I had some brilliant and engaging conversations with writer Tony Green this past week about sexuality and identity (check out his page here)
Something that has felt true all my life is that human sexuality is flowing and free and that many people (me included at times) find that threatening and uncomfortable – the freedom and power of it frightens as well as excites us maybe.
I’ve never really known what it means to be a gay man. At the age of 18 (when I came out) some of the gay men I met seemed somehow trapped in an identity constructed for them and I often found as much prejudice on the gay scene (towards women as well as racism and an endless game of categorising this type and that type) that my relief at finally feeling free to express my attraction to men was quickly followed by a heavy sense of feeling that I didn’t fit in here, either.
I still don’t know what it is to be gay (unless we’re talking about a carefree sense of lightness and perhaps gadding about town – and you don’t have to be attracted to the same sex for that!). I know what sexual attraction feels like, I know what it feels like to feel drawn to a person, to experience chemistry, to fall in love with someone just as they are, imperfections and quirks ‘an all. And I know that when I don’t get in the way of that with some sort of clunky sign around my neck and all the attendant concerns about what other people will make of that clunky sign, it feels natural, good, healthy, enjoyable, free.
If I say “I’m gay” then I’m inviting you to hang all of YOUR perceptions, understanding, experience, fears, affirmation, acceptance, non-acceptance and maybe indifference on that identity. For me it doesn’t really mean anything, doesn’t really tell you anything about who or what I am – in the same way that if someone tells me “I’m straight”, well… jolly good. It doesn’t make you a good person or a bad person or give me any clue as to what music you like or what you do in the bedroom (like it’s any of my business anyway).
So, for those who missed it in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and all the way to today, I’ll say it once more, with perhaps a little more feeling –
I’m coming out. Out of the closet and it’s roles and costumes, out from behind the clouds of concepts and identities that tell you more about you than they tell you about me, out of the box of cards and categories and labels, out as a human-sexual – out where the spectrum of colour is dazzling in the light of not knowing a damn thing.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”