Identity is a strange thing. It can be so comforting to us. It helps us tell people quickly some important facts about who we are. Most importantly, it gives us a sense of belonging when we find others like us in community. So when our identity starts shifting, we are jolted into crisis mode.
I recently had a small identity crisis of my own. For the last two years I have been confident that I would only date women. I’ve enjoyed lesbian community and the sense of belonging I get there. So when I found myself seriously flirting with an old male acquaintance, it’s no exaggeration to say I had a bit of a meltdown. Luckily I have friends who, like me, believe boxes can be traps to prevent us from full exploration of ourselves and others.
In my post-modern, feminist, queer theorist circle of friends we understand sexuality and gender to be fluid. While I have always had respect for others to identify then change the way they identify over time (and sometimes change back again), it feels different in regard to myself. I feel a bit like a traitor. I worry about losing my place in the lesbian community and a level of acceptance in queer circles. Mostly, I don’t want to go back to having my queer identity stripped away from me.
It’s bad enough, as a femme, being ignored and taken for straight until a moment arises for me to work into conversation about a woman I’m dating, used to date, or am interested in. When I dated men though, especially being married to a man, my queerness wasn’t taken very seriously. It was like living with half of my identity being considered a trendy lie by the majority.
I think there is also some guilt of the privilege I carried when married to a man and the privilege I carry passing as straight in a variety of ways. While femmes can come out over and over again and help challenge assumptions about lesbians and queer community, pansexuals who are partnered with men can come out but straight people don’t seem to take it as seriously. Again, it feels like it’s taken as a trend.
So, here I am with a big crush on a guy. I felt like I was suddenly plunged into a land of confusion and despair about the possibilities of it just being all wrong. My friend kept asking me what the worst case scenario was. I narrowed it down to two: I’m lonely and have temporarily lost my mind and I don’t actually dig him and will only hurt him, or, I do like him but it won’t last and will totally screw up any chance I have of finding a butch woman who wants to date me. The more I talked to my friend about this guy, the more I realized I do like him. I’ve spent very little time with him, I mean like maybe a total of 10 hours in almost two years, but every time I laughed a lot and we had a really deep and meaningful conversation. My friend encouraged me to quit boxing myself out of what might be a potentially happy time with someone. So I’m relaxing, enjoying that weird stage of crushing on someone where you’ve had the initial flirting and now you are trying to figure out if the other person is truly interested.
Maybe I just need to open up and flirt more in general. I definitely got my flirt on tonight at the roller derby bout. I met a really cute girl. She wasn’t my normal type (hey I’m blowing the lid right off this box!), a sort of andro-leaning-femme with strange hair and a great smile. I was moments away from offering up my number, but I couldn’t quite tell if she was –with- the woman she was with. I’ll see her around town I think, seems we have similar interests. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll ask her to coffee?
So my label is… no label?
For now. I still have my doubts about the whole thing. My ideal partner is still, in my mind, a sexy dominant butch woman. I’m just trying to be open to the possibility that my ideal partner might be someone completely different from what I think is best for me.
Okay Universe, do your thing.