Pansexual’s Labyrinth
July 19, 2019 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Otamere Guobadia writes for Dazed about sexual fluidity, in his own life and in our expectations of celebrities who come out (or don't). "Man” and “woman” as described in our sexual orientations are not only necessarily imperfect characterisations, but they are flexible and porous categories; in our lifetimes and indeed in our everyday, our desires weave many times in and out of them. I have desired bodies that both uphold these categories, and bodies that fail them entirely, and everybody in between. I have had men wolf whistle at my skinny jean-clad legs as I walked down the stairs of a double decker bus, only for their leering to turn to agitation and anger when the rest of my torso came into view. Desire is a silly and changeable thing.

If you like this, you might like the rest of Guobadia's "Chocolate-Cream Soldier" column for Dazed or his thoughts on London Pride for the Guardian.,
posted by Stacey (8 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Love this. I think there are two things going on here in this article that are sort of separate phenomenon but sort of bump up against each other: one is the issue of allowing for and embracing fluidity (he talks about sexuality, but implicit in the piece is gender fluidity as well). The other is that of relatively "straight-passing" people claiming queer identities and the complexities therein.

I say gender is implicit in the piece because the issue of nonbinary gender identities comes up a few times but isn't really addressed, and of course sexuality and gender are different. But binary ideas about sexuality really don't work outside of binary gender. I'm nonbinary (probably, it's a work in progress) and I am mostly attracted to nonbinary/genderqueer people or generally people who whose gender identity and gender presentation don't line up in conventional ways. It took me a long-ass time to figure that out because there's no label for it. And really, the only label that feels right to me is queer, because I'm queer and I like queer people.

It's always baffled me that some people find fluidity threatening. But some people really do need to have things settled and sorted.
posted by the sockening at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

This is some really beautiful writing. Thank you so much for sharing it. As someone who recently went from gay-his-whole-life to being in a wonderful relationship with a woman, I've been thinking a lot about not labelling my desires. It's such a foreign concept to me. Labels -- first the gay label, more recently the bi label -- have been so integral to the way I both think about myself and present myself to the world. Thinking of them not as identities so much as ephemeral moods of desire is both exhilarating and disorienting.

I really loved these paragraphs:
This is not a coming out, but a coming into. A reconciliation of long-running tensions, and the emergence of a truth that I’ve been too self-conscious to voice, too determined to ignore for fear of embarrassment and disbelief. I’ve never been a gold-star anything, much less a gold-star gay.

To me, labels now feel like an imperfect fiction. As I write this I can already feel the ones I’ve chosen to describe myself here slacken around my body. I look and I see the old labels I once held close to my chest, fade into the horizon. For some of us, labels cannot last a lifetime. In a few hours, I will lock eyes with someone on my daily commute, and feel them tighten. These are the words for my sexuality, for my want, that I choose right now – who knows which ones I’ll choose tomorrow?
posted by treepour at 12:08 PM on July 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

This is a great piece and a lot of it is really resonant. I'm a high-kinsey queer and usually just identify as lesbian because it's a lot easier than getting into a long explanation, but even more than that it's just tiring dealing with the heterosexism around any kind of fluidity - I've been sick of the constant "oh well you just haven't met the right man" shit since before I came out, and what most people interpret fluidity to mean is the potential to fit in with heterosexist norms and also some hope that I'm going to be their unicorn, that I'll stop being so disruptive with my queerness.

I'm here to disrupt everything I can with queerness.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:57 PM on July 19, 2019 [12 favorites]

Nothing super new in this piece for me but I really enjoyed the writing style and structure. Thanks for posting it! Queer solidarity.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:06 PM on July 19, 2019

My child is currently sorting this out for themselves, and is wondering if they are fluid or if they are trans. I don’t have the skills or knowledge or even vocabulary to be much help, (other than saying we loved them all the time, and nothing they are or wanted to be was a barrier to that love,) so I did a bunch of research and found a therapist a few towns over, where the practice is 🏳️‍🌈 for 🏳️‍🌈, and with my child’s buy in, have scheduled them to talk to a therapist who has lived these experiences, and perhaps can help them find happiness with themselves and their choices.

I love my kid, and I don’t want them to be unhappy, or spend years trying to hide whatever it is that brings them joy. I only hope I’m doing the right thing.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:23 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

This was painful to read for me but in a good way. Thanks for posting it.
posted by gaybobbie at 7:01 PM on July 19, 2019

Love this, seconding bile and syntax that I can’t wait for fluidity to become more widely understood.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:48 AM on July 20, 2019

I'm increasingly feeling a bit out of place and disconnected on this. This comment brought to you by a Gender Reveal podcast that called a 33-year-old nonbinary person old, usually being the oldest person in the room at a trans gathering, and Bella Thorne describing my sexuality this morning in terms of a "don't" or "won't" rather than "anything that moves." Part of the terrifying and wonderful, but mostly shit-your-pants, panic-attack inducing terror of self-realization was the feeling of jumping off the edge of the map into the unknown. If you're not on the pilgrimage to be the straight spouse of a straight spouse of the opposite sex then WHO THE FUCK WERE YOU? (And once upon a time, LGBTQ people with divorces greatly outnumbered those with gold stars, I suspect they still do.) Queer gender identities have frequently been DIY, punk, radical, subversive, survivance, and resistance, and I call myself genderqueer because I owe a debt to the radical faeries, queens, and stone butches who created what little culture I could find.

Every generation thinks it invented sex, and I suppose every generation thinks it invented fluidity.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:24 PM on July 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

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