The Etch-A-Sketch Theory.


Just a quick one, something I’ve been thinking of when I should have been hard at work.

Being gay doesn’t erase your past hetero-fumbles.

I had a girlfriend who, like me, had dated men and women in the past. When we got together she was still questioning whether she was gay or bisexual. We dated and started getting more serious. She started telling her friends, she even told her parents. She told one friend in particular, a gay male friend, and his response was surprisingly narrow:

-So are you gay now?
-Maybe. I don’t really know.
-But you’re with L?
-And she is gay.
-And she’s ok with you not knowing what you are?

Hold on there buddy, what’s with the label anxiety? Dating isn’t an interview to see if you’re acceptable for a relationship. You’re not required to have all the answers ready for scrutiny. Sexuality cannot be recorded like a CV (forgive the analogy, I’ve been job hunting recently). What (or who) you have done in your past doesn’t have any bearing on your current relationship. It shapes who you are, sure, but it doesn’t affect the connection you have with someone right now. If someone loves me, treats me well and I feel and do the same in return [and the sex is good – because hey, that’s important] then I don’t mind if you’ve dated men before. I have.

And it does not make me any less of a lesbian. Believe me.

Also, just because I’m a lesbian, doesn’t mean that the men in my past are magically erased. They don’t stop ‘counting’ because I’m gay. I think I’ve always have been gay. It doesn’t mean that I’ve not had fulfilling relationships with men, just because I was unsure of my sexuality at the time.

I’ve had two or three significant relationships with men. Their presence in my life has shaped who I am. They have contributed to my personal understanding, my attitudes to relationships and fidelity and, to some extent, sex (of course the sex was good, you didn’t expect me to stick it out for nearly four years with one guy for mediocre did you?)

These men were important to me. And, against my intentions, bore the brunt of my coming out. They didn’t have an easy time of it with me sometimes. But I genuinely loved them. I wouldn’t have knowingly dared to put someone through that, unless I had felt that they were what I truly wanted, at the time. You hurt the ones you love. They might not be my preferred gender, but they are not mistakes. The word ‘mistake’ belittles the love I felt for them, or how I mourned them after we broke up.

They do not invalidate my “gayness” so I shan’t stoop to invalidate their places in my life.

Sexuality is who or what you want. It isn’t threatened by the things you have experienced. Even if you can’t put a word on who you are, it doesn’t mean you cannot love someone.

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