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Having a Gay Old Time My Struggle with BPD and Finding Where I Fall On The Rainbow Spectrum

I debated what I should write about next, but seeing as it’s now Pride Month, I decided to write about how BPD affects my sense of self, identity, and my struggle to figure out where in this rainbow spectrum I fall.

If you read my last post, you’ll (hopefully) remember the coat analogy. Quick refresher, BPD people typically do not have a sense of self identity, so we try on the “coats” of people around us, unable to find our own coats. In this analogy, coats refer to a person’s hobbies, interests and personality— it’s what makes them, them. This is relevant here.

Some people know they’re queer from a young age. Some people’s families might figure it out before they themselves do. Neither of these were my experience. I was never “boy crazy”. I never wanted to kiss a girl to see what it was like. Sure, I had “celebrity crushes” of the male and female variety (Bridge to Terabithia was so confusing for me because have you seen Josh Hutcherson and Anna Sophia Robb?), but I was only ever interested in getting to know who they were in real life. Even now, I see so many people saying that they would “let X do so many things to me”, and I just can’t relate. I can’t understand the appeal.

So how does this relate to the coats, you might be asking. The simple answer is: I don’t know who I am.

I don’t know who I am, and that includes my gender and sexual orientation. Or rather, it did, up until very recently. It was only a few years ago that I even began to consider that maaaaybe I’m not as straight as I thought I was. But I scoffed at the thought, buried it deep in the back of my brain. The Imposter Syndrome was hella strong.

The first time I really considered it, I was at the strip club. Now, hear me out. My predominately female friend group went to the stripper’s fairly regularly back in the day. We got in for free, security was fantastic, and it was a place where we actually felt safe. We also went on Amateur night, so drinks were cheaper than regular nights. Some of my friends, my best friend and my cousin in particular, enjoy going there for birthday parties, for the reasons mentioned above. On the night in question, my best friend was in town visiting, having recently moved a few hours away, and was getting ready to move halfway across the country. It was indeed a special occasion, so me, her, and my cousin (who happens to be her other best friend) got dressed up and headed to the strip club. Now I don’t remember exactly how many drinks in I was when this realization hit, but it hit me hard.

The dancer that was performing had some light-up hoops, and I was mesmerized. Maybe it was the alcohol, but it was beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Not in any sort of sexual way, but in awe. She seemed so confident, in command, elegant. I didn’t understand at the time why I was so enthralled by a naked woman twirling some glowing hoops, so my brain decided that I must be gay. I don’t remember who leaned over first, me or my best friend, but I do remember telling her that I didn’t think I was straight.

The thought that I might be gay lasted maybe 5 minutes. One of the employees walked up to the three of us, asking if we would like to put our names in for the VIP draw. Essentially, if you won, and you got a group of 5 friends together, you’d get a free limo or party bus ride to the strip club, a free bottle of champagne and discounted drinks for the night. Now, it wasn’t the VIP draw that caught my attention— we had won our fair share of these draws, so it was really nothing special for us by this point. No, what managed to draw my attention from the glowing hoops on stage was the employee himself. I honestly don’t remember what he looked like, just that he had blond hair. But I remember thinking he was really good looking. To my best friend who I know will probably see this, shut up. I still hate you for this.

I remember being in awe of how good he looked. Again, my brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening. One minute I’m straight, the next I’m gay, then I’m straight again? What is happening right now?

I wouldn’t get the answer to that question for another couple of years. My brain eventually decided that I must be bisexual. Why else would I be so fascinated by both a man and a woman? It was something I had never given any thought to.

I had leaned over to my best friend again after he left, and informed her that I was possibly straight after all. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I did tell her that I thought he was really cute. This part is why I said I hate her. She got up not long after that, to get another drink or go outside or something, I don’t remember. After a little while, she came back all giggly and gleeful. I was confused, and asked what she was laughing about. Apparently, the demon had told him what I had said about finding him cute, and he had agreed to come talk to me a little later. I was absolutely mortified. I’m told this is the purpose of best friends, but that does not help the overwhelming embarrassment I feel every single time this unfortunate memory pops into my head.

It was getting pretty late by this point, we had all had a lot to drink, and some of us had to get up early the next morning. So, being the most sober of the bunch (the horror I had just experienced definitely helped sober me up), I got the call out to our ride to come pick us up, and I marched the two of them out the door. I have not been back since.

For the past couple years, I had been living with the impression that I was bisexual, but that just never felt right. The Imposter Syndrome was overwhelming. It’s gotten a little better now, but I still feel it. For the longest time, I tried to justify why the Imposter Syndrome was real. Things like “I’m not actually bisexual, or queer in any way, I’m just trying to be relevant”. Yeah, it makes no sense, right? I tried to justify the Imposter Syndrome with my BPD, before I even knew I had BPD.

It doesn’t really make sense when I say it like that. But think about that coat analogy. I am constantly trying on the coats of those around me, and I thought it was the same with my sexuality. In my ridiculously illogical justifications, I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t actually part of the queer community, I was just trying to get attention, or something, I don’t even know.

One of the things I hate the most about BPD is that there’s very little logic involved in many aspects of my life. It’s not that I’m incapable of thinking logically— I’m actually rather good at things like puzzle solving and logical arguments. It’s that the emotional part of my brain is so loud and overwhelming in comparison to the logical part of my brain, and the emotions tend to drown out the logic. There’s an analogy I like to use: the logical part of my brain is locked in a closet buried waaaaaay in the back of my brain, and it bangs on the door, crying out “that’s not logical” while my emotions drown it out. “I can’t heeeeeear yoooooou!” I know it’s there, but I can’t reach it. I can hear that tiny voice calling out to me, begging me to be rational, but my emotions are in control. I try to fight through all the noise, try to get to that closet to let out the logic, but I can’t reach it. My emotions hold me back, keeping me away from that door.

Keeping this in mind, hopefully the part about justifying the Imposter Syndrome makes a bit more sense. It’s because of this that I’ve really struggled to figure out my sexuality. I can’t know for sure what’s part of my coat, and what’s part of someone else’s coat. I can’t tell if this is actually me, or a mask I’m putting on to “fit in”, for lack of a better term. The feeling of never belonging anywhere is a huge contributing factor in all of this. I can’t relate to the Straight Experience, but can I really truly relate to the Queer Experience?

I started trying to pay more attention to what the queer community experiences, they way their sexuality makes them feel. I tried to make sense of this completely foreign concept of sexual attraction in particular. I tried to find out what sexual attraction feels like. How do you know you’re sexually attracted to that person? As much as I find someone attractive, like that dancer with the hoops, or the male employee, I have never had that sexual attraction. I’ve never actually wanted to sleep with someone. About two months ago, I finally figured out why.

I’m asexual. More specifically, I am aesthetically attracted to people. I have no desire to actually sleep with people I find attractive, but I am usually left staring at them, truly admiring how good someone looks. I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I can appreciate the female body more so than the male body, though I don’t really know why. Tattoos and piercings in particular seem to make someone at least 10% more attractive. It really depends on their general aesthetic, but damn do I love tattoos and piercings.

Am I 100% positive about this? No. I’m not 100% positive about anything, except that I can’t trust myself. But saying I’m asexual makes me feel slightly more confident than I was when I thought I was bisexual. Do I expect this to change in the future as I start to develop more sense of self? Yes. It’s not necessarily that I think I’m wrong, it’s just that I have no idea who I am, and I have no way of actually being completely sure of anything at this point. As I learn about BPD and fight to overcome it, my sense of self is constantly shifting, and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.

At this point in time, I also feel strongly that I am pan-romantic, but again, I can’t be sure of that. All I know is that BPD life is very lonely, and I do want some sort of companionship, but I don’t particularly care what gender that companionship has.

Honestly, I’m pretty indifferent to gender in general. That’s something else that I can’t quite understand, not for lack of trying, but the harm that others experience by being misgendered. I’m not saying that it’s not valid, or anything like that. I just simply can’t relate. I am not capable of putting myself in the shoes of others and understanding why being misgendered is harmful. I understand the principle of it, but it’s not something I personally can comprehend. I wish I could, because I want to be able to relate to those around me. I want to understand their struggles so I can empathize with them and fight for them in a more helpful and informed way. But no matter how hard I try, I simply can’t understand why gender is so important to some people. I won’t quit fighting with bigots and transphobes about it though, I can promise that much. If I catch someone deliberately misgendering someone, you can fucking bet we’re gunna have problems.

A little while back, I came across the term Gender Apathetic. I looked into it, and it’s probably the thing I’m most confident about. Gender Apathetic falls under the non-binary umbrella. Essentially, I couldn’t possibly care less about my gender. It is the least important thing to me. I typically keep my head shaved, or, more recently anyway, I go with an undercut. I dress for comfort, not style. If I want to wear a dress, it’s because it’s hot as hell and a dress is typically the least amount of clothing I can get away with. I wear leggings predominantly because they’re comfortable AF. Especially with my fibromyalgia (the next post will focus on that), comfort is paramount, and leggings are perfect. They aren’t very constricting, but they’re also not too loose. One type of “Fibro Flare”, as I call them, consists of incredibly painful skin, so loose clothing hurts like a mofo. I know there’s a technical term for it, but I forget. Every brush of fabric, even hair, and it’s like my skin is being shredded with a cheese grater. So again, I stress that I dress for comfort, not style. Paired with my leggings is typically a loose T-shirt or hoodie. Going back to the part about restrictive clothing, I try not to wear a bra, because more often than not it ends up hurting me. No, I’m not talking about underwire (IYKYK), I’m actually talking about the pressure on my skin. It doesn’t visibly bruise, but it sure as hell feels like it does. For the same reasons, I haven’t tried a binder. I’m still pretty self-conscious about not wearing a bra, so I go with baggy tops, easier to hide.

Because of my typical clothing style, coupled with my traditionally “male” haircut, I get mistaken for male fairly often. This is why I’m about 90% sure I am indeed gender apathetic. I don’t care. I never have. Half the time I honestly don’t even notice. When I do notice, it’s typically because someone else has corrected the person on my behalf, or the person has realized that I am technically female, and they’ll often start apologizing for misgendering me, and making what I consider to be a big deal out of it. I do appreciate the sentiment though, not for myself but for every other queer person who is hurt every time they are misgendered. Whenever someone apologizes for misgendering me, it gives me hope that one day, we won’t have to fight this battle anymore. It gives me hope that a day will come where hate and bigotry won’t be the norm, where trans people will have the same rights as everyone else, and where pride parades won’t be needed because we can finally be equal to cishet people.

Until that day comes, I will continue to fight and yell and throw rainbows in everyone’s faces. We are queer, and we are here. We will not stop fighting, we will not stop being loud and proud and we sure as hell will not stop standing up for ourselves, and those who can’t stand up for themselves. We are human, we exist, and no amount of denial is going to change that.

We are here to stay.

Happy Pride Month!

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