It was a silly little test in a magazine years ago, but I like silly little tests, something like "How much of a Southern Lady are you?" For someone who grew up in Southern California in the 60's, quite a bit really. I don't know why I was surprised.
Ladies don't sit like that. Ladies don't go out with their hair a mess. Ladies don't talk loud, laugh loud, walk loud. Ladies are always polite. Ladies don't giggle about boys. Ladies don't like sex (and if they do, they never talk about it). My mom may have been a dustbowl transplant, but that Southern Lady training runs deep.
So I grew up with a deep, emotional understanding of right and wrong, sin and shame. And sex is sin and shame. Talking about it, doing it outside of a sanctified marriage, even the occasional risky joke, that is all naughty and shameful and rebellious, and probably needs to be punished. Oh, it is so deliciously attractive, but oh, the shame!
But I also grew up in Southern California in the 60's. I came to adulthood in the disco era. And I was a reader with an avid interest in psychology (not surprising, if you knew how crazy my dad was).
I understand a lot about the range of human sexuality. I know about how people can get twisted up, but also how very much is normal. I accept everybody else's attractions and passions as being, well, acceptable as long as we are talking consensual adults. Yeah, it's all good.
As long as we're not talking about me. (If we're talking about me, then I know that I have am probably about as twisted up as they come.) Nothing to see here. Move along.
Because I still remember what it was like, those first powerful feelings of my own attractions. I remember the hunger of first kisses, and how thrilling it was to feel some boys undeniable proof that he liked being close. I remember nights....
I remember shame.
Today I was listening to a podcast (I do this at work, it keeps me sane while doing a very boring job). http://2ndstory.com/2013/12/change-stories-new-year/ if you are interested. And this guy was telling about his experience coming out, and how he felt being real about his physical feelings, and his first sweet kiss. And suddenly, this wasn't an out there, clinical story. I was so identifying with his feelings.
And suddenly this weird flip happened. Academically acceptable sexuality of other people suddenly was very heart for me, very real with all the feels. And so suddenly my unacceptable sexuality with all the shame became, well, more normalized, more acceptable.
Do you know that it is OK for me to just feel attracted to someone? I didn't. Did you know that the attraction I feel for men is actually how I was born and not just cultural conditioning? I didn't know that either. Not at a heart level. Shame wouldn't let me know that.
Rainbow issues, and rainbow freedom, isn't really just about LGBT stuff, no matter what you might think or believe. It really is about all of us becoming more accepting and aware of our own sexuality and emotions, no matter what they are. It is about all of us being able to love without shame, no matter who we love.
Don't know how this is going to change me yet. Maybe profoundly. I hope so, but I've spent a lot of years hiding and beating myself up. Bad habit, but it is what it is. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe next time I see some guy I think is, um, interesting, maybe I'll be able to let my mind go there... without shame.