People have always told me that I am “good at languages.”
I speak English, conversational Spanish and French, I can read Italian and Portuguese, I’ve taken lessons in Xhosa (Kosa) and Afrikaans, even Latin. I can talk to a lot of people.
Despite these years of studying the ways humans communicate, I can’t tell people who I am.
I speak Straight, too. Not fluently—I don’t think I ever convinced anyone of that—but enough. I know about two-point conversions. I can tell you specifically what attracts me to women (I’m an “ass-man” if I have to choose.)
I’ve always known that Straight wasn’t my native tongue…Sometimes I catch myself saying “When I am married, my wife…” or “If I had a girlfriend…” when these things fail to fully express my hopes for relationships.
Once, a student in class thought a boy carrying an orchid flower represented “latent homosexuality.” And I realized that this language had failed me. I could only speak its symbols and signs, signifiers and structures to a certain extent, a limit that was beginning to feel unbearably insufficient.
When I started exploring my sexuality aloud, I thought I would easily find the words. I thought there was a dictionary, a grammar workbook where I could do practice exercises, elocution lessons where some teacher would shape my mouth around the words I needed to tell people who I was.
No such luck. Every word that I found seemed perfect and I was quick to apply it. The first times I told people I was “bisexual,” I felt like I had it. Eventually it lost its shimmer. The joke I had heard about bisexuality replaced it’s self-identifying potential: something they invented in the 80s to sell hair products. I don’t buy hair products. I don’t fluctuate between two distinct poles of attraction. I’m not even that sexual. I started to hate the word “come out” too. What was I supposed to have come out of? The darkness? The woodwork? The closet I suppose…but I haven’t had one of those since high school.
The best option, without boring people by actually explaining the complex, unique way my sexuality works in my mind, my heart, and my body, is to say I am “not straight.” All I am is not a native-speaker of Straight.
I guess what’s left is to start from scratch. Write a new language in the dust. Someday I’ll write a dictionary so people can understand.
Me-sexual: this person who falls for individual men and women
who loves the world despite its suckiness,
who has beautiful eyes and cheek bones,
who makes me laugh until my diaphragm breaks,
who laugh at my jokes, obviously,
who can gently pull me out of dark places and call me on my shit simultaneously,
who falls to their knees in prayerful awe and weep at injustice,
who doesn’t have it all together,
who loves television and yoga,
and hates slam-poems and restaurants with TVs,
and I guess, who has a nice ass.