I've always had a very complicated relationship with my gender and sexuality and the older I get the more complicated it seems to become. While I've long considered myself to be a heterosexual male I've never really been completely comfortable calling myself straight. Truth be told I feel anything but. Even if my road always ultimately leads me to pussy, it's a long jagged road with many detours along the way. Lets just say while I've never been an L, a G, a B or a T, I am most definitely a Q. I'm a Questioner in every sense of the word and I always have been. I question everything, religion, politics, philosophy, history and of coarse gender and sexuality. I've also come to see myself as another Q. You see dearest motherfuckers I identify as a queer heterosexual. Confused? Me too. Maybe I should start again at the beginning.
Growing up in a conservative Irish Catholic household and a small town parochial school, I more or less accepted from an early age that sin and sexuality were largely synonymous and homosexuality was the worst of them all. I never really gave much thought to the possibility that I myself could be anything but heterosexual. I've been attracted to females ever since little Maggie Marshal bloodied my shins with her tiny wooden clogs in the first grade (which may explain some of my sadomasochistic tendencies) and I had never experienced similar feelings towards a boy. Then OCD happened and just in time for puberty.
As I've discussed here before, my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has always been wrapped in layers of self doubt and irrational fear. Imagine what terrifies you most in the world. Now multiply it by ten and imagine not being able to stop yourself from thinking about it over and over and over again and you've got the basic idea. And what's more terrifying to a twelve year old Catholic schoolboy then the prospect of being gay. A fate worse than death. During the early days of my OCD, I became obsessed by the fear that I might be gay which was simultaneously deeply intertwined with my greatest fears, isolation, loneliness and dying alone and unloved. You see in my community the basic theory on homosexuals was that while they were in fact born that way, there natural urges were a test from god. Leaving them with only two real choices, live a life of loveless chastity or a life of sinful, soulless evil topped off by an eternity in hell. So yeah I was pretty fucking terrified of being gay. It didn't take long for the OCD to all but convince me that I must be and was therefore thoroughly fucked beyond redemption. No one and nothing could convince me otherwise. Not my parents. Not even my shrinks. I spent months in panicked terror and self loathing until finally I stumbled across a rare moment of clarity. If god was truly the kind and loving god I was raised to believe and if I was made in his image then it shouldn't fucking matter who I loved as long as I was a good person. I came to the conclusion that I didn't give a fuck what my priests and teachers said. I was going to be happy and if that meant fucking dudes then fuck it, I was gonna fuck dudes and just like that the spell was broken.
It took accepting the possibility that I could plausibly be happily gay with open arms to convince me that I wasn't. But I did have a brand new appreciation for the horror that real gay kids go through every day. The fear. The agony. The terror. The self hatred. I came to the conclusion that no one should ever be made to feel that way just because they get a chubby in there own locker room. That was the day I became an outspoken straight allie but I became something more then that. After coming to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with being queer, I began exploring the subculture and quickly fell in love with the community. I was particularly smitten with the anti-assimilationist queer liberation movement of the sixties and seventies. I became fascinated with this underground world of leathermen, radical faeries, drag queens and glam rock gender renegades. It all spoke to me and my rebellious teenage spirit during a very formidable time in my young life and I'm proud to say it helped shape the man I am today.
My universe soon became dominated by queer culture, from movies (Gregg Araki and John Waters) to music (the Smiths, Lou Reed and the Hidden Cameras) to art (Andy Warhol and Tom of Finland) to literature (Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk). I adopted a rogues gallery of queer icons for role models- Allen Ginsberg, David Bowie, Gore Vidal, Kurt Cobain, Frida Kahlo, Harry Hay, Mikhail Bakunin, Emma Goldman. The hallways of my personality were permanently vandalized with rainbow graffiti and those colors wouldn't run but my journey wasn't over yet. I would have to undergo another mental crisis before I could fully come to terms with my complex identity.
As those who have read this blog before probably already know, my mental health took a major fucking nose-dive soon after high-school culminating in a series of devastating nervous breakdowns that left me and my sense of self totally shattered. While too terrified of the chaos of the outside world to even leave my fucking house, I did find myself with a great abundance of free time to devote to my favorite pass-time of researching obscure subcultures, which eventually led me to explore the often misunderstood phenomena of transexuality. I found the subject to be engrossingly fascinating but also oddly inspiring. Here was an entire class of people born into the wrong bodies who quite literally risk there lives everyday just by presenting themselves honestly as who they really are. Rather than hide in the dark safety of the closet and live a lie, they get up every morning, put on there make-up and there heels or there denim and there bulge, walk out the front door and fucking strut, knowing full well that every step could be there last. That any day could be the day that some confused, self loathing psychopath, threatened by there courage, decides to eviscerate them with a razor blade. Forget brave, it doesn't get anymore bad-ass then that. And these bad-asses quickly became my heroes and gave this terrified shut-in the courage and curiosity to escape the dark safety of my own closet and explore my own fractured identity. I began to read everything I could find on the subject of gender identity, discovering in the process that much like race, sex was as much or more a social construct as a biological one. In many cultures through out the world there are three or four or even more recognized genders who are not only accepted but often revered. I began to look critically at my own long-assumed gender and I found that a lot of things didn't quite fit into that tight little box of heteronormativity.
At the same time I began to actively engage my long dormant feminine side and with a little help from my own personal fairy bitch-mother Courtney Love and the indispensable wisdom of gender-sage Judith Butler I managed to tap into reservoirs of inner strength I didn't even know existed. In a lot of ways this self-discovery gave me the fire to fuel my busted engine and push my way out of my agoraphobic ditch. My nervous breakdowns left my sense of masculinity totally ravaged. I was only able to put myself back together with the glue of my untapped femininity, leaving me forever altered. I had awaken my inner bitch and like a werewolf, once she had tasted freedom there was know way to put her back in that cage even if I wanted to and I didn't.
So what the hell does that make me exactly? Through my studies I discovered a seemingly endless list of gender identities that fell outside of the traditional gender binary- genderqueer, gender fluid, gender neutral, bigender, trigender, pan gender, third gender, two spirit, hijra. It's enough to make your fucking head spin. But none of them really seemed to fit. Ultimately all the books and websites in the world couldn't tell me who I am. Only I could do that. So who exactly is Nick Reid.
While I've never felt the need to present my feminine side visually, I've never really felt much need to present my masculine side either. With the blaring example of my beard (which I do love), my presentation is largely slacker-neutral. Baggy all-black sweats and t-shirts. I consciously developed this uniform in my late teens in an attempt to reject all social labels but is it possible that subconsciously I was attempting to reject gender labels as well?
While I've always maintained strong friendships with males throughout my life, I've also always felt a much deeper and more meaningful kinship with my female friends. I could feel closer to a girl in a single conversation then I could with a male I had known for a decade. Truth be told, I've always found your garden variety heterosexual male to be a bland and shallow bore. They never fucking listen and they rarely have anything remotely meaningful to say. I've never felt more alien then I did in my high school gym locker room and I've never felt more comfortable then I did skipping class with just a few girlfriends at my side. It's these brief moments of rebellious female companionship that I found myself reliving over and over again during my self imposed exile and it's these memories that kept me warm during some of the darkest and coldest nights of my life.
While I've always been exclusively attracted to females this attraction has been anything but conventional. Aside from the fact that I seem biologically incapable of getting down to hetero-porn, my sexual appetites have always ran towards the kinkier end of the spectrum. I'll spare you the graphic details but lets just say my libido has long been governed by lifelong fixations with corporal punishment, bodily functions and parts of the female anatomy often overlooked by your traditional mainstream skin mags. My ideal woman is someone like Yoko Ono, Bjork or Frida Kahlo. Tiny, ethnic, feisty and a little bit nuts. At the same time I'm also a strong believer that no one is completely straight. While I personally have never seen or met a man I was willing to fuck, that doesn't mean one doesn't exist and I'd like to believe if we ever crossed paths I would be man or whatever enough to embrace those feelings. My point is that even my heterosexuality seems to express itself in uniquely queer ways.
So what the fuck am I exactly? Mostly male? Lesbian in spirit? Gender curious? A bearded bull-dyke with a dick? While all those labels are probably somewhat accurate, it's also probably equally accurate to say that I'm just an extremely abnormal heterosexual cis-male but I prefer to identify as queer.
During the halcyon days of the post-Stonewall gay liberation movement, a loose collection of brave, radical gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals made the decision to reclaim the pejorative slur queer as a label of pride in there rejection of heterosexist tyranny that they could rally around in solidarity. It became a hallowed term of endearment under which all the beautiful, jagged puzzle pieces that didn't quite fit into the straight world could find a place to belong, a place to fit. So I say why not me? I would never in a million years try to take credit for someone else's struggle. Whatever I am, I haven't had to suffer the way most LGBTQ people have and I own that but does that mean I should be forced to be prisoner to an identity that strangles me. That keeps me from fully exploring who I really am. I want to be free. I want to love who I wanna love, how I wanna love. And I wanna be whoever and whatever the fuck I wanna be. And fuck anyone who stands in the way of my emancipation from the heteronormative gulag. Only I have the right to define who I am.
The word queer has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. To me it means freedom. Anyone can be queer. We all have it in us somewhere. Human sexuality and gender are too goddamn complicated for tiny little boxes with neat little labels. If I hadn't suffered the way did with my mental anguish I may have grown old and grey without fully realizing how beautifully complex I really am. You see, what separates the queer from the straight is the courage and conviction to embrace these messy unknowns with an open mind and an open heart and to carry them with pride. So I'll say it loud and proud, I'm here, I'm hetero AND I'm queer and your all gonna have to get fucking use to it because wild horses couldn't drag me back in that goddamn closet.
Now if I can only find a good woman mad enough to love this mess I'll be sitting pretty.
P.S. This post is dedicated in loving memory to the late David Bowie, another straight man who gave many queer people of all stripes the courage to be themselves and love themselves for the wonderful creatures they are, myself included. He taught us all how to be heroes for far longer then just one day and I will miss him and love him dearly until the day I join him among the stars.