(Title taken from Sasha Velours chorus for the remix of Category Is from season 9 of Drag Race)
I’ve been thinking a lot about gender and sexuality at the minute.
Maybe it has something to do with the book I bought recently – though that came after the initial spark – maybe it’s because of Pride. Maybe it’s because of Drag Race or maybe it’s because of the tiny bit of validation I got from an unexpected source.
Gender and Sexuality, though some might not believe, have always been difficult for me to talk about. Maybe because I haven’t always felt like I fitted into the moulds that society laid out for me.
Big kudos have to be given to my mum here, who I don’t ever remember saying to me. ‘Thats for boys not girls’
In fact the occasions where I do remember her asking me to choose gendered things, usually involved clothing because women’s clothing was tailored to fit women and buying everything in a large men’s usually made me look a lot bigger than I was.
Most, if not all, of the pressure then came from outside sources.
Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, I can look back now and recognise that jealousy was at the source of a frustration that led to a falling apart of many a friendship. I look back now and things make sense but they didn’t then.
I’d say I was more aware of the trouble with gender from the offset. As a child I always felt like I wasn’t girly enough but then I certainly wasn’t tomboyish enough either. I was constantly flitting between enjoying ‘feminine’ things and then enjoying the more male orientated things.
I played with action men as much as Barbies, I loved my computer, I didn’t really want to be a bond girl but Bond himself. When I acted I liked to play male characters because they usually had the best parts. I loathed playing housewives. I struggled to find my place to fit in, then again I was already struggling to find a place to fit in because of my interests, because of who I was.
I did occasionally have fleeting thoughts on what it would be like if I were a boy. I’d probably have fit in easier. There was never any serious consideration though. I never wanted to be male. I didn’t think or feel I was born in the wrong body, I just felt that I didn’t quite fit any of the neat little boxes that society wanted to put me in as a girl. If anything I wanted to be both. I wanted to be male and female equally.
As I grew older the world shifted. Not only this but I shifted too.
There’s a RuPaul song called Born Naked and the lyric says this; “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” Twenty two years of searching and I found something that articulated how I felt, how I feel. Since college I’ve always pinned feminity as a performance. Getting dressed in the morning is generally a performance. The clothes we choose tell other people things about us. They allow people to glimpse a small part of our psyche without us saying a word. They denote how comfortable we are around people.
For me putting on clothes is like changing skins. I like to keep my wardrobe fluid because I’m fluid in how I feel. Some days I enjoy putting the effort in and looking like a 1940s movie star. Other days I enjoy looking like I just rolled out of bed. It depends how I’m feeling.
Some days I want to hide my boobs, some days I want to look more boyish, some days I want to disappear into the background and some days I want people to do a double take when they see me.
No matter what though I always dress for myself, for a version of myself I want the world to see that day.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
College brought about a freedom that I relished, I could wear what I wanted. I wasn’t going by a uniform and coming up with creative ways to make it that little bit different. That little bit representative of who I was, or rather who I was that day.
College also brought with it other realisations……
I realised in college that things weren’t so black and white on the sexuality spectrum. I was exposed to more people and I learnt that there wasn’t just gay or straight. There was also bi.
It still didn’t feel right though. The word bi, it didn’t feel right for me.
I wasn’t bi, straight didn’t really feel right either anymore but I figured that’s what I was closer too. There were girls though, women, who I felt something for that went beyond just awe and admiration. I just didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know where to look for clarification.
My first job opened my eyes too.
There was a woman there who I could have seen myself having at least a fling with. Had I not been with Dave. (Who I’ve been with for 9 years thank you very much).
At some point I settled on pansexual. I felt it was the best description for how I found myself attracted to people. For me it’s never been about gender and I certainly don’t find people attractive at first sight. It’s character and smiles, some shadow of personality that I see that sparks something inside of me.
Of course this didn’t necessarily mean I suddenly felt a sense of acceptance. Like I’d found a place in the world to belong. Bringing up my sexuality in any sort of conversation has always made me feel varying levels of discomfort. Of course it’s met by the violent need to baulk at that feeling. Be proud of who I am.
Still I suddenly feel under the radar and like I’m being scrutenised.
I’ve had experiences too, where people have out and out questioned my sexuality or told me I simply can’t be what I am. I’ve been confronted with the ridiculous notion that I can’t possibly be anything but straight because I’ve been with Dave so long. And I’ve had to justify myself to these idiots. I’ve tried to educate them about sexuality and ended up trying to justifying something which in no way affects them.
My sexuality is mine and my sexuality is Pansexual.
not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.
In discovering that gender and sexuality could be fluid. I could make peace with past frustration and things I’ve done. I was able to forgive myself, love myself, but it also made me realise that I wouldn’t want other people to feel that way.
People don’t fit neat little boxes and the world should stop trying to slot them into them. Fuck societies rules, fuck ticking boxes to define yourself.
I’m am who I am. We are who we are.
And what we should be is Proud.