|Cropped screenshot of James Dean in the trailer for the film East of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
As a lesbian, the discussion between others and myself on the topic of male bodies is an enormously complicated one. Reactions go one of two ways, depending on the crowd—they either understand, because they can grasp the concept that sexuality is fluid and exists on a spectrum, or they don’t.
These conversations usually diverge into the latter scenario, but it’s not that they can’t understand, usually; it’s that they don’t want to understand. I don’t want to sleep with men, but when I find the occasional man attractive my opinions on the matter are scrutinized and discredited because I am a gay woman. I am constantly second-guessed and pressed on the matter, made to explain why I think so-and-so is attractive. The explanations are never enough.
There are things about men that I find attractive—the mile-long gaze of James Dean, the high but soft cheekbones of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the classic masculinity of a clean-shaven Brad Pitt, even the cheeky, boyish smile of Tom Daley. But I have to explain these things in conversation time and time again more elaborately than any straight woman in the conversation (“Ugh, George Clooney makes me melt.” “James Dean does it for me.” “WHAT? How?! Why? What’s so great about him? What do you like? Why, why why?!”). Most people cannot grasp how I think a man is attractive because it (somewhat ironically) goes against my nature. When I fail to list off countless names of men I find attractive (mostly because the list is limited) they dismiss my views.
|English: Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the promotion event of (500) Days of Summer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
They dismiss my views and my opinions are set aside as invalid because their rigid views on sexuality restrict their acceptance of “something out of the norm”, even outside of the homonormative narrative that they may accept and even understand. But the fluidity of sexuality? The pliability of my attraction to people? The idea that we may exist on a spectrum, a slow gradient of colors instead of sectioned and sanctioned pools of black and white? To them it is baffling, so disorienting to them that they would rather find my opinion on men not an opinion at all. Sometimes they attribute the attraction and my opinion to the rumored posthumous bisexuality of Mr. Dean, the waning femininity of Mr. Levitt, the penis-envy I must suffer from when faced with Mr. Pitt, or the thin body of Mr. Daley. Or worse—that my opinion sometimes invalidates my sexuality.
“You like James Dean? You’re not a real lesbian.”
But what makes a real lesbian? I would never sleep with a man (and though I would consider James Dean, he is, unfortunately, deceased and so the matter is a moot point) and I identify as a lesbian. You’re telling me that my fleeting attraction to the ever-so-handsome, geeky-yet-charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt invalidates my identity as a lesbian? I’m not bi-phobic, but I’m not bisexual. I am a lesbian through and through, but my occasional attraction to mild appreciation of a select few male bodies will allow you leverage to invalidate my identity?
Please. I believe that sexuality is a spectrum, and I live my life on the far end of the gay-side of the spectrum. But while I may be in the top percentile of gayness, I don’t believe you can be 100% something. So I will always find the occasional male body attractive.
This post is brought to you by Jayne Quan. Jayne is a West Coast transplant living in Brooklyn, trying to navigate her way into the entertainment industry without sacrificing her lesbian identity. See more of her thoughts by following her on Twitter: @janewithawhy