Interesting article on Autostraddle - Our Willow, Ourselves

Our Willow, Ourselves

Posted by Lindsay King-Miller on March 24, 2014 at 9:00am PDT

Read full article here.


"At that point, I started to explore what I thought of as my bisexuality in earnest, and I discovered something wild: I really, really liked girls. Like really. Like a lot. Like more than I ever expected I would. And once I’d had a few great times with women, I felt the compass of my libido begin to swing. More and more, I noticed attractive girls on the street. More and more, my celebrity crushes were female instead of male. More and more, when I thought about what kind of person I might like to end up with in some far-off settled-down future, I pictured a woman. It wasn’t until I met the person to whom I am now married that I really became comfortable calling myself a lesbian, but long before then it was clear that, though I’ll never be completely [gay], something had shifted. I wanted to be with women. Women were the San Juan Capistrano toward which the swallow of my vagina must eternally wing."


"I know it’s popular to depict sexual orientation as something inherent and immutable – you’re born gay, or straight, or bisexual, and that’s what you’re stuck with forever – but I don’t think it’s that simple, at least not for everyone. Sometimes you meet the right person and suddenly everything is different. Sometimes you have choices, a multitude of paths you might explore, a plethora of relationships you might nurture or neglect. To say [she] must have been bisexual all along is to deny that love can change you, can climb inside your head and heart and rearrange all the furniture, can spin you around and around until you’re pointed in a completely different direction than you ever imagined you would go. I don’t deny that there’s something comforting in the notion that we are born with the person we will become already curled up inside us waiting to burst forth, that we have a constant internal identity that does not alter, but I think for many people it’s not always that simple."

Why introducing element of choice is important

In theory one should be able to choose to be straight as well as choose to be gay. There are people who do it more out of fear than out of a sincere want and so that could explain why people fail at it. But I see no reason why someone can't unlearn an attraction whether it's opposite sex or same sex attraction as long as it's their choice and not someone externally pushing them into it. It probably sounds homophobic (or heterophobic) to some people to choose to unlearn an attraction but I don't think it is necessarily. It's just part of making that choice to be attracted to the same sex exclusively or the opposite sex. I realize that for many people that might be hard to understand because it's not their experience. But for some people it is their experience.

As someone else on here argued I think that many people choose to be straight all the time and deny same sex attraction. I'm not saying that it's wrong. It's just a fact that people deny homosexual attractions all the time. One could argue it isn't the best choice, but I don't deny that they're the ones ultimately responsible for making that choice and therefore for deciding the morality behind that choice as well. Where as other might decide to chose to deny heterosexual feelings for moral reasons or as a matter of taste or preference, what have you. A common theme among many lesbians is that they wanted to have deeper bonds with other women and felt it was a more moral choice to have same sex attraction for that reason. In our society women are taught to compete with each other rather than combine their energies. Choosing to be straight might be harder then because it might seem like a betrayal to the conviction you had in the first place, or a betrayal to yourself and your gender.

If homosexuality were the norm, I think someone could choose to be heterosexual as well. It might be more difficult because there is already a divide between men and women that makes relationships harder, and it would probably be even greater if the majority was gay. But some people might feel a moral need to bridge the gap between men and women in such a society where inter-gender love was not the norm, the same way women often feel that they need to bridge the gap between women in a society that places little value on women's relationships. Then choosing to be gay again might happen when they feel like they've accomplished what they set out to accomplish. Or maybe they just realized that they didn't like the differences between men and women and ultimately didn't want to bridge that gap.

I definitely think that choosing heterosexuality is a boring choice for someone who isn't really thinking about things, about what they care about, what turns them on, etc. If all they're doing is letting society dictate to them what they should do. That isn't to say that heterosexuality itself is boring, it's just boring to choose your sexuality for no real reason and without passion or attraction or conviction. I think it's an acceptable choice and many people are happy with that choice, but there are also those people who chose to be straight who deep down probably should be asking if they really want to be. I see the notion of being gay by choice empowering because it says that straight people don't need to be straight if they don't want to be. It isn't saying that being straight is wrong, but it's saying that you don't have to be "born that way" to start exploring same sex feelings and attractions. It's saying that you can be more deterministic about yourself and whom you want to become, and it gives you the authority you need to be attracted to the people whom you choose to be.

Trans By Choice

Hi everyone. I'm the same person who made the last post.

I think I am trans by choice, but I feel guilt around my decision. My guilt comes from the fact that by being trans I am forcing those around me to change the way they treat me and talk about me. This is often difficult and challenging for them. They do it under the assumption that I don't have a choice in being trans. Also, my family is not happy about the fact that I am trans, which causes me to feel guilty if about choosing to be trans.

Then there are some barriers and challenges that I as a trans person. It feels very stupid to be facing these if I could choose not to, although the truth is I don't mind and I even enjoy the struggle and challenge, because it makes me a stronger person.

I think because I'm white, and live in a city, and am privileged in other ways, there is much less barriers than there is for others, and I've received much more support than if I had been situated differently. So I feel guilty that I am in the position to choose this while others are not.

Lastly, I will never know for sure if I am trans-by-choice unless I try to go back and live as my assigned-at-birth-gender. Until I do this I will never really know the true nature of my gender identity (and how much choice I have in the matter). I am intensely curious about whether I could do it, but also have little desire to try it because I'm enjoying how I live now.

PS - everyone should go to my last entry and answer the question: do you feel you chose your gender? Did you ever question or experiment with it?

What Do You Mean By "Queer"?

Is there inconsistency with how this community uses the word 'queer'? It seems some people use it to mean they chose to be gay, some bisexual, some pansexual. There's definitely a connection with sexual and romantic preference.


I think of "queer" as an umbrella term, including trangender identities. Transgender, also being an umbrella term, includes those who have not-the-norm gender identities and gender expressions.

Using this definition, if you chose to be queer, wouldn't that mean you chose to have a gender identity and/or expression different from the one expected of you by society?

Or does choosing to be queer mean you chose at least one aspect - sexual preference, gender identity, or gender expression.

If you feel you chose your sexual orientation, to what extent do you feel you chose your gender identity? your gender expression?

I hope you all are still reading this

Didn't see anything in the userinfo about surveys... this is for science! :)

I'm applying for a scholarship from an LGBTQ foundation that does an annual scholarship essay contest, has for awhile now. One of their prompts for possible essays they'd like to see involved interviews. So, in addition to interviewing some of my friends, I made a neato internet survey with a service called FormSpring (ominous name, right?) and I'm posting it to a few select queer LJ communities in hopes that cool people will pick it up and fill it out and give me quotes and food for thought to work (attributed duly) into my essay.

In conclusion, click here
 New Window
and thanks for supporting me!


Hi my name is Eric and I'm new to this LJ community. I've been really pissed off by my assimilationist LGB peers and I am sick of them using the idea of the gay 'gene' as an excuse and justification to assimilate into mainstream culture. I feel like they're victimizing themselves and giving away their power. They're also telling the rest of the world that they cannot be LGB or queer without a scientific explanation.

I'm majoring in Languages & Cultures and minoring in Queer Studies at California State University Northridge. We just started this minor last Fall and I am having trouble getting my peers interested. Any tips on recruiting?

(no subject)

Homophobic religious nut David Klinghoffer quotes homophobic religious nut Joshua Berman in a recent column on BeliefNet, arguing against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Berman accurately cites evidence to show that sexual preferences are socially constructed. Since this evidence does nothing to suggest that exclusive heterosexuality is a superior social construction to any others, his bizarre effort to force his evidence to lead in that direction results in much hilarity:
Homoeroticism is, to a large degree, socially constructed. It turns out that where homoeroticism is granted full social sanction, as it was in Rome, it flourishes -- so much so, that one writer noted that the emperor Claudius exhibited an unusual trait: he was sexually interested in women alone!

Men, we learn from ancient Rome, will enjoy sex with other men, if there is no social censure. Now, all of this should be fine for us as well -- after all, we should let free choice and tolerance reign.

The real problems begin, however, when we read what these writers had to say about marriage. Consider this piece from the first century BCE poet Catullus (Carmen 61:134-141), in which the poet addresses himself to a bridegroom on the eve of his nuptials:

"You are said to find it hard, Perfumed bridegroom, to give up Smooth-skinned boys, but give them up... We realize you've only known Permitted pleasures: husbands, though, have no right to the same pleasures."

The social history behind this piece is clear: once they've experienced sex with other men, Catullus tells us, men are unsatisfied with what their new wives provide them. Notice that the poet is unconcerned about the husband's dallying with other women -- it's the other men around that threaten the marital union.

If Catullus addressed the bridegroom on the eve of his wedding, the satirist Martial (Book 11, Epigram 43) depicts the reality of married life itself. As satire, the section is too bawdy to be reprinted here, but the sanitized version goes like this: A woman chastises her husband for continuing to dally with male acquaintances. He counters that many other married men are doing it as well. Desperate, she offers to service him in the same way that his male suitor does. He rebuffs, concluding that she just can't satisfy him the way his suitor can.

And so now we come back to the idyllic day of free choice and tolerance envisioned by the gay and lesbian movement. It turns out that that day has winners and losers. The winners -- big time -- are homosexual men, because the historical record shows that they can expect their potential pool of partners to expand exponentially. Of note here is that this expanded pool of partners accrues to gay men, but not to homosexual women. At the risk of getting too explicit, I leave it the reader's basic grasp of anatomy to figure out why in ancient Rome a man who found pleasure in a woman, could also find pleasure in a man, while the record shows that a heterosexual woman rarely found sexual satisfaction in the company of another woman.
"Basic grasp of anatomy"? Yes, that's right, because women's anatomy just doesn't allow us to feel any pleasure at all without a penis inside us - never mind the fact that actually, the location of the clitoris prevents many women from having orgasms from coitus alone, while I've never seen a shred of evidence suggesting that any women are anatomically incapable of having orgasms without a penis involved.

I've lost count of how many women I know who have at some point or another had sex with a self-identified heterosexual woman, but from what I hear, queer women don't seem to have any difficulty at all in pleasing those women in bed. If more ancient Greek women had learned to write and more of their writing had survived to the present day, I expect the historical record would bear this out. As it is, I certainly don't recall anything in Sappho's writing that suggested she had any trouble pleasing anybody in bed, so I'd like to know where Berman got the idea that the historical record shows anything about any women's supposed lack of sexual satisfaction with other women in ancient Greece. Not that there couldn't possibly have been an occasional woman or two who was sexually unsatisfied by another woman, just as much in ancient Greece as anywhere else - but I've never heard of an instance of surviving writing by an ancient Greek woman that documents another woman's inability to please her in bed.
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Going straight?

Hey guys, me again--I got great answers for my last question, but now I have another one. Some people say that it isn't possible to choose to go straight again: Why not? What makes that different?

And for fun, a hypothetical situation that goes with my question: Let's say there's a community where homosexuality is the norm. Would it be possible for some people to chose to be heterosexual, then? And if so, would they be able to go back to being gay?

And how many of you think that choosing heterosexuality is a boring choice? If so, is that compared to homosexuality, or just queerness in general?

Just wondering! Thanks so much for your time and patience. =D