Monday, June 30, 2008

Fallout Boi

I kinda love Pete Wentz, of Fallout Boy. I admit it. He really knows how to rock the gender ambiguity, and he's one of the only musicians out there who actually speaks out about homophobia in the industry and keeps getting pissed off about it. I think it's so interesting that Pete Wentz and Kanye West, both a little crazy, have become these funny straight allies for a whole generation of queer youth listening to rock and hip-hop. It's unexpected and kind of fitting.

In an interview with Out, Wentz recently deadpanned: “We have iPhones, and I’m still getting called the same names as when I was 13....[T]here is a sense of self-empowerment or recapturing who you are by people calling you ‘fag,’ and being like, ‘Yeah, I am a fag.’ Even though you’re not. What does somebody respond? That dude has nothing to say about that again.”

It's funny, but as I get older--almost 30!--my politics around queer rights seem to only get stronger, while any understanding of how my own sexuality 'works' just gets fuzzier and more vague with each passing year. I feel like, when I came out at 16, the only way for me to commit to that act was to just dive in, shouting 'I'm gay' from the rooftops. I never thought to ask: well, how gay am I, really? Is there a measurement? What about dudes actually attracts me? What about women doesn't attract me? How might that work, and is it static? Am I always going to be this confident of my sexuality until the day I die?

Wentz has said in interview that "everything is fair game from the waist up," and "it all comes down to the equipment." Meaning, he can be turned on, essentially, by a dude, but only by the top half of a dude. Is that possible? I'm not sure. I was in a car with one of my oldest friends recently, and when I casually admitted to having slept with women, I thought his head was going to explode he was so shocked. "Really? I didn't know that!" I could tell that he had about a million questions, but there wasn't time to get into it. And, frankly, I wasn't sure if I could answer even one of them, let alone a million. The truth is that I've always been attracted to women. They're beautiful, and they smell nice, and they're usually smarter and funnier than dudes, and if you want to talk about shit they'll actually talk about shit instead of just avoiding the issue or playing Nintendo Wii or getting too drunk to care.

Does this make me straight-curious? Sure, why not. Everyone's body has something to offer. How do I explain being super-attracted to a trans boy (who used to be a girl), or a girl who looks like a boy, or someone in-between, or a butch lesbian, or a boy who looks like a girl, or a trans girl who still sort of looks like a boy? I like Margaret Cho's aphorism: "I slept with a woman. And I was all, like: 'Am I gay? Am I straight?' Then I realized. I'm just slutty.'" It works on so many levels. There's no doubt, no doubt in the world, that I was born hardwired to find dudes attractive. It's biological and completely beyond my control. Even if I don't want to get turned on, I will. It's very different with women. Far more...willful, I guess. More focused. It's not just sex sex sex. And it's not like I consciously think, in order to find this girl attractive, I have to turn off my attraction to dudes. It's not a power-button. More like a thermostat, only it goes in, like, four or twelve or a hundred different directions, rather than just high/low.

But I can't say I'm bisexual. I don't think the term fits. The attraction isn't 50/50. There's no measurement that works. I like 'gay but not narrow.' Kind of like when my female partner introduces me as 'her gay boyfriend.' Does that make sense? Not really. But it's the closest thing we've got to an explanation.

I hate when gay dudes admit to having slept with women in interviews, and then use the bad sex as a kind of excuse: "Oh, it was so mechanical, I knew it wasn't for me." Does that mean that you're gay, or does it just mean that you had bad sex? Rosie O'Donnell was interviewed by Howard Stern recently, and she talked about living with a boyfriend for years, admitting: "You can have great sex with anybody." I think that's so true. It's not just a matter of equipment. I spent five minutes staring at a dude's legs on the G train today, just because...well, they were really nice-looking legs! Was I attracted to the rest of him? Not really. But damn, those legs were nice. So what does that mean? Was I attracted to the lower 1/3 of this dude? I shouldn't need measuring cups and spoons to define my sexuality.

Right now, I feel like I'm at a point in my life where 'queer' is the only word that's flexible enough to apply. I'm in an open-relationship with a gorgeous, brilliant, talented, and endlessly entertaining woman, and we plan to have a kid together. I sleep with dudes. She sleeps with dudes. She likes girls. I like girls. We both always play safe. What do we do in bed? Mostly crosswords. Anything else is none of your fucking business, really, although you're free to ask. We love each other. We have so much fun together, it should be illegal. She knows how to build a fireplace from scratch. I know how to write a novel from scratch. We have no illusions about our life together ever making 'sense.' Maybe we'll both find male partners and start a four-parent-family with queer aunts and uncles. Maybe we'll move to the Greek Islands and embarrass our future kid(s) by being eccentric and weird authors and playwrights and academics.

All I know is that, right now, I'm really, really, ridiculously happy. Which is kind of queer in itself, since decades of psychoanalysis has taught us that we're not ever supposed to be happy, not really, since it's all just transference. But I'm looking forward to turning 30, to spending 2 glorious years in Montreal, and to straddling all kinds of uncertainties. Why settle? Why torture yourself trying to schedule and label and categorize? Why worry about what everyone thinks?

Why worry at all?


john levitt said...

So Jes, was just checking out your blog and came across this old post. No comments? Maybe you're making people the tiniest bit uncomfortable.

I thought it was one of the coolest posts of a personal nature I've read in a long time.

How's the next book coming along?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you've got a great thing going. So it doesn't fit into a standard 'box' - gay/straight whatever.

If it's good, it's good. My husband agree that if either of us woke up in the morning a different gender, we'd stick together: what we have is way more important than the equipment.