By heterosexual what I basically mean is 'I like boys'. I like the way they move and talk. I like the way their bodies bulge out of their clothes in different ways from how girls' bodies do. In recent years I confess I have developed a shallow but refined respect for the athletic male form. I dated a climber for a few, giddy months. I suffer from vertigo. But I would march up hills and stand with him, peering nervously over the edge of the rock to examine the route, because it gave me a chance to see that beautiful torso in its natural habitat. The upper body of a fit male climber is a kind of perfection in my eyes. Once you find it it's difficult to go back to the more common, flabbier, less defined variety of the species.
So, despite my aesthetic appreciation of beautiful women, and my are there some beautiful women in the world (Monica Belucci anyone? Scarlett Johannson before she went all Hollywoodised? Sandrine Bonart, Jenny Lewis, that redhead I saw on the tube the other day) I am straight. Except I can't bring myself to identify as 'straight', not really. I'm not a prick. I wouldn't insult my lesbian and gay friends by claiming the political status of being 'bi' or 'queer'. I know I enjoy all the privileges of a straight, white middle class woman living in a heteronormative society. This is not a coming out letter. But I don't feel straight. I don't think straight. I don't do the things many of my straight peers do.
Perhaps this is becoming more of an important issue to me because of my age. I am 39 and I don't have kids. I don't have a partner or a mortgage, or an interest in talking about kitchen design. I feel alienated from some of my friends who do have those things, and who seem to gain some comfort from them, some kind of identity. I can't open a newspaper or magazine without reading about the habits and desires of 'people like them', people with townhouses in Dalston or Clifton or Chorlton. People with pushchairs that have a place where you can put your capuccino while you're on the move. People who see themselves, to a greater or lesser extent, in the media, in politics, in the farmers' market on a Saturday. I don't see myself any of those places. I am not even sure who I see when I look in the mirror.
Then there's sex. I am not very 'straight' when it comes to sex, apart from the gender of the people I tend to have sex with. My longest relationship was with someone who would have been gay, if it wasn't for the fact he had a girlfriend (me). We liked anal and doggy style, we both lusted after River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho, we both looking back on it were probably submissive, which wasn't exactly a recipe for fulfillment. Many years later I've explored that submissive side of my sexuality, and that hasn't felt very 'straight' either. I know everyone is supposed to be experimental these days, but in reality, in my reality, that does not seem to be the case. I have only had embarrassment and misunderstandings when I have tried to discuss some of my pecadillos, over a nice cold glass of sauvignon on my straight mates' patios.
They say 'the personal is political' and I'd say the opposite is also true: 'politics is personal'. My politics separate me from some of my closest friends and potential 'comrades': people who on the outside look just like me, whose resumes would read like mine: white, middle class, heterosexual, feminist, left-leaning. But it sometimes feels like there's a chasm between us that will never be crossed. I don't even try to have the discussions because I know where they would lead. But I know from their comments and throwaway remarks, that most of my straight feminist friends don't share my interest in supporting transwomen, or sexworkers, or people (including me) who wish to enjoy pornography without feeling dirty or ashamed, or people (including me) whose sexuality sometimes means they prefer a bit more 'slap' than tickle.
I love reading and talking about sexuality, and in this I find great solace and what? comradeship? sisterhood? a sense of belonging? I don't know. But if you like Foucault, Todd Haynes, and Del LaGrace Volcano, if you read Anais Nin and Melissa Gira, Bitchy Jones and Christopher Isherwood, there's a good chance that we will get on.
A very dear friend of mine, who does get where I am coming from, said one day 'you'd make a good lesbian'. I would that were true, but unfortunately I'd make a crap lesbian. I like cock too much. And the lovely cockerels that provide me with it. But maybe you could think of me as a gay man trapped in a straight chick's body, or a gay chick that fancies gay guys. Think of me how you like. I may be straight on the surface, but underneath I'm definitely some kind of dyke.