Saul of-Hearts thinks his definition of bisexuality doesn’t really match up with anyone else’s. And that’s more than ok.
A few months ago, my roommates and I had just gotten back from an “Anything But Clothes” party, at which I’d worn a backpack with holes cut in it in place of pants.
We had a guest staying with us, a muscular 20-something with a thick French accent, whom my gay roommate may or may not have been hitting on. We were sitting around the kitchen table around 3 or 4 AM, talking about love and sex, as we often do, when our guest mentioned casually that he was bisexual.
Oh, cool, I thought. I kind of get that. Maybe we have a similar perspective on things.
But before long he was telling us about a series of older men he’d dated, making plans with my roommate to check out a Pride pool party, and comparing the pros and cons of hookup apps like Grindr, Jack’d, and Scruff.
And I thought to myself: That’s not what I meant when I set up my OKCupid profile. His idea of “bisexual” is completely different from mine.
The problem with the word “bisexual” is that it casts such a broad umbrella. For some people, it means being attracted to both genders equally. For others, it means being attracted to masculinity in both sexes: manly men and butch females. Or the reverse: feminine qualities in both sexes.
I don’t relate to any of those definitions. I’m attracted to women romantically, and men as friends. Some of those women as lovers, some men as, well, friends with benefits. I’ve had a variety of sexual experiences that don’t fit neatly into any one category, but I wouldn’t say that it makes me an “equal opportunist”.
My OKCupid profile says “bisexual,” because there aren’t any better options on the list. It’s either that, or straight, or gay. To me, “straight” conjures up so many notions of heteronormativity—traditional relationship models and gender roles—that I prefer not to use it. I want any woman I interact with to know up front that I’m not interested in a traditional monogamous relationship.
But it doesn’t mean that I’m looking to date men.
When I’m on OKCupid, trying to set up dinner or drinks with a woman, it’s jarring to receive a message from a man in my inbox. Most likely, I’m going to delete it.
I don’t want to try and recreate the romance I feel in a heterosexual relationship with a person of the same gender.
For me, building up a friendship with a man—platonic or otherwise—has nothing to do with the way I date women. It’s not an either/or thing for me.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that perspective, or that I don’t think it exists. I’m pleased when Morrissey says he’s “humansexual,” or some famous actress insists that she’s “attracted to people”. Anything to shake the status quo.
But, ultimately, that’s not me.
I wouldn’t be just as happy to find a man in my bed as a woman. I’m not going to settle down with a guy if I don’t meet the right girl. It’s true that I need intimacy with both genders to feel fulfilled, but I’m talking about very different kinds of intimacy.
I’ve logged on to a few of those hook-up apps.
Can I suck your dick? they ask. Are you a top or a bottom?
No, and neither. The kind of connection that I’m looking for with another guy seems so out of touch with what they want that it’s almost not worth bothering.
I don’t want to scroll through a bunch of hairy, headless torsos to get anonymous head from a closeted married man. I don’t want to be hit on by creepy old guys offering “generous” compensation if I join them for drinks or spend the night at their place. 90% of the options available to me on apps like these would be worse than just staying home and masturbating.
I can see why so many women hate online dating.
What, then, do I want?
I want to have male friends in my life who are comfortable with physical affection, whether or not sexual attraction is a part of it. I want to be open to the level of intimacy that’s appropriate for each friendship, whether that leads to a “relationship” or not. And I want to be able to explore variations on heterosexuality through artistic video projects and scenes.
You can call me bisexual if you want. Numbers matter, and I’d rather lump myself in with the non-conformists than with the old-school traditionalists.
But being open to a threesome with another guy doesn’t mean that I’m attracted to men and women equally. Being willing to explore gender roles doesn’t mean that genders don’t exist, or that those roles are always interchangeable. And being open to intimacy with a guy doesn’t mean I’m open to love. Platonic love, sure, but not the kind of love you get married over.
This past summer, I went to a cuddle party thrown by Sex-Positive LA.
The host, an attractive female in her mid-30s, apologized for the lack of gender balance: there were around three guys for every two girls. She came around to our group, where two other men and myself were sitting awkwardly around the female friend I’d brought to the party. A more homophobic group might have taken this as an opportunity to head home. But she sat down beside us, and, leveraging her own charm and attraction, asked us:
“Can you be open to physical contact in this setting?”
We shrugged. It wasn’t what we had come for, but it wasn’t aversive to us. There was no crisis of orientation, no questioning of gender roles. When sexuality is couched in the language of a sex-positive, pansexual perspective, it’s a lot harder to be disoriented by same-sex contact.
We’re just worshipping the Goddess, right? Not each other. But we can be open to intimacy if it leads toward that larger goal.
And ultimately, maybe, that’s what I want. Not to be turned on by other men, but to be turned on with them. To acknowledge that my ability to have sex with and build relationships with women doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
That other men exist, and will always be around, and that it’s only reasonable to take their wants and desires as seriously as I take my own.
You can’t remove the specter of the other man from the bedroom.
At another event, a OneTaste meetup, we went around the room sharing things that we’d always wanted to, or wished we’d asked for, during sex.
I confessed that I wanted to have more sex outdoors. Just me and a woman, like wild cats, deep inside the forest.
The man across from me nodded. “I can see that,” he said, and he met my eyes. “I can see you doing that.”
I looked away. “Thanks,” I said.
He didn’t want to be there, nor would I have wanted him to be. But his words were enough to validate it. They were enough to make it real.
Photo: Dominic’s pics / flickr