sweet. I mean…that’s cool. My cousin’s gay.”
“That’s so wrong. Can’t you see that God made a man and a woman to fit together? What you’re doing is sinful (pause). Jesus loves you!” Lester meets…Brian. It doesn’t work out. He then meets Jim. Then Sarah. Then Tania. Then Craig. (Yes, I have now resorted to using names of Shortland Street characters). He eventually goes back to Jim. They get a civil union, buy a house in Aro Valley and breed Burmese kittens. What’s your point, you ask? The point is that it really doesn’t matter to the world if Lester still considers himself to be bisexual. He looks gay. And if he was with a chick, he would look straight.
Then, of course, there’s how gay you LOOK…and what level of aesthetic gayness you find attractive in others. Personally, I don’t tend to get recognised as a member of the queer community. Which is kind of a bummer. A girl I briefly dated did a quiz on me, to determine my level of outer dykeness. I didn’t do too well. To summarise: I have long hair, no tattoos or piercings (other than ears) and I don’t wear leather. I don’t listen to Ani diFranco. Embarrassingly enough, I had never even heard of her until said evening of enlightenment. I don’t play sports (but avoid them like blue food). I eat meat (it tastes good). I wear stilettos. I’m not a goth or a hippie. I like it when guys open doors for me and pay for stuff, which makes me a crap feminist. And I find all kinds of people attractive.
To sum up, not everybody gets it. It’s not out of ignorance or stupidity – we’re just all really, really different. It’s not easy to muster up the courage to tick the ‘queer’ box – especially when you’re not even sure how queer you really are. But it does help that most of you raging homos and straighties at least try to figure us, and our changeable ways, out. Cheers at you.