Bisexual Visibility Day

Today is Bisexual Visibility Day. I’m not sure who determines that but it is all over my Facebook newsfeed so it must be true.

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My favorite visual for today.

Sexual identity is not always a simple concept for one to accept. Not only are there tons of phrases that can be accurate (bisexual, pansexual, bi-curious, fluid, etc) but how you identify can change during different times in your life and with different people. While bisexual isn’t my preferred identity it is one that accurately describes me. This won’t surprise many people in my personal life but I don’t think I’ve ever really came out like explicitly in a public forum like this. In fact, it was difficult for me to accept my self for many years.

Growing up in a religious conservative home meant that being gay was a sin. It was very clear from the sermons at church, the books around my house growing up, and off-hand comments from my family that not being straight was unacceptable. This, of course, turned into an incredible fear in my heart that I was gay. Any attraction to men lead to guilt and a drive to prayer to take Satan’s curse away from me.

During my high school days I was very outspokenly religious, but looking back I had some same-sex attractions but would never allow myself to really admit it. This lead to some moments that I am now ashamed of. One particular experience comes to mind. I was asked by an openly gay man in our school if I believed in marriage equality and a look of disgust crossed my face. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it certainly was a disapproval of the whole idea.

Years went by without any real maturity in my viewpoints. It wasn’t until a fateful day in the Army that the issue came up again. I was riding in a truck with a fellow soldier and I noticed a belt in the back that said “I like boys” written on it. My first assumption was it must have belonged to the soldier’s girlfriend and she left it in the car. When I pointed it out he kind of laughed and told me that if that bothered me he understood but hoped that I wouldn’t tell anyone… this was long before “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed. I told him that his secret was safe with me, but it brought up the internal struggle again. I wasn’t attracted to this soldier but here I was with someone that I knew and trusted with my life and part of his existence was supposedly so reprehensible that he didn’t even belong on the military base.

After leaving the military I began to re-evaluate my political views and pulled away from neo-conservatism. As that political pillar of my identity crumbled it took down my simple views on sexuality, religion, and society with it. Out of the rubble of my previous views sprung a much more tolerant and open view of sexual identity. I still didn’t think I was anything but straight (the mind does a great job of suppressing truth at times) but I had no problem with extending equality to others.

At some point after college I found I couldn’t be honest with myself and see myself as simply “straight”. My attractions, my desires, my fantasies, and my identity was more complex than that. Looking back I think my attraction to being an “ally” and voicing for equality was partly (subconsciously and consciously) to out myself as being more complex than straight. It was a way for me to peak into the queer community safely. I enjoyed when guys bought be drinks at gay bars or when they flirted with me… I think part of me assumed that gay men were more physically picky than straight women so I must be cute if guys liked me. I found myself enjoying bisexual porn. I had a desire (that became more open when on MDMA) to explore, touch, and let my curiosity run wild.

At some point I realized that bisexuality doesn’t mean 50/50 attraction. I love women, I find them sexy and attractive, I enjoy feminine energy and nothing gets my heart pumping like that moment when you meet eyes with a woman and both kind of smile with mutual attraction. I can only see myself in relationships with women, but I also want to be sexual with men. And it is okay that the desires, fantasies, and attraction doesn’t split evenly by gender… in fact, as a pansexual (the term I prefer) the person, not the gender is what matters. I feel daily blessed that I have a partnership where we both not only support, but encourage the exploration of our own sexual identities and desires as they evolve over time.

There is an old joke or saying or comedy routine or song or something that says “we’re all a little bit gay”. I don’t think that’s true, I think we are all a little bit “bi”. We all have the capability, and potentially desire, to love others regardless of their gender if the situation is right. But, in the end it isn’t up to me or my theory that we’re all a little bi, identity belongs to the individual. How you define your sexuality is up to you, and you alone. And you should be proud of who you are.

I can’t help but end with this quote from today’s Huff Po article:

“There is something exquisite and profoundly beautiful about the capacity to love other human beings in a way that doesn’t take gender into account as a ‘deal-breaker.’ Bisexuality is bigger than itself, in that it allows for love while teaching us new meanings/ways of love – and that’s cause for celebration.”

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Self Reflection – Introduction

The nature of my lifestyle means I have a lot of time to think. 4-6 hours of constant bike riding daily kind of demands it, your mind tends to wander and you can only focus on podcasts for so long before you ignore them outright. I guess most of my adult life I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I believe and why I believe it. The stability of my Christian, conservative, white middle-class view on the world was another tower that fell on 9/11. After that attack I joined the military, saw some of the world, met lots of people, and realized my upbringing was not the “end all, be all” of the good life. In fact, I found it quite wanting.

This penchant for self-analysis and a recent post on the app “Secret”* inspired this upcoming series of blog posts. I think it is important to constantly question what you believe, why you believe it, and how people perceive you. There are many labels that people apply to themselves (myself included) but rarely can a person’s perspective and history be defined by a few grunted syllables. In addition, I think it will be fun to provide a permanent record of what I believe for future me to look back on. It is likely that 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now I will not have the same points of view. I actually hope I don’t, because that means I have likely stopped growing and learning.

So, in no particular order, here are the subjects, roles, and views I plan on exploring in the coming months, both my current views and how I got to them. I hope to get 1-2 out per week but that depends on logistics for my ride.

  • Libertarian Anarchist
  • Pansexual
  • Nudity and Body Positivity
  • Pagan Atheist
  • Transhumanist
  • Sex Positive
  • Open Relationships and My Current Monogamish Relationship
  • Veganism
  • Minimalist
  • BDSM and Kink
  • Drug Use

*Recently someone posted on “Secret” that my life is basically childish, hedonistic, and that I’m afraid of adulthood. I responded on Facebook and it doesn’t need to be rehashed here, but that perception of me did get my brain moving and was part of the catalyst for this series.

Labels…

I tend to find labels exhausting. But truth be told, they are necessary in our world today. As much as I’d like to live in a time and place where we are just individuals and nothing is thought of our political beliefs, sexual practices, or religion that is not the case. It is never “this is what Peter believes”, instead we use shortcuts like “Peter is an atheist”. We try to compact complex ideas into single words so that we know who is an ally and who is an enemy. This sucks, but it is reality. And as a writer living in reality there is value in defining terms so that people know what I am talking about. As a person it also challenges me to put my beliefs and views into words… often it seems people adopt labels without knowing why they call themselves it.

So, here are some of my labels and what I mean by them. I may add more to this post and reference it in the future as needed.

Anarchist – An ideal world is one without violence or threat of violence. Because government in all forms is backed by violence we should move away from government solutions to our problems. It should be remembered that anytime you say “there ought to be a law” or something similar you are really saying “this situation is so bad that the only way to handle it is to allow people with guns to take people against there will and put them in cages if they disobey, and if they resist with force they sacrifice their lives”.

Atheist – I do not believe there is a conscious being that created and/or interacts with the daily lives in humans that is morally superior to us or should be worshiped.

Introvert – When I am mentally drained I recharge by time alone or time with close friends in a comfortable place. This doesn’t mean I’m shy or avoid public places, it simply means I find new conversations or unfamiliar places draining and need to be in a comfortable place to recover. Yes, this means I stay in 5-6 nights a week and would prefer being curled up with a book or Netflix over putting on clothes and going to a bar or club.

Libertarian – I believe the only person who has the right to control the body, mind, or labor of an individual is that individual. No person, organization, institution, or concept can morally restrict the freedoms of the individual as long as they are not harming another. A peaceful society requires maximizing freedom for all and equality under the law.

Nudist – The human form is beautiful to me and I am comfortable being naked and around naked people. To much emphasis is placed on turning people against their own bodies and forcing us to be embarrassed if we see another person nude. The body is not explicitly sexual and when you start to view it in non-sexual environments regularly you increase respect for individuals and appreciate the beauty that comes from our diverse forms.

Pansexual – For me sexual attraction is not fluid or binary. The people I am attracted to is not determined solely by their organs but depends on time, place, and the individual as a whole, not just their genitalia.

Partner – I am in a relationship with a wonderful partner who I love dearly. The decisions I make do not solely effect me so I take my partner’s thoughts and feelings into strong consideration when I make important decisions. We see eye-to-eye on all important things (marriage, children, and lifestyle) and we communicate openly. I would not be with her if I didn’t feel we complimented each other, can grow together, and are in many ways family.

Polyamorous – If relationship orientation has “only monogamous, one-and-only, no sex, intimacy, or attraction” on one end (let’s call it “1”) and “only polyamorous, must have or pursue multiple sexual partners, intimacy, and relationships” on the other end (“10”) then I range closer to 10… probably fluctuating between 4 and 7 depending on time, place, and individuals.

Promiscuous – Sex is not something that is spiritual, super-natural, or of great importance to me. I have no moral problem with having any kind of sex with consenting people if I wish. (Note: Being a partner means that she gets a strong say in this)

Transhumanist – Thanks to technological advancements humans will someday (possibly in my lifetime) be able to move our consciousness out of the body and into something more durable. The exact form of this will change many times and the initial advancement that grants the option of immortality is still unknown.

Skeptic – I prefer objective proof over subjective testimony. Humans are capable of understanding much through scientific inquiry and those tools should be used whenever possible. The “supernatural” doesn’t exist, though there may be natural forces and mechanisms in place that we have yet to discover or properly understand… in fact, I am sure of it.

Spiritual – I believe that there is something unique about at least humans (possibly other earthly animals and very likely extraterrestrials) that is more than just body and mind physical reactions as we understand them. A soul/spirit exists and exercising it can be beneficial to both the mind and the body. No organized religion has a monopoly on the truth but certain common threads among some “prophets” like love and honor each other, forgive, immediacy, etc provide a foundation. This are internal areas where objective measurement is not yet possible so we must use subjectivity. Whether the soul lives on after bodily death or not I am unsure of.

We’ve Come A Long Way

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Last week I read this article about a male teenager who received a love letter from another male in his school. The recipient of the letter acted perfectly, he stated that he was straight and still wanted to be friends. Basically, he acted the same way he would if a female he wasn’t interested in gave him the letter. Thanks to Dan Savage and the many positive gay friends I’ve had in my life during the last decade or so I recognize how to behave in this type of situation. In fact, I had something similar to me happen not that long ago and I occasional find myself in gay bars where I get hit on occasionally. I think it is important for an ally to know how to handle these situations appropriately.

Unfortunately, if I had been in high school and received a love letter from a man my response would not be the same as it would have been today. I certainly wouldn’t have responded with anger or violence but I would have been disgusted to a degree that would have been impossible to hide. The closest thing to this that happened to me was a peer, who was openly gay, asked if I thought gay marriage should be legalized. I visibly shuddered and told him “no, marriage is between a man and a woman”, but like most conservatives of my age I had no reason or logic to back up that argument beyond Biblical references.

I can’t remember anything in my Christian upbringing that particularly focused on homosexuality but somewhere along the line I picked up that it was a special kind of sin, despite the constant “hate the sin, love the sinner” that was preached from the pulpit. Maybe it was the focus it received when I rarely (if ever) heard mention of thieves, liars, murderers, rapists, or other “sinners” mentioned on stage. I don’t know really… trying to reflect on the causation of prejudices is complex and it is impossible to be objective when looking at ones own life.

I am happy to say that things are getting better though. As my views have changed so have many other people. The youth of today are not willing to fight the culture war over gay marriage and sexual preferences and acts are becoming the private decisions of individuals as they should be. I find many phrases within the sex positive world to be clumsy and overwhelming (I still don’t know what “queer” means or even if an objective definition exists), and I look forward to the day when we abandon them completely and just accept that if two or more people love each other that is great, regardless of the identity we place on them. Some day, soon I hope, love will be love and we won’t need categories to identify what genitalia is present in each party.