Man oh man. I’m totally showing some of that in my class. Totally!
You know why?
Because there is, to me, nothing more beautiful than folks who are totally willing to go and be exactly who they are, even when the world doesn’t want them to exist.
And there is nothing more stunning than people who are members of oppressed groups denying the professed internal experience of another person.
It happens all the time, all over the place. Back in grad school I did a talk on bisexuality with the GLBT student organization. One of the gay undergraduates said to me, “I think that when homosexuality is fully accepted, there will be no bisexuals.”
And I said “I think when homosexuality is fully accepted, there will be more bisexuals than anything else.”
I don’t know if that’s precisely true, but I do know that when someone tells me what their internal experience is, I believe them. When someone tells me they’re gay or lesbian, I believe them. When someone says they’re attracted to people without reference to gender, I believe them. When someone says they’re not interested in sex with anyone, I believe them. And I don’t think it takes a PhD in sex to recognize that each individual is THE ONE AND ONLY EXPERT on that individual’s sexuality.
Asexuality is just another variation on human sexuality. We’re all made of the same parts, just organized in different ways. And if somebody says that’s their internal experience, well they’re the only ones who knows that.
But why would gay people deny the existence of bisexuality, or fear and shun asexuals?
Another experience from grad school: I had my first formal training about trans* stuff. We were talking about discrimination and hate crimes, and I asked, “Why does anyone feel threatened by transpeople? Why would anyone waste energy hating someone who isn’t doing anything to hurt anyone else?” (This was before the moral foundations research.)
And my supervisor said, “How do you feel about your gender?”
I thought about it for a minute and said, “Pretty good!”
And she said, “People who hate trans people often don’t feel pretty good about their gender. Seeing someone else living their gender according to their own rules feels threatening because it means the rules about gender may not be worth following.”
I do wonder how much of that dynamic goes into the fear and shunning that some gay folks express about bisexuals and asexuals. I wonder if they feel like there isn’t room in the tent for such diversity, when they’ve had to fight so hard for something as relatively simple (in its easy analogy with heterosexuality) as homosexual relationships. I can understand it, if that’s what’s going on. But I’m really, really ready for the world to move past that.
Oooh! Also? Cynthia Graham is in the documentary, and she was my clinical supervisor! So that was a thrilling surprise.