Thursday, April 10, 2008


I don't think of myself in terms of labels much anymore when it comes to sexuality. I guess I am primarily hetero, as I feel strongly attracted to men on an every day basis. I find women attractive, but not at all in the same way, I don't see a really good looking woman and get all atwitter like I do with men. They don't make me forget how to talk, like one very good looking guy I know does regularly. At the same time, I enjoy looking at them, and find more women attractive than men. And I'm clearly not only hetero, as I am interested in having sexual experiences with women should the opportunity present itself.

On the other hand I'm not at all comfortable calling myself bi-sexual. For one, I don't believe in the gender binary (which the whole "bi" thing reproduces, imo). For another, I wouldn't have a partnered relationship with a woman. Just, does not interest me. Even entertaining the thought of polyandry, multiple male partners are my fantasy. On that note, why not identify as pansexual? Same reason. I'm happy to draw sexual partners from any category; trans men, trans women, cis men, cis women, androgynous, non-gender identified... doesn't matter to me much. But relationships? Nope. Men offer something unique for me in that regard, cis men in particular. I'm not sure what (a penis to my vagina coupled with masculinity to my femininity maybe? perhaps in relationships I am just that binary-oriented?). But there's a balance for me in cissexual/heterosexual relationships that I've never had in a relationship with a woman (but perhaps could have with a trans man).

In a similar vein, I also have a hard time finding a label for my husband and my relationship. Are we swingers? Sort of, but not really, "swapping" isn't our primary interest. As we've sort of stalemated at this point, partly waiting for me to get the courage to venture into something new, partly lack of opportunities where we currently live, I don't know how this might change in the future. But anyway, we're definitely not polyamorous, because that implies love involved, not just sex. And it's just sex for us. Though, like I said above, I wouldn't mind having a few close guy friends who I occasionally slept with. Not boyfriends, but, just friends I chat with semi-regularly, where we know each other pretty well, are comfortable with each other, sleep together on occasion, but no investment, no "omg if you don't call me Friday I get to yell at you" bullshit. So even that isn't involving love.

Swingers works well enough for now. I can't say the same for any label I've ran across for sexual orientation, however. Since I'm married, people tend to assume I'm hetero anyway, and when it comes down to it that's the label I'm most comfortable with, despite it's obvious flaws. This begs the question of WHY that is, though. And hence the title of this post. Cis- hetero- is the norm. There's privilege that go along with this (like, for instance, that I get to BE married), how much of my comfort with the mislabeled label stems from this? On the other hand, I WISH I could take on the pansexual label, because it's cool, and forward thinking. But as far as I can tell I would be rather an interloper, not REALLY pan. A poser. And I hate posers.

So... I dunno. Fuck labels, I guess. If people want to have an actual discussion about the interactions of gender, sexuality and orientation, I'm happy to get into the intricacies that are me. But until then, it just saves a lot of headache to let them assume whatever they want to assume, I guess.

*edited to remove problematic language on Dec 23, 2010*


  1. As I told a kid at my ally workshop last night you DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A LABEL. Label yourself "you."

    I like people. I am out there in the community, and I do public speaking, and people want a label. Pansexual works for me. Queer works for me. Bi, not so much.

    But mostly, I tell people that I like people :)

  2. that was me from a different email, btw

  3. i exactly agree with that last paragraph! i do like labels, but i think i often just take on the ones that other people ascribe to me because it's easier. plus, i really like the way labels work as a sort of shorthand. which is fine as long as people understand that it is just shorthand, and are willing to put them aside for the nuance and reality that comes if you get to have an actual discussion.


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