Am I Straight or Gay?
My Journey of Uncovering My Authentic Sexuality
When I was 35 years old, I would have told you unequivocally that I was straight. I would have believed myself, and you would have believed me, too.
I’d forgotten about the kiss and my desire for a woman from childhood and a college roommate.
I’d pushed away the memories of how turned on I got the first time I read “The Color Purple” and the scene between Celie and Shug Avery. I’d been married after all, and had plenty of men as lovers.
I thought about women here and there, crushes never acted upon. And I’d think “oh, that’s just something everybody has.” When I was 36, I acted on my first deep true girl crush with a cute butch lesbian who walked into a weekend solo performers group I was facilitating, and who I couldn’t stop thinking about after the writing class was over. That was 20 years ago, and that was the beginning of the remembrance of my sexuality.
The reason I have my voice fully, the reason I’m not afraid to be visible, is because I have my sexuality. I don’t believe most women are straight. I believe most women have been conditioned to believe they are straight. I know that story is unraveling. But I want to add my own piece to it.
There is no way to know if we’re straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or in my case, skoliosexual (meaning that I prefer trans people), without living it out.
We pretend and still buy into the patriarchal myth that being heterosexual is somehow the gold standard preferable from having any of the other identities in reality. To me the most important thing in identity is knowing who I am.
The first woman I dated, I did not fall in love with. The second woman I dated, I did not fall in love with. And the third woman I dated, I did not fall in love with. The important thing was I dated three women. And to me, while a turn on can happen with anybody under the right circumstances, a lot of my sexuality is romantic, emotional, and I’m not sure we know that without experiencing it.
As a matter of fact, after listening to 1000s of people’s stories, and all the things, all the stories of whispered confusion around sex and relationships and intimacy in this culture, and certainly as somebody who has ended up understanding myself as an animist, meaning awake to the spirit of all things, embodied sexuality means we’ve tried some things out, let ourselves feel into that. And only in a culture, including family cultures, that allow for all sexual preferences to be normalized and equalized, is the path clear for us to do so.
Like most of us, I came from a homophobic family, and of course trans wasn’t even on the table. Had I not walked outside of the binary at 36 and been open to dating women, and then cis men again, and then closeted trans people, and eventually, an out transitioned trans man, I would have never had my own sexuality. That’s not about them, but about me, not about the other but about myself.
As women, our greatest power comes not from men — I know this with every cell in my being — but from being aligned with our own deep sexuality, our true sexuality, our nuanced, unique sexuality. When that is ignited in us, we can literally walk out any story; the power is inside of us, not outside of us. And that’s where the patriarchy has cut us off at our knees with the traditional romantic notions of sexuality.
If you have an impulse, if your child has an impulse, if your friend has an impulse, if your sister has an impulse, by all means, follow it. Men do and men have followed all their sexual impulses, to not be beholden to another, but rather ourselves — to explore our true nature, freely, joyfully, landing on ourselves as monogamous, polyamorous, pansexual, heterosexual, lesbian, or a different kind of queer. Just like genders have been erased, so of sexualities. The broad arc is long, nuanced, and unique.
Your sexuality is not a category, but like a fingerprint: a unique expression of your soul.
Don’t settle for less than who you are.
Tanya Taylor Rubinstein is the Founder of Somatic Writing, a depth-based, trauma-informed process for liberating voice and writing books to shift the culture.