Like most people in the world, particularly those who do not identify as straight, becoming confident in my sexual orientation has been a long process. My main struggle with embracing my orientation has always been having to reassure myself in the face of endless attacks and interrogation concerning my own sexuality. Whenever I say that I’m attracted to multiple genders lots of people become incredibly determined to affirm that I’m actually straight, which one can only imagine how invalidating it feels on a consistent basis. Because of this bombardment with disbelief and doubt from others, I’ve been forced to question my sexual orientation constantly despite always having been sure that I am not totally straight.
Even in queer circles I always felt an immense amount of guilt about the fact that I was still attracted to cis-straight men. Just because I choose to date some heteronormative people does not mean I support patriarchy or transphobia. I internalized the presumption that other queers criticize me for wielding straight privilege, which I do whenever I am with straight-cis men, and that only made me feel more self-conscious about my sexual orientation. This was all exacerbated by the fact that I usually dress very feminine, thus I never felt like I fit in even remotely with the tatted, pierced queer womyn with edgy chopped hair around me. Throughout the years I developed an inferiority complex about not being completely straight or completely lesbian and feared that I would never really be accepted into any community (except for my fabulous, queer cooperative of course).
As silly and superficial the scene I am about to describe may sound, it was an empowering moment which truly made me feel more grounded in my sexual orientation, for the first time since I kissed a girl without being dared to do so. My awesome epiphany takes place at a discoteca in Madrid, the city of non-stop play and good vibes. I was taking watered down shots at the bar when an adorable, dorky and good-humored German boy with specs joined me and we started talking. He was sweet and fun and our conversation in broken Spanglish was absolutely charming. Then I started dancing and that’s when I locked eyes with a heavenly Dominican goddess with whom I busted some serious moves. We had a blast and were extremely excited to exchange numbers so that we could get together again.
It was after meeting two rad people of opposite genders in close proximity to one another that I realized how certain and happy I am to be genuinely attracted to more than one gender. Both of these individuals charmed my pants off and I would’ve been ecstatic to go home with either one of them. Despite hating the patriarchy, I love interacting with boys who are nice and sweet and silly. I also love womyn for being fierce, free-spirited and lively. And of course I love them gender-queer and androgynous folks who are incredibly empowered, exceptional and so, so stylish. I´m attracted to anyone who catches my eye, makes me laugh and makes me feel appreciated regardless of gender, sex or orientation and that’s the way it’s going to stay.
Was I born this way or did I have a choice in the type of people I’m attracted to? I could have been born this way but I guess I also have a choice in the sense that I could only go out with cis-straight men but I choose not to. This “choice” to go against standard heterosexual norms seems to be the main component of my orientation that people look down on, because if you have the choice to be straight why wouldn’t you be? It’s better and it makes your life easier right?
Despite the sense of progress and acceptance with marriage equality, the argument that people are born gay and deserve equal rights because they really can´t help it does not seem very accepting and progressive at all. Doesn’t everybody deserve equal rights for being people? This angle argues that sexual orientation is only legitimized through biology and it still upholds heterosexual lifestyles as the norm that everyone should aspire to. This is why the potential that some individuals might actively pursue non-heterosexuality is threatening to both straight and gay populations, because it could result in the collapse of heteronormativity as well as an entire civil movement based on fixed, biological backing.
Does it really matter so much that your sexual orientation is determined by how you were born? Whenever we think of reasons we’re attracted to others the clause “because biology and evolution has conditioned me to” is not the first that comes to mind. The question isn´t did you have a choice in what kind of people you´re attracted to? The real question we should be asking is why is it only acceptable for you to be attracted to certain types of people and not others? And why does the existence of choice and fluidity invalidate the rights of gays, lesbians and other non-heterosexuals?
I am privileged in the sense that I did not grow up in the closet with the fear of being stigmatized for my dating preferences or gender presentation. However I have still experienced much discrimination throughout my life due to my sexual orientation. It is only now after many years of questioning, self-doubt and anxiety that I feel capable of asserting that this is the way I am and this is the way it’s going to be. So stop telling me that I´m just a straight girl going through a phase and that my feelings are invalid. Stop telling me that there’s a right or wrong answer to who I am truly attracted to because who the hell gave anyone the authority to criticize and determine someone else’s sexual preferences? As my wise sex-columnist self said a year ago:
“People say that being bisexual is like having “the best of both worlds,” as if each gender inhabits a completely separate world. Rather, it’s more like having the best of the entire world, and that’s something to which everybody is entitled.”
So don’t hate just because I truly can have it all.