[Ed Note, this is a guest post from Kyl Myers. Kyl is a sociology PhD student and a sex educator in Salt Lake City. She’s a connoisseur of 90s R&B, loves lipstick, and makes a mean batch of guacamole.]
If I asked you, on a scale of 0% to 100%, how gay are you? Could you answer? And if you could decide on a number that seemed to fit your sexuality, would it be one of the two categories “we” expect people to fall into? Straight or Gay, are you or aren’t you?
A friend of mine recommended I watch a recent TED talk given by photographer/artist iO Tillett Wright called, “Fifty Shades of Gay.” I found the video and then proceeded to have my mind rocked for about 18 minutes, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Wright discusses a spectrum where straight is over here, and gay is over there, and the reality is, that while some people will consider themselves straight and 0% gay or 100% gay without a drop of straight, most people fall somewhere in between. Luxuries and privileges are provided to “straights” while they are withheld from “gays” – but what makes one gay and unworthy of human rights? Is it being partnered with someone of the same-sex and 100% out, or is it having had one or two homosexual experiences? Does having a fantasy about someone of the same-sex merit eviction? If so, there would be millions of empty apartments in this nation. Wright’s talk has had me questioning a lot.
I am bisexual, pansexual if we get to the real talk. But I am also a cisgendered female who is in a relationship with a cisgendered male. My sexuality is invisible in my day-to-day life because on the surface I fit in to what is “appropriate.” I am not constantly pushing gender boundaries –sexuality boundaries – but it troubles me that I am perceived to be something I am not. That said, when I was in a relationship with a gender-queer female I was aware of the eyes on us every day and that was uncomfortable because I also felt I was being perceived as something I’m not; perceived as deviant, perceived as a problem. Who I am does not drastically change according to who I am attracted to or dating – but it sure feels like people think it does. While I was in a same-sex relationship, I felt comfortable serving on an LGBT panel for my university. Now I don’t. But no one disinvited me – my discomfort is a product of my self-policing. My invisible bisexuality troubles me because people expect you to be “this” or “that.” If I married my boyfriend, I would not feel any less bisexual – yet privileges would be bestowed upon me that I could never receive had I chose a woman as my life partner. I could bask in the comfort of being perceived as “normal,” as “straight,” as “deserving;” but that would be irresponsible of me – and a giant cop-out. I am part of this struggle. I must abandon false comforts to contribute to the fight where I don’t have to think about being 68% straight – I want to focus on being 100% me.