Happy Mardi Gras!
I’m giving fair warning: this post may get a bit heavy and is NOT a post about being so-called “ex-gay”. Also, personally, I prefer the label/identity “same-sex attracted” rather than “gay”, but in this post I am using the term “gay” for ease.
If a rainbow zebra loses its stripes, is it still a zebra, or is it just a horse?
For me, this is not a rhetorical question, though it seems like it should be. And it is making me feel anxious and my mood low. The Mardi Gras Festival and Parade is on in Sydney right now. I usually (and think that I should) feel PRIDE in my own difference, PRIDE in being a part of the LGBTQI+ community. But I feel like I’ve lost my rainbow stripes, my gay cred, my membership expired from lack of use.
Maybe a false assumption, but a huge part of gay identity is a sexual identity: being or wanting to be in a gay relationship, having or wanting to have gay sex. My body doesn’t demand another’s sexual touch, doesn’t crave and search for opportunities for sex. Fear obscures my desire of being in an emotional gay relationship. And this situation is not new. It has been many moons since I have acted on a sexual impulse.
Walking through the Fair Day event, through sun, glitter, rainbows and skin, I did not feel a part of the community. I felt alone and apart. Projections I’m sure, but I saw the normal social practice of people wanting and creating intimate emotional relationships. I sensed in others the want to get laid. I remember a time that I did want gay stuff, so I’m not asexual, but that spark of desire has gone missing. The crucial aspect to my gayness, my gay identity, is gone.
Other superficial characteristics of my identity have remained the same: my racial heritage, sex and able-bodiedness are as they always have. Though the impact that these have had on my sense of identity has not always been easy.
I am asian in a white society.
I am same-sex attracted in a heteronormative society.
Though, I am cis-male in a patriarchal society (I didn’t get a trifecta of “otherness”), being gay massively disrupted my sense of masculinity.
Being “other”, and the associated attributions and experiences, has shaped, and will continue to shape, the way I see the world. Reconciling and assimilating it all into a form of identity is fucking hard though. Even then, I still see myself as other and on the fringes. The fringes can be hard place to be. I know that there is more to me than my sexual identity, but being gay has influenced so much of my identity, and now I feel detached from my gayness. *sigh* I want my rainbow stripes back; they gave me a sense of belonging and certainty.
O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman.
O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless–of cities fill’d with the
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I,
and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light–of the objects mean–of the
struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all–of the plodding and sordid crowds I see
Of the empty and useless years of the rest–with the rest me
The question, O me! so sad, recurring–What good amid these, O me, O
That you are here–that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
I love reading your posts more and more and seeing the introspective insights you gain in your everyday life. Its like seeing the ticking cogs in someone’s head that we rarely get to share.
In short, I think if society and its “norms” cause you distress of any sort, then to hell with their labels and groupings. I don’t think of an interpersonal, interactive level that they serve a whole lot of meaningful good anyway. In the end the people worth knowing will see you for the individual identity you are and not the mass of categories you do or do not fit into.
You are a philosopher; a fighter of awareness and peace, against ignorance and the woes it brings; a great listener and cool-headed mediator; a talented pastry chef and hard worker; a nurturer; and compassionate and empathetic to the point of extreme. The list goes on. Your rainbow stripes are beautiful but there’s much more than the colours on your coat.