I am so excited to welcome Kali Rainwater to the blog today to talk about her story of self discovery regarding her identity. I love this post so much and am so grateful she decided to share it. You can find Kali on Twitter and see all of her books on Amazon.
Ahoy! I’m Kali, a.k.a. K. B. Rainwater, a.k.a a whole host of other things (I collect nicknames: Crazy Pirate Girl, Matrix, Siren, Monsoon—as long as it’s fun and respectful I’ll respond to it). I’m a non-binary genderfluid graysexual demiromantic bisensual writer. My pronouns are she/her or ou, and this is my story of self-discovery.
The first thing I remember that hinted at the fact that I’m queer was before puberty. I was probably between eight and ten years old, and I really wanted to be Marco from the Animorphsseries, to the point that I took my bikini top off in the pool and declared myself to be a boy. Around that time I also had a habit of hiding my hair under a ballcap and “pretending” to be a boy—in retrospect, of course, I wasn’t pretending; those were my boy-days, and I was expressing my gender in the only manner I knew.
As I grew older, I got this idea that in a past life I must have been a man. In college, I started having dreams where I was a man, with a penis; those dreams usually involved masturbation. I do recall one dream where I was a man having sex with a woman, someone I knew from school—but dreams where I have sex with a real person, male or female, are few and far between.
That was something that always confused me about reading romance novels, where the main characters would fantasize and even dream about each other. It always felt to me like an invasion of privacy to fantasize about a real person unless I was in a relationship with them—but then, even in a relationship, I wouldn’t fantasize about the person I was in a relationship with. That made me feel vaguely guilty during my ill-fated marriage. I loved him, and enjoyed having sex with him, so why did I picture some imaginary person when I masturbated?
At the time, I wasn’t aware of the asexual spectrum. I didn’t know that I myself was graysexual. I thought the reason that I’d remained a virgin until I married at age twenty-three was because I vowed to remain chaste until marriage, and not because I’d never been tempted to forsake that vow. I read romance voraciously, and enjoyed daily sex with my husband, so it’s not like I had a low libido. But one of the things he complained about when our marriage was falling apart was that I never initiated our sexual encounters. Yet why would I initiate an encounter when he was already initiating them often enough to satisfy me?
It was only after we were divorced, and I had a new boyfriend I had sex with about once a month, that I realized I’m just not the sort to initiate sexual encounters at all. I’ll masturbate several times a week when I’m not having sex, but I don’t typically look at someone and think, I want to have sex with them. I can really only think of two instances of that occurring. The first was when my best friend from childhood was trying to get me into the TV show Angel. I agreed to watch it because I knew David Boreanaz from Bones and he’s dreamy. The titular character being badass was enough to keep my interest for a few episodes until the first appearance of Spike. My reaction to seeing him and listening to his snark was, and I quote, “I so want to do him right now.”
The other instance is more recent, with the TV show Lucifer. That came on more gradually; it was less of an instant desire to jump his bones, and more of a slow realization that I would totally have sex with him.
It’s only in the past year that I’ve really begun to research asexuality. Being active on social media has opened my eyes to different identities and allowed me to realize where some of the disconnect I feel from the typical cishet experience is coming from. Learning about asexuality also led to learning about aromanticism, and it turns out I’m on that spectrum as well. I don’t tend to get crushes on people, and when I do it’s almost always someone that I’ve known for some time.
Then there’s the bisensuality. For a while I identified as bisexual, or bi-curious, because I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling. Girls are hot, and I love looking at them and kissing them, but I don’t really want to have sex with them. Before I knew about the different kinds of attraction, it was difficult to reconcile those feelings.
I admitted my bisexual leanings to my now-ex-husband, and he used that against me when he fell in love with another woman. He pressured me into getting into a polyamorous relationship, and when that relationship failed (due to lack of proper communication and disregard for boundaries), he threatened to tell people about my relationship with her during the divorce proceedings. My family is very conservative, and I was scared of their reaction, but I knew I couldn’t afford to be blackmailed, so I called them and came out to them as bisexual. (This was before I knew the difference between types of attraction.)
They were surprisingly understanding. I’m not sure how they would react if I came home with a girlfriend, but I think they would accept it. I still haven’t come out to them as non-binary; that’s not a discussion I feel ready to have. But I think they would accept that as well, they would just be confused, since enbies are less mainstream than bisexual people.
I try to be very open about my sexuality and gender identity where I can, since I want to spread correct information and I have the energy to answer questions and educate people. I can’t be out as non-binary at work since my job doesn’t recognize the existence of people outside the gender binary, and as I mentioned I’m a bit wary of how my family would react, but I’m out everywhere else. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. My LARP friends address me as “captain” rather than “ma’am,” and it’s very affirming. I recently cut my hair for the first time in seven years, and it’s lovely to be able to go out in public and be addressed as “sir.” It bothered me to be regarded as male when I had a braid down to my ass, because it was usually due to people assuming my gender based upon the fact that I was in a male-dominated sphere such as a Magic: the Gathering tournament; but when I’m somewhere that women are welcome, I enjoy it when those around me don’t default to assuming I’m female.
One thing I’d like to see is more representation of non-binary and aroace-spectrum identities in popular media. I can name three romance novels off the top of my head with non-binary rep: Cat Sebastian’s Unmasked by the Marquess, K.J. Charles’s An Unsuitable Heir, and Alyssa Cole’s A Prince on Paper. The aroace rep I’ve seen is…less than exemplary. The only show I’ve watched with any sort of representation is The Big Bang Theory, and that’s problematic, to put it mildly. We need to see ourselves acknowledged as we are, because I don’t want other baby aces and aros to take thirty years to realize that they’re not broken. We’re whole and valid exactly as we are.