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Gender Trouble

Now for anyone who has had their head in a hole (filthy people I meant in the ground) sexuality is clearly an issue I’m concerned about professionally and personally. I read endless articles weekly ‘debating’ issues on sexuality. However Cynthia Nixon’s comments this week caused such a storm around the gay press and blogosphere I felt I should comment. 

Nixon, of Sex and the City fame has a female partner stated regarding her sexuality I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice.”

Now quite rightly this enraged quite a few people, on the whole the enlightened world is coming around to the idea that we are who we are or just born whatever which way (to borrow shamelessly a couple of gay anthems there). Unsurprisingly Nixon, who has to be fair spoken out in support of many LGBT causes in the past, was keen to defend her comments. She went on to say that she worded it that way because of the dislike she’s felt for being bisexual, saying  

I don’t pull out the ‘bisexual’ word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.”

It doesn’t necessarily justify what she says but it does highlight something that bisexuality, if anything is something that doesn’t get talked about much. 

I was reminded however of a much more eloquent account of personal experience and opinion on the topic by the luminous and magnificent Mark Gatiss (if you don’t know who he is seek out his work immediately you won’t be sorry) did with the Guardian a long time ago, I saved the quote but had to look for the article-here it is: 

I had a girlfriend before I ever had a boyfriend, but it was just a phase. I think a lot of people who say they are bisexual aren't. I loved her dearly and we had a very nice time, but on the Kinsey scale, I would say I was always predominantly gay.”

Now to me, what Gatiss is saying makes sense and I agree.  Figuring out your sexuality isn’t easy-despite people saying they’ve ‘always known’ we all go through phases of debate, doubt and yes denial. You can also I believe love someone dearly and it still be a mistake (sexuality wise or otherwise too I’m sure many will agree!) I also agree with what Gatiss is saying-that yes there are many ‘bisexual’ people who aren’t-either they’re experimenting with the same sex in or the opposite sex before they grow and come to realise that actually they belong on one side of the fence or the other, if it’s done out of innocence or genuine exploration and not a ‘girls gone wild’ type attention seeking I have no problem with it.  For Mr Gatiss above, with hindsight he’s saying ok no actually that wasn’t me, this is me (he’s now happily married to actor Ian Hallard, for anyone who is curious). If I too look back in 10, 15 years and say ‘Actually no that wasn’t me, but everyone I loved I loved as honestly and the best that I could’ then I’ll have done nothing wrong and there will be no shame in that.  

That’s not to say that bisexuality should be like trying on different pairs of shoes until something fits-and by no means is it an easy choice. It’s a grey area that many people struggle to understand, I’ve blogged about my personal experience previously so I’ll spare you here. 

I’ve spent a long time thinking am I actually one or the other, and honest answer: I don’t know yet I really don’t. I know I’ve been attracted to, had devastating crushes on and loved people of both genders so far. It’s a difficult and complicated way to have your head and (oh lets say it once more) your heart work, but ultimately I am no different to anyone else. Another part of Gatiss’ interview I felt drawn to was this:

“I was always ready for a serious relationship. I remember 12 years ago going on holiday, sitting in the airport on my own, thinking: "This is meaningless without someone to share it with."

And it doesn’t matter for him it was waiting for a man and for me that I’m not quite sure who I’m waiting for until I meet them (or perhaps I have and don’t know it?) I find myself agreeing with the sentiment, the need and the desire. And that is the most important thing for me, regardless of gender. 


  1. Interesting post Emily. I've always defined myself as lesbian (I used to play kiss chase in school when I was 5 and chased the girls round the playground, not the boys), came out to myself at 13, and gradually to others from the age of 15 onwards. I've been with my fiancee for over 9 years.
    And then, last August I started a new job, and I've fallen completely for a guy there. To the point of embarrassing teenage crush obsession type thing. I know he has a girlfriend, he knows I have a girlfriend, and I know nothing can ever happen, but it's very confusing for my little head, to 'know' I was something, and then he came along to shake my brain around. I certainly didn't choose it! Plus, he's a ginger goth, so clearly I should be a lesbian cos it turns out I have a screwed up idea of what an attractive man should be!

    I've always said to my Much Beloved that if the person I'm meant to be with happens to be a guy then so be it, and she's said likewise, although both of us have said the likelihood is minimal. I've never previously experienced any attraction towards the opposite sex* but I've never entirely ruled it out. And apparently it happened, although it will never go anywhere. If you love someone, it doesn't matter what lumps and bumps you have on your body or where your wobbly bits are. The only choice you have is whether to give into love or not.

    *apart from Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer... Ahem!

    1. Thanks for those detailed and thoughtful comments! Always glad to find other people identify with what I'm going through/thinking.

      I totally sympathise, similar situation in that I swore despite being attracted to women that actually I'd be likely to end up with a man, then of course fall for a girl, who is of course totally unobtainable. The lesson I learned is exactly what you say in the second paragraph, you fall for who you fall for and you end up with who you end up with-whatever or whomever they end up being (that's not to say it's not all a right headache along the way!)

      And lol, well Spike is a notable exception for many ;)

  2. I have a lot of respect for Mark Gatiss as a screenwriter, but with regard to sexual orientation, his own experience does not make him an expert or allow him to generalise it to other people. Bisexuality was a phase for him, fair enough, but it does not mean that it is the same for other people. I do realise that he said "a lot of people" and not "all people" but still, I don't think he has any right to extend his own experience to "a lot" of other people. Such statements can only raise the negative feelings towards bisexual people that are already far too present.

    Personally, I find labels restrictive and have abandoned them. The first label I consciously adopted to describe my sexual orientation turned out not to be right (but that doesn't mean that I assume that all or even many people who adopt that label will turn out to have been wrong too) and the ones I tried on later only made me feel bad whenever new events in my life ended up contradicting them. Sexual orientation may be fixed at birth, but our awareness and acceptance of it varies though life, so maybe we should remain open. Yes, most people will probably end up being attracted only to men or only to women for most of their lives, but if one day they end up being attracted to someone of their usually non-preferred gender, it might save them a lot of confusion to have been open to the possibility all along. (No, I am not saying that nearly everybody is a bit bisexual. I certainly don't believe that.)


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