Every so often, I find myself revisiting topics like feminism, bisexuality, sexual identity in my reading. At the moment, that's showing up in my reading of "Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution" by Shiri Eisner; I found this book in the back of "Excluded" by Julia Serano. While these women have written books that do a lot to talk about bisexual identity, something both women personally claim, I'm left questioning my own identity. I did claim bisexual when I first "came out" when I was 15; over the years however I've come to embrace the three part identity of "queer, poly, and kinky." So while I find myself reading Shiri's book with the partial goal of finishing it and submitting it to Interweave Continental (the Unitarian Universalist affinity group dedicated to LGBT issues), my thoughts go beyond that.
Something I said on Facebook though- "my theory is that while at 19, I saw so much of myself in Vala, now that I'm 36, I see where my sexual understanding is closer to what The Queen thinks. He would have access to queer theory and identity back when it first started, when it's only coming to me in the last few years- difference of being a billionaire and living in New York to being a housewife in Michigan." I'm going to stop talking as myself at this point and let The Queen take over.
Well Joelle forgot to share a line from a promotional blurb she wrote before giving it over to me- The Queen- so let me share it now: "Can you imagine a world where sexual orientation labels are less important and we just live in relationships with each other?" I believe when she says that her thinking about sexuality is more in line with mine now than what she thought about as a 19 year old, this line speaks to that. Vala cares less about labels, about if a sex act with a person of a certain gender means something than what it means within BDSM and specifically my hierarchy and what I allow her. She could almost be a Buddhist for how she lives in the moment :D; there are certainly moments when she is more thoughtful, but these tend to come in spurts, whereas Joelle and I are always pondering, always dissecting issues in our heads.
Queer. There is so much meaning to this word and it has changed over the years. I shall save you the etymology lesson, however I will say at times it has meant different, strange, homosexual. The LGBTQIA+ community has worked to reclaim the word as a source of pride. Yes, between story time and Joelle's non-fictional time, there is about a decade in which I have come to queer theory before Joelle herself did. Both of us love the definitions for "queer" on the UUA's queer identity page. However, Joelle needs to spend some time in reflection because "like the UU page says" isn't quite the sexual identity "elevator speech" that she'd like to use.
Now if I was not a fictional character and a Unitarian Universalist, I might feel tempted to curse Joelle for the horrific, fundamentalist religious-based abuse that makes up my "back story" until I ran away at the age of 13. Even fictional histories affect us. The outrageously conservative version of Christianity that my mother served me drove me to be different, in as many ways both from the cultural norm in the United States, as well as what she told me was religiously correct. Now do not take that for one moment as an indictment against Christianity; I have been grateful to know UUs who include Christian beliefs within their religious understanding without the hate and the negativity with which I was raised- this however has been a long journey for both Joelle and I, even if the religion of her childhood was not nearly as repressive as mine.
Joelle happily announces that she is not the daughter her mother wanted and hopes never to be so. I think within our desire not to be what our mothers wanted, the idea of a queer identity speaking to transgressing norms speaks to both of us. To remove ourselves from the conversation of everything pedestrian sexually. I see this sometimes when I peek into her brain as her Master is enjoying having sex with her; oh yes, it might "look" like a staid, regular missionary position between a man and a woman in the sanctity of the marital bed, but it is anything but that :D. Give Joelle a moment and she might be begging her Master to come, even though He no longer enforces begging for orgasm as I do on my slaves. And most certainly she is enjoying the way his weight dominates her, prevents her for doing anything but submitting.
Alas, but in talk about being transgressive, we have gotten off into Joelle's sex life. More seriously, I know that with the book Joelle and I are reading, she is considering things like bisexual identity (why she does not claim it) and bi-invisibility (which she worries about). I am sure by now if you are a regular reader of her blog, you have seen her latest statement shirt- on the front it says "I only look like a straight, monogamously-married woman." I empathize with her; I watch how in her various blog hop participation that she struggles to show my queerness, show me engaged with men and women, cis and trans, genderqueer or gender variant. Shiri Eisner is right to talk about charges of "holding onto heterosexual privilege"- Joelle and I have dealt with that and most of the other myths of bisexuality.
Having said that, does being transgressive, being outside norms, not being what our mothers wanted- is that enough not to claim a bisexual label? For me, the answer is most definitely yes. While I spend a lot of time thinking about labels, considering labels, my lived reality pushes people to reconsider their assumptions. I think Joelle may be waiting to finish this book to consider her answer, well her temporary answer because as both her Master and I know all too well, she will read something, have something said to her, and she will be off considering whether she is indeed a queer, polyamorous, kinky woman who loves a male-bodied/identified person and values some pieces of feminism but not all of them.
Okay, Joelle back. I'm really not sure if that's all The Queen and I were thinking about. He is right; I want to read more of Shiri Eisner's book; I've only finished the first chapter. However, like I was saying earlier when I read a blog post by Janet Mock about feminism, I still feel that "bisexual" is not enough to contain my sexual identity. I was glad though that I took the time to comment; Janet's response to my comment was wonderful- "feminism is ours." Maybe "queer" is mine?