Monday, September 23, 2019

When You Don't Know You're Queer Because You Only Have One Story

A closet full of identical blue shirts. Image source.
When I was a teenager, I heard a lot of fearmongering about "the homosexual agenda." Apparently, there was a nefarious group of perverts who were trying to destroy marriage and society, or something.

Christians told me that LGBTQ people were bad- they were rejecting God, they were queer because of some terrible trauma in their lives, they wanted to mess up everyone else's families, and so on. That was the only story I heard about being queer. Certainly none of us good church kids were queer.

No, they told us good church kids what desires we would have instead. They told us that if we're girls, then we're attracted to boys, and if we're boys, then we're attracted to girls. Boys want sex all the time and don't really care about the emotional or romantic aspects of a relationship, and girls want the emotional and romantic parts and will only be interested in sex when it grows out of those aspects. And so on.

So we had these stories- only these stories. And we tried to fit ourselves in, to match up our experiences with the desires we were told we had. But some of us are queer, so it didn't work.

I've heard from gay Christian men who at first didn't know they were gay- they reasoned that they weren't attracted to women because they just respected women so much. The only story available to them was "boys are always objectifying and lusting after girls, that's so terrible and sinful." So instead of realizing "oh actually it totally is possible to be a good person and be gay", they thought "maybe it's because I respect women so much, so I don't lust or objectify them, and actually I'm SO good and godly that I don't feel attracted to them at all."

And I've heard from bi women who took a long time to realize they were bi. They thought "oh, all girls feel this way about their best friend." They didn't have any story available about being bi- just some stereotypes that didn't fit. They didn't realize it was an option for them.

And me- I'm asexual, and I also didn't know it because I assumed I fit into the story they told about what attraction is like for women. I didn't know people actually explicitly desired sex, because I didn't hear people explicitly talking about sex and sexual attraction. It's not seen as "decent" to talk about those things. We just use euphemisms- and so I assumed they were using the euphemisms to mean the same thing I used them for. There was only one story, so we must all be talking about the same thing. Right? 

Ha, no- OF COURSE there is more than one story. OF COURSE it's absurd to think that another person can tell me how I experience attraction. Why on earth did I ever believe that?

Instead of just one story, we need to hear from a whole diverse group of voices. We are all unique, and it can be complicated to figure out our own desires and our own queer identities. So what we need is NOT some authority figure saying "everyone feels X, Y, and Z"- instead, we need a lot of different examples, and the freedom to decide which ones are close to our own experience and which are not.


Here are some links to where I've written about my own story, as a straight, married, asexual woman coming from an evangelical Christian background:
On Purity, Asexuality, and Timing
I’m Really Really REALLY Glad I Had Sex Before Marriage
For This Asexual, Purity Culture Was All About Fear
My Husband Is Not The Entire Focus Of My Sex Life
The First Time I Heard Of Asexuality ...


This post is part of the September 2019 Carnival of Aces, whose theme is "telling our stories."

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