many people write about identity, how each of us defines who we are, and what labels to wear for the rest of the world. some people say that they won’t be labelled, that labels are only a way of restricting who we are. i honour that….but, at this moment in my life, i guess i chose to wear one.
when i fully understood my love for women, i thought about what that meant for how i defined myself. it’s not the first time i thought about how i am defined, by myself and by others. i am of mixed heritage, of a first nations mother, and a father of european descent. i grew up with a mutli-cultural awareness, and live what some people call a “hyphenated reality”, aboriginal-canadian…. some would argue that the hyphenated reality is crap…that we’re all just canadians, that we’re all really the same, with similar wants and needs in life – food, shelter, love, financial security, a place to feel we belong….- and those people are correct to a certain extent. but i believe that our cultures play a large role in how we view the world, and the people in it…. and by “culture”, i mean more than our ethnic heritage. we all belong to many cultures. i live in a north american culture, am immersed in the popular culture of canada and the united states. i work and interact in the culture of educators (anyone in that culture knows what it’s about). i get to have an almost daily view of teenage culture (which becomes do much more defined to me, the older i get), anyhow, one can get the idea…culture is what we consider normal in the groups we see ourselves as belonging to….
so, back to defining myself…..for all of my adult life i defined myself as bi-sexual (but i usually kept that to myself). i was attracted to women, but i was in relationships with men… then, at a point, i realized that my attraction to women was very strong. when i was with a woman i felt “home”…so i defined myself as lesbian or gay. i was completely comfortable doing that, and doing it publicly.
but now here i am again….having spent the last weeks struggling with how i define myself again (due to some recent experiences). some may say that it is not necessary. why even waste time thinking about it? i do it for myself. the “claiming” of who i am was/is important to me. i do it partly as a political gesture, and partly as a personal one (someone once wrote that the personal is political)….it is a part of honouring myself, and the struggles i’ve gone through to get here…
and what had been going on for me is the awareness that i am still attracted to men. so, now i move back to my former self-definition as bi-sexual…but now, i am doing it publicly, and that’s a whole different place to be in. you see, i’ve learned that in both the straight and gay communities, there is often much mis-understanding, and prejudice about people who define themselves as bi-sexual. it is actually easier for me to identify as lesbian than bi, but it is not honest….and i’m through with hiding who i am. i am strongly attracted, both emotionally and sexually, to men and to women. it comes down the individual person, not his or her gender…. as the saying goes…love is love….