By Desiree Petersen <email@example.com>
I have no confusion regarding my sexual identity. I know exactly who I am, where I am, who I'm with, and why. It's everyone else who seems to have a problem.
I'm a lesbian, who happens to be married to a man. By choice. I know that, by definition, lesbians are not supposed to be married to men - but I am. I also know I'm not the only one out there. And I'm not talking about women who thought they were straight who got married to a man only to find out years later that what they really wanted was to screw Susie down the street. There are hundreds of women like that, and I meet more every year. Their lives turn completely upside down, there is massive confusion and hurt for everyone, but if they have the courage to live their lives as who they are everyone usually ends up much happier. I'm talking about something different. I know that there are other women like me, who knew they were gay and just never met the right girl, and for whatever reason decided to marry a man.
Whatever reason can cover a lot of ground. Trying to fit in society's groove, a greater chance of economic security, the desire for a "normal" nuclear family. Emotional attachment can even come into it. For me, it was a combination of things. Having been hurt big time by a couple of women, and with a child from a brief, marriage that was a huge mistake, I met a former high school sweetheart who still wanted me. At that point, someone wanting me for myself was a big thing. Yes, he knew I was "into women." It didn't matter. So I made a choice. I married him.
He knows I'm still gay, although I'm sure that he hoped at some point it just might "go away." It's been kind of a sore point now and then, for both of us. By sore point, I mean sometimes my friendships with other women have been viewed with some suspicion. Oddly enough, so have some of my friendships with other men. I must say, it's really been a lot for my husband to get used to, but he's handled it fairly well. You have to expect a certain amount of insecurity. Most husbands only have to worry about other men.
I know that my sexual identity is not going to change, despite being completely immersed in the heterosexual culture for the past 15 years. I've been Susie Homemaker, they stay-at-home mother, the career woman - I've even sold Avon for God's sake. I've been the dutiful wife at company functions, wearing the little black cocktail dress. Kept myself in shape so I'm "one good-looking wife you have there." I've served on school committees and community committees and been the classroom mom. But all that time, I knew I was not the same as the other women I was dealing with on a day to day basis. I could never lose the awareness I felt when I felt a spark of attraction for one of those women - and how I had to tamp it down. I had to be careful when I made friends - to not let them get too close, especially when I felt a friendship develop into a deeper kind of longing. I didn't tell anyone, out of respect for my husband and how our friends knowing would affect him. I didn't forget who I am. I just kind of buried it for a while. It made life easier. But after a while, when the kids got older, I mentally lifted my head, took a deep breath, and took a long hard look at myself. I came back to myself again.
I found that being married to a man doesn't make me any less of a lesbian. Far from it. I'm a big dyke. Huge. Diesel. Not that you'd know it to look at me. I'm any woman you'd see on the street. It's all in the attitude, you see. And for me, there's nothing I'd like better than a woman in my bed. I have a bone deep yearning for the touch, the scent of another woman. It just didn't work out that way for me.
I have a good life. I have a nice house, a good man (and being gay, I'm less inclined to put up with any male crap), two great kids. I like my life. I do pretty much as I please. I'm secure, I'm loved. And there's nothing I hate more than other lesbians denigrating my lifestyle because I made this choice, instead of haunting the clubs, or jumping from one woman's bed to another, or simply being a single, virtuous gay woman. And they do. I get a kind of sideways look, and I feel an urge to prove myself to them somehow, although how I'm supposed to do that, I have no idea. Publicly have sex with a woman, I suppose. I resent feeling that way.
I'm not saying that I couldn't have had a great life living the gay life. And the truth is, I do feel kind of stuck in the middle. What I want to make clear, is just because I made this particular choice, it doesn't change who I am. Having said that, I have changed a bit. I've come out to my husband again, in a more definite way, reminding him that while I am still his wife, I am something more. I have other gay friends, both male and female. I keep closer tabs on the local gay community, and I say something when someone says something stupid about gay people. I don't just sit silent anymore. I express myself in my choices of literature and culture, without fear of reprisals or exposure. I've reached a point where I am secure enough to say "this is who I am." I'm not too worried about who knows it, either.
I made this choice, and whatever may happen down the road, I have no regrets. I know exactly who I am.
Copyright 2000 Moxie Magazine All Rights Reserved