I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to write this post. But the more I see about how the “Gay For You” trope is a concerted effort to erase the notion of bisexuality at best, or blatant homophobia at worst, the more my stomach churns. It makes it seem as though those of us who write storylines which break the conventions of what people expect are going out of our way to minimize the lives of others.
That’s somewhat ironic, given my own perspective on writing gay for you.
You see, I’ve had relationships with women. I’ve had relationships with men. Hell, it’s no secret that I’m married to a man and we have two children together. For a long time, I tried to “wear” the bisexual label. I obviously wasn’t straight, because I’d been with women. Right?
The problem is, it never “fit” for me. I felt like a fraud saying I was bisexual. I don’t typically walk down the street and find myself attracted to women, so maybe I’m not bisexual. Right? Okay, so I must be straight.
Oh wait, there’s a problem there, too! I’m not actually attracted to men, either.
It took a long damn time for me to understand my “place” in the world, the label I could proudly wear. I’m primarily demisexual, but I’m also sapiosexual. The problem is those aren’t widely known labels. When I first heard them, I even thought they were a bunch of bullshit created to make the world just a bit more PC. More boxes people could stuff their lives into.
But they’re not. They very, very real. It took me until I was thirty-seven (I’m thirty-eight now) to understand why I was attracted to people. It had nothing to do with what they looked like or whether they were soft and curvy or solid and scruffy. It had to do with the pull of my heart to that person. Or, in some instances, the way I feel when I meet someone with whom I can have deeply intellectual conversations.
The first words I ever said to my husband were, “Would you shut the fuck up?” He did nothing for me, other than exacerbate my already killer headache. The next thing I said to him was, “Would you get that shit out of my pants?” (A drunk friend had stuffed the leg of my jeans with every available office supply). I still wasn’t drawn to him.
But then, things changed. He walked into my bedroom and sat on the bed while I ate dinner. I was on the “divorce diet” and he made it his mission to force me to eat. He walked into my bedroom when I was crying at night and rubbed my back, telling me that I’d be okay. He couldn’t know that. He was a stranger to me. He asked me how I was doing. He kept my mind off everything else going on in my life.
And somewhere along the way, I fell head over heels in love with him. There were years I wondered if it was a toxic beginning, because I never felt that stirring in my lady bits, and I was supposed to feel that when he was near me. Right? I mean, that’s what happens when you’re in love. But I didn’t, so that means I was in a bad headspace and delusional, right?
No. It means that he fills something in my soul. Just knowing he’s near is what I need. Knowing he’s currently fifteen hours away is killing me. I miss him. I miss the way my body calms when he’s in my space. I miss reaching out in the night and knowing he’s there. But I don’t miss anything sexual. Because that’s not what I’m about, much to his chagrin.
I don’t know that I’ve ever looked at someone and wanted to strip my clothes and get sweaty. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that’s okay. That is why I love writing what gets lumped in as “gay for you.” It’s because it took me almost thirty-eight years to understand that I’m okay. There’s nothing wrong with me for feeling a soul-deep connection to men or women. There’s also nothing wrong with me for not feeling that lusty connection deep in my nether regions. And I write about characters who also figure out that it’s okay for them to fall head over heels in love with whoever they want, regardless of what’s under their clothes.
Also, it’s worth noting that I fully agree that “gay for you” isn’t a good description. It’s not that someone is totally turning their back on their straight life. But I don’t see “bi for you” as a great description, either, because of everything I just wrote about. Does falling in love with one person mean you need to tear off the straight label and pull out a bisexual label? I don’t think it does. I think it means you’ve opened your mind to fall in love with the people you’re drawn to, regardless of their gender. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of changing sexuality, but it’s a matter of admitting that you’re drawn to something regardless of gender.