Happy and Strange

I reblogged this comic on Tumblr this morning, adding my own comment at the bottom: “I love this! I usually refer to myself as straight and I’m mostly attracted to women, but…I’ve never really felt *straight*.”

Maybe it’s because I grew up with relatives who were out about their sexuality–and their sexuality wasn’t always static. Maybe it’s because I was often teased and bullied in high school and college for being seen as possibly or probably gay. Maybe it’s because throughout my life, going back as far as elementary school, I found myself having emotional crushes on boys but didn’t know how to handle or express that (especially since I wasn’t physically attracted to them, which obviously meant I wasn’t “gay,” right?). Maybe it’s because when I was in preschool, I played “Archie” with my brother and my best friend, and while my friend played Archie and my brother played Reggie and Jughead, I played Betty–and I never thought there was anything weird or “wrong” about it. Maybe it’s because I’ve had so many friends and family in my life who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, hetero-flexible,  “undefined,” whatever. But  the real answer is certainly “all of the above” for why I’ve never really thought of myself as “straight.”

I don’t feel straight, I feel queer. Yes, I’m male and I’ve only ever had romantic and sexual relationships with women. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t snog some men if I had the chance. (As I’ve said to friends, “I wouldn’t go gay for John Barrowman, but I’d definitely go bi.”) People are attracted (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) to all kinds of other people. I think people are generally happier when they accept this about themselves and others, and as long as everyone is a consenting adult, it doesn’t matter who you have relationships with and how those relationships play out.

While “straight” implies “normal” and “queer” basically means “weird” or “unusual,” I find straight to be much weirder and rarer than queer. But I love living in a world that’s happy and strange, gay and queer, so…if we’re going to have labels and definitions, I’ll take queer, thank you very much.

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Monogamy, Polyamory, Words, Words, Words!

Some recent blog posts and conversations have got some thoughts swirling around my head.

1) I’ve always thought of myself as monogamous. When Brooke and I first got involved, we both established that we’re monogamous in relationships. I realized recently, however, that I wasn’t being honest with myself and therefore wasn’t being truthful with Brooke. So I talked to her about how I’m actually more than OK with being physical with more than one person at a time. (And no, I’m not talking about threesomes, foursomes or moresomes.) I can’t imagine being comfortable with snogging or sexing up someone I’m not close to, but getting physical with friends? Yep, I’m good with that. BUT…I know that Brooke isn’t OK with that, and it’s not a dealbreaker for me. I don’t have to get sexy with anyone but my current partner, I’m just open to it and fantasize about it. If Brooke wants me to be only with her, I’m totally cool with that. (Especially since we’re both cool with each other flirting with other people. Past partners of mine haven’t always been cool with that.) You can’t expect me to only be attracted to one person, but it’s completely reasonable to expect me to only get sexy with one person.

2) While Brooke and I are monogamous in the sense that we’re only romantic and sexual with each other, we’re polyamorous in the sense that we both love a lot of people in many different ways. It would be silly to expect Brooke to love only me and it would be silly for her to expect the same from me.

3) Brooke recently told me that she doesn’t like referring to me as her “boyfriend,” since it sounds like a temporary, lightweight relationship, and our relationship is definitely not short-term or lightweight. I agree, but I’m also not a fan of the term “partner,” which sounds to me like we’re a gay couple being forced to make our relationship sound less than a heterosexual marriage. She prefers “manpanion” because it sounds kind of silly but also indicates that I’m her male companion. That inspired me to start referring to her as my “companion,” which references two of my all-time favorite TV shows, Doctor Who and Firefly. So we’re both Time Lords and we’re both courtesans. Or something like that.

4) Rethinking the terms for each other made me think that I want new terms for a lot of people in my life. I want a word for: Person Who I’m Totally Crushing On At The Moment; Person Who I Adore But Am Not Romantic With; Person Who I Would Be Happy To Fuck Given The Opportunity But Who I Can’t Imagine Being In A Successful Long-Term Relationship With; Person Who I Think Is Incredibly Cool; Person I Love To Flirt With But Would Never Actually Do Anything With; My Companion’s Wife; My Companion’s Wife’s Husband; The Mother Of My Daughter (“ex-wife” sounds so negative!)–and so on. Just as the word “love” doesn’t always express well the various shades of feeling, the words “friend” or “girlfriend” or “partner” or “lover” don’t always express well how I relate to someone. (I love the Yiddish word “meshpokha.” It means “extended family,” which includes people who aren’t related to you by blood or marriage, they’re just a part of your extended family by association.)

This post was originally posted in a more secluded location for certain friends only. I’m more comfortable now posting it openly.

Ask

Shyness is nice, and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You’d like to

So, if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
ASK ME – I WON’T SAY “NO” – HOW COULD I ?
— “Ask”, The Smiths

I’ve talked quite a bit of politics on this blog. I’ve talked about death, too. But I haven’t talked much about sex. This post will change all that. So if you’re someone who doesn’t really want to know my thoughts on sex (Mom, I’m looking at you!), turn away now.

Are we all sitting comfortably? OK, let’s do this.

My friend Amy (also known as Brooke’s wife) turned me on to the Pervocracy blog. Although I’m not into BDSM kink and I’m not, strictly speaking, polyamorous, there’s a lot on the blog that I find incredibly insightful and useful. The most recent post, “Why have sex?”, led me to an older post, “What do you want?”. Together, these posts opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve never asked or thought about these two things, which, now that I think about it, are really damn important questions to answer.

Let’s face it, when it comes to finding time for sex, making sure you and the other person (or other people, if you’re the type of person who has orgy friends) are both in the right mood, coordinating moods and energy, masturbation can be a whole lot easier than having sex with other people. And if you’re looking for emotional intimacy…well, sex isn’t always the best or easiest way to get that. Asking “Why do you want to have sex?” might seem like a duh question, but when I asked myself that and demanded I answer with something other than “Because sex is fun and feels good,” it suddenly became a very profound question that I still haven’t successfully answered (mostly because I’ve had too much going on in terms of sickness and death to have the time and presence of mind to really address it). Just as I think any romantic relationship needs to address the question of “Why are we together?”, any sexual relationship needs to address the question of “Why do we want to have sex with each other?” And just as I think every person needs to answer the question “What do I want out of a romantic relationship?” (Note: my ex-wife and I wanted different things, which we should have known and addressed much earlier than we did), I think every person needs to answer the question “What do I want out of sex?” (Also, every person needs to answer the question, “What do I not want out of sex?”)

I’ve always been pretty insecure when it comes to initiating sex and asking for what I want in sex. I get terribly shy when it comes to talking about my fantasies with my partner. (Although I don’t have the same shyness when talking to close friends.) A lot of this comes from a fear of rejection, a fear that I’ll been seen as a “pervert” or “weirdo” (even though I know I’m pretty damn vanilla when it comes to sex). I know this isn’t healthy and I’m working on it. Asking and answering the questions above are an important step in that.

Are you completely comfortable asking for sex? Are you completely comfortable stating your needs, your desires, your fantasies, your boundaries? Are you completely comfortable saying no and explaining why you don’t want to do what you’ve been asked to do? Do you know what you want and what you don’t want when you have sex? Do you know why you want to have sex? It’s silly how long it’s taken me to start asking these questions, but it’s equally silly not to ask these things.

Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
— “Let’s Talk About Sex”, Salt ‘n’ Pepa