“Many lesbians and gay men believe that bisexuals have less commitment to “the community”, and that whatever a lesbian or gay man might have to offer to their bisexual partner will not be enough to outweigh the external benefits offered to those who are in heterosexual relationships. […] What gets lost in the fear is the fact that same-sex relationships also offer benefits not available in heterosexual relationships: the absence of scripted gender roles, freedom from unwanted pregnancy, the ease of being with someone with more similar social conditioning, and so on.”
Robyn Ochs, “Biphobia”
From Getting Bi, Second Edition.
I’m sure part of me will always be suspicious of my queerness. Since my wife has been the only woman I’ve been in a relationship with, when I think of dating women vs. men, something makes me pause and wonder if it’s women, or just Mo. But then I remind myself that gender is a huge part of someone’s identity, so it’s impossible to look at it as women or Mo.
Either way, the selection above from Robyn Ochs’ piece really hit me.
While not really an activist in my feminism, I am nonetheless staunchly feminist with regards to my life. In all my dealings with men – family, friends, lovers – I have always felt the need to prove myself as equal. I had to be just as tough, just as strong, just as handy. My father frequently told me as I grew up that he wanted me to be able to get through life not needing a man for anything; not to house me, not to pay my bills, not to fix my car. This became my mantra for life: not needing a man. Anything a man could do, I could do just as well, if not better. My older brother fueled my competitive drive. Dressing more and more masculine as I entered high school, I veered towards sports like Taekwon-do, archery, and cycling. I refused anything pink, wore mostly men’s clothing, and started an almost annual tradition of chopping my long hair off.
Men seemed to be attracted to me for the relative harmlessness of my one-of-the-guys demeanor. I was a bro. Less intimidating than a true girl, I became a friend to many guys, and eventually the girlfriend of some of these guys.
I never felt like I could be emotional in front of a male partner unless they were emotional first. I had to be desperate to actually ask for any sort of comfort. I never complained about menstrual cramps, nor the upheaval of PMS, something I couldn’t lift, or something I couldn’t fix. Anything that made me appear female.
My last boyfriend actually complained that I never asked for help with anything. The guys I dated just always seemed to go way too far in their assistance. I want help with the groceries – here, let me grab everything and carry it for you – when all I wanted was for him to grab the jug of milk I was hanging onto with only my pinky.
This kind of “help” undermined my independence. It was emasculating. To compensate, I rarely let male partners help me with stuff. It just wasn’t worth the feeling of shame and embarrassment as they rubbed it in that I, the independent woman, needed them, the man.
My independence is firmly rooted in my feminism, so no, I don’t need a man. But if I had come out to my parents much earlier, my father might have changed his tune to I don’t want you to have to rely on anybody for anything, and perhaps my own tune would’ve been different.
But I never wanted a partner because they had something that I would always have to go to someone else to get. I simply needed them; their company, their emotional support, their love. But being valued in a relationship for these things I think is more commonly associated with women. A man is a provider. A man is a leader. A man is a protector. When I didn’t need – nor want – my man to be these things, then I completed the circle to being a bro again.
I have never opened up emotionally to a male partner quite the way I have with my wife. I get overwhelmed easily by cute things, especially animals. But I never used to let myself feel the emotions in totality. Now, I can watch a video of an owl and a cat become friends, and cry freely. She sometimes cries with me, simply because I am.
Almost two years ago, I came off my birth control pills for the first extended time since I went on them, almost a decade earlier. My menstrual cycle went wonky, my emotions hit the very extremes of the spectrum, and my skin exploded into acne I hadn’t seen since high school. Some things, like my skin, took longer to stabilize than others, but at the end of a year, I was back in happy equilibrium. I cannot imagine that experience in the context of an opposite-sex relationship. There was no end to this means; I wasn’t coming off birth control to get pregnant. I just did not see the need to keep taking it, and my wife supported me, through it all.
At my latest yearly exam, my new family doctor gave my chart the once over and said, “sorry, what kind of birth control are you using again?”
I told her, “I married a woman. It’s working very well.”
I don’t have to explain to my wife why it’s creepy when a coworker calls me by a nickname that I’ve asked him to stop using. If I feel sad for no reason, I am met with cuddles and kind, soft words. If I have a problem or a dilemma, she listens and doesn’t insist on fixing it for me. I am not stuck, by default, doing the dishes; I can fix the toilet instead.
I was once told by a casual partner that I gave the appearance of not needing a man for anything other than sex. As it turns out, I don’t need a man for that, either.