On Labels and Identity
Want to read something awkward and extremely personal? You know you want to, but if you don’t want to know about my sex life you should probably stop reading right here.
Oh look at you continuing to read. I knew you wouldn’t stop. It’s okay, I would read this too. Alright here we go…
My romantic interests have always fluctuated with how I feel. And these fluctuations can last for varying amounts of time. These interests themselves vary in their expression. Sometimes sentimental love, sometimes heartless sexual impulse.
When I was younger, I became convinced I was gay because I started liking guys more than girls. I knew of the words “straight” and “gay”, but “bisexual” wasn’t familiar to me, so I assumed that liking guys meant I was gay. And I became fixated on that idea, and very early on terrified of it.
When I learned there was such a thing as bisexual, I told a select few people that I was bi when I was 19 because I never felt sure that I only liked guys. Eventually, I came out publicly as gay at 22 for the sake of simplicity, since most of my interests swayed in that direction anyway.
As I got older and learned more and more about human sexuality, and met more and more people who were willing to talk about it openly, I began to see a wide array of orientations and quickly realized that there was a lot more to all of this than I previously thought. It almost got to a point where human orientation was as unique as the individual expressing it.
As I talked to these people and in some cases dated them, I discovered an unexpected constant. People kept doubting that I was gay, and I don’t just mean in general discussion over coffee leisurely with friends, but also as I and a dating partner lay naked in bed. I found myself in this conversation during differing scenarios and settings.
As I spent time opening my mind up to new perspectives, I learned that I didn’t just have an interest in biological guys or girls, but also to transgender men (people born with female bodies but male gender identities).
This further complication led me to resolve that now when I’m asked what orientation I am, I avoid common terms like straight, gay and bisexual because I don’t feel like I can label myself accurately. At least for as long as society believes labels to be important.
I typically say pansexual because it’s not contingent on anything particularly physical. Which is useful as I’m more concerned with how people behave, their personality types and their self-perceived identities.
So whether someone has a penis or vagina is not concerning to me.
Here’s something that often gives me direction these days in how to venture forward in any avenue of romance, what you could call my explanation for a guiding compass: I’m interested in transmen who have female genitalia, but I am not interested in transwomen who have male genitalia.
What further complicates some understanding is that I’ve never been in a situation where sex with a girl or transman was imminent. However, a transguy did show me his female parts for the sake of my curiosity before and I was very much turned on by the ordeal, but we did not have sex. He was sexually interested in women only.
Why share any of this, you may wonder? Because I’ve learned from conversation that I’m not the only one. When I was younger, it would have been nice to know things weren’t so black and white. Perhaps I would have not felt so alone if someone had been brave enough to talk openly about these things.
I’m not quite as sexually active as this piece might make me out to be. It really depends upon how you define being sexually active. I’ve experimented in many ways, but had actual intercourse only three times in my whole life and I’m currently 30 years old. For a lot of people, they have sex more than that in one week, or at least wish they could.
Both of the people I’ve been with were biological men, so obviously it was anal sex. It’s just that dicks in buttholes, regardless of who takes on what role, hasn’t done it for me. It’s been two years since the last time and I don’t feel an impulsive desire to change it.
This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: