This post is by Pascale Müller.
At the age of twenty I had a deep crush on one of my friends. That person was charming, smart, incredibly good looking and…a girl. When I realized that I was about to fall in love with a woman, all of a sudden my whole sexual life was set back to zero. I had been in various heterosexual and long-term relationships before this new feeling left me quite confused and seemed to question every previous experience. Why had I never felt that way before?
If I had wanted an easy answer I could have told myself that maybe this was just a phase of general dis- or reorientation, temporarily limited and nothing to be concerned about. But certainly I would not have believed myself. There was something fundamental about this shift and therefore about its reasons.
Back then, and still today, the public and scientific discourse did not offer me any helpful insight. In contrast, the way the debate about one’s sexual formation and its origins is lead in largely public degenerates to an instrument of categorization. In need of an explication of otherness, biological, social or psychological reasons are used to come up with yet other concepts of inclusion and exclusion. Nevertheless, I think everyone who is not ‘straight’ (whatever that means) has gone through a phase of incertitude with the underlying question: why am I different? The intimacy enclosed in this question is by no means a reason to reduce the underlying processes and problems being nothing but private.
What I discovered at the age of twenty wasn’t just another side of my sexual orientation, neither a disorientation. It was a long time missing part of my personality. The various institutions of my socialization that tried all so well to develop my personality simply failed to help me develop this part of it. Neither in school nor anywhere else do we get to know that there is something apart from a heterosexual life and if we do, it is displayed as some kind of exoticism. Therefore socialization processes somehow influenced my sexual identity in a double way.
First, they constructed me as a heterosexual human being that fitted into the normative categories. But second, at the time when I discovered my bisexuality, it also revealed space, namely peer groups, where I could deal with my contradictory experiences and where they finally seemed to make sense. So less than a cause, socialization was a channel through which my sexual orientation became aware and accessible for me. Especially in terms of a certain language as a tool to describe my feelings towards myself and the way I am attracted to others. Today, I believe that, sexual orientation and formation is a latent disposition, made inaccessible for those who are non-heterosexual by institutions of socialization and their shared gender norms and value systems. It is also crucially linked to one’s perception of his own body and mine developed constantly with my understanding of its needs.
During this re-identification process, I painfully realized that a lot of people around me perceived those explorations as some sort of lifestyle or immaturity. How could the liberation from a constructed and restrictive category such as heterosexualis be labeled as fashion, was never comprehensible to me. We should celebrate the development towards a plurification of sexual
orientation and identities due to the fact that people do more easily obtain the chance to create their sexual life according to their own needs, feelings and expectations and free themselves from imposed sexual roles and norms.
So rather than to question where ones sexual orientation stems from, I guess we should ask ourselves how to empower each other in order to feel comfortable with our own sexual desires. Whatever they may be and to whom they may refer. Then the question of why I am this way, hopefully, will never cause doubt again about who I am: some kind of a girl making out with some kind of men and some kind of women.
Pascale Müller (22, Germany) studies sociology and political science. Her favored topics are feminist analysis of capitalism and feminist epistemologies,which she studied extensively at the University of Mannheim and at the University of Metz, France. Besides focusing on these topics, she is part of a all-girl band and regards music as a way to express her thoughts, rage and confusion about gender, inequality and sexuality in a less academic form.