Day 4: Melancholy of Identity

What would an international travel experience be without a slight existential crisis? Yesterday I had the melt down, wondering if I was cut out to be a mother and wanting the possibility of other lives. Today our family handled the conference better and I was able to delve (happily at first) into questions beyond diapers and toddler fits. I came face to face with one of the past lives I have lived and experienced a rather old and tired crisis of sexual identity.

Today is pride. In the U.S., it is a particularly important pride, as same-sex couples have been recognized by the federal government as a legitimate marriage possibility. Putting aside the fact that I view marriage as a problematic, archaic institution (despite reaping the benefits of my straight marriage over the past two years), I am enthusiastically happy about what this says about how society views LGBTQ people.

I have never been to a pride event before today. Seville has a rather large (in my opinion) LGBTQ community, and the pride parade was much bigger than I expected. As I stood on the sidewalk, my arm wrapped around Nikola’s waist and our son looking forward with his usual confusion, I felt shivers run over my arms. Excitement crept over my skin, but settled into me as a strange type of dread.

I felt the way I always feel when I look at a group of people that I long to join: like an outsider. In this case, I really am an outsider. I am not Spanish, so I know nothing of the local LGBTQ struggle. More blatantly obvious: I am pretty much living the life of a straight woman.

They say sexuality is not defined by your current relationship, but by your desire. I have always identified somewhere in the murky waters between bi and pan sexual, but as my focus draws ever more tightly to my family, I find that even my desire is fading. I find men and women attractive, but I no longer desire to have sex with them. I no longer have the energy to imagine or desire sexually. I am pretty much Nikola-sexual these days.

I have never been comfortable in the LGBTQ community. Perhaps it is because I am a bi woman, and our experiences and existence are so often discounted. My sexuality has been called into question by gay women and by straight men. You know who has not called my sexuality into question? The people who I have dated. The man I have married. For this reason, my sexuality never became part of my culture. I never immersed myself in the political and social aspects of sexuality. I allowed sexuality to just be a part of me- not a definition of me.

Still, on days like today, I wish that I could run through the streets, laughing with my arms around the waists of others, my lips on their ears, and laughter bubbling in our throats. I wish I was part of that community of people. I wish that I could stand up and claim my sexuality in front of the world. But I am left wondering— what is the point if the life I am living does not acknowledge it? Sometimes I feel like a traitor. Other times I feel like the only role available to me in the LGBTQ community is that of an ally, despite the fact that I am actually LGBTQ.

What saves me is that my husband is supportive of me in these moments, standing next to me as the parade passes, asking me if he should run our son under the giant rainbow flag on the street. At least there is that.   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *