Happy Pride and A Word About Labels
Hey everyone! I’ve decided to make a video about myself and how I identify within the LGBTQ community. This post is basically just a transcript of the video, in case I talk to fast or don’t enunciate. I wrote a different post a long time ago that was a lot more in-your-face and full of frustration because of erasure, but the friends I’ve made, mostly through the queer romance writers/readers community, have helped me so much in straightening (ha) myself out that I was able to write a much more meaningful post. (lol and be sure to hang around at the end for the outtakes because I’m a giant dork) SO without further ado:
June is LGBTQ Pride month across the country (except here in Charlotte because we’re weird) and this year we also stand in remembrance of the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In honor of my rainbow brothers and sisters, especially those who aren’t straight-passing, I’ve decided to publicly define my own labels. It’s not about coming out, because I was never really “in.” There’s just a division between the people who knew me before I figured my stuff out, and those who know me now. Nothing you’ll learn about me in this blog post affects my marriage. I’ve been married since I was 23 and we’d been together probably a couple-ish years before that (my memory for dates is terrible…shuddup), so my husband’s been with me through most of this journey.
Two things to keep in mind:
- Most of these terms end in “sexual,” which is not my favorite, because this explanation isn’t really about sex, at least for me…but we have the labels we have, which leads me to:
- When I was growing up and feeling my feelings, this kind of language didn’t exist, at least not in any community I was a part of at the time…which is why I didn’t have the words for who I am way back when people usually themselves out. So bear with me.
Most people who know me know all of this already. This is mainly for the back row. I’m probably going to use some terms that people who aren’t involved in the LGBTQ community won’t be familiar with. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.
The first label, for lack of a better word, that I identify as is Demisexual [dɛmiːˈsɛkʃuəl]. What this, for me, means is that I’m only attracted to someone when I’ve got a strong emotional bond with them.
Demisexual people are generally fiercely monogamous, because we form such deep bonds before we consider getting involved with another person. If you are interested in more characteristics of demisexuality, here’s a decent list: https://bestlifeonline.com/demisexual/. And this post helps describe the difference between gender, attraction, expression, and identity. Remember, not everyone experiences ALL of the common traits. I’m married to a man—I love him and he loves me. We have kids and dogs and the whole nine. BUT, that doesn’t make me any less demisexual. Also, demisexuality, for me, does not include a gender preference. That’s where I get even more complicated.
I also identify as Panromantic [panːˈɹəʊˈmæntɪk], which means I have the potential to be romantically attracted to people of any and all gender expressions. Gender doesn’t factor into attraction for me, it’s whoever’s heart speaks to me. Hypothetically, of course, because I’m happily married.
So, again, hypothetically:
Men(cis/trans) √ Women(cis/trans) √
Non-binary √ Genderqueer √
And everything in between. BUT, again, still within the confines of demisexuality.
To review, I am a panromantic demisexual woman who happens to be married to a man. Yes, all these labels make it sound almost like some sort of queer taxonomy, but it’s actually a good thing. If we’d been having this conversation 20 years ago, I’d be considered just a reeeeally picky bisexual, or worse, a straight girl “experimenting,” so it’s nice to be able to more clearly self-identify.
How I feel inside is going to be different than what an outsider’s perception upon meeting me will be. Because, yes, my life is very heteronormative. I know right now, most of you 100% straight people reading this are probably thinking why say anything? What does it matter? Here’s the answer: It matters to me because I want to be my authentic self and accept that there’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve been to doctors to try and fix what I didn’t realize was just a part of who I am. That part of the story gets sad, so we’re not going to dwell on that.
The main reason to so specifically label myself is to find a community where I fit. Because I’ve always had one foot in the straight world and one foot in the LGBTQ world. I never felt quite right in the straight community because I knew I was different, but I also deal with a certain amount of impostor syndrome in the queer community because my life is so heteronormative appearing. And that is no complaint about my life whatsoever, I’m exactly where I want to be, it’s just my acknowledgment of how it looks from the outside to other LGBTQ people who don’t know me personally.
I wanted to find whatever current labels work for me and use them. Again, if you know me, you probably already know this about me. Because once I decided where I fit in, I haven’t really been quiet about it. These terms didn’t exist when I was growing up. Despite all the feelings and experiences I dealt with, and just the fact that it wasn’t generally accepted to be questioning your sexuality, I just sort of set it aside. So now that we have this language to communicate these things, I haven’t really been shy about using it. But sometimes, people who think they know you or who are viewing the world through a straight lens rather than accepting that sexuality is a spectrum, these things aren’t on their radar so they’re missing them. And I don’t want that. Because, again, a lot of my friends don’t have that option. Like if there are people I know are going to give me a hard time about my sexuality, I can just allow people to take that straight mask at face value, and hide behind that heteronormative situation. But so many people can’t do that. So in solidarity with them, I’m laying it all out there, because I’m not ashamed of it. I know where I fit, and I’ve found my people and my community that accepts me and loves me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.