So, full disclosure: I don’t know what Sexuality Pet Peeve #1 and #2 are yet. I’m new enough to actually listening to and exploring my sexuality (see last Monday’s post…) that I’m still figuring out lots of the tricksy realities that accompany being an out and proud lesbian woman in one of the more conservative, rural areas of a super liberal state. But this pet peeve feels like a #3. It’s not quite infuriating enough to be #1, but it’s also not just the brush of annoyance that would go with a #26. So I’m going with #3. I’ll keep y’all updated as others arrive.
Sexuality Pet Peeve #3 has arisen since I started suspecting my sexuality. For some reason, my preference for girls was easier for me to admit to potential male suitors than it was to close friends and family members (and perhaps even to myself?). I used the phrase, “Sorry, I’m gay,” or “Sorry, I generally don’t go for guys” to ward off unwanted attention from men for almost half a year before I began deeply interrogating whether it was actually true and working on acting on it. And, while I’m not hit on particularly often — once every couple of months, or so — I was surprised by the frequency of times that saying I was a lesbian did not immediately discourage male interest.
Instead, an alarming amount of the time, I got some variation of this response: “Well, maybe if we hung out for a while, you might change your mind.”
I’m not really sure what the motivation behind this idea is. Most of the motivations I can think of aren’t particularly charitable — gross egotism, imagining that their masculinity will be the one to change my mind? Different understandings of sexuality from the one I hold, with the (seemingly super harmful) idea that people “choose” to be gay? Plain old disbelief or denial? Although there’s always the chance that they were just seeing through my comment to the uncertainty underneath, in which case, congrats to them for being more perceptive about my emotions, after thirty seconds of interaction, than I was.
Or maybe, more charitably, they just believed in the fluidity of sexuality and realized that just because I labeled myself as one thing, that didn’t mean I would never sway to the other side of the arbitrary border. That’s totally true, and totally possible. But even if that was the reasoning, the communication of the idea was rather insulting.
The frustrating request to reconsider also seems problematic on a deeper, less humorous note. Essentially, if we reframe this conversation, I had attempted to communicate, “No. I’m not interested.” Sure, I generally try to do so in a nice way, and explaining my sexuality is a strong way to use the time-tested It’s not you, it’s me approach, but it’s still a way of saying “no.” And suggesting that if I just reconsidered and spent some time doing what the guy wanted, I might change my mind? That sounds scarily close to some manipulative actions later in relationships, actions that have deep and terrible repercussions. It seems deeply problematic when rejection on either side — regardless of what gender says no, or for what reason — is met with cajoling and pressure to change. It seems a great understatement to simply say that those aren’t ingredients for a healthy relationship. Not at all.
So, no. We can’t “just hang out” and see if my opinion might change. If you want to be friends, that’s a different matter — I am always open to forming new friendships, even if I might seem standoffish at first meeting. But am I interested in reconsidering my newly discovered sexuality for the sake of a guy who thinks I’m cute. Sorry. You’ve just run into Sexuality Pet Peeve #3 — and if you ask again, I’m liable to snap your head off. You’ve been warned.
Now, to figure out what Pet Peeves #1 and #2 are…