I’m a straight 30-year-old man with six kids. My wife and I only drink when my mother-in-law is watching the kids for the night. However there’s something we noticed when we’re drunk.
I absolutely love everything about sex — it’s almost a passion of mine, I would say. When I’m not drunk I’m 1,000,000% attracted to women only. I don’t cheat on my wife but I love females. I have nothing against gay people at all — if anything I would rather hang out with my gay friends because they’re more fun and respectful.
I’m not attracted at all to men. I don’t like the way we smell, look, talk, our masculinity, facial hair, nothing and mind you I’m 220 lbs, 6 ft, and with facial hair.
But when I’m drunk I’m down for anything! Once I’m at that level I literally want vagina, penis, [and all variations of sexual anatomy]. All of it turns me on super bad and my wife knows this and she thinks it’s sexy.
So, my question is am I bisexual? I truly only think those things are sexy when I’m drunk and when I’m sober, it all actually turns me off.
Thanks for your time,
Bi On The Rocks
Dear On The Rocks,
As I write this column, I’m sitting in the middle of Northampton, Massachusetts, once deemed “the lesbian capital of the world” and now home to a bustling LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, + the wide spectrum of identities in between) community. The very cafe I’m sitting in is proudly flying both a rainbow flag and a trans pride flag. I’m a short walk from Smith College where students passionately study all of the complexities of sexuality, sex, gender, and identity daily.
When you sent me this question on Instagram (@the_vspot) you followed up with telling me you were happy to be there, noting how sexually “open and accepting” my followers, engagement, and content is. And you’re right — the physical and online spaces I get to write in and exist in are open and accepting AF. I’m very privileged in that regard.
So, what’s this gotta do with you, On The Rocks? Well, from where I am (quite literally) sitting, gender and sexuality and even sexual anatomy all exist on a spectrum. Meaning, the worries created when we’re taught to think in binary terms like male or female, vagina or penis, gay or straight, are often mitigated by the freedom that can be felt when we just give ourselves permission to be who we are, how we are. From where I am (quite literally) sitting, that permission to slide around on those spectrums has been granted!
Unfortunately, this just isn’t always the case for everyone depending heavily on their cultural context, location, or personal beliefs, just to name a few influences. From how you talk about bodies, sexuality, and gender, to me it sounds like you’re coming from a more traditional, binary-focused understanding of things. (You might notice that I adjusted some language in your question for clarity and to reflect updated rather than unintentionally offensive terms. PlannedParenthood.org has a great article about updated versus antiquated gender terms here.).
I wonder if part of the reason your sexual desires shift when you’ve been drinking is because alcohol might be granting your brain the permission to venture outside of that worrisome, binary box. I invite you to experiment with giving yourself permission without the drinking to let your desires exist as they are and/or resist the urge to slap a label on yourself if you’re just not sure it fits yet. You’re open with your wife about these desires, she’s into it, you’re not hurting anyone — if it’s not broken, do you have to fix it?
You get to name your identity however you’d like to. You can still identify as straight and have or even act on these desires. You can identify as bisexual if you’d like to — I don’t get to decide that for you. Know that if/when you do decide to re-label your sexuality, a community exists to welcome you whether that’s online or IRL.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.