My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Buy-Me-Lunch Answer About My Sexuality

Let me tell you a story.

And before we get going, it's a story of who I might bang in the right kind of circumstances and even some of the (VERY EXPLICIT) logistics of said banging, so if either you're my mother or that's not the sort of thing you want to read, now's your chance to hit one of the clearly marked exits before the ride starts. After this, you just have to tuck and roll and hope that action movie physics will keep your injuries to a minimum.


We're good?

Okay, here we go.

Last year I wrote The Buy Me Lunch Answer About My Gender, and even though I thought I was pretty well shoehorning a personal post into a commentary on labels and words, it turned out to resonate pretty hard. I had always sort of thought I would be doing this article SOME day, but the timing was decided for me when not too long ago, you will be shocked to find out that I ran across people being terrible on the Internet.

This is a similar story. It is a story about why I kind of grudgingly call myself a half a dozen vaguely descriptive terms, but would much rather have lunch with you (your treat because I'm pretty poor) and explain myself.

My old selfies barely look like me these days, so I put a new one up above.

I don't like labels. Unless I do. But usually not.

That might be weird to hear from a writer who deals in words, but I find it is actually ironically common. Maybe it's because writers ["and editors!" -Chris's editor] are the exact sort of people to understand the limitations of language. I'm not telling you that words don't have power. (I know far too well just how much power they have.) I'm telling you that when a signified concept has different signifiers for different people....well, a certain number of them start to act like wankel rotary engines.

If you've been online and discussed sexuality in the last ten years or so, you probably know there's a semantic....let's say dispute between hardline "pansexual" and hardline "bisexual" label enforcers. Most people are content to listen to the concerns the other has about a given label, understand the linguistic history of the LGBTQIA+ movement, respect the labels people choose for themselves (so long as they're not explicitly biphobic or transantagonistic), and honor others' identity. But some load up their No True Scotsman and False Equivalence fallacies and declare themselves the arbiters of What Words Mean™. Either by saying that "pansexual" is biphobic or that "bisexual" is transphobic.

It's just a whole lot of fingers in ears and lalalalala-ing.

I could spend a whole article spanking this kind of bullshit prescriptive dogma, its absolute lack of intellectual rigor, and the erasure damage caused by dismissing someone's identity. Folks out there stamping around, punching down, and not just letting everyone identify how they identify are behaving in what is a shocking echo to telling someone what ethnicity they REALLY are or what gender they REALLY are....since obviously they know better than the actual person.

And while I'm sure such an article would definitely do the trick, solve this issue, crack the case, probably end meanness online in general, and maybe even stop climate change, instead I just wanted to examine why, despite hating labels, I kind of grudgingly say "pansexual" as I hold out my flat hand and tilt its angle back and forth.

But what I really want is for you to buy me lunch.

Avoided label #1

I think I am probably on the "asexual" spectrum. Not very far, but I'm there. I wouldn't have thought I was in a million years if I weren't regularly exposed to so much thought about sex and sexuality. I generally like sex, often like it A LOT, and I've had my share of multiple-times-a-day during a honeymoon period. But as I read people's experiences, the phrase that kept coming up for people on the mild end of the spectrum wasn't that they were repelled by sex or experienced no sexual interest or couldn't ever get aroused, but "I can take it or leave it."

Yes. That.

I have a great sex life...with myself. And part of the reason I wouldn't have pegged myself as "Ace" (hur hur "pegged myself") if I hadn't done a lot of reading about Ace experiences is because of just how frequently I have a great sex life with myself. 

I mean really, REALLY good. I rock my world.

With other people, though? Eh. It varies? I'm not apathetic. I'm not going to lay there and let someone else do all the work. But my desire is based on enthusiasm. I'll be the first to admit that when my partners kind of just want to phone it in and let me do the work, I'm usually perfectly happy to help them with that, but I'm probably going to be more "leave it" than "take it" with myself if they're not putting some enthusiasm in my direction. I'm like a moon instead of a sun. I can be quite bright, but I'm not generating the light so much as reflecting what is sent my way. If my partners are not enthusiastic participants (which can mean distracted, uninterested, or preoccupied), approach sex like it is a banal working of body mechanics, or are just passive, my interest shrivels up.

Sorry about that visual.


I have so many flags that could apply to me, but this one
is the Reciprosexual flag.
None. I can admire someone's body. I can be attracted to a person. I can be interested in what sex might be like with someone. And in a relationship with enough consistent, demonstrated desire I can learn to make the first move and signal my interest in being up for something if the other person is. (I've only recently come into contact with a word that describes this—reciprosexual—and it's on the ace spectrum.) But there's quite literally no interest if it's not a "hell yeah." 

Which tends to mean someone being into me is much more a factor in whether I'm into them than any physical attribute, attitude, or particular characteristic.

But my Aceness (if that's what you want to call it) doesn't end there. (More about my ace-ness here: The Buy Me Lunch Answer About Asexuality)

I (often) will take care of my partner without wanting anything in return. I enjoy that act of service, but I could take it or leave it for me. Sometimes, though, this causes some "gender reverse" situations.  I've had partners who I needed to slow the heck down (and some who didn't after I said so). I have had partners who didn't engage me in enough foreplay (both in ways that were abrupt and off-putting too early in an encounter but also in ways that didn't turn me on enough to get off). I have had partners get off but leave me wanting (sometimes literally rolling over to go to sleep while I contemplated satisfying myself). I have had partners use me without checking in. I've had partners focus on my orgasm like it's the only thing that mattered in what we were doing. I've had partners ask every few seconds if I was going to come. I've had partners take it personally and even get upset when I wasn't in the mood to have P.I.V. sex or wasn't in the headspace to have an orgasm. I've had partners be coercive about sex, whinging to the point where I simply did it because the fight we would have would be worse.

There's a reason I usually relate to women's accounts of disappointing sex much more than men's. All of the above were AFAB women. 

I think a lot of guys have stories of women who just thought they had to show up and be naked, or who were non responsive, and when I read them, it always seems like the guy didn't enjoy it much, but it also didn't exactly stop him. For me, there's a certain physiological response that makes just....um....plowing ahead (this shit writes itself sometimes) rather difficult. If I'm not into something* my physiological response tends to come and go. [Yes, I'm talking about an erection. Everyone do a synchronized clutch of your pearls.] So that lack of enthusiasm sometimes led to some pretty spectacular disasters in situations where my partner really did think that sex involved them being there and being pretty and what the hell is wrong with Chris that he just wants to go down on me again and call it a night?

I can take a lot of foreplay to warm up and even require some halftime coaxing to stay there.

(*I fucking swear I didn't even mean to do that one. It REALLY writes itself.)

It didn't take long to learn how empty, unfulfilling, and frustrating casual sex could be as a crapshoot with someone's willingness to work with my non-traditional sexual response. There are absolutely folks whose expectations of sex are utterly heteronormative––they expect to be drilled like an oil derrick for five to ten minutes by a rock-hard penis just for showing up and stripping down. I've never been the guy who could make that happen. I get nervous, I get overheated, I get desensitized. I get too far into my own head. I want or need a break.

And the more heteronormative the expectations of "what sex is," the more of a letdown I tend to be. If I were the type to get a raging erection early and often, I might have been able to fake it through a few more of the encounters I had in my twenties, but I've never been that guy either. Sadly mine tends to come and go like the quirky neighbor in a sitcom. So once I'm clearly a letdown and focusing on that in my head, things tend to spiral downward pretty quickly.

Partners working with me often made for spectacular events worthy of the songs of scops, but partners who expected me to be Pornoguy McDrillmaster made for events just as epic in their badness. I'd have rather been spending quality time with myself (if you know what I mean) or, hell, even reading a good book. Being pretty take it or leave it about partners I didn't know were going to be supportive, accepting, possibly patient, and with a willingness to explore ways to get me off that weren't the ol' in and out––or even just accept that it wasn't happening this time––has led me to mostly consider trust and intimacy high premiums...things it's awfully hard to find in someone you don't know.

Ironically, I've had some lovely Friends With Benefits relationships, where the sex was even better than some of my romances.

If I'm not feeling safe and secure in a relationship (whether it's a friendship or a romantic one), my interest––and even my body mechanics––will betray me. I'm absolutely one of those people with whom the strength of the relationship and the caliber of the sex are mirrors. So while I am attracted to attractive strangers, and I still sort of imagine an increasingly implausible scenario in which hours of deep conversation leads to same-day connection, sex has been disappointing enough that I really want to know someone is going to bring something that will tip the scales from the fact that I could really take it or leave it.

Let me tell ya, it makes play parties are a little weird for me when I don't know anyone there, which is sort of hard to avoid unless you've been going to a lot of them in the same area for a while.

I've learned recently this is true even when it's not. For about a year, I've been on a prescription for Tadalafil, and while it certainly makes for a much more responsive erection and a few double, triple, and even quadruple headers that make me feel like I'm in my 20s again, as well as basically zero frustrating "Okay-maybe-we-can-try-on-me-again-later-let's-do-some-more-with-you" moments, I still find that I'm not having sex because I'm horny and want an orgasm. (I can get a great one of those by myself in a tenth of the time.) I'm still chasing that connection and trying to make someone I care about feel good (both of which can be achieved without sex and/or orgasm). I probably COULD perform without all the overflowing trust, but I have no interest in it. It would just be body mechanics. Even with a raging erection—I can STILL take it or leave it. 

Some people think this might put me on the "demisexual" spectrum. Maybe? It seems like the ironic fact that the more sex is treated as PLAY rather than a solemn ritual laden with expectations, then the more I'm into it. Some people think that's the opposite of demi. Certainly I've never found sex and love to need to go hand in hand. I've had great sex without love. I've had great love without sex.

But trust? And enthusiasm.  Those are all too vital.

That's why you're buying me lunch instead of just getting a list of labels. This comment section is already going to be a trash fire of people insisting I am actually X or am not really Y.

Avoided label #2

If you're on my Facebook page or watch my personal updates closely, you probably have realized that I'm "non-monogamous." (Ethically so.) That means I have more than one relationship at a time and that I am open and honest about all of them with everyone else. Some of those relationships are deep and loving. Some are friends I trust and bang. Some are local. Most are frustratingly far away. 

Twas not always so.

When I was a teenager, I was actually kind of the jealous type. I tried not to be, but I had a lot of cultural programming from a toxic culture about how people who love each other should act. (And, without going too far down the rabbit hole, usually my spidey senses were spot on, so I wasn't like.... indiscriminately jealous.) There's a lot to unpack about how I ended up married to the first person who expressed the slightest attraction to me (I was pretty messed up after a stint of being Muslim and feeling unlovable), but suffice to say that in my mid-twenties, I was married to a Mormon (and was technically Mormon myself for a hot minute), and another couple invited us to swing. While that didn't really ever work out like gangbusters (and there are whole stories here that I'm skimming over), the couple's check-out-all-this-dysfunction, bad-boy roommate convinced my spouse of this "polyamory" thing I'd never heard of, and I came home one day to find A) that I had been cheated on and B) an ultimatum about being polyamorous if I wanted to remain married.

Good times. Good times.

Today I would take just the fact OF the ultimatum (regardless of any interest in the polyamory) and tell the person to get bent, but at the time I was a little ball of insecurities and.....well, whatever the opposite of boundaries is.

And the rest is history. I've been non-monogamous ever since. That relationship ended in the non-monogamous version of cheating (involving breaking of trust and agreements) a decade and a half ago [2022 edit—almost two decades ago], but the non-monogamy stuck. Mostly because I've always BEEN with someone who is polyamorous or engaged in some level of non-monogamy from years and years of polyfi Vs to "I'm just dating a few people right now." But I'm not like one of these people who says "If I weren't ethically non-monogamous, I would just cheat." or "I feel hard-wired to be non-monogamous." If somehow, tomorrow, all my polyamorous relationships ended spectacularly and exactly at the same time someone monogamous came along who was worth giving up threesome jokes totally real threesomes for, that would be great too.

I'm definitely not resentful (anymore) that I got coerced into being polyamorous. I'm pretty good at it these days, to be honest! In the last fifteen years, I really haven't felt jealousy. [2022 edit—okay, I've had to work on this again—my insecurities in particular—when it comes to Rhapsody.] I have felt some envy about people who have no end of success seducing everything that moves and hooking up their wild group sex birthday parties just by making a couple of phone calls, but I really don't feel that sort of controlling jealousy. I even spent a hot moment in therapy worried about whether that was a sign that I was keeping people out. (Turns out that's pretty unlikely, given that my other feelings towards my loved ones can be quite loud.) My main thing is that agreements with partners––whether those agreements are monogamy or those agreements are that we send each other a text message if we're spending the night with someone else that night––are not one-sided.

There's certainly more to say about the agreements that I'm willing and not willing to get into with partners (I don't like hierarchical polyamorous relationship structures that can "veto" people or experiences, for example, and I focus on autonomy––or in a monogamous relationship, the person better understand that I require a LOT of personal time and I am probably going to fall short if they expect me to be a source of direct engaged stimulation any time they're not at work or asleep), but this approaches the level of detail that only someone who were a partner would really require.

I found the term "ambiamorous" in an article a few months back and was delighted. ("Oh look. It me!") It means could be monogamous...or I could be polyamorous. It really depends on who I'm with and what they want. Perfect. There's a label I did like and discovered a thing about myself that resonates and other people share and helps me not to feel so alone. (Sometimes labels rule.)

Okay....well.....except for the fact that there is still a metric buttload of explanation required around what "non-monogamy" means, and everyone does it differently.

Hence the lunch.

Like really, really differently.

Avoided Label #3

This is more of a quick rest stop before we get to the main event, but it's worth mentioning because it gets tangled up with attractions and affections.

It wouldn't have occurred to me until recently as I got further into the world of fluid labels and binary rejection, but many of my relationships with men, I would characterize as "romances." Often non-sexual (though these days, not always). But romances nonetheless. I wanted to spend time with them, made gestures, paid for things if they couldn't. In many cases they were as important or more so than my romantic or sexual relationships. Sometimes there were difficult fights and even, in some cases, breakups after a fashion. And I would be sick during our periods of estrangement. There weren't sexual dynamics, but "platonic" doesn't quite cut it and "bromance" is too chic and overused.

Of course more and more as time went on and I rejected the heteronormative assumptions I'd been raised with, I would consider what affection (beyond the hi/bye hugs) would look like with these men (usually quite pleasant). Eventually I'd even think about sex. Not that I was attracted to them necessarily, but with that trust and intimacy of friendship, if they wanted to "play" as sort of an extension of that deep friendship (or certainly if they wanted to have me join them playing with someone I both trusted and was more conventionally attracted to), I have and would again.

It is mostly a case of wanting to make them happy and feel good and less of my own raw desire, but it happens.

Avoided label #4

I'm not sexually attracted to masculinity.

The more masculine someone is, the less I'm sexually attracted to them. This tends to go tenfold for those carrying around expressions of TOXIC masculinity. I have friendships with masculine people, and sometimes I form platonic romances with those people (see above), and those could be possibly be sexual if the guy wanted it, but I'm not that into dudes. So MOST men don't do it for me.

As the slider moves (towards androgyny and then femme), my attraction tends to grow. If I get whiplash looking across the room, it was probably at some sort of femme aesthetic. I should say here that there are a lot of things that can attract me to someone other than their outward appearance (as I mentioned above), and I've fallen hard and QUITE physically for people who are androgynous and even a little masc, but that pure initial physiological response tracks.

Because of this, for many years, I simply called myself straight. My platonic romances could be written off as really good friendships (and they were), and none of those men had ever made a pass at me anyway, so that was moot. I just thought I had an active imagination and wasn't a homophobe. I was mostly attracted to women. Mostly NOT attracted to men.

Then one day––a few years ago––it sort of just OCCURRED to me that I was having an on-again-off-again sexual relationship with someone who is non-binary. They had a lot of femme presentation, but they were gender neutral. And that led me to consider that one of my AFAB partners identifies as a man. And I'm definitely attracted to other men (even if that attraction almost always exists because of some thread of femme). 

"I guess I'm not exactly straight," I thought.

This is the reason that if forced to choose a one-word label, I reach for "pansexual" instead of "bisexual." I'm still not that into cis-dudes or masculinity, although I've definitely had experiences with bodies that had penises. MOSTLY I'm not into guys. So unless I'm using a very shorthand or sharing a meme, I don't feel like "bi" REALLY applies because I feel like that suggests something is there that isn't (attraction to men). But people I have been sexual with (at this epiphany moment and since) have not all been women. Some have even been men. And I am sexually attracted to folks regardless of their gender. And my attraction ALSO happens regardless of people's plumbing (a few logistical alterations in what to do to make someone feel good doesn't really matter). The trust and THEIR enthusiasm is more important to me than the body configuration. So I'm definitely not straight. I shy from that "bisexual" label (personally, your mileage may very, you do you, your way right away at Burger King now) because my attraction, while perhaps growing more willing to play and experiment with men I trust and to whom I have connection, hasn't really changed.


I don't like labels, but some seem to hit closer than others. Some people insist I'm "queer." (And I do use that word in some contexts when I don't feel the need to be at all precise.) Some say "bisexual." (But I have my reasons for why that seems a slightly less good fit FOR ME.) Some say "pan." (Look, maybe kinda, but I'm still going to ask you to buy me lunch because one word isn't going to cover it.)

I know I'm going to take heat for this article. I'll lose some of my religious followers. Maybe even a couple of friends from old jobs or high school. But I think those of us with the privilege and position to come out have GOT to be willing to talk about this stuff. To explore the complexities and the rainbow of human expression beyond labels. To understand that the full array of human variation absolutely applies to one of our most common behaviors. But also just to talk about it AT ALL. 

The heteronormative world that seeks to push everything into one of two or––if VERY "open minded––three columns. ("Oh, but also please shut up about it if you're in column 2 or 3" because that's "shoving it in our face.")  And they complain bitterly that anything beyond that is "too complicated." (Usually after memorizing all the Pokemon and learning Elvish from Lord of the Rings.) I'd hate to see double plus ungood linguistic minimalism be allowed to define us when there's a whole world of lunches out there with which to extrapolate on as blunt an instrument as a label. And absolutely they can't be allowed to silence this discussion in a broader sense.

It is also possible that this article will not "age well." This discourse will finally gain "traction" of a sort and one side or the other will achieve a critical mass in what are appropriate/inappropriate terms. Please check the date on the article before you assume I popped it off last night, will ya?

Still, when it comes to self-identities as complex as gender and sexuality, it is 31 flavors of obnoxious, elitist, gatekeepery, and shitty to dictate to entire groups of people how they ought to identify, to presume their (group) ignorance of any discourse, to "No True Scotsman" the label you insist they REALLY have while arbitrating that language only ever changes in the way you proclaim it to have changed (thus the label you deem the One True Label™ cannot possibly be tainted in any mind), and proclaiming that anyone who fails to immediately fall in line with their suggestion is some flavor or another of bigot.

....rather than simply take the two goddamned minutes to ask someone why they picked that label and listen with a little good faith understanding.

Also, in my case, buy me lunch.

[If you would like to actually buy me lunch, feel welcome (perhaps even encouraged?) to drop a couple of bucks into the tip jar.]


  1. It's awesome that you have the courage to just be yourself. I'm gay, though non-binary gendered, and monogamous, and I respect you for being willing to explore who you are and share it with others. You don't have to fit any labels, just be yourself and the right person will love you just as you are.

  2. Thank you for this. I myself am pretty heteronormative and since I have fit the prevailing culture's description of ordinary fairly well, I have never had to do the kind of in depth thinking about where my sexuality fits into the world that you have, and it sounds like it has been a difficult path to where you are now. I am perfectly comfortable with gender and sexuality both being a continuum, but the strict binary is SO INGRAINED in my psyche that I find myself saying, about the one trans person I know I know, things like "She prefers they/them or he/him pronouns" without even noticing. Exposure to content like this will hopefully help rewire my thinking.

  3. So interesting to read this thoughtful, generous and honest account of, well, what it is to be human really. Thanks and best wishes.

  4. I've found it helpful to distinguish between different types of attraction. I'm graysexual (ace-spec but occasionally experience sexual attraction), demiromantic (don't develop feelings until I've known someone a while), and bisensual (have a sensual/aesthetic attraction to all genders that doesn't necessarily translate into wanting sex). Although usually I just default to "bi" when describing my sexuality bc otherwise it turns into an hour-long explanation.

    1. Yeah, sometimes self-identity depends on the room I'm in.

  5. Thanks for this. I didn't really come to terms with my sexuality, or gender, until I was in my early 30's. I was watching the "ABC's of LGBT" videos by Ash Hardell when it finally snapped. By this time I'd been married (happily and still am) for nearly a decade and the father of four wonderful children. I just turned to my wife and said, "I think I'm bi, or maybe pan." She said, "duh" (as this was apparently obvious to everyone else) and we moved forward. Together. It was a little while later that I started considering myself "queer" in regards to gender. It's kinda like that old Almond Joy/ Mounds jingle. Sometimes I feel like a boy, other times I don't... Queer is just an easy signifier. These signifiers didn't change anything about how I live. I'm still married. We haven't opened our marriage to others, at least not yet. We just handled this information like any other element of our relationship, with patience and trust. They just let me know, and understand, ME a little better. To be comfortable in my skin in a way that I've never been. And that comfort is important. In my youth I searched for it in REALLY unhealthy, uncomfortable, places. Like the back of a Volkswagen. So even though it doesn't "change" anything it changed everything. I'm a better partner and parent with this knowledge. But mostly, I'm just happier.

  6. I have a couple non-binary and trans friends, but myself, I always identified myself as female. Maybe if I had to actually choose, I'd say gender-fluid because I don't FEEL like a girl (no dresses or skirts or painted nails or makeup, but I cannot deny that physically I am female, and it doesn't bother me.) But I don't feel like I should be a man, either. Sometimes I wish I was, just because I'd like to know what it's like, but more in a Ranma 1/2 way. Or perhaps Inu Yasha, and turn into a man on the new moon or something. Anyway, I don't care about gender, mine or other people's. You do you. My sexuality, however, has evolved, and it's a story I'm open about sharing all the time, especially in the asexual group I belong to when people are asking questions like "I used to be this but now..." Because I love my labels. In elementary school, I figured I was straight. I wasn't really interested, but I had a crush on a couple guys. Middle school found me looking at girls, but as I was still defaulting to straight, I told myself I was just "comparing us." Her butt was bigger, but my chest was bigger. In high school I met a girl and over the summer between freshman and sophomore years, I realized I was in love with her, so I came out to everyone as bi. Got a girlfriend, and realized I was frigid. Sex scared the living daylights out of me. I have retrograde amnesia, and don't remember the majority of my childhood, so it could have been based in some kind of abuse, but I literally have no way of knowing. After high school, more terms came out into general use and I decided that bisexuality was too limited, and changed myself to pansexual, because I was attracted to attractive people, regardless of gender, color, age, etc. Still frigid. Sometime in my mid-twenties, I changed again because the new words were there for me. Asexual is a thing, I learned, and it doesn't mean I'm broken or abused, because LOTS of people feel that way. (This is why I love my labels. They freed me from my own fears.) Okay, no sex but I'm still attracted to... literally everyone. Panromantic asexual. But I've published porn! I can't be totally asexual. The internet provided again. Autochorisexual. Other people's sex is A-OK, as long as it's SSC. Just leave me out of it.

    Based on my own experience, I tell everyone embrace your labels, but don't let them box you in. Evolve.

  7. The "Avoided label 1" part hit close to home - not that I have a lot of sexual experiences to look at, but what little I've tried is damn consistent with what you wrote.

    So, yeah, thanks for that

  8. "whatever the opposite of boundaries is"

    Thanks for an excellent demonstration of description in detail, with a useful level of specifics, general principles, and concrete examples, as a starting point for anyone else who also fits poorly into the standard labelled categories.

    "hand in hand" could be an innuendo-pun, but it doesn't QUITE fall that way in its context.

  9. Just wanted to say that I relate to almost every bit of this *so much*. Obviously different relationship histories, but the conclusions could nearly be my own. Thank you for being open about this- it's incredibly validating.

  10. I can relate to your revelation that the changes have not been in your own attraction, but in your understanding of gender. When I defined myself as non-binary (at long last), it left me adrift on the sexuality spectrum. Gay? Straight? Those are hard to define when your "opposite" or "same" reference point is "other". Pan? No, I'm not actually attracted to the whole spectrum.

    I finally started to pin down what I'm attracted to, and after some digging, I realized I'm attracted to masculinity. Man, woman, trans, cis, enby, who cares -- gender and plumbing are immaterial as long as the masculine element is there, most especially in its nurturing, gentle, softer form. The internet finally provided a label: androsexual. My attraction has always fit that pattern, but it wasn't until I had some encounters with enbies, transmen, and masculine women that I could adjust my own perception. (Now I'm wrestling with the exact same thing you are over whether I'm demisexual, but that's still an open question.)

    I think that we all contain our own truth, and that discovering it is like the Blind Men Defining An Elephant simile: until we can fit the pieces together, and we're exposed to a broader range of terms than heteronormative society gives us, we end up choosing a stock label or two and being confused when we don't fit in. It's not we who need to change, it's the labels.

  11. As is often said, labels are for soupcans. But have you ever tried to buy a can of soup in a store that doesn't put labels on its cans? It's very difficult, and not very rewarding: you don't know whether you're buying chicken soup, vegetable soup, or beef consommé. And after opening your fifth can of motor oil, well, it just isn't funny any more.

    The reason for the extended metaphor around shopping expeditions is because sexuality labels and gender labels don't just exist to make people feel good (or conversely, bad) about themselves. They help people identify potential partners; and, just as importantly, to identify people who would be completely unsuitable as partners. So two (or more) pansexual enby individuals are able to recognise one another, and maybe start a friendship or something more together. The fact that they have self-identified as such, without being forced into it by anyone, makes them likely to be happier in themselves, being the person they know themselves to be.

    Speaking personally, I choose to self-identify as bisexual, because of the history of oppression and denial bisexual people have suffered both inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community; even though I am, in fact, pansexual by definition, in that I am capable of being attracted to people of all genders and none. I suspect most bisexual people are. I've never held with the description of attraction "regardless of gender"; since, whatever a person's gender identity, it always figures to some degree in the manner in which I find them attractive. I am primarily attracted to women or female-presenting individuals; but also find cis men and transmen very attractive. As a rule, women aren't easy to court for sexual encounters; men are. I would be biromantic by natural persuasion; but I find men in general to be culturally less-inclined to form romantic attachments to other men -- and that is especially so for bisexual men. Most bisexual men in my experience self-identify as straight. It is also the most glaring bisexual signifier if one agonises about being "bi enough".

  12. What a great article! Thank you for sharing! I've struggled with finding the right word to describe how I feel, and I've usually decided to not worry about it and just think of me as me. (I haven't dated in a very long time, so it hasn't been a more pressing topic.) I've recently learned about bigender, and I think that is finally it. There's something exciting about saying "Yes, this is me! This describes me!"

  13. In the South, in the early nineties, even in a small college town, being bi SUCKED. And not in a good way. Gay folks thought you weren’t all in. Straight folks were worse. But ‘bi’ was the only available word then. I didn’t want a label- but the world REALLY wanted me to have one.
    These days I’m super glad the world cares less.... and now there are even more labels.
    I’m a buy me lunch sort of person too- assuming you’re the sort of person who deserves an answer. The vast majority of the world shouldn’t care.
    I choose my friends, lovers, and partners for what’s in their soul and brain- it doesn’t have a thing to do with their naughty bits. (Monogamy’s not for me either, but that’s another issue.)
    All of that makes some folks decidedly uneasy. I’m totally ok with that.

  14. First of all I am truely thankful that you risked upseting some religious followers for posting this more...let's say "personal" article.
    As always your articles are great. But this one ? Damn, this is a litteral goldmine !

    "I'd have rather been spending quality time with myself (if you know what I mean) or, hell, even reading a good book." This line is iconic and 100% relatable. We need the merch.

    Joke aside - the article in it's entirety is highly relatable.
    This is satisfying to an almost therapeutic level to read someone's thoughts that actually echoes the exact thoughts I had. It's nice to have your hindsight, especially as a younger person still trying figuring out things while people try to place labels on my head. I don't like labels. I have never been so happy as since the day I've been deciding to follow the old French motto "Rather alone than in a bad compagny". And eventually I think - maybe this is it ? Maybe it is just not about sexuality but a more global way of being ? Maybe some people are just feeling well and whole by themselves so it is tricky to find someone that would actually be an "added value" that creates a new gaping need instead of just a "nice to tag along" person ?

  15. I feel ya in some ways. I call myself gay as shorthand, and I personally don't have an issue with labels — I an committed to labeling myself in any circumstance that increases visibility (gay, trans,queer,etc.) But in truth I am attracted to masculinity regardless of gender/bits and have don't have much of a sexual attraction to cis men (although I can find them nice to look at.) But that's a lot to explain and for me it's rarely worth the energy to do so.

  16. Thank you for sharing!
    I finally realized not so long ago (something that, in retrospect, should have been obvious) that I am definitely not straight. I'm still exploring the nuances. I'm happily, monogamously married, with kids, but that's all that defines me, and it's great to know myself better.
    Thank you for giving me more food for thought, as I learn more about the spectrum of my own identity!

  17. Thank you for this post.

    I think I understand my ex-partner better now. We had a lot of problems with sex (mostly my fault) and a lot of problems with communication (mostly their fault). But the a/demi/whatever/sexuality you described might be close to what they feel. But they never told me and they were able to have that "rock-hard penis". So I never found out that it was not good until it was too not good and too late.

  18. This was incredibly interesting to read. Thank you for sharing so much snd explaining the nuances and sliding scales so clearly.