When I told my friend Molly how much I wanted to write this, but how unsure I was if I was ready to put it out in the world, she gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received: “My biggest piece of advice is that if you’re not ready to share, don’t. Still, write it for you. I have written things I wish I hadn’t put out there. But listen to your heart.”
I knew she not only meant my work itself, but being so open to the public about something so complex and personal through what I was writing.
Molly is one of the only people I’ve ever discussed my sexual fluidity, flexibility, and confusion within a truly candid, in-depth, and vulnerable way. It may have been through copious amounts of Denver’s best brews and a couple of whiskey cokes too many, but it was the first time I was able to say I kissed a girl and I liked it (and it wasn’t just for the fun of it).
Other friends of mine know I’ve been sexually involved with other women, but I suppose they’ve explained it away to my wild ways, written it off to the fact that I’m sexually liberated, thought I was just having fun in my singledom, or believed I was just dabbling in the same sex. And that’s because I was more than fine with letting them assume any of those things versus me having to explain myself.
Because how do you explain something to someone else that you don’t fully understand yourself?
It was this bewilderment (and the fear that family and those close to me and who know me would read this) that initially made me think that maybe I shouldn’t be writing this. So there I was, having just opened up that text from one of my dearest friends, and walking into the library when I came across the contents of a bag of Skittles scattered in all their vibrant glory on the sidewalk. If that wasn’t a metaphor or the universe’s way of telling me something, then I don’t know what is.
I called Molly immediately, “You’re not going to fucking believe this.”
Fuck it, I thought, I’m so unreserved in my writing when it comes to everything else, so why not be open about this? If I’m as uncertain as I am, and as afraid, surely someone out there feels the same. And if this resonates, I haven’t done a disservice to anyone. Won’t this be yet another step to living my most authentic self?
So, this is me taking that last bit of advice and listening to my heart who is telling me that it’s okay to, and time to, admit that at 30 I am still struggling to find a label I am comfortable with, because the truth is that not only has my identity as a straight woman been threatened, but it has completely been debunked.
My whole life I’ve only ever been romantically involved with men. Every person I’ve dated and have had a relationship with has been a man. Everyone I’ve ever had an emotional attachment to and had feelings for has been a man. I’ve always loved men.
The feel of their rough hands, their facial hair against my soft skin, the heady scent of their cologne. Men in all their masculine grace. The veins on their forearms, the sight of their sleeves rolled up, the way their frame overpowers my own, how small and delicate I feel with their weight on me, and their strong arms wrapped around me. Feeling them inside me. Fucking me. Owning me. Owning them. Driving them mad. The power I could hold over them.
If there was one thing I was always certain of, it was that I loved men.
I had made out with and kissed other girls, but what girl hadn’t done the same? At 16, I had a sexual encounter with another girl, making it to third base, but it was normal, wasn’t it, to experiment? Throughout my teens and twenties, I felt attracted to other girls, but I told myself it wasn’t so much attraction as much as it was admiration; a girl crush. It was natural to find other women beautiful, to covet their style, to marvel at them.
Then, in my early twenties, I had my first FMF threesome. In the midst of all the sweat, the skin, the limbs, and the sex, I found myself wishing he wasn’t there. I found myself wishing I could be alone with her. I found myself wishing I could take my time with her. And when the opportunity presented itself again, I was all game, but it wasn’t both of them or him that I wanted, it was her I wanted to kiss and feel again. I found myself replaying the tender way she kissed me, how she sucked on my lip, her mouth on my breasts, the taste of her neck.
It was from there on out that I began to fantasize more about other women. I always had, truth be told, but I always chalked it up to my extremely imaginative mind being just that, and to me being curious and exploring sexual desires and scenarios in a safe and private way. After all, I hadn’t gone down on her, so it was all just healthy sexual fun, wasn’t it? I was still straight …
Over the next few years, I messed around with a few girls, but it wasn’t until the first time that I “properly” had sex with a girl at 28 that I began to wonder if I was truly straight. It was the most highly charged sexual experience of my life and the single most vigorous orgasm I had ever had. It was electrifying and, more than anything, it was terrifying.
I told myself that it was natural to be bicurious, that a lot of women have found themselves there. I did everything to dismiss the lusty and powerful sensations I was experiencing for other women. I even convinced myself that my attraction to women was due to the abuse – sexual, emotional, and physical – that I had suffered at the hands of men. But, the truth was that I was beginning to think about women the same way I had always thought about men.
I wasn’t just checking out other girls anymore, or admiring their clothes and hair. I wasn’t just finding other girls pretty or hot anymore, I was beginning to feel drawn to and aroused by some of them. I’d imagine how their hair would smell, how soft their skin must be to the touch, what their perfume and lipstick would taste like. I began to masturbate to the thought of some.
The first time I tried talking to a friend about what I was experiencing she was initially understanding and all very cool with it. She was someone I had always considered to be very open-minded. I thought, This is safe, this opening up. Just when I began to become comfortable in my admission, she asked me, “But, you like haven’t and like wouldn’t eat them out, would you?” And the way she said this was with such abhorrence, such revulsion as if going down on a girl was one of the most disgusting things a human being could do. I looked at her, and I remember her expectantly waiting for me to say no.
Didn’t she, as a woman, enjoy that being done to her? As one of her closest friends, and therefore, being fully aware of the details of her sex life, I knew the answer was yes. So why as a woman who was attracted to other women, who had been, and wanted to continue, being physical with other women, was it so wrong for me to bestow the same kind of pleasure on them?
I concluded that she was either not as open-minded as she came off, disgusted by her own genitalia, or wasn’t taking me seriously. And then I did one of the worst things I could have done – I felt ashamed. I was embarrassed to admit that not only had I gone down on a girl, but that I enjoyed it, and I would do it again.
And I did do it again. And after each time I had sex with a woman, it became glaringly obvious that maybe I wasn’t 100% straight.
I’ve always been someone who has been very in tune with herself and with who she is, an introspective soul, so when I began to harbor doubts about my sexual orientation, I didn’t know what was real anymore.
I knew I wasn’t a lesbian, I still loved men, I still craved men. I was still having sex with men and lusting after them. To be honest, but crass, I loved dick. I wanted to identify with the concept of bisexuality, it sounded like what I was, but I had my doubts about this label, too.
The next person I broached the subject with told me I didn’t really like girls because, and I quote, “It’s not like you would date one or could see yourself sharing a life with one.” So then I began to have more doubts. I had never been in love with a girl, had a relationship with one, or harbored romantic feelings for one, but was that because I was in reality a heterosexual, or was it because I just hadn’t met the right one?
I was as confused as ever.
I asked myself all kinds of questions.
Was I equally attracted to men and women? What did I find myself drawn to in both genders? Is it only physical with women? What attracts me to different people? What and who are my sexual fantasies focused on? What types of bodies am I attracted to? What kind of porn and erotica arouses me? Why? Could I see myself dating another woman? What do I want in a lifelong partner? Am I attracted to more than just the two genders? Am I bisexual? Am I pansexual? Am I straight but confused? Where do I fall on the spectrum? What am I?
I became even more perplexed when I found myself really into a friend of a friend who was nonbinary.
Today, I have the answers to some, but not all, of these questions, and I’ve since then formed even more questions.
When I took to the internet, I became overwhelmed by all the information and misinformation I found. I learned new terms such as cross-orientation, novasexual, heteroromantic, novaromantic, mixed orientation, and the list goes on. I felt such a pressure from myself to choose a sexual identity, so I could stick with it. If I was straight, then I needed to be just that, figure out what was going on regarding my desire for other women. If I was bisexual, I needed to know, I needed the answer, I needed to find my truth, I needed to try to open up myself not just sexually, but emotionally, to other women and see how that felt. I also needed to explore the possibility that maybe I was pansexual.
I was, and still am, very afraid of what answer I might find. I’m the only daughter to Catholic and Mexican parents, expected to marry a man and bear children. I come from a culture where there is still so much shame surrounding sex and sexuality. There is even more shame and lack of acceptance around anything that deviates from traditional norms.
I’m not sure if it’s confusion, the fact that I have so much more exploring my sexuality left to do, or if I’m unwittingly allowing fear to dictate my sexuality, that is rendering me incapable of identifying with a label. But, maybe, right now, for me, the only thing I need to know is that my sexuality ebbs and flows.
The only person who can define my sexuality is me, and the only person who can identify my sexuality is me. I just want to acknowledge how I feel and live in my experiences and stop chasing my sexuality.
I want to admit to myself and others that I don’t know how I identify.
I want acknowledgment from myself and others that my sexuality is valid, even if I’ve only ever been romantically involved with men.
I want to be able to say that maybe the fact that I’m not straight means I’m queer, and just because I’ve only ever had emotional attachments to men doesn’t make me any less queer.
I want acknowledgment that my lack of romantic experience when it comes to women doesn’t invalidate my sexuality.
Whether I’m bisexual, pansexual, a fluid lover, somewhere on the scale, or just not straight, my sexuality is still valid, and I’m still proud of it. I just hope whoever is reading this, and anyone in my life who loves me, acknowledges this and feels proud of me, too.
Confusion and uncertainty are inevitable when it comes to sexual fluidity, but the beautiful thing is that we can find solidarity in the two.
As uncertain as any of us may be, we’re still valid, and we sure as fuck belong at Pride.