Pride and Prideability
Happy Pride Month!
Pride is a time when many people will publicly come out or reaffirm their queerness. This is that kind of post.
One of the things the pandemic gave me was a lot of time to myself. Time to think and overthink, to dig deep into dreams and ideas, to grab passing thoughts like comets, riding their tails to wherever they led. And time to talk things out with my friends and my therapist. Sometimes you discover feelings that have been staring you in the face your whole life and you just weren’t paying attention. (I apologize, feelings. That was kind of rude of me.) Sometimes you discover that things were hard to see and explore because even if you grew up in a progressive family with a feminist mother and queer family members, the world was (and still is, but thankfully becoming less so) pushing a patriarchal, heteronormative view of people, relationships, gender, sex, sexuality, and romance.
(Look at those big words there! Really getting my money’s worth out of that liberal arts degree!)
It took a while, but when things finally clicked in my head a few years ago, it wasn’t hard for me to quickly accept and come out to myself as bisexual, or at least biromantic.
It took longer and has been harder to suss other parts out. Like figuring out during the pandemic–when I was spending A LOT of time with just myself (and my cat)–that I’m on the graysexual spectrum (probably demisexual, but maybe it’s more complicated than that). I call it “living in Gray-Aceland” or “Castle Gray-Aceskull”–being kind of vague and kind of jokey because I really am still figuring this all out and trying to disentangle my own feelings from the toxic masculinity that even someone as “dishwasher safe”* as I am has been inundated with and affected by.
I’m not going to go into too many details about this because they’re either too personal or I haven’t completely figured it all out…or both. But the reason I’m posting this and talking about it publicly is because there are some points I think it’s important to make and I hope that if other cis men are questioning their sexuality, this might help.
- Libido and sexuality are not the same thing.
- Romance and sex are not inherently intertwined.
- It’s okay for men to want to have sex, but it’s equally okay for men to not want to have sex. It’s okay for men to want to have sex only in certain circumstances or only every once in a while. It’s okay for men to set their sexual boundaries and it’s okay for those boundaries to change.
- It’s okay to fantasize about sex but not want to actually have sex.
- It’s okay to find people physically attractive but not want to have sex with them. It’s okay to want to look sexy but not want to have sex.
- It’s okay to want to do some sexual activities but not go “all the way.”
- “All the way” doesn’t have to be the defining feature of sex and it doesn’t always have to be the end goal of sex.
- “All the way” means penetrative sex that ends in climax, just to make sure we’re all on the same page.
- Most importantly: sexuality is a spectrum and it’s not always an easy thing to pin down. You can change where you are on the spectrum throughout your life. You’re never too old to figure things out about yourself.
Just like when I accepted my bi-ness, the gray-ness seems really obvious to me now–I can look back at my past and see it there, and I bet there are friends who have known me for a long time thinking “Duh, no kidding, of course you are!”–and I’m not sure identifying as graysexual really changes much about how I live my life. But it feels right to identify this way. For a lot of my life, asexuality and graysexuality–especially when it came to men–hasn’t been talked about. Right now, off the top of my head, I can think of more women I know personally who identify somewhere on the ace spectrum than men. It would have helped me so much when I was younger to have heard ace men saying “This is a real thing and it’s totally cool.”
Hey, here’s something neat: ever since I started thinking and talking about this more, I’ve been feeling way more comfortable in my own body. More in touch with what feels like my authentic self. More ME.
And this ME says: if you’re a man and you feel like the sexuality of what our culture says is the “typical male” is more than you’ve ever felt in your heart or your loins, whether you’re certain about where you stand on the spectrum or you’re unsure and trying to figure it out, I want you to know that this is a real thing and it’s totally cool.
* credit for “dishwasher safe” being a term for non-toxic male goes to my friend Charlotte Moore, who has assured me that I count as dishwasher safe.