It’s Celebrate Bisexuality Day today. And I feel like I’m being torn in two.
Part of me really wants to get involved, make it known, say “This is who I am and I’m proud of that” to the world.
The other part of me is still in struggle, like it has been for pretty much all of my sexual years.
I’ve been trying to find a word to describe my sexual attractions ever since I started having them. Probably in large part because I struggled with understanding what they were to begin with. I dunno, I’ve just always had trouble reading that part of myself. I’ve gone through so many terms and identities, from bisexual to gay to pansexual and even asexual, since I had such a hard time determining what sexual attraction was for me, what it felt like, how it separated from amorous attraction, etc.
Coincidentally (or maybe not), this was also around the time that I started exploring the depths of being neuroatypical. Even more so over the last couple of years, when I’ve started learning more about what it exactly entails for me. Probably what effects my perception of sexuality the most is the combination of being unable to perceive and/or understand social norms and the very rigid line of thinking due to being obsessive-compulsive.
The more I explore, the more I come to understand that my mind treats sexuality the same way it does everything else. Things Have Their Place. They have an order. They have compartments, little boxes that everything fits neatly into (until it’s challenged). When certain things are moved, misplaced, mashed together and combined so that they are no longer distinct and clear for me to understand, my mind literally stops because I can’t comprehend it anymore. Everything stops making sense, because they’ve changed from how They Always Are, and these things have been removed from my control, my ability to maintain a grip on how I handle the world around me. My mind stops, and I in turn stop – the world shuts down. This happens with anything from certain food combinations, to my books and games being in the wrong order, to the money in my cash register at work being turned in all the wrong directions and the papers being in the wrong place, to my tea and cooking supplies in the kitchen being moved. Any of this, and more, being altered shatters how I operate.
Whether I like it or not, whether or not I try to challenge and contest it, my mind’s rigid thinking from OCD extends to whether or not I find people sexually attractive. Specifically in terms of body structure, genitalia and sometimes even gender presentation. Despite me constantly mixing and matching elements of what society perceives as masculine and feminine in my presentation, and the fact that how I present and act in response to the world can change so rapidly, my brain has a hard time articulating these concepts in other people. It sees that mixture and halts any processes going on, including sexual arousal. Like how I can’t eat poutine or fish with barbecue sauce, or how I can’t have my movies and my games mixed up, I can’t seem to be sexually attracted to mixtures of traits.
Do I like that? No. Far from it. I’ve tried to counteract it, I’ve tried to step outside of this thinking and become attracted to the actions themselves and not the people involved, I’ve tried ignoring it, I’ve tried acknowledging it as a problem with internalized cissexism and addressing it. And despite all of my efforts, it doesn’t work. My brain still stops. I still lose everything. Can I still act? Yeah, sure. But my connection to it is lost, and it can even cause distress for me depending on the levels of stress I’m under, to be doing something that my mind is trying to tell me is wrong and out of order and out of place.
I need to accept that part of me. I need to accept that I am obsessive-compulsive, that this is how I operate and how I perceive the world. How I need to perceive the world in order for me to function in society and my own home. And part of that acceptance is coming to terms with the term bisexual, and what it means to me linguistically. Because amusingly enough, language is also affected by my rigid thinking, the separation of prefixes and suffixes, and their independent definitions.
To me, the term bisexuality means to be sexually attracted to two specific structures or combination of traits. It doesn’t matter what these structures are – the prefix bi- need not be restricted to the concept of polar opposites or any other specifics. Is this the definition of bisexuality? I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t think anyone knows for sure – the definition is in constant debate, much like many other terms in the English language. But that is how my mind understands language and how it understands the breaking down of this term. Which leads to another part of my internal struggle.
One of the common talking points regarding bisexuality in the queer/QUILTBAG is the social definition and assumptions with the use of the term bisexual. And as I mentioned earlier, the term’s roots in cissexism and the use of the term to reinforce that through erasure of trans* folk. Socially the term is often perceived as referring to sexual attraction to cisgender men and women, people who are female or male assigned at birth and identify with this assignment. This becomes especially problematic when the term is used to mean sexual attraction regardless of gender or body structure – because it ignores the fact that the term stems from the root meaning of “two attractions”, and there are so many more gender identities and presentations and combinations than just that. It’s not uncommon for people to say they’re attracted to people “regardless of gender”, and then really only mean cisgender men and women. And that’s a major ass problem.
But then another problem arises when we try to deconstruct the term and how its used, sometimes to the point of demonizing those that use the term in a different fashion. Especially so when we make the assumption that a person is using the term to mean a certain definition, and trying to tell them “no, you mean [this term]” when no, they may not be referring to that at all. Because then, in attempts to address a problem with socialized oppression of trans* folk and the erasure of both their existence and diversity, we start to erase the possible need for terminology for other reasons. Such as, well, neuroatypicality and how one’s mind operates.
Honestly? I am all for the deconstruction of the term, its history, its definition and its deep roots in cissexism and trans* erasure. Because it is a major ass problem, one that needs to be addressed, especially within the queer/QUILTBAG community and the high levels of infighting. And I say go for it – I’ll be with you. But in the meanwhile, I’ll still be stuck on my end, struggling to come up with a term to describe my attractions and how it coincides with my mind’s perception of the world, but doesn’t include such problems.
If anyone has suggestions that I can look into, please, comment! I am all open.