This is an excerpt about orientation and bisexuality / pansexuality…
From Mid Chapter 11
Ryan growled and stomped and kicked some trees as hard as he could and then sat down and texted his sister Stephanie in Montreal. They had a system worked out. They used 911 for “someone’s in the hospital” and 811 for “I seriously need to talk to you.” He put in 811 I might b gay. And his phone rang about thirty seconds later.
As soon as he said ‘hey,’ she said, “Oh thank god we are finally going to have this conversation.”
“Okay, don’t be mad, but Mom told me about walking in on you and Logan. She figured you might talk to me about it someday and that I should be prepared.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake! I think she told Dad, too, you know. Goddammit.” Ryan thumped his butt back down on the ski bench.
“Hey, she’s just trying to support you.”
“Whatever. Did she call you to tell you that I have a gay friend?”
“Yup.” Stevie popped the ‘p’ on ‘yup,’ like it was no big deal.
“Fucking A. That’s just awesome. So everyone thinks I’m gay but me. Whoop-de-do.”
“I also liked your latest Facebook post, but hey, I don’t think anything. I’m just glad you’re ready to spill it already. I’ve been sitting on this one for years.”
He huffed a laugh. “Well you’re never going to believe what just happened.” He told her a blow by blow of what had happened with Logan, and she seriously couldn’t believe it.
“He said you were dirty because you wouldn’t let him get you off? What the fuck?”
“Yeah, there’s some kind of warped logic in there somewhere.” Ryan sighed.
“Okay, I think HE’S gay. That is just so jealous ex! He finds out you’re hanging out with someone that might be willing to go farther down the pink brick road than he was, and suddenly he has to know and has to try to get you back again? Seriously gay. Seriously in denial.”
“Huh. You think?”
“Totally. Now tell me about Skyler.” Stevie’s voice was eager, like she couldn’t wait to hear this.
It was so easy to talk about Skyler. He was such an amazing person. He could talk about Sky all day. She interrupted, “Okay, hang on. Can you just tell me what it was about Chloe that you really loved?”
“Just humor me,” she said.
“You think I never really loved her, right? Because I’ve been gay all along.”
“What? Gimme a break! I was there, remember? She broke your heart, no questions asked. You don’t have to try to figure out if you loved her. Of course you did! And I’m sure you had great sex with her. That’s not the point.”
“But aren’t guys that say they’re bi just too scared to say they’re gay?” Ryan pressed the heel of his hand into his eye socket.
“Bi is not a stop on the road to gay. Except when it is. Sure, some guys are trying to figure out what they like and eventually realize that they like men more or that they’re more often attracted to men. But human experience is so diverse, I bet if you can imagine it, someone has experienced it. Plus about 200% more that you haven’t even thought of yet. And what about girls? There’s like this whole other set of unwritten rules for us. It’s hot to put on some kind of show and make out with another girl, and no one even calls you bi. You’re just adventurous or something. But guys are either straight or gay, no middle ground. It’s a really stupid double standard. Now would you just forget about trying to stuff yourself into a labeled box for a second and tell me what it was that you loved about Chloe?”
Ryan took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Well, she was strong. She was her own person. But she didn’t need to boss everyone around either. She had this kind of soft underside, but it wasn’t weakness. She was brave about it, about sharing it.”
“Okay, so most people have this A or B checkbox in their head when they think about orientation. You’re either straight or gay, but there was this study done, this massive sex story collection done by this guy named Kinsey, and he produced this huge report and he broke the data down into eight different orientations, four of which were in the middle. It started this continuum idea, like a gas gauge with straight on one side and gay on the other. The real experiences that people were having showed lots of room in between straight and gay, so there’s lots of people who could be calling themselves bi, okay?”
“Four categories? Four in the middle?” Ryan had to stand up and shake out his freezing legs. As nice as it was to have this kind of privacy, it was damn cold.
“I know, crazy, right? At least he took black and white and turned it into that gas gauge, which at least has some range. But it’s still ridiculously inadequate because it was based on sexual experience, not on mapping out desire and fantasy. Anyway, it was in the fucking sixties and people still are too uptight to incorporate THAT into the way we think about sexuality. There’s a movie about him, though. You should see it. But okay, let’s just drop the two-dimensional thinking thing for a second and picture this. The things you like, the things that attract you to someone, are like candies, okay? And everyone has a different candy jar. Maybe your favorite candy is jawbreakers or those old-fashioned black licorice cigars, or maybe you have a thing for cotton candy or something.”
“Okay…. Or like those every flavor jelly beans,” Ryan could get into this if there were every flavor beans.
“Right, sure. So when you meet someone and you get to know them, some people have your favorite candy inside of them and some don’t. Some people do it for you, they light you up like a little kid, and some don’t. Some people have a few of your favorites but not enough to keep you happy for long, and some have a big portion of your most favoritest jelly beans ever.”
The line was quiet for a minute. “So my favorite jelly beans are….”
“Are integrity, strength, and vulnerability,” said Stevie without hesitation.
“Yeah, and Chloe had them all and so does Skyler.”
“And you like having sex with girls but guys don’t exactly turn you off.”
“But Logan was the only guy I ever… and we didn’t even… fuck, it wasn’t like that!” Ryan stomped some of the snow down around the mushed down spot he was standing in.
“Does he have your favorite jelly beans? Is he strong and vulnerable and knows who he is?”
Ryan stopped stomping. “Well, no, no, and no.”
“So there you go. You didn’t have feelings for him because he doesn’t have your candy. But you must have enjoyed getting off with him.”
“It was just physical. It was like… maintenance.”
“And that’s how it feels when you have sex with someone you don’t care about. It’s not emotional. It doesn’t touch you or breathe life into your heart. But what if that wasn’t how it was for Logan? What if you really do it for him? Or what if girls kinda gross him out but that terrifies him?”
“Skyler was saying that girls turn him off.” Ryan stuck his free hand inside his coat and clamped it in his armpit to get it thawed out again.
“Sure, some people get wigged out by one gender. But some people don’t really care about that. Some people are all about candy.”
“So you think I’m bi.” Ryan held very still.
“I think you’re Ryan, who is attracted to integrity and chutzpah and naked hearts on sleeves, and you’ve just met the first guy that really lights up your skin. I think sex and love aren’t things you can catalog logically. There’re too many factors when you get people involved.”
“Like snowflakes. Maybe each one of us forms a little different, and the trick is to see the beauty in that.”
“I love how you think you’re slow and then you come out with something like that. Yeah, that feels like exactly what I’m saying. Now tell me more about this Skyler.” He could practically hear Stevie smiling.