Stopping at gay: holding the closet door ajar?

Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell anyone that they don’t have a right to label themselves (or not) however they want. Your label, your business. But I’d be interested in some thoughts about how common the following is as a coming out experience, and what that might mean:

A normatively attractive girl develops an increasing awareness that her desire to kiss and touch beautiful women and spend lots of time with them is getting cramped and painful. She does have relationships with men, ranging from one night to one year. She enjoys them. She feels validated socially, attaining that ultimate status symbol: a man, with relative ease. Meanwhile, she throws around professions of new age free love, to justify perpetrating a phallic gaze on lots of girls and snogging with them whilst drunk. When she can’t stop thinking of them while she’s with men, she goes for total abstention in the name of feminist bodily integrity. The gay keeps bursting out though, even when she’s in a celibate relationship with Catholic Alpha Male Type A. Eventually, she comes bursting out along with it, despite the fact that this will mean she has to live up to those burdensome presumptions about her as a child tomboy and adult lefty. But, she moves to Gaytopia for a year and, as far as possible, frequents only gay bars, gay restaurants, takes gay showers, has a gay life. Gay gay gay. Then she realises she really wants to kiss and touch beautiful men. Ok, so she’s bi; no one’s genitalia is going to define the relationship she can have with them. Best of both worlds: beautiful men, beautiful women. But what’s happening now? I have a crush on Adele? Am I some kind of chubby chaser? No, someone’s slower metabolic rate does not preclude an amazing sexual and romantic relationship with them (even if it will have to stay in my head in this instance). Ok, so women and men who are beautiful, yes, but not necessarily according to my old, socially conditioned, normative standards. I already gave up dating people just for social validation, after all. That leaves a lot of people who are really very interesting possibilities now. But unfortunately, I’m already sleeping with someone. Wait, does the fact that I’m sleeping with someone necessarily preclude sleeping with someone else as well? No, my girlfriend is actually up for it. Great! In fact, that’s kind of hot. Oh no, I’ve reverted to perpetrating a phallic gaze. Can I do that as a feminist? Well, I seem to be. In fact, I wish I could hit on that straight girl just like a straight guy would. Oh wow, I can. And things are still going really well with my girlfriend. I really love her. I wonder if she’d have my babies? Oh, that’s sad, I’ll never get her pregnant, unless with my mind sperm. I’m quite jealous of the male reproductive role right now. Maybe I’m a little transgendered. Can you even be a little transgendered? I don’t know. And I’m comfortable with that.

In one feel sweep from closeted to gender queer, polyamorous, in love with a larger woman who, to cap it all, is ginger and wears glasses and sometimes presents butch and sometimes presents ultra femme! This is the social right’s worst nightmare. If you agree that some alternatives to the traditional relationship model are valid, then you open the floodgates and before you know it, people are calling monogamy last season, you don’t know whether you’re holding the door open for a girl or a boy, and media industries cease to be able to capitalise on people’s sexualities by marketing a one size fits all image of attractiveness and then capitalism collapses.

I don’t belong to the social right, so its nightmare is my fantasy. But does it undermine generations of struggle for the normalisation of gay identity, if I view it as a step on the road to out-and-out queerness?

1 Comment

  1. Cas

    I totally get where you’re coming from. I’ve *chosen* to stop at gay, because I just don’t want to negotiate the privilege gradient of having relationships with men, but I’m very aware now that it may be a choice, and not an inbuilt identity.

    I don’t think it undermines the struggle for the normalisation of gay identity. I think it shores up the broad church of queer against the attempts from outside to carve off and subsume part of a movement which was, from the start, chock-full of bi, trans, fat, kinky and other magnificent people. Gay can be an identity but it shouldn’t be a dead-end.

    PS: Send me poetry! 🙂

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