Words aren’t helping

The New York Times this weekend ran a story about an interesting way to divine, as the article’s headline puts it, “How many American men are gay?” The state-by-state social acceptance of homosexuals was cross-referenced against the number of men on Facebook who say they’re interested in men and that was compared to the percentage of Google searches for male gay porn.

First of all, this is fascinating stuff. And it probably does demonstrate the very sad issue of those living in areas where they’re unwelcome due to shallow and outdated ideas of what’s right and wrong. But I do have a fundamental issue with how author of this work perpetuated the myth that human sexuality is a choice between zero and six on the Kinsey scale.

Checking, I see that I haven’t told Facebook what gender I’m interested in. Of course, I’m married and was before Facebook came along and have never had to use it as a facet of my dating life, so why would I? But, were I not married, I wonder what I’d say to it. I’m an ostensibly straight-identified person who has found long-term contentment in a relationship with a woman but am very much interested in men from a sexual perspective. That means my Google history contains some evidence of searches for “gay” porn which would classify me, in the terms of this article, as a closeted gay man. But I’m not. Not even close.

If I’m closeted, it’s as…whatever it is I am. I don’t tell people about my sexual stimulants. It’s just not something that comes up and I’m not the kind of guy to wear such a thing on my sleeve (multi-year explicit sex blog to the contrary). Plus, as I’ve said before, I hate the term “bisexual” and abhor using it as a descriptor for who I am. I am totally open to both genders from a sexual perspective but could never really see myself being able to “settle down” with a man. It always had to be a woman for me. Is that what bisexual means? I don’t think so (and even if I did, I bet I could find a hundred people who disagreed with me). There are a lot of other words out there that try to capture the flexibility of what I am (what I strongly believe all people are to some extent), but I don’t care for any of them. Human sexuality just doesn’t lend itself to tidy classification. The best thing I can think of is still the Kinsey scale. I’m a three with vacillations towards two and four. But even that is only a piece of my sexuality.

As annoying as the Times article is, one from Slate makes me optimistic for the future. In “Does Coming Out Count If You Reject Labels” (yes), we learn that ridiculously scrumptious British Olympic diver Tom Daley recently said he had a boyfriend. Lived with the guy. Felt “so safe” with him but also still found women attractive. Not that he was gay or bi or anything. Just fucking yummy little Tom. Likewise, actress Maria Bello told the world she was in a relationship with a woman after having previously only been with men. Bello dared to say she “would like to consider [herself] a ‘whatever,'” rather than a lesbian or bisexual.

And I’m like…YES. Of course. I totally get that. Before I found Belle, I had been serious with guys from time to time (mostly with one) and that didn’t change who I really was. The biggest issue with me then (and, by extension, my boyfriend) was I had bought into the bullshit paradigm regarding Kinsey zeros and sixes. And it tore me up. It’s remarkably refreshing to see us moving in this post-label direction. When people fuck who they want and reject the adjectives invented by others to categorize and reduce. But, the author in Slate says:

[D]espite the rapid progress on limited issues like marriage, it bears asking whether we are at a point in history where we are advanced enough to dispense with gay solidarity entirely. For better or for worse, the very much unfinished LGBTQ civil rights project involves a certain amount of PR, and every PR campaign needs some buzzwords. Naively imagining that you can remove yourself from that paradigm because gay or bi doesn’t quite fit is a highly privileged act—especially when, as far as I can tell, the only worthwhile thing that can come from a celebrity’s coming out is some small contribution to queer visibility in communities where queer people may not be easily seen beyond the page or screen.

And I say, fuck “gay solidarity.” Why should anyone feel compelled to force themselves into ill-fitting stereotypes? If you’re not fucking gay, don’t call yourself that. If you don’t feel like a bisexual, don’t tell them you are. If that’s not good enough for those at the forefront of the “LGBTQ civil rights project” (holy shit, the “LGBTQ” nonsense shows how stupid all these words are), then screw ’em. Some of us don’t see our sexualities as political statements. Some of us don’t want anything more than the same basic rights and privileges enjoyed by everyone else. Some of us think there is no better way to advocate for that than to show through the living of our lives that we’re no different. And maybe if we’d stop trying to put the multiverse of the human sexual continuum into five or six buckets, we’d be able to see that better.

I’m not a word. I’m a person. Just like Bello and Daley. And just like you.