Follow me on this. I’m just jamming here, playing around with ideas. They’re still way too sketchy and simple, but go with me anyway. Sexuality is based in gender, we know this. In the most basic terms, you figure out your sexuality according to which gender you are and which gender you want to get naked and sweaty with.
Women who like men? Straight.
Women who like women? Gay.
Of course, then you have women who like both. Bisexual.
Or women who like don’t like either. Asexual.
Or women who like all genders. Pansexual(/omnisexual).
Or women who don’t like to label themselves and have a bent for language. Pomosexual*.
And so on. Vice versa for men. Still pretty easy.
But what about women (or anyone) who don’t identify with any of the above? Well, there’s always queer. You can’t really do much better for a catch-all term than that.
Here’s where it gets more tricky. What if you’re an oestrogen-based creature who doesn’t identify as a woman? What’s your sexuality then?
O-BCWDIAAW who fancies women: Um.
O-BCWDIAAW who fancies men: Uh.
Homosexuality, if you take the literal definition, means someone attracted to their own gender. So does that mean I’m only gay now if I’m attracted to other butches? Or other gorgeous transmasculine creatures?
Then there’s heterosexuality — being attracted to ‘other’. People who don’t have my gender. So basically most people I meet. Does that make me straight half the time and gay the rest of the time?
Oh Christ, do I have to be bisexual again?
Actually, it’d take a damn long time to relay all the stripes of gender I’m attracted to. But it’s an interesting thought. A whole lot of my identity is staked in being gay — being queer — and being read by other people as gay or queer. And I like that, even if it’s becoming an oxymoron. I like being other and different and a little bit weird. I like talking about it. I like getting reactions about it. I like being new and strange and maybe a bit titillating or scary or fascinating to the people I meet (assuming, of course, that doesn’t inspire them to try to kick my teeth down my throat).
But, if you think about it, the main thing people are reacting to isn’t my sexuality — they can’t know my sexuality unless they crack open my skull and take a look — what they’re reacting to is my gender presentation. Because 90% of the time, my gender-skin reads as queer. (And the other 10% it reads as straight male, which grants an entirely different experience.) Think about it. How do people know you’re gay just by looking at you? Or conversely, how do they fail to know?
Seriously. If you look at a girl and think ‘dyke’, what makes you think that? Short hair, cocky walk, a certain style of clothes? Piercings and tattoos, maybe. Doc Martins and A-shirts. Stereotypes. Gender markers.
Look at your standard-model gay man. How do people know? Impeccable grooming, lazy-swinging hips, fabulousness. Stereotypes. If he doesn’t have all that — if he’s just a regular guy who works his nine-to-five, hits the gym, tries to keep in touch with his family, and wears his hair like a million other guys — how will you know he’s gay until he kisses his boyfriend?
Some of you have probably had this figured out for years, but I swear it just slapped me in the back of the head how much sexuality relies on gender to exist.
Seriously. Take away gender. Nix it entirely, remove it from the equation. You are now just a person, possibly with breasts and a cunt, possibly with a cock, hell, possibly with some combination of both. But you’re just a person. You. Now who are you attracted to?
Think hard. There are no longer men and women about, there’re just other people with all kinds of bodies. Do you have any sort of preference, or are you looking at the actual people now? Trying to get know them, maybe. Getting to like them, with their weird foibles.
Sexuality doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a weird thought.
So what’re we, with our new gender definitions, our new presentations and ways of being and styles of life, doing to sexuality? What’ll it mean to be a butch without, technically, being gay? Unless I’m side-eyeing other butches, which, by the way, I totally do.
I may have embraced a gender identity and spliced my sexuality. How did that happen?
*”Post-modernsexual”. Though really that should be metasexual. I mean, really, if you’re going to give yourself a label designed to tell everyone you don’t like labels…