By Laurie Wolfe
1. Near Bi
Up until ten years ago I thought I was male, keeping my truth locked deep inside. In the ‘90s when I took up with a woman who had been in a long-term relationship with a woman, I was thrilled, so much so that I shared it with my best friend. When he asked why, I didn’t have an answer. He didn’t understand it and I neither did I, but I continued to be extremely happy with the idea and felt comforted by it. It was almost, but not quite, my first non-traditional relationship; it was almost my first bi relationship, so I’m going to say it was a near bi relationship (I hear some of you groaning; go for it). Also, my partner did not identify as anything, so I guess you could say it was near bi for that as well (or perhaps doubly near bi), but you can’t. I was in the closet and she wasn’t identifying as anything, at least to me. She just was herself. Which I respected. And pushed against, perhaps out of my own desire to be more near bi, but it was what it was.
2. Questionable kiss
Earlier, when I was in graduate school, I became friends with a lovely man, a young French professor. I met him in the library at a nearby college and we came to enjoy and look forward to each other’s company. Eventually he invited me over to his home on a Saturday evening for dinner for a special home cooked fish dish (he was from a French-speaking Caribbean Island). As I was leaving, he kissed me, a real good one on the lips; I freaked out. The thought was, “He’s a guy and he’s kissing me” (which got me setting off warning bells in my mind, warning my internal village of impending doom). I furiously questioned him about his sexual identity, thinking that if it were a cultural thing it could be okay, which he wisely did not respond to. I left in a state, and I kept away from the library after that (I imagine you with a sad face and going ohhh in that sad way… I am so with you).
A few years ago I was taking inventory of my bi-ness (I do that from time to time, less so now) and thought about how I never dated a guy, let alone kissed one. And then I remembered Arthur and that evening, and how it actually felt when he kissed me; it was sweet, lingering and very warm, a possible beginning to something. After remembering this (I spent a while remembering it) I felt huge regret and badly about my behavior. I wanted to tell him I was a jerk. I located Arthur online (he pronounces it Artour) and emailed him a few weeks later to see if it was him, and to apologize for my behavior. To let him know he really was lovely and that I was a perfect jerk. He dismissed my concern, and remembered me fondly; he was that nice of a guy.
And though I still haven’t kissed a guy, a guy kissed me when I wasn’t quite myself. You don’t have to be trans to have that experience. The curious thing is he might not have kissed me if I was myself, if I was female. He might or might not have. Also, the funny thing is I think in some way it was me back then too, but honestly it’s not true. I am different: I didn’t present as female, let myself feel female, or let myself be who I am naturally. It’s different, inside and out. The only piece that I can say is consistent is Arthur kissed me, and I changed my perception of it. I regret I wasn’t there to respond.
I won’t say it was a near bi kiss because the interval between not me and me was just too long. And it wasn’t a relationship. Oh, what might have been.
3. Trans(woman) invisibility
I don’t feel bi invisibility is an issue for me, because as a trans woman it appears that I’m invisible as a sexual being. I admit that for a number of years I wasn’t ready to date, but now that I am, it’s a bit of a wtf: being a transwoman is like being the perpetual friend in rom-coms, except that Joan Cusack gets asked out sometimes.
So, I don’t get asked out on dates, ever. Well, not exactly; this one time a woman was very interested, but the first time we got together, she retracted all interest, claiming she had an aversion to a part of my anatomy which I never discussed or mentioned. (A woman I know in the bi community surprised me around this time with a very personal question that I answered. I suppose anyone who shows any liking for me is entitled to know this before we ever meet or get to know one another, because I’m invisible). I suppose if she thought as many do that it’s the person and not the body, something might have happened, a date at the very least. Though perhaps not, because a few months later she posted on FB that for her it’s the person, not the body. I admit I had some feelings over this. Lots. But the truth is it’s okay if it’s the body as well as the person. You don’t lose any bi points over this. I completely understand this because I have similar preferences too. Plus I have an aversion to penises, but if I found the right person it was attached to, male or female, I’d want to date them to see if it held up. The aversion, not the penis. (Penises usually do hold up, though you may need to give them some love and attention. I know cause I’ve had some experience with this, though I’ve been a one penis woman so far (hence the aversion; I’ve only known one).) And if I loved the person, I’d definitely want to see what’s up, and have fun with it. Regardless of what it is. Cause for me, it is the person, not the body (though bodies are rather spectacular).
I hope someday I meet someone with a similar attitude who knows that people are entitled to respect, and to be met and known for who they are, and loved for it as well. And when that happens, I’ll be a lot more visible.
Laurie Wolfe is a writer, poet, performer and healer. She’s appeared in Bilicious Boston, Body Verse and others. She is on the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) training committee and chairs the Trans Working Group at Keshet, the Jewish LGBT organization. She also does speaking gigs on trans and/or bi themes.