At 3:00 am on a weekday winter morning I found myself prostrate on the floor in a nondescript basement room, my books strewn about, pages open, unread and forgotten about. Next to me there was a boy. Not just any boy, but a boy who wanted to be my boyfriend.
Our early morning meeting resembled boarding school sunrise sexcapades in the laundry room, moments when students tried to satisfy overflowing sexual urges while evading the authorities. This time was different. We were both fully clothed and were in no danger of being expelled for meeting “after hours” and unsupervised. Nevertheless on this morning my veins seemed to be funneling extra blood to various locations in my body, my head, my heart, my groin. I was nervous. If this guy, the most formulaic embodiment of masculinity I had been attracted to in a long time (and I really was attracted to him) did not walk out of the room within the next thirty seconds, I knew I had a chance. After all, how many guys agree to stay up late with a lady of interest only to hear her yammer on about sexology and a scale that rates one’s sexuality? I had been doing this for an hour.
He knew I had a girlfriend the semester before and therefore he persisted in asking about my sexuality. What do I identify as? What an easy question to answer… It seems that anyone who has done anything more that “innocently” hook up with a friend of the same sex at a party is expected to affix some sort of a label onto his or herself. We are uncomfortable with obscurity. We seek out epithets to resolve the ambiguity. I am attracted to this guy, so I guess you could call me straight, right?
The process of labeling is generally confusing and misleading—I could call myself bisexual, but does that mean 50 percent of me has to like male genitalia and the other 50 percent must yearn for a partner who also has two X chromosomes?
Fortunately for me, and countless others who are frustrated with living labeled lives (lies?), there is the Kinsey Scale, a sexuality scale ranging from 0 to 6, or exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual. While the Kinsey Scale is not the greatest invention, it does provide a step away from the binary scale that was formerly, and even in many places currently, accepted so widely—that one could only be gay or straight.
Explaining my distaste for defining sexuality to my new crush, I simply stated, oh I’m a two; predominately heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual. To me this value is still equivocal because it does not inform the nature of the number; I prefer sexual relations with women, but emotional connections with men or is it the other way around? Do I have to know?
For those who seek answers, the Kinsey Scale sure delivers, by providing a shade of gray to an issue that has historically been defined in black and white.
I still view the Kinsey Scale as a bit silly. Is it not enough that we (gays/lesbians/fresbians/bisexuals/queer/transgender/other people grouped based upon their sexuality) must attach one of these words onto our lives? Must we also categorize ourselves numerically? One could draw my sexual life on a scatter plot graph, plotting the points of sexual interactions—how could you assign just one number to make sense of all this?
That was the first conversation of many that this boy and I have had about sexuality. It made it easier therefore when, after we started dating, friends would approach us and ask some version of, “Wait, I thought that you were/she was a lesbian/into girls.” Ultimately even the Kinsey scale doesn’t provide an answer to this question.
Maybe I just should have made shirts saying “predominately prefers men while suggestively seeking women.”
Let’s be honest: It doesn’t matter if you’re a zero a six or a two—who’s counting anyway? Not me, and not you.