My First Time: Redefining Sexuality
A personal story about love, labels, and lesbian life.
It’s common knowledge that your mid-twenties are riddled with life lessons, like the realization that college wasn’t true independence, or adult life is way less exciting, or even that sexuality is more fluid than we had been conditioned to believe. I’m here at 25 years old to share and attest that my perspective on sexual orientation has been directly challenged, as I am happily in a relationship with an incredible woman. My choice of a same-sex partner has led me to embark on a journey this has brought its unique experiences from my own psyche and social circle. As my friends and family embrace my new relationship, I’ve become aware of the new identity their mind has adopted for me. “My friend became a lesbian” or “Oh, you swing that way” are phrases I have commonly heard.
Although I take no offense to these comments, the context assumes I have left a life I once lived. What I believed to be normal was considered a “transition” to others. I guess I became a snake that shed new skin and arose as a fabulous lesbian now? I don’t feel any different just because I am romantically involved with a woman. I still react to situations according to my emotions, wear my bright red lipstick, short shorts, and become feisty when I want to be. I have felt more pressure to redefine my sexuality and question my 25 years of life from the outside world than from own girlfriend or myself.
My personal journey of understanding sexuality goes back to high school when women in same-sex relationships were considered to be “experimental.” I quickly learned that the validity of a relationship has always been defined by the presence of a man. On a personal account, gender roles and expectations within same-sex relationships confuse people more than anything else. A conversation with a friend of mine ended in, “So, who takes on the role of the man?” Nobody prepared me or properly trained me for the curios questions that would ensue within this new paradigm.
So as any emerging lesbian would do, I assumed the next step would be go through the labels I should consider: lesbian, femme, bisexual, or queer but those soul-searching sessions always ended in a headache. As human beings, there is a tendency to categorize others but receiving those labels can be as comforting as a wool blanket. Yet, there is also a sense of pride in labels, a feeling of community we all crave so deeply. Does that mean I don’t fit in anymore? I’m obviously not completely straight so do I get a warm embrace from the LGBTQ community? The questions stir as to where I fall within the continuum.
Learning more about the LGBTQ community and self proclaimed identities; I began thinking about the fluidity of sexuality. My relationship meant I was flowing through a continuum from heterosexual to homosexual. Our culture dismisses the idea that sexuality is fluid. Although outdated, the Kinsey Scale 1948 described that: “[People] do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior, the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.” (Kinsey et al., 1948, pp. 639)
The interaction between sexual attraction, sexual behavior and sexual identity has been an everlasting discussion. When I asked my girlfriend what she would like me to define myself as her response was,” Whatever you feel comfortable with.” This gave me a sense of empowerment and the feeling that I have the ability to provide my own identity. Queer love spirit of color seems accurate enough but who knows what it may be as I continue through my journey of life. Is it taboo to think that just as our interests change and develop throughout our lifespan so does our sexual orientation? Some may think I’m in a confused state but all I know is that exploring my sexuality has led me to a healthy relationship built upon support, respect, love and excitement- something I may have missed out on if I stayed within society’s rigid walls of gender/sexuality expectations and boundaries.