Dear Straight Boys
I am not your “pet peeve.”
It’s ten minutes into a conversation and he says it: “It’s a pet peeve of mine…I feel like a lot of girls who say it, aren’t.”
He’s referring to the fact that I chose “bisexual” from the little drop-down menu. (A term that, as it is, feels like I’m trying to wrestle into a shirt but it’s too tight at the neck, and I can’t tell the arm- from the head-holes.)
Okay, I’ll read between the lines here.
You think we’re doing it for show, for “attention,” to look ~sexually available~, to turn you on. There’s an undertone of something I don’t want to touch, something that says get out now, girl–a guy who professes interest in sex on a first date takes issue with the idea (based on gross false assumption) of an actively sexual lady.
Dear straight boys: the amount and kind of sex I have is not your concern.
Against all better judgment, I give explanation. My longest relationship was with a woman. “I find that attractive.” Attractive? Why? “Just seems more soft.” Because if we’re not omg huge sluts, we’re elegant fairy-ladies who just hug and talk about our feelings all the time. (Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad.)
But there are other things that boys like this want to hear about. “How do two women” (they mean people with vaginas) “…you know?” I haven’t figured out a good answer to this because it still surprises me. I’m light and flippant. “Whatever works!” I laugh; they laugh.
What I’ve become, I realize, is a source of knowledge, someone with insider information, someone who’s seen the other side. I’m straight enough, right? I’m with them now. But there’s also something like a mystery, and they want to know the ending. I’ve been there and back again. What is not shared is hoarded; my experiences do not belong to me.
Dear straight boys: I don’t–won’t–do this for you.
Part of it, the part that will sometimes soften my response, is that often they really don’t know. This is not information you get in a classroom. Long before I had a relationship with another woman I knew–looking back, I don’t even know how–about sex between gay (cis) men. But when it came to my own relationship I had to do research, worried I wouldn’t know how/what/where.
So, I get it. They come bearing what they’ve learned, which is sparse and misguided. They also come trying to fit me into a narrative. As it often is with narratives, not every character fits in. When they come, they’re not asking for the generalized experience; they’re asking about me. Where my body has/hasn’t been. I turn on this light and shadows are cast in corners. Places that don’t belong to them. Places they squint and grope at.
Dear straight boys: I don’t want to explain. I am not a room cloaked in heat and veils. I will not show you ’round because you brought a bottle of wine. I can open the window and throw you out.
Is it because of heteronormativity, it is because I’m a quieter person, that there is always an assumed straightness, an implied “innocence”? (Contrasting the image you have of this sexuality, playing into an it’s always the quiet ones theme, perhaps?) What are you looking for, straight boys? It’s my time to ask questions.
Because I have questions.
When do I bring up my sexuality? To whom? Why? How much do I care–and how much do I want them to care? How do I explain something that I’m sorting out, every day, myself? When it comes up, when it gets to the point where I want them to know, to understand, why does it feel like I’m on display? What is my body now? What do they think they deserve? What are they seeing, imagining, fetishizing, (denying) and how much do I let slip by, unchallenged, because some of these people are people I trust and want and care for?
Dear straight boys: my heart’s history, my body’s history, does not belong to you. Not if I love you to the edge of the earth, not if you have the best intentions, definitely not if you’re horny and curious.
The door to this closet revolves. I am bored and exhausted at the faces they make.
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Kathleen is a contributing writer at the Ellipses Project. She is a 20-year-old English Literature major from Ontario, Canada. Besides writing, she is interested in learning about social & environmental justice and unlearning oppressive behaviour. She also enjoys poetry, making and listening to music, pyjama parties, and breakfast food.