Some of my other blog posts have touched on the idea of fear as a catalyst in my life. I mostly went on to talk about things that fear lead to or did to me. Those are great topics and acknowledging them has already positively affected my life. They have opened doors that seemed to be locked shut. That’s good stuff. I need to go to the root, though. That root is fear.
Let’s start with the word pervert. I’ve always been mortified of being called a pervert. Now I intensely hate when people put definitions in the context of a piece of writing, but I don’t think I can get around it. The most conclusive definition that I have found is:
Pervert – (noun) a person whose sexual behavior is regarded as abnormal or unacceptable.
The 1990’s were my high school and college years. I remember kids calling each other perverts when anything sexual, let alone anything extreme, came up. It was the go to insult when someone said they loved blowjobs or when someone stared at tits: “Eww! Stop looking at my tits, you perv!” Now, I really dislike causing people discomfort. It hurts me. So the last thing I wanted was to upset someone by looking at them or fantasizing about them. That makes things tough for a horny young man.
So when I got to college and had more time to think and more resources, I went searching for a definition that I could use to rebuke anyone that called me a pervert. I found one and latched on to it: “A pervert is someone who thinks that sex is dirty.” Aha! For all the fucked up things that turn me on, this definition kept me safe. I have never thought that sex is dirty. So I used that to shut people down when they called myself or anyone around me a pervert. It gave me some power.
But the truth is that as long as I have been a sexual person I have been turned on by things that some people somewhere consider abnormal and unacceptable. Some of it I still struggle with because, although it turns me on, I don’t understand why. So this means that I am indeed, and by the accepted definition, a pervert. I am an ethical, kind, loving, compassionate pervert. There are some really twisted things that make me so turned on I almost lose my mind, but none of it hurts me or others. None of it is forced upon anyone. And I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who likes it. So, as sluts have done before me, I should claim the word “pervert” for myself and not allow people to pervert shame me. I am a pervert. I am not alone. You probably like something sexual that people consider(ed) perverted. I guess we are all a bit like that. Maybe you like women’s shoes or are one of the millions of men who like to have their nipples played with but become the butt of jokes in movies. Maybe you’re a woman that longs to be tied up. Why do we judge so harshly when many if not most of us have some kink or latent desire that isn’t missionary position?
Fear led me to repress my sexual identity. An entire part of my being was stuffed away into an old chest with all the most-fun sex toys and locked away. That fear was all about being ostracized, being slandered and insulted or even injured, and it was about shame.
Shame is the worst of our cultural ills. Shame is insidious because it starts when we are too young to know even what it is. From our very beginning we watch our parents and siblings and friends interact, and it is those interactions that we use to base our understanding of our cultural world. Every time that someone we care about judges harshly or acts strikingly, we take that in. And where shame really grabs hold is when what we perceive as acceptable differs from what we do and know of ourselves. My family made disparaging comments about gay people or gay acts so I felt shame about that side of myself and buried it to avoid confrontation. Problem solved!
Of course, we process that through our individual filters which is why we don’t all have the same levels of fear and shame, nor the same values. It’s that whole “unique individual” thing. Although unique isn’t a good word anymore. We know that we are more similar than anything and hold on to the idea of unique to help us feel special.
It is that general normality that we all share that leads us to fear ostracism. No one wants to be forced out of a group, we want to feel included and accepted. So when people do feel ostracized they tend to find others that feel the same and start their own counter culture. Cue the theme song from Cheers. Now it is us against them and we feel some power again, at least if it is only to say “Fuck off!” to society and everything that we resent about it. We will make our own, and probably be outlandish and outspoken in the process. Let’s take that confrontation and meet it head on! And now let’s punish those that wrong our group with horrible words so we can feel better! Think I’m wrong? Check out the plethora of Kim Davis shit on LGBT websites and Facebook pages. Both sides hate. There is no healing when you’re stuck in a hate cycle.
As I have dug into my feelings I’ve realized that my most paralyzingly fear is being hurt. I think this is what ultimately shut me down. Yes, I fear words and ill looks. I fear the loss of love that sometimes accompanies them. I really fear being physically hurt. Matthew Shepard was killed when I was in college. He wasn’t the first. When I researched gay bashings while writing this I found a list of “significant” events on Wikipedia. This long list all started when I was three and escalated from there. And I do have recollections of seeing some of these stories on the news. I grew up in a world where it sounded probable that being gay would get me beat up or worse.
Just recently I’ve been writing with a bisexual man, a friend of a friend. He shared some of his experiences and I shared what I’m processing. He’s given me good things to think about. I thought I was working towards self love as a way to heal this shit, he reminded me that it is really acceptance that should be my first goal. Self love is a lofty ideal. Acceptance is grounded. I do love being grounded. So that’s where I’m going. Acknowledge and accept.
This pervert thanks you for reading.