I didn’t feel like a lesbian, and I didn’t want use the word “bisexual.” I held every conceivable negative connotation to that word: Bisexuals were fakers and attention-seekers, punchlines from bad ’90s movies. I also believed that the “bi” in “bisexual” relied on the theory of a gender binary I was rapidly losing faith in.(In truth, “bi” implies attraction to members of both one’s own and other genders).Ultimately, it felt easier to define my sexuality in terms of what it But in the long nights I spent telling my partner about all the “gay moments” in my childhood that suddenly made a whole lot more sense—always volunteering to play the groom in playground “weddings,” asking other girls at a slumber party to “practice” making out, romantic friendships with a long line of teenage BFFs—it became increasingly apparent that I really wasn’t straight, either.I was as attracted to the lingering feminine aspects of my partner as I was to the masculine ones.
People in gay bars would refer to me and my boyfriend as a straight couple, or to me as a straight woman, which made me feel like an outsider in what was supposed to be my own tribe.When we got together, he was nearing the end of a decade spent identifying as a butch lesbian.He had just begun to realize he might be trans, but hadn’t yet taken any outward steps toward transitioning. Until then, I had only ever dated straight, cisgender guys—something my new partner actually liked about me.She added that my boyfriend was really cute, but I didn’t have to worry because she was “super gay.” At the time, I was decked out in rainbow gear from head to toe and my boyfriend was wearing a t-shirt that said “Nobody knows I’m transgender.” I never outed my trans boyfriend (though he occasionally outed himself in these scenarios), but I didn’t really have the language I needed to out myself, either.Instead, I generally handled these frustrations by silently feeling sorry for myself. On the other hand, I was also well aware that my ability to pass as straight—both on my own and in the context of my relationship—earned me a certain amount of privilege, especially in the world beyond San Francisco.