Saturday, 7 April 2012

Losing My Identity

Yesterday I read a blog by Tom Webb on Chicks & Dicks about the realities of Gay for You, a popular trope among M/M authors. He described the pitfalls of being pursued by a straight man, and the fact that much of heartache and head searching is glossed over in books.



I have whined about this to Tom on many occasions because while I have so many books that cover GFY I get frustrated at the lack of angst that goes with the hero's sudden conversion to dick. Okay, that was what he said, so I'm not going to rehash old ground.

I'm not so keen on a lot of personal details about me but this is one area in which I have some personal experience so bear with me. You could say this is the opposite head space to Tom's.

I am straight, mainly and yet I spent a couple of years in a relationship with a lovely woman. Not as a teenager, or in my twenties, but once I reached forty. Now, I know a lot of people who are theoretically bi, in which they have acknowledged their attraction to the same gender but never actually done anything about it. I was the opposite. Happily straight and never really considered being any other way. I think there were 2 other women I ever considered taking to bed, but it was more of a drunken fantasy and never going to happen. They were of a type, and close friends.

Without going into all the details, I began a relationship with a woman. I didn't hide it per se, but I was careful whom I told. On the whole people were great, a little curious, but couldn't care less. A couple were actively homophobic but to give them credit stayed friends with me. But the worst thing was losing my identity to the world. It's like losing your job; suddenly you are no longer who you were perceived to be.

Sue Brown, mother, wife/partner, 'normal'. Hah! Normal. Now I was Sue Brown, gay, Gay, GAY!

The women thought I was attracted to them. Er, no. Did I mention I have a type? And if I mentioned an attractive man, that wasn't allowed because I was a lesbian. Er, no again.

The worst problem was in my head. The world perceived me as one thing. I saw myself as something else. The two didn't mesh. My poor lady had a lot to put up with. I never did thank her enough.

Nothing Ever Happens pretty much documents the head space I was in for a long time. The book covers nearly a decade and still Nathan struggles to accept his identity as a gay man.

A few years on I have worked my way through the angst, kind of. For those of you secure in your sexual identity, I envy you. I wish I'd come to accept my sexuality as a young woman, and not a middle-aged wrinkly. I have no issue with being in another relationship with a woman in the future, but the loss of my self-identity is harder to deal with. I'll get there eventually,






30 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this Sue! My husband is bi and we have some openess in our marriage to allow for exploring sexual needs we can't fulfill for each other. We have chosen not to share this with more than a handful of people and for me that's mostly because of that fear of loss of identity. We already do so many things that aren't considered normal like homeschool our kids, to add one more and a huge one that most people don't understand scares me.

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    1. I can't tell you how impressed I am with such a mature way of handling your relationship. It is nice to know I am not the only person to feel the loss of identity.

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  2. Thanks for sharing Sue. I hate labels but we humans tend to want to label everything. I don't understand why we can't just be who we are and love who we want.

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    1. Our society just can't cope with being that grown up, Sara.

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  3. Thanks for sharing Sue, so much of what makes us who we are is hidden from the world. It takes guts to post thoughts like these. Thank you

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    1. I was going to delete it all today, but in the end it was something I needed to say.

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  4. This was quite interesting to read. I never understood the "gay for you" thing before, but then a had a "straight for you" occurance. I'm a gay man who is very comfortable with myself. Then I met a woman and found her to be fascinating and for the first time in my life, I was able to consider a sexual relationship with her. I'd never had sex with a woman because I knew who I was, but it felt like it was possible with her. I think sexuality is fluid(though for some it might be more like an icy, slushy liquidity that barely flows) and you can find someone that doesn't necessarily conform to what you consider your typical partner. It's just someone that you want to be with, period. I think it's something more people are starting to understand and hopefully bring about a more open mind.

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    1. I am rather reassured by your comment as I've never heard of the reverse experience. Sometimes I feel like my sexuality is a whirlpool, hence the confusion.

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  5. Thanks for sharing, Sue. I actually wrote my Chicks and Dicks entry earlier today, and I'm writing about late gay bloomers. Part of it is from research...but a bunch of it is from my own very recent experiences. You could say I'm more than a little confused, at 34.

    I didn't know when it I wrote A Life Without You, but when I look at it now, a lot of *me* went into what Jesse (the "straight" guy) is struggling with. Funny how the subconsciousness works. I haven't turned into a Kinsey 6 or anything, but I may very possibly be somewhere between 1 and 3 (probably won't know until I allow myself to fully explore it). A relationship with a woman (I have a type too - SO not attracted to "all" women, like I'm in no way attracted to "all" men) doesn't freak me out at all - quite the opposite.

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    1. I think we are lucky to be surrounded by all types of people, and it opens our minds to the possibilities.

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  6. Fabulous post. Love is love. I wrote a fanfic once where the two characters were GFY, and the battle with their friends in understanding that it was the soul they'd fallen in love with, not the package it was wrapped in.

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    1. Unfortunately society is more concerned with what swings or doesn't between your legs.

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  7. I like Lisa's comment a lot. Isn't sexuality a grey area anyway? I mean we label people as "straight" or "gay" but aren't there shades in between. Not having read Tom's blog, I just think that like Lisa said - we fall for the person, not the gender. the world is made of different colors and why shouldn't we as people explore the world and all it has to offer to us while we're here?

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    1. I agree with you, but Tom does have a valid point to make. Having sex is one thing, but changing your sexuality to the outside world is a whole other can of worms.

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  8. Yes, I think changing your identity must be a bit traumatic. Though you don't feel that much different, the world will perceive you that way. I've never had that problem but being creative, a writer, a Jew, a New Yorker and an older mom has had people looking at me askance for years. I have to know who I am and be happy that I do, whether others do or not.

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    1. I've been a sex toy selling, slash writing, Christian. I dealt with all this by compartmentalising my life. My sexuality was harder to place in that box.

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  9. What a great post, Sue. We all have our moments where the world kind of tilts, and the Tom or Sue we thought we were is a little different. And then the world wants to pigeon hole and label us.

    I just ask, and like to see, the whole process treated with some understanding and dignity. It's a brave thing to come out, and it's even braver to deal with the fall out. And it's very private.

    You got it so right in "Nothing Ever Happens", and it's one of my favorite books. Because these epiphanies should never be trivialized.

    Tom

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    1. *hugs my bear*. For me the internal fall out was harder than the external. James on FB put it really well.

      "For some people there is just a switch and they never think about it. Bastards. For others it is a slope that you slowly make your way towards. And for some, it is a rock they must push up a hill only to be crushed by it just before it gets to the top. You write what you know and for the people who walk that path, who went thruogh that journey it is invaluble to see that they are not alone."

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  10. Sue this is a very profound and openly honest post. I hope you do "not" delete as you've said you would.

    Labels and generalities are one of the plagues of our society, a person's sexuality or preferences do not define the individual. However, being Bi has it's own special torment. It's like being caught in proverbial no-man's land; damned if you, damned if you don't. I applaud you for sharing - I like your style.

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    1. Your description of Bi is most apt for me. You are neither one thing nor the other. I envy those who accept it gladly and run with it.

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  11. We are, all of us, constructed differently. And some of us discover the exact nature of our wiring later in life than others since many of us do not fall into either extreme on the proverbial scale.

    I think the whole problem with so many GFY stories is not the probability but, as Tom says, how the story is handled. Kudos to you, Sue, for a brave post. *hugs*

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    1. *Hugs* Angel. I've always been a late starter *g*.

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  12. Great post Sue. Like Sara said, I think its time we stop trying to label one another. You love someone, why does it matter what race or gender? The feelings and emotions are there roll with it. (((hugs))) hunny, don't stop being who you are

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    1. Those who truly understand that are rare people. I know some very rare and special people. *HUGS*

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  13. Beautiful, thought-provoking, and brave. I loved the quote from James, because I do believe that for some people there is just that moment...you see it happen for them, and like shrugging into a shirt, they are totally comfortable in the new view of themselves. Others...not so much. Thanks for sharing, and you know I believe love happens regardless of gender and doesn't necessarily confine itself in the way society prescribes.

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    1. James is so right, as ever. I think most of the people I talk through my writing have that openness that is rare. I guess we have to *wry smile*.

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  14. Everyone has already said it for me, m'dear, [hugs] you. Labels are bars in a cage, and love should never be caged.

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    1. *hugs* my Chris. Cages make life easier for people to cope, I think.

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