Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - REAL LIFE -

why wouldn’t men and women act on same-sex de­sires? But the lib­er­a­tion cuts both ways. In a cul­ture where the grey space may be over­tak­ing the rain­bow, queers who may have felt cul­tural pres­sure to iden­tify as all-the-way gay are free to act on the oc­ca­sional het­ero fancy with­out feel­ing they’re let­ting down an en­tire com­mu­nity.

of my com­pli­cated sex­u­al­ity into a strictly les­bian one was called out when a se­ri­ous girl­friend had the rev­e­la­tion that he was ac­tu­ally male. As I sorted out what this meant for me, I landed in a more hon­est place. I was at­tracted to women, yes, but to guys as well. I was at­tracted to ev­ery­one. With my newly trans­gen­der boyfriend, I ac­quired a new lan­guage. If in­di­vid­u­als mak­ing a gender tran­si­tion are trans, from the Latin ‘other side of’, then folks whose gender matches the cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tions of it are cis­gen­dered, Latin for ‘this side of’. Be­ing so close to a trans com­mu­nity also made me un­der­stand the true lim­i­ta­tions of a bi­sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. As it turns out, there are more than two gen­ders – there’s a spec­trum!

The cur­rent move to­wards sex­ual flu­id­ity is hap­pen­ing hand in hand with re­cent strides in trans vis­i­bil­ity. Jill Soloway, cre­ator of the Em­my­win­ning show Trans­par­ent, told me that trans peo­ple can in­ad­ver­tently broaden a per­son’s no­tions of who ex­actly they are at­tracted to: ‘Are these gay or les­bian crushes? Or straight or queer or gender-fluid crushes? Maybe just crushes. Maybe just sex. Maybe just love.’

Af­ter that boyfriend and I broke up, it seemed likely I’d end up in a het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with a cis­gen­dered guy. I wanted to set­tle down – and straight men seemed pre-pro­grammed for that. There was some­thing great and re­bel­lious, af­ter a decade of ex­treme les­bian­ism, to be sort of pre­fer­ring men. But de­spite the giddy nov­elty of em­brac­ing my at­trac­tion to them, the re­al­ity of men dis­ap­pointed. Bring­ing my queer, fem­i­nist self into the het­ero dat­ing world made even ba­sic in­ter­ac­tions with men land mines. It’s ex­haust­ing to ar­gue with your date about how trans women are ac­tu­ally women or how women who sleep around aren’t sluts. At the end of a spell of heavy dat­ing, I knew het­ero wed­ding bells would not be ring­ing for me. Any­one I was go­ing to spend that much time with would have to be a real soul mate – and for me that meant a woman.

So­cial change moves at a glacial pace but pop cul­ture has been lay­ing the ground­work for an em­brace of la­bel-free iden­tity since the ’90s. There was Madonna’s 1992 Sex book, which fea­tured the icon ca­vort­ing with shirt­less hunks

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