by Johan Clarke
I would like to ask you a quick question that I thought was very simple but, as I have learned through the years, might be more complicated than it should be:
Who defines my sexuality?
See, I always thought it was just me who defined my own sexuality. Now, however, I am starting to learn that it is actually defined by my childhood, my genes, the way I speak, the music I listen to, my parents, Congress, who I talk to, what time I wake up in the morning, the things I drink, some random person passing me on the street slinging derogatory terms at me…the list goes on and on.
I was mistakenly under the impression all of these years that I thought I knew me better than everyone else; that it was I who knew the type of person I was attracted to. But obviously someone who has never even met me will know much more about my orientation than the person who orients it.
I could probably count with the fingers on my left hand the amount of people whom I have told the label I had given to my sexuality. I’m not afraid of it or anything. I just felt like there was no need to. People always just assume in some fashion based on a pre-conceived notion of males similar to me. It made not being the norm that much easier. And I only told them when they outright asked me to define it for them, which I am always hesitant to do.
The fact of the matter is that words hold meaning. I know, it’s a scary thought. What’s even scarier is that sometimes these meanings are not correct. For example, a third world country actually means a country that does not side with either the Soviet Union or the United States. Therefore, Switzerland is a third world country. The term “developing nation” is not used because it is politically correct; it is used because it is a more apt term for said country.
Which is why I am hesitant to use sexual orientation labels. Each one comes with a connotation that I deem incorrect for me. Someone who is gay is different than someone who is homosexual. Someone who is homosexual is someone who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Someone who is gay has come out as such and is a member of the LGBTQ community. The sex scandals in airport bathrooms occurred between homosexual men. The congressmen were not gay because they do not identify with such a culture.
Every word we use comes with a history that helps to define it. Somewhere along the way, prejudice and stereotyping has broken down the term I had identified with and turned it into a monster. It has turned it into something that a group that some years ago were ignored now does not recognize. It has turned it into something that members of my own family have said, “I don’t believe they exist,” despite me explaining their faulty logic.
The term has a different connotation when applied to different sexes, which is possibly why I find such a problem with it. If it were to be a legitimate label, it would have to mean the same thing when applied to males as it is to females. When applied to males, it usually means that he is just too scared to go “fully gay”, a term I have heard more than once in my life and I am still not entirely sure what it means. When applied to females, it usually means she is just experimenting and will probably go back to only loving men eventually.
There are so many things wrong with this logic. The term should (but does not) refer to whom a person is attracted to. It is not about their sexual history (as Kinsey believed) or whom the person ends up with (as most believe). You cannot tell me that a married individual is not attracted to people other than his or her spouse, from the same or opposite gender. It is not even about a sexual attraction. Contrary to popular belief, you can be attracted to someone in more than just a sexual way. There are romantic attractions, sapiosexual attractions, soulful attractions, etc. I believe (and this may be a stretch) that in this male-dominated culture, people must love men. If you are a man and you identify in this way, then you must be completely in love with men. If you are a woman, then you must still in some way love men. It’s impossible to not love men according to society.
This word comes with an idea of a person that I am not. It is true that I am not exclusively attracted to either gender, but I will not let a label define me. We have come to the point where words have started to define us when really we should define them. I will not let people I have just met think I am ignorant or afraid of my own sexuality because of something I ascribe to.
So I will no longer ascribe to this sexual orientation (Note that I never used the actual label in this entire blog. That was an artistic choice and not because I am afraid of it. Bisexual. There, I said it). When people ask me what I am, I will tell them I am a Georgetown student. I will not be forced into a stereotype because you have been brainwashed by television and the media. Or better yet, I will tell them that I identify as wumbo. It means nothing and everything at the same time. It is something that helps me to define my sexuality because it implies that trying to explain the intricacies of who I am attracted to (because that is all it is, it is not how I talk or what clothes I put on or what food I eat) is more than just a single word. The only connotation that word has is Spongebob. And I always want to be associated with Spongebob.