Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Downside of secrets

I am not completely in the closet. While I identified as bi-sexual I was open with friends, but with the exception of my very best sister it was not something I talked about in my family.
We still don't talk about it in my family, but last year my secret slipped from a misguided confidence in my other sister, to my dad and around until it came back to me in the form of a question "Your dad seems to think you're gay... is this true?"

When I asked my dad if he wanted to talk about it, he said she hadn't told him anything but "is there anything you want to tell me?" Since I'd decided not to come out to any of my family until my mother knows, I left it unconfirmed but told him "if you have questions I am perfectly comfortable answering them... and oh, please don't talk to mummy about this. You know it will kill her."

I am not sure what good it does any of us not to talk about it, and frankly I'm a little uncomfortable with how easily I can let myself believe a little that they don't know because I haven't told them just cuz while I am resigned to whatever flack results from people knowing I'm not ready to officially accept the banner of gay child/sister.

And on further introspection, it's amazing to reflect now on how easy it was to be ok with it when everyone thought gay was just a cool quirk of my sexuality, and to realise that gay as your whole sexual identity swells to take up so much room in how you and most others see you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

navigating a furtive life

Before I was aware of the politics of sexuality, and before I understood what attraction was, I was aware of the pull of women. I was probably 8 or 9 when my first crush swelled from a glimpe of my neighbours newly emerging pink nipples; and after there were many more that elicited feelings I could not process as crushes, because those were what you had on boys.

I regret none of my relationships with men, but if I'd understood the role of attraction in sexuality I might have rejected the idea that all girls were meant to respond to the advances of boys. I didn't understand that attraction was not supposed to be something separate from my relationships with men, so it took me too long to understand my cultivated sexual relationships with men weren't normal as I'd always assumed, and what I was meant to feel with a man was what I felt with women.

Between my first girl crush and my realization that I'd been sleeping with men mostly because I was supposed to I defined that puzzling feeling I had about girls. I'd been having these feelings for a girl I went to school with. Everything she did seemed heavy with contemplation, and I used to watch the slow purposeful sway of her hips across campus, her hazel eyes as they reflected the conversations I observed her having among her friends, and her legs. God her legs. She was thin, with an athletic body covered in smooth caramel skin and slightly bowed legs that showed the flex of each muscle required to power her walk. I could not understand the peculiar effect seeing those caramel legs emerging beneath her skirt had on me, or watching the appearance and disappearance of the muscles as she walked ahead of me.

We were in the dining room one day, and I was watching her surrepticiously where she sat with her friends. The bank of windows along which her lunch desk ran parallel was perpendicular to the wall along which mine ran, and I had angled my body to the left so I could observe her without having to turn my face obviously towards her. Those were the only windows in the room, and the light that came through the glass panes poured all around her, highlighting the flyaways resting around her head and down her auburn braids, there was also a door to her left that deposited light which allowed me to observe her clearly, but didn't travel far enough into the room to allow anyone not sitting close enough to notice my observation. I looked around at all the other girls eating and chatting in the dining room and I was certain I was the only one having those feelings; and I knew they weren't normal because I didn't feel that way about any of them, or any of my friends so I resolved to figure out what made me so different. I don't remember now what questions I asked myself, but by the end of our lunch break I realized I didn't feel the way about her I did about my friends because friendship wasn't what I was interested in from her - I liked her in the way I was supposed to like a boy, and I wanted to do things with her I was supposed to be doing with boys.

I never acted on that crush because I didn't understand how to process those feelings - that and I was really freaked. It was until years later I somewhat grasped what it all meant, and perched it awkwardly among the definitions that that tipped me into the category of bi-sexuality.

Since childhood I have had the desire to be fearless in the truth. Though I didn't live the definition of bisexual I openly identified as that among my friends, and at the risk of my own life in a homophobic society, anyone who asked. And really, I think at that time the two had to be mutually exclusive, I could either be bisexual and be overwhelmed by the implications, or admit I was bisexual but not actually deal with it.

The Ripple Effect

My purpose in this incarnation is to be fearless with my love and with my truths. So far so good; except with this one thing:

I can't tell my mother I sleep with women because that truth cannot exist between us without creating an acridity that will strain our relationship.

It's not the shame of my sexuality that prevents me telling that truth; it's the fear of losing her. She is a christian who believes homosexuality is a perversion and a sin, and she won't be able to accept that I have fallen out of God's grace. Our conversations will begin to orbit her need to change me and I'll have to let her go to maintain my self and I'm just not ready.

I've always been gay and I am proud of my sexuality and I don't want to change, but for most of my sexual life I identified openly as bisexual among my friends, but avoided relationships with women so I wouldn't have to talk about it with her. Now, I sleep only with women and I have chosen to live in the closet because though I can't spare her the pain of my sexuality forever, I can spare her the most painful way of finding out - from someone else.

We can't buy our parents protection from who we are - my omissions are intended to buy me time to appreciate her and our relationship in a way I was incapable of when I was younger. This blog is where I'll come to talk about the price of my journey to letting my mother go.