Here today to talk about identity, privilege and more is Olivia Hinebaugh, debut author of The Birds, The Bees, and You & Me, which you can buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound. I love this book a lot and Olivia is incredibly sweet. You can find her on Twitter and at her website.
I was watching Orange Is The New Black with my spouse. It was the episode where we get to see Laverne Cox’s character’s backstory. Her wife was so supportive of her transition and it made me feel sappy, so I turned to my spouse and said, “I would support you and love you the same if you were a woman.” He turned and looked at me in disbelief. When he said the reverse wasn’t true, I was offended.
Because I love and am attracted people regardless of their gender or sex. Like, that literally does not matter at all to me. Generally, I thought most people were like me. Hearing that my spouse cared about my gender or sex so much was weird to me. It started the wheels turning. I never thought I’d be 30ish and questioning my sexuality. Nothing about me felt different, though. I had always had crushes on guys, girls, and especially people who weren’t, like, super masculine or feminine. But, I only ever really dated guys. (OK. Honest talk here: I married my first boyfriend…so…kisses on the other hand, men were in the minority)
A great thing happens when you get a little older. First of all, so many of the people I knew in younger years as straight and cis, are openly LGBTQIA. All of these wonderful shades of nuance came into focus as more and more of my peers lived their truths. And suddenly, the fact that I had kissed more girls than guys, and the fact that a huge majority of what I considered crushes were almost solely platonic started to make me wonder.
Right now, where I sit, as a 34 year old woman: I am a white cis woman who is married to a white cis man and has children, but I’m also pansexual and demisexual. Another way I look at it is, I’m queer enough that I identify, but I’m also super privileged so I need to cede my voice and listen when my more marginalized pals talk.
Learning the term “demisexual,” by the way, was the closest thing I’ve had to a true lightbulb moment in my entire life. I’ve just never walked around thinking about sex. Or having urges to jump anyone. My urges were more like “I want to have coffee with them” or “I’d like to make them smile.” Only when I was really and truly fully enamored with someone on a fairly deep platonic level, did I *ever* want to kiss them. I need to be super comfortable with someone. And the other lightbulb moment came when I realized that my friends who had flings and one-night stands were maybe allosexual. I had always struggled to understand how you, like, meet someone, think they’re hot, and then jump in the sack with them. I wouldn’t say I judged them. Because that’s, like, against the rules of feminism. I just didn’t understand them, even though I’m very sex positive. I want all people to have the sex life they want (with consensual parties). I don’t need to understand someone’s sexual experiences to accept them. And that has been a really powerful lesson.
We can all, all the time, work on being more understanding and accepting. I have always been an ally and a feminist, but I still learn ways to be better at both of those things.
As a writer for teens, part of me is excited to include things that I didn’t know about at that age. In The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me there are characters who are bi and on the ace spectrum (*cough* very similar to me). I grace those characters with more self-knowledge than I had, because I can’t imagine how awesome it would have felt if a friend turned to me and said “yeah, I choose random celebrities to be ‘obsessed with’ because other people are doing that,” and I’d be, like, “right?” Or someone to be like “well, gee, I actually think androgynous people are hot. And that’s valid.” Or if anyone ever used the term “nonbinary.” Holy smokes, the doors it might have opened.
This is by no means a “kids these days have it so good,” kind of post. It’s just that I do want to do my part to help kids these days. If I’ve done that–even in a small way–as an author, then a dream has come true.
Folks, there are just billions of ways to be a person. You can label these facets, or you could decide you hate labels. You can love in so many different ways. When I think about that, it’s impossible not to smile.