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What My Momma Taught Me About Sexual Orientation


These are my thoughts, yo.

What My Momma Taught Me About Sexual Orientation

jasmine banks


blue roundI've never written about this, so I am going to need lots of love and encouragement. I have no doubt there are going to be some haters. There always are. More than anything I sense my growing fear is the rejection of those people that I like and care about... but with authenticity comes risk, so here goes. My first girlfriend's name was Sara. I loved her. She had pale skin and long brown hair with giant green eyes that looked like the color was stolen from the underbelly of a tropical leaf. Her teeth weren't straight. They overlapped a little and her lips would curl back over them as her mouth turned into a smile. We would walk for hours barefoot in the creeks near our homes and would explore the trails around our neighborhood. We shared secrets and held hands. We stole kisses and talked about dreams and were as carefree as two girls with families like ours could be.

As much as I've struggled to come to terms about some of the more dysfunctional things about my childhood I can say with certainty that my mom taught me well concerning sexual orientation. She taught me that I don't have to choose to check a box. I could dig deep into myself and be still. I could listen to what my heart told me. Isaiah, my brother, and I were taught this:

You fall in love with a person, not their gender

I was raised to believe that what makes a person is not their sexual organs or even their gender expression. That lesson afforded me the freedom to discover that I could love and be attracted to all kinds of people, and that the sexual expression that follows connection and love was neither heterosexual or homosexual. It was simply an extension of loving a person and wanting to express that love physically.

Though my story takes a brief pit stop into the world of fundamentalist Christian dogma and a quick dance with shame about my identity, the same truth has always stayed cemented in my heart. It found itself buried under the imposed beliefs of those who taught me "marriage (and true love) is only between a man and a woman", but it wiggled itself free of the dirt of bigotry and grew in spite of the polluted soil. You fall in love with a person, not their gender. 

So I have.

I have fallen in love with girls and one boy. I married the boy. I don't know if it is an anomaly. I don't know if I should have married a girl. I don't know. I don't think about it. I don't feel like I need to extrapolate my choices that way. He asked me to marry him, I loved him, wanted to be in a relationship, and I said yes. We had kids. We built a life. I don't know the answers because I am not interested in taking on  a title or quantifying my connection with people to make myself more understandable to the world. This can get me in trouble. It makes people uncomfortable. "So you are bisexual? Have you ever had sex with a girl? Why did you marry a man? Do you want to leave him for women?" I don't answer these questions. These questions aren't asked because someone cares about my quality of life, the quality of life of the people I love, or ethics.... they ask because someone without borders feels an awful lot like a threat or they are curious.

My mom has known my whole life. My mother-in-law knows, my best friend Sadie knows, my sister-in-law knows, my husband knows, my sister Paige knows, and my kids will know.

And now, I guess, you know.

I don't talk about this much openly because I live in a small town with small minded people. They struggle to understand my interracial marriage, much less a marriage with a member who has a mixed orientation. I was never cut and dry with any kind of definition. My personality, my race, my skill set.. I've always been a "bit of this and a bit of that" but mostly I've been about love and kindness and connection.

I am learning to be okay with it. I hope, one day, the world will too.