I identify very strongly as gay, but I have been seeing a man for over a year. I have lost many friends and connections in the queer community because of my relationship with him, but that was the sacrifice I made to be in this exceptionally loving relationship. I am not sexually attracted to him and if we were not together I would never imagine being with a man. Because of this our sexual relationship has been one of many compromises. I also feel alienated from the queer community and at a desperate loss for a sense of belonging. I don’t know. What do you think about this?
Anna says: Your letter makes me sad, Anon. One because I hear your particular complaint often, and for all of the supposed inclusiveness of the LGBTQQIABC123 community, we still tend to police the hell out of each other. Femmes are too “straight-appearing.” Bisexuals are just cowardly lesbians hiding behind straight privilege. Trans women aren’t real women. Kinky/polyamorous women are ruining our image of normalcy. And on and on. We are already a minority, yet we also can’t seem to stop telling each other about the “right” way to be queer. Of course, there is no right way. Everyone’s experiences are unique to themselves. I won’t lie though. A little part of me died when my ex-girlfriend started dating dudes. I judged her for it. But then I realized how stupid I would be to cut this amazing person out of my life because of who she slept with. So I apologized and bought her a Cinnabun. Unfortunately, that’s not often how it goes.
The other reason your letter makes me sad is because you’re sacrificing your sexual identity and your desires to be with this person. Again, I’ve done so too. I endured months of a sexless relationship because everything else was hunky dory. Who needs sex, I thought, when you have friendship, respect, affection, and a mutual fondness for Cinnabuns? I had a pretty good vibrator too. Sometimes, that is enough for people in a long-term relationship. But other times, eventually, it is not. I’m not here to make that decision for you though, Anon. We all have to build our lives the best way we see fit, and if yours involves a loving, but sexless relationship, than that’s your prerogative. Many people stay together for far worse reasons: Money, fear, and codependence are some that come to mind. However, if you do find yourself ever saying, “This isn’t enough for me,” then I urge you to consider hightailing it outta there to make room for something/someone who has the potential to meet both your emotional and physical needs.
That said, Sugar Shoes, don’t give up on the queer community. If your gay friends ditched you at the first sign of straightness, then they weren’t really your friends. You deserve better. I implore you to seek other outlets on your quest for belonging than the ones you are used to. That sounds hokey, but I mean it sincerely. Volunteer at your local queer community center, crisis hotline, queer film festival, sex worker’s art show, or any other event you come across that might involve some lady-lovin’ ladies. Look online, take chances, put yourself in potentially awkward situations. I assure you that there are awesome people out there who would be thrilled to know you and befriend you, Anon. Sometimes it’s not enough to simply seek community; we have to build it ourselves. (Cue the creation of AfterEllen.com.)
Readers, what say you? Advice or kind words for our friend here on where to find community?
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.