Recently I changed my profile on FetLife to state that my orientation is “Queer.” This does not actually reflect a change in who I like to have sex with or what turns me on. It does reflect a growth in my understanding of myself and how I interact with the world around me. How I got to this place in my sexual identity is a bit of a journey and I would like to take a minute to share that.
My first romantic experiences were with my BFF in grade school. She and I were attached at the hip sort of friends. We fought like cats and dogs, we adventured out and around the little harbor town we lived in, and we stirred up way too much trouble. I still remember the day, Valentine’s Day actually, that our parents were not paying enough attention to us in our opinions and we embarked on intentionally getting as drunk as we possibly could on the liquor in my Mom’s stash. This all ended with her attempting to walk/jog through the glass sliding door at my house, braking her nose, nearly bleeding out from the huge cuts she got, and having the doctor at the ER tell her mom that she almost died from alcohol poisoning. It was a crazy thing for kids to be doing but life was rough for each of us, our families were broken dysfunctional messes, and we were young and stupid. Aside from our wild times finding trouble, we also touched each other and kissed and cuddled. All of that seemed natural. We loved each other in our own way and neither of us thought we were doing anything romantic, we were just playing.
Through my younger years, I often had a close friend who was a girl who I would kiss and fool around with but that was different than when I started having sex with guys. That is how I saw it, I was just doing what seemed reasonable with my friends who were girls and having actual ‘real’ sex with guys. I had no frame of reference. I had no internet to tell me what sex was. I had no class in school that explained what sex between women looked like. I had no friends who identified as lesbian. I had a few friends who quietly admitted they were gay but again, that sex seemed like ‘real’ sex to me because sex was defined by penises in my mind. I honestly never thought about what sex between two women would look like. It wasn’t a concept I had any framework for.
In my house growing up, being gay was described as a terrible horrible thing. I had a Great Uncle who had lived in a closeted relationship with his ‘friend’ for 20+ years. My family was embarrassed and spoke very rude things about him when he wasn’t around. They were not terribly kind even when he was in the room. His partner was never at any family functions. My grandmother spoke of him, her only brother, as though he was her dependent child whom she needed to protect from himself. When his partner died, my grandmother refused to allow my aging Great Uncle to attend his funeral because, “it wouldn’t look right.” My father constantly degraded what he called ‘the gays’ and would make terrible jokes about them. When my older brother was arrested, multiple times, became addicted to drugs, failed and dropped out of high school, and ran away from home over and over again my father would always chase him down and try to get him out of trouble. Hiring lawyers and whatever it took to try to help him.
Dad always said, “No matter what you do you are always my son.” That all changed when my brother came home from running away and introduced my father to his lover, Cornelius. Once my brother said, “I’m gay,” Dad never treated him the same. I remember my Dad saying, “He is so far gone that now he thinks he is gay, he is not my son that I raised anymore.” My understanding of what being gay meant was warped and negative. I had no actual understanding, only fear and hate taught to me.
As an adult, I had lots of kids very young and became a very isolated radical believer in a conservative religion. For ten years I had no further opportunities to learn about sexuality. I worked very hard to suppress any sexuality I had that might exist outside of the ‘marriage bed.’ In that bed, our particular version of faith taught anything was fair game. It never occurred to me to have sexual anything with anyone, male or female or trans person or other, except for my God given loser of a husband. Even in that restricted sexual world I was kinky as hell and had no idea that is what I was. I really thought all people had rough sex all the time. Choking, getting tied up, watersports, etc…all of that I assumed was normal and just not spoken about on Sunday morning.
When I finally got out of that marriage and came to the community, I really had no tools to define or understand myself with. I explored swinging and anonymous internet hook ups, BDSM, and power exchange. It was all a wild rush of freeing sexual experiences. Multiple men in my bed was wonderful and exciting and felt very liberating from the years of blindness induced by my own efforts to follow a faith. Eventually I also shared my body, my bed, my sexuality with a few women as well. Here and there, nothing romantic. Just part of the hedonistic joy I was finding in sex.
Then Master came into my life and we began our relationship together. Very early in our friendship he had questioned me as to why I identified as heterosexual. We had long talks about it. I was convinced I was straight, mostly because I didn’t have any idea what else I would be. He asked me if I had ever had sex with a woman. My honest answer was, “No, never.” He looked at me sideways and asked about several experiences with women that he knew I had had. I said, again honestly, “Oh, that isn’t sex…there was no penetration.” I thought he was going to fall out of his chair. I really could not understand what was so funny. He talked with me for a long time about sex between women and asked basic questions I had never considered. Things like, “Well then, how do two women have sex?” and “What is sex?”
It wasn’t that I thought sex between women was bad or that sex between any types of people was bad. I love sex! All sex. I just had never stopped to think about the basics and I guess the community around me never thought to say, “Hey are you naïve beyond reason and we just don’t know it.” Because really who would think a woman in her 30s in the kink community with all sorts of partners wouldn’t know what sex was. Looking back I find myself amazed at how naïve I really was.
After those talks, I recognized that I had been having sex with men, women, and genderfluid folks for as long as I had been having sex. I realized that throughout my life I had often been assumed to be a lesbian. I could remember half a dozen women who had really gotten confused and pissed when I said I was straight after they had been involved in what they surely thought was courtship and some of them a sexual relationship with me. I had been chided for being “a breeder” which I didn’t understand. I had held a couple of women in my arms as they cried about me not entering into a ‘relationship’ with them while I didn’t understand what was going on at all.
I wasn’t trying to be mean. I wasn’t trying to be stupid. I just had no idea what they saw in me or what they wanted from me. I was dense. Well, better put, I was ignorant.
After Master helped me understand what I had been doing my whole life, I started to identify my orientation as ‘bisexual.’ During the past year though I began to feel that wasn’t really right either. Last year at WIL-Fest I had some amazing energy exchanges with women. I once again found myself learning what ought to have been obvious to me but simply wasn’t…I was attracted to people. Not genders. I was attracted to their energy, how they felt to me, how my body and mind and spirit responded to them. Gender was completely not a factor for me in who and what turned me on…it is the way they ‘feel.’
Energy and energy-sex are things I have little ability to describe. After a year of exploring energy-sex and entering into a relationship with someone who really engages in energy as sexuality I finally realized that is what does it for me. I am neither bi nor het, I am something else. Queer fits how my sex orients.
Master was reluctant to allow me to identify as queer for several reasons. First and foremost, he is a words man. Words have power and he was not comfortable with the word ‘queer’ because it is a relatively new term and not clearly defined. Some people see ‘queer’ as a community affiliation, some see it as meaning ‘confused’, some see it as being attracted to all types of people. He wasn’t sure it would be clear. He felt ‘bisexual’ indicated logically that I am sexually attracted to both women and men. Clear and clean.
He also was not comfortable with the notion that I might be viewed as taking on some sort of trendy identity that the Queer community would not welcome me to share. He has great respect for the GLBTQ community and would not want to seem to be usurping a word or term that many before us had worked so hard to empower.
That was until we sat on the patio this past weekend at Southeast LeatherFest and engaged in hours of conversations about gender, orientation, and identity. We talked with our friends about my desire to identify myself as queer. Some said no, that I wasn’t queer because ‘queer’ means “Queer as folk” and “you with him looking like a het couple just isn’t queer to me.”
Back and forth the conversation went until our friend Master Ian finally said, “Would you have sex with a woman?” “Yes” “A man?” “Yes” “A trans man?” “Yes” “A gender fluid person?” “Yes.” Master Ian turned to Master and said, “That isn’t a binary…it isn’t one of two choices…she isn’t Bisexual.” Master nodded and smiled. He recognized that he learned an important lesson about gender and orientation identities and about shaking away all those old enculturated biases we don’t even know we have.
The lens we each see the world through is never as clear and crisp as we imagine. Master is always willing and open to learning when he has a perspective that he hasn’t recognized as bias. His leadership over my life is fueled by his own growth and self-exploration. He is an amazing man. After that conversation he agreed that yes I am queer and I feel happy and centered in my sexuality in a way I never have before. Making that change on my FetLife profile is trivial compared to the journey I took to get there.
I am a slave and I am queer. I am so thankful that I have a life that encourages me to learn and grow.