Gay or Non-Gay? You Decide.
Folks, I was having lunch with a colleague of mine who works in a similar field as I do. That is, his business produces and sells magnetic bracelets for their healing properties, so we’re both in the fake health industry. Jim was telling me about his latest relationship. Now, Jim has only dated guys in the past, and many of his friends assume that means he’s only attracted to men. But this latest relationship started with a female friend of his, and hence Jim’s dilemma.
You see, for a long time Jim was fine with calling himself “gay” and built an identity around being a gay man. He also had generally somewhat open relationships, which I don’t know what that means, but I assume it means a lot of things that I don’t want to picture. Anyway, Jim was worried that he was betraying his identity, and to some degree, she was worried about it too. Jim explained: “She asked me, would I need a man at some point?” he said.
“Well, would you?” I asked him. The server brought some Japanese spinach salad, and I dove right into that stuff, ’cause boy howdy was I hungry.
Jim replied: “I don’t know. I feel like I’ve done that. I’m ready to try something new. But… what if I’m wrong? What if I do need that?”
I shook my head and my eyes widened with delight as the rest of our food arrived at our table. “Jim,” I said. “Your problem is that you think sexual identity is who you are.”
Jim frowned. “What do you mean, Dr. Matt? If it’s not who I am, then what is it?”
I paused while I took a bite of a piece of salmon sashimi, which was absolutely delicious. I continued: “Sexual identity, Jim, is what we form to explain how we’ve felt, what our experiences have been. These identities are mostly about the past. Sure, we can use them to inform the future, but who we are now could be something different. For example,” I said, “have you ever been this attracted to a woman before?”
He shook his head. “Not to this degree, this is completely new.”
“Exactly,” I said, adding some more wasabi to my already spicy soy mixture. “You took on an identity of being gay because up until now, that fairly accurately described your feelings and your experiences. And that’s fine. It doesn’t make it not true. It’s just not you are, it’s who you’ve been. And not only that, it’s only a small part of who you’ve been; that is, your sexual preferences.”
I picked up another piece of salmon sashimi. “Look at this,” I told Jim. “I used to avoid sushi at all costs. It was really not my preference in food.” I took a bite, savoring the taste of uncooked fish flesh. “And now I love it. Does that mean I’ve betrayed myself? Does that mean that if I spent most of my life hating sushi, that my relationship with sushi now is doomed? No, Jim, I’ve changed, and so have you.”
“But what do I call myself,” Jim said. “I don’t think I’m bi, because it’s not like a 50/50 split for me.”
I shrugged and tried to avoid visibly rolling my eyes at Jim’s need to grasp onto another sexual identity, and focused instead on the yam tempura. “Call yourself Jim, for starters. You’re a person who can make whatever decisions he likes, whatever choices feel right. Do you love this woman?”
“Yes,” said Jim. “Very much.”
“Do you think the two of you can have a loving relationship?”
“Yeah,” he said, “I think we really can.”
“That’s all there is, Jim,” I said, taking a big bite of some crunchy deep-fried yam in tempura batter. “We have these relationships to enrich each other’s lives, to learn things we might not otherwise learn. Sexual identities don’t provide you with a magic formula for which types of relationships can best provide that.”
Jim smiled. “That’s sound advice, Dr. Matt. When are you going to get yourself a lady friend?”
I laughed. “And miss out on your company, Jim?” Then, because I realized that Jim liked the males, and I was male, I added: “Just so you know, I meant that in a platonic way.” Jim frowned at that, which means that I probably cut him off just in time from turning back to gay for me. It really is a good thing I said something, because I think Jim could pull off this non-gay thing really well.
Just My Thoughts,