Happy Pride Month 2022!

A little throwback. This one is an old one but a good one. Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Pride this month!!!

Love, Sunny

Pride

By Sunny Leigh Mayne

*Let’s talk about what drives you to write Lesbian erotica,* the message had read. I’d paused for a moment absorbing the question. I’d not even been aware that my writing would fall into such a category, given that most of my characters have fluid sexuality.  The tone had felt accusatory, as if instead it read “what gives you the right?” or “who do you think you are?” Looking back, the questions may have been genuine. Perhaps there had been no malice behind the words. I think it’s likely that the real reason that the words had stung had been, that if I was completely honest, *I* had not been genuine.

I’d looked at the sexual orientation on my profile, glaring back at me like a taunt. *Heteroflexible,* it had read. I’d thought back to the day I’d created my page and pasted that label on for everyone to see. It hadn’t felt right to me even then.  *I don’t want to be unicorn hunted,* I’d thought, and that had been true. The real truth however, had been that I still hadn’t really found a label that felt like it fit. The world could take a look at my life with my two male partners and think, OK, she’s poly but she’s hetero.

Not quite. What about the fact that more than half of my erotic image enjoyment depicts “female” bodies? What about *her?* My mind drifts back to the not so distant past, wrapped in her embrace, her thigh between mine, our pelvises pressed together, locked in a slow grind. “Slower,” she’d whispered and I’d acquiesced having to fight for control. I’d wanted to ravage her, the lust burning inside of me unspeakable. *Ok, definitely not heterosexual, but heteroromantic maybe?*  No. I’d loved her. She had broken my heart, flown back to Europe, and left me totally bereft. We’re long-distance friends now. That ship has long since sailed, but if I’m honest with myself, I think a part of me will always love her. *Well clearly I’m not straight.*

So…*bisexual*. There we go. Easy peasy. I fantasize about guys and gals, and when I write erotica, I’m an equal opportunity producer of smut. That’s not quite right though, is it? It doesn’t account for the non-binary folks and other queer I find incredibly attractive. Quite frankly, gender is really just not that important to me. I’m aroused by sexy humans. That’s it. And so that is how I’d responded. *There’s no big story there,* I’d written, *I find humans of all genders attractive and I like for my writing to be inclusive.*

I’d fired off the message and been struck by the realization that my response had essentially been the definition pansexual. I’d slept on it, tested it out for a bit, tried it on for size. I’d eventually updated the label on my profile. I strive to live as my most authentic self and well…hearts not parts..that feels about right. I’d drawn the attention of some of my closest friends to my epiphany. “Congrats!, it’s about time,” and “Yeah that seems about right,” and “Well it’s always been clear you weren’t straight lol,”  were among the responses.

There’s something a little bit awkward about making it this far into adulthood and not having it all sorted out. At this point one’s identity should have a little more definition than “I feel like a girl most days.” There’s a sense of not wanting to be closeted but also not exactly knowing what to say when you spring out into the light. It’s odd to know that your chosen family will be accepting but not 100% certain about what it is you hope they’ll accept. There’s a lot of “not straight enough,” “not queer enough,” “this space isn’t for you.” There’s imposter syndrome. Layer on the poly and the kinky, and the spiritual stuff you’re also sorting out late in the game and you’ve got yourself a right identity mess. So sorting that all out, that’s worth celebrating no?

I sit here now, a pan, poly, kinky, mostly girl, druid on vacation with one of my partners in a town just kicking off its annual Pride celebration. I recall the words I shared recently with a close friend. In discussing this dilemma, I’d said that I’ve always wanted to have pride in my identity, to be fearlessly myself, but in a world that loves to wear labels, I’d just never known which T shirt to buy. I chuckle to myself. Tomorrow’s theme, suggested to be represented in clothing, is essentially “be yourself day,” and the tank I’d ordered online, a little moon in the pan flag colors playfully decreeing “Not a Phase” had not arrived in time for the trip. This morning I’d hunted high and low in half a dozen T shirt shops selling Pride gear for alternate apparel that announced my identity and again come up empty handed.

Despite the town being known for its thriving queer community, I’d not been able to find a single pansexual pride flag or clothing item. Ironic really, that I’ve finally figured it out, and still no damn shirt. When my online order hadn’t arrived earlier in the week, I’d tried to find something to wear from a store at home, finding a single, sort of sad looking rainbow dress, in a size medium. It had draped over my small frame, swallowing me up, and given me a lovely circus tent effect. I’d had to cut up and make it into a wrap skirt, an exercise in creativity and determination.

Still wearing my new skirt and with my rainbow glitter painted toes, I figure at best holding hands with my male partner, I might get a little side eye that says “Why are you appropriating this rainbow?,” or “Are you an ally? Why are you even here?” Or maybe not at all. Maybe that’s just the imposter syndrome, closet minded internal monologue talking.

The truth is, I don’t have to broadcast a label. I don’t need a silly t shirt to validate my identity. I don’t have anything to prove. You can’t tell a person’s identity by looking at them anyway and so if someone makes incorrect assumptions about me, well that’s their problem. I do want to participate though, to find community, to feel comfortable in my own skin, to not feel isolated or alone. And so tomorrow, I’ll don my DIY rainbow skirt and enjoy the festivities in the crowd with my supportive partner, an ally, by my side. I’ll simply show up, and be myself, and really that’s all that matters.

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