Crossing Over

Sorry for the delayed posting of this regular blog, but it’s been a big week! This is a regular series that tells the retrospective story of my current partnership, but the current version of this story includes the recent birth of our new little girl! So, thankfully, I had per-written this posting before she arrived on Monday and so I’m able to cut and paste it for you and keep the series running. Otherwise, newborns have a way of taking one’s attention! :-) See you next week when I’ve got more of a rhythm going on!

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I have had a lot of people casually refer to my past life  ‘when I was queer’ or directly ask me what it’s like to ‘now be straight’? It is said with such conviction that I have somehow converted to a “straight religion” that I am often completely speechless for a moment when it happens. I even saw a comment under an old live video of mine on YouTube that said,

“Interesting that Ember has now moved to China and married a Chinese artist who is a man. Yep, the girl crossed over. She’s quite an adventurous soul.”

I know people don’t mean harm in these statements–there was even a compliment at the end of that one!–but, there is this mistaken notion that my identity has changed as a result of having fallen in love with Guo Jian and that notion needs to be called into question. I am here to state for the record that my queer identity has not been erased. Quite the opposite, in fact; it’s been reinforced by my love for him.

First of all, as a queer person, my identity has always included the possibility of attraction for men. The thing that made my identity more easily misinterpreted as a lesbian identity, however, was the fact that all of my previous partners have been women, with the exception of my high school boyfriend. I really did love that high school boyfriend, though, but I wasn’t at the stage where I knew myself well enough  and so I ended that relationship when I was nearly 18 to explore my sexuality more fully—to explore women.

Now, even though I had only female partners after that, I had several crushes on guys and, while in my open relationship with my most recent ex-partner, I had the opportunity to have what I joked were more like “Exploratory Experiments with Male Gentalia”!  I had a few casual male lovers throughout that time but felt sure that while my sexuality included occasional attraction to men, my queer identity was mostly an 80/20 one, where 80% of my focus and attraction was geared towards women.

I still feel that way.

The difference is that I once believed that it would be next to impossible to find a man with whom I could share my heart. Nor was I ever looking. I just know women and feel what it’s like to be with them and didn’t even conceive of being able to find a man who I could open my heart to in that same way.

Though I did find that man in Guo Jian, I know in my heart that I am and always will be queer, through and through, with or without him. While this partnership doesn’t include an identity mirror via a female queer lover, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be reflected back in my partner’s identity to know what my identity looks like.

Besides, while I have made a distinct choice to make this partnership my one and only now, I’m still human and so I still crave what I know and am drawn to. That means that I crave female intimacy and seek it out, even though I’ve now tempered that intimacy to the platonic realm. Of course the intimacy that Guo Jian offers just isn’t the same, and that’s to be expected. He’s a guy!

I am still attracted to other people too, at about the same ratio of eight women to every two men! Women turn my head regularly.  >>Wow, did you see her? She was hot!<<  Oh sorry, I got distracted from my writing just now. Ha!  No, in all seriousness, it’s just clearly who I am.

Incidentally, I have a serious crush on this actress, Shu Qi. It’s reminiscent of my schoolgirl crush on Julia Roberts that still hasn’t quite gone away. When Guo Jian and I went to see a movie with her in it, I joked that we were going to see my “girlfriend” and he guffawed and said (knowing she’s straight), “She’d more likely be my girlfriend than yours!” I quipped back with “Not fair. I’d be too jealous!” He looked pleased with himself for a cocky moment and then I added “Of YOU, silly! Not her!”

His shocked eyes took an instant to sweep up that comment into his head and then he shoved my shoulder with a “hhmph” and pretended to be mad at me with his nose in the air and shoulders back, marching a few steps ahead of me just like an adolescent teenaged girl. It was all very cute. I had to laugh at the various sexual identities and gender expressions that had just played out between us like a half-dozen errant bows and arrows that had all missed their mark. Nothing can take out this love. Least of all our differences.

So, when people suggest that my identity has somehow been erased by my partnership with a man, I find it mildly annoying at the best of times and infuriatingly ignorant when I’m failing at patience. I wrote an article about it here in HERIZONS Magazine, a feminist quarterly in Canada. I’ve mentioned this article before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Recently, I’ve received some ignorant comments on these blogs that are of the same ilk. I suppose this is just a topic that people don’t think about often enough to even consider their assumptions to be assumptions. I’ll err on the side of kindness and give everyone the benefit of the doubt that no one means any harm or insult or disrespect.

Anyway, when Guo Jian does things that I find to be incredibly straight, in the narrow sense, I remind him that he’s lucky to be partnered with someone who sees the world through her queer lens and can enlighten him. He, of course, doesn’t like when I say things like that and usually tells me to shut up (which makes me love him more), but to his credit he has acknowledged and honoured my identity throughout our relationship. He even encourages me to make more friends like me here in Beijing and accompanied me to the Queer Film Festival in 2010.

He’s a good one.

He’s him. I’m me. A queer girl and a straight boy.

The only crossing over we’re doing is with our arms over the armrest that divides our seats, holding hands in the movie theatre.

The Argument for Marriage
The Second Coming (Out)

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