Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the gay retraction

the gay retraction
how sure are you of your sexuality?

when i was 15 i was convinced i was a-sexual. i knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the 'X' kinsey referred to in his scale, was me. i went so far as to do research on a-sexuality and realized it's not the lonely, barren, depressive, loveless hole i feared- i could go on to lead a quasi-normal, love-filled life- just sexless. when i was around other girls my age out of desperation to assimilate, i studied their mannerisms and attempted to copy them; not because i wanted to be them but moreover i wanted to be normal. when left with my own thoughts i told myself incessantly, "something is wrong with you. you can talk about sex like your peers but the thought of it makes you physically ill; you can kiss a boy but have nothing awaken within you; and try as you might ashley, you are not capable of carrying on a long-term relationship with anyone- let alone a boy.."

i had it all planned out, my little a-sexual life... well less 'put actual effort into constructing a life that i felt was far less than what i wanted' and more 'told myself i'd assume the role as stepford wife (while, of course, all my dreams- torn asunder) and settle into an anesthetized life'. years later, i realized classifying myself as anything during that time was futile- i couldn't even identify which way was up, let alone accurately interpret the vortex of emotions i was dealing with at that time. even later, when i came out at 18 as bisexual, i was incredibly confused. i came out because i thought it would bring some sanity to me. i had so much hope that coming out would bring a sense of clarity to my life, as i had seen it do for countless other people.

i still believe coming out can be an incredibly liberating experience- if one truly liberates themselves from the ties that bind them. the problem for me was, i was still unwilling to admit i was gay. it was no problem for me to publicly announce i was bisexual, but a lesbian?! i knew at this time i had no physical interest in the opposite sex but 'lesbian'- that's so definitive, so black and white, so binding. was i ready at 18 to make the sort of declaration that would follow me forever? i feared, among other things, having to make a gay retraction.

western culture expects us to wrap up sexuality in neat boxes so that we can check one or the other, and sexuality just does not work that way. while i now know beyond a shadow of a doubt both who and what i am attracted to, that's not the case for millions of people in the world. in fact, some people go so far as to never define themselves and always refer to their orientation as 'fluid' or 'open'.

but what about those who come out and realize they have done so prematurely? what about those who meet an individual who changes their thinking? i know it's an unpleasant thought to verbalize because it does seem to fuel the 'sexuality is a choice' debate, but i will argue it proves the contrary. coming out- is a choice; what to label oneself- is a choice; but who you are fundamentally- is not a choice.

i've seen a growing amount of people amend their orientation; lest it be from lesbian to bisexual, from bisexual to gay, from gay to pansexual...whatever the case may be, people are paying closer attention to their feelings and finding more accurate ways of defining them. i have witnessed it first hand, in my social circle alone i can think of four or five different people that have made some sort of gay retraction. the reactions they received after doing so both appalled and enlightened me; either those surrounding them were confused and unsupportive, or as i more often found- people just didn't care.

a very close friend of mine came out very young as a lesbian. she lived her teens and early twenties out and proud, as gay as day is long. but then one day she stopped hanging out with us- she grew very distant, very fast- wouldn't return calls, and was MIA. after a few months of not running into her while out and never seeing her she pops back up- with a boy. no one batted an eyelash, i mean just because she showed up with a boy doesn't imply they are dating, and even if they were- what does it matter? my friend pulled me aside and sat me down, "ashley- i don't know how to tell you this because i know how proud you are about being a lesbian but uh..i don't exactly know how to tell you-" i cut her off, we both knew where this was going. she told me she was scared those in the community would hate her, she thought people would assume she was 'going back on her word'...all these outlandish thoughts were swirling in my poor, beautiful friends mind. i explained to her how i felt sexuality was fluid, and just because i was secure in saying i'm gay doesn't mean everyone is. there is nothing wrong with remaining true to yourself, even if it isn't the most comfortable thing to do at the time. fortunately for us, she realized we were not the hate filled, fear mongers but her friends who love her unconditionally. needless to say, we see a lot more of each other again!

instead of raising an eyebrow or looking down upon those who make amendments to their sexuality, one would be better off to open both arms and embrace wholeheartedly those who are strong enough to assert their sexuality...even if it contradicts what they have said in the past.


  1. Hello Ashley.
    Thanks for posting about this. I'm one of those is full gay retraction mode...

    ... but I'll be ok! It's understandable that If I'm confused about my own sexuality sometimes, the world is going to be at least as confused as I am, je.

    I just would be very grateful If everybody could think of contradictions as part of a fluid sexuality and not some weird come-back-to-the-closet kind of thing...

    Kisses from México!

  2. Thanks for this post! See, I've known that I was attracted to females since I was four but as recently as the past few years (I'm almost 20) I've found that I can be sexually attracted to guys but they're far and few in between. I'm open about that assertion yet I've never acted upon it b/c I don't want to deal with the repercussions of sorting out my sexual identity/getting shunned by the LGBT community. Anyways, that's why when people ask me about my orientation I usually just tell them I'm a 4.5 on the Kinsey scale [=

  3. Do you think we'd all be better off if those labels didn't exist? It seems like there is WAY too much importance placed on that prefix before "sexual." Homo, hetero, pan, a, mono? I mean, I can look at the totality of my thoughts and actions and generalize that my behavior fits into the category of a heterosexual male... but how exactly is that helping me again?

    ps - you rock! Go dinosaurs!

  4. wow. best post i've read by anyone in awhile. ashley, you never cease to amaze me. your wit and insight and the way you are able to translate your thoughts and feelings...it amazes me.
    this really hit home for me because i had similar conversations with myself in high school. i just wasn't into anyone. period. i felt like there was something wrong with me. when i was 17, i began to understand myself more and my interests, but that's not to say it's always easy.
    even now, when i've come to fully realize that i'm a heterosexual girl, more often than enough, the gratification i get from life has nothing to do with who i am having sex with.
    thank you for sharing this. i hope one day we can meet!

  5. Wow, reading this actually made me feel a tad bit better. Well, not completely, but I know I'm not as alone as I thought I was :) This seems to be a better wording for what I was feeling about being what I am. I'm still slightly confused...I like guys for a bit, but then I get sick of them and resort to liking girls, which I'd prefer most of the time. Thanks again

  6. Wow, I just discovered your vlogs and now this - good stuff indeed! :)