As promised, here is the next installment of Jess Wells’s ninepart story, “The See-Saw Family”:
Simon leans back against the kitchen sink and wants to know why I don’t call myself heterosexual now. I proclaim, almost with hostility, that it would be to suggest that the last 23 years of lesbianism was a mistake.
He presses on. “If this relationship didn’t work would you consider going back to women?”
I want to remind him of how much I love him, how devoted I am and how good we are together, but that’s not the question in front of us. (Nor the focus of this piece. No one asks, “Why do you love Simon-the-man?” They ask, “Why are you with men-the-gender?”)
His question makes me see my former selves spin out of my shoulders like a vapor trail. Women full of piss and vinegar. Full of righteous confidence that I just hadn’t found The One. The just-shout-‘Next’-and-you’re-on belief that love was out there. But I’m nearly 50 years old now, and not only am I looking at my own middle age (exactly middle, since I want to live to be 100+) but I’m filled to the brim with the knowledge that I can’t put my kid through another breakup, desertion, another set of readjustments. It’s this or nothing.
If he leaves, I give up on love altogether. I mean that. I’ve tried every configuration and gender. I sincerely think I would shave my head and become a Buddhist nun. Not so far-fetched, really: I’m a Buddhist who has taken refuge. My Buddhism is central to my belief system and is at the core of my coping skills. I’d be a nun with saltpeter in her begging bowl, though.
What does that say about my sexuality? To honor my past, I won’t base my sexual identity on my current heterosexuality. Simon will give me my bisexuality if there’s a chance of having sex with women in the future. If I intend to be celibate in the future, then am I precelibate? Is that a category?
Whatever it is, though, I’m definitely queer. I’m the B in the LGBT so I still get to march in the parade. I may not be gay but I’m definitely in the “woman with unusual sexuality” category. You can’t have double-closets and not be considered queer.
Jess is an author/editor who can be found online at www.jesswells.com.