The Power of Language: Sexuality

As pride month ends, I’m copying this from my secret stash and posting it here. I hope these words are helpful and healing. I hope they lead to good questions. I hope you find courage here.

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I feel like this comes up a lot for me; in many cases, I have a list of things that I have experience without having words for it. Words, as often as we wish to dismiss them, are powerful. The power lies is being able to define things.

This is what this is. It is good/bad/other.

In other words, I can process and/or respond to the world around me. In this case, sexuality is one of those things for me. In my earlier years, the lines between romance and friendship were often blurred for me and the concept of this spectrum that sexuality can be wasn’t a factor until many years later.

When the moment finally did come in my 20s where there were so many questions about who I would date or marry, most of it was met with a “Meh”; my friendships were deep and emotionally fulfilling enough that romantic relationships, while nice, were not often necessary for me in the ways they are for many people who need them.

From there, things got interesting. The scene works like this:

My mom asks me if I’ve met a girl I liked. I say no. She asks if I have a guy I like. I tell her no. She asks if I’ve thought about dating a guy before. I say yes. Cue low-level horror at the thought. I look at her squarely and say:

If I love everything about this other person and who they are and they love me back the same way, I don’t see why I would let something like their gender get in the way of that.

You would think that this would be the moment that has all the language neatly wrapped in it, but no. It would take a few years later and along the way there would be a lot of questions because of the demands people place on one person or another to be one way or another just because they exist even from an early age.

Things like being told that if you like boys, you’re automatically gay. This is especially true in the black community where latent homophobia is super real and deadly. With that, we don’t leave a lot of room for people to understand who they are and then determining what that means in a rush to assign them some kind of role and status.

It often leaves me wondering how many people are really LGBTQ+ versus, “I guess I am this because so many people keep telling me that even though it fits like a shrunken shirt” because they don’t have the space to try various types of relationships and just live, then based on those experiences go, “This is who I am.”

The difference is night and day when you are allowed to do so because again; you get to define it for yourself.

I wouldn’t end up dating a guy until around 2014 or so and then experiencing, “Oh, this isn’t very different from dating a girl in many ways. Also, I still like dating girls. That didn’t go away. What does this mean?”

Mind, the answer would be bisexual or pansexual, but when you are indoctrinated that romantic attractions are binary and not things that exist on a spectrum, it can leave someone in the dark of the wilderness for years. I wish everyone had this chart and the understanding to go along with it:

THE bisexuality chart for the ages

How much time would I have saved having this language earlier as opposed to being told it had to be “this or that”? How much of people’s time are we wasting now because we try to stifle people’s ability to speak out what they are and who they love without having the fear of death, broken relationships, and worse hovering over their head?

I would love this to have more answers, but it is more questions and conversations that honestly require as much coffee as alcohol.

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I’ll add an addendum: the questions, the journey, the way it feels right but not exact? All of that is okay. It’s valid. You’re valid.