Wednesday, March 6, 2013

have I come out to you?

I am definitely a lesbian. I have definitely been a lesbian my whole life, but I didn't know it until quite recently. I officially “came out” to myself in the beginning of 2012, after the last few months of 2011 left me in a state of depression I hadn't seen the likes of in over a decade. I was distancing myself from my girlfriend Gabriel. I was floundering to save my marriage, which I feared was unsalvageable. I spent months internalizing, trying to figure out what, exactly, was wrong with me. Why wasn't I having sex with my husband? More importantly, why didn't I miss it?

Any attempts to rekindle the passion in our relationship died before the embers could even catch. I even gave him the task of learning how to get me off without using his penis—something which could have been fun, experimental, a way for him to learn new things. But he neglected the prompt, finally trying once half-heartedly, and went right back to expecting sex to be the same old routine it had been before. I didn't want to admit it, but the nagging thought kept returning to me: it isn't the sex I was missing, but the closeness. I still wanted to be close to Ark, but I was just not interested in his genitals at all. Sex fizzles out in a lot of marriages (so I'm told by television and magazines), but this didn't feel like the “normal” decline of sexual activity. I was still a highly sexual being. I was just a highly sexual being who was no longer turned on at the prospect of heterosexual sex.

Sex with Gabriel was a different story. Sex with a woman is something entirely different. One of the last times I saw Gabriel, we had sex on the couch while my boy Kiba sat on the floor in front of us and played video games. With a woman, my sex drive is on seventh gear.

Was it just because my relationship with Gabriel was newer? Was it because the sex was explosive, unpredictable, experimental?

It soon came to me that a large part of my unhappiness was being caused by Gabriel's dependence on me. I needed her to back off. In short, I realized that I could not give her everything she needed in a relationship, and have everything I needed to be a happy person. I had to end it. She could not grow, clinging to me, and I could not breathe.

With my sexual outlet gone, my lack of sex with Ark became more obvious to me. I wondered why I didn't miss it. I still loved every other aspect of our relationship. The illusion of our marriage crumbling proved to be false—a landmine in my mind planted during my depression. Ark loved me just as much as ever, and was continuing to evolve in our polyamorous relationship in ways that I was still apparently too wounded to see. He had opened up, and was finally willing to embrace our relationship as it was, but I was too busy looking at the pieces from the past and trying to fit them all together. I love my husband, but I still needed further introspection.

I guess I realized it slowly. The puzzle of my sexuality came together in achingly tiny bits. And the first time I thought to myself, “Maybe I'm a lesbian,” I thought it jokingly. But the more I thought about it, the clearer it became, and the more sense my life made up to that point.

I was never interested in sex. The way other girls looked at boys and would fawn over them, “Ooh, Johnny is so cute! Look at that ass!” It didn't make any sense to me. I dated boys who I came to love, but my love had nothing to do with sex. The first time I saw a penis, I was repulsed by it. My experiences with oral sex were awkward and uncomfortable. When I finally lost my virginity at eighteen, the part I enjoyed was the closeness to the person I loved. It was a special moment, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I figured maybe sex and penises and ejaculate was just something I'd get used to. I figured everyone felt the same way at first—grossed out, squicked by cum, totally grossed out at the idea of putting a penis in your mouth. Only, I never really got used to it. I just accepted it as part of a normal life.

I think that's basically the root of everything here: I grew up assuming I was heterosexual. I mean, everyone else I knew was straight, or at the very least bi-curious, so why wouldn't I be straight? I knew, and later admitted to my sister, that I liked girls. My first long-term, real crush was on a female friend of mine from elementary school. Then, later, in high school, I harbored a crush on a girl from England. Aging into adulthood, I began to amass a collection of Penthouse and Playboy, and probably hundreds of pictures of sexy girls of all sorts on my computer. Girls were a mystery to me. My relationships were years-long and with men, one basically starting right after the other (with overlapping, in one instance).

I didn't grow up in the kind of household where you'd be afraid to be gay. I always knew that if I brought home a girlfriend, Mom would be happy because I was happy. My sister didn't care what I did, either. I just never even considered it, when I was younger. And now, at 26 and married to a man I wasn't willing to lose, I was considering it.

I was terrified.

One of the good “rules of poly” I've seen is that if you're afraid to tell your partner something, that means you need to tell them. I'd been brutally honest and open with Ark up to this point, and now was not a good time to start changing that.

I came out as a lesbian and polyamorous to my family (and the general world) around the same time. I kind of cheated—I deleted my Facebook account and made a new one. At first, I sent out friend requests only to people who already knew or people who I felt were ready for the news. My profile picture was this bright yellow square with the words "nobody knows I'm a lesbian."

My “interested in” said “women.”

My “relationship status” said “in an open relationship.”

I was able to list my partners under my “family,” due to a recent update, which was nice but I'm still waiting to be able to list them all under my relationships, like you can on Fetlife.

I never censored myself on this new profile; I was 100% myself. I was coming out as Blue, the polyamorous panromantic lesbian married to a man, who I intended on keeping, and yes, we were happy and we made the choices we wanted to make for our relationship. I was unapologetic. I even posted links to my personal blog as it was updated, and family members read it. Some even reached out to me about its contents. I have nothing to hide. I am not ashamed of what I am.

Slowly, the rest of my family was added to my friend list. I guess it was a half-assed way of coming out, but I didn't feel the need to really make a big deal out of it. I didn't need to stand before all of them with my poly triad-sometimes-quad-sometimes-pentad (is that a word? it is now.) and tell them to accept us all or lose me. It isn't that dramatic. My family will probably only come in contact with our long-term, committed partnerships, and even then, it will/has been in (mostly) slow and comfortable increments for all of us.

I've been pretty blessed in my family's acceptance of us. I was terrified for a while there and—let's face it—kind of bitter about the “friends” we did lose along the way. You see so many stories about people being disowned by their own parents after coming out of the closet. Do you think it was more for my family to handle, because Ark and I stayed together, or easier because of it?

There are a lot of resources out there for being the “straight spouse” (and a lot of them say that “it's hard to get support during this time”). Don't think I'm downplaying Ark's pain in this. I think we had plenty of time leading up to it—I discussed my fears and feelings with him thoroughly, probably too thoroughly, so when I finally did say, “I think I'm a lesbian,” his reaction was something like, “Well, yeah, I kinda figured.” But we have the kind of relationship and understanding of each other where he realizes that my sexuality is through no fault or shortcoming of his own—it isn't his fault he's a man, and I love him no less for it.

What I didn't find was a lot of information on couples where one of them comes out gay—but they stay together. This view is usually speculated upon as something that's difficult, unfair; it's said that the gay partner usually was cheating with someone of the same sex, or hiding their sexuality. This wasn't true in my case and I refuse to believe I'm the only one out there who's been honest the whole time. My sexuality wasn't just a self-discovery, it was a discovery for both of us. The decisions we made, we made together, as a couple, for the well-being of our relationship both as a couple and as individuals.

In some relationships, it seems, this is an unavoidable end. But for me and Ark, it was a new beginning—to a stronger, unique relationship. Sure, folks look askance at us. They ask probing questions. They don't believe us when we say, yes, we're okay. Nobody has to take sides. He and I are in this together. 'Till death do we part.