I was about 18 the first time a girl kissed me.
It wasn’t the first time I’d gotten up close and personal with a person the same sex as myself.
Some of my girlfriends and I got very much into each other’s business when we were kids. You know, that time before high school, before your sexuality is understood or necessarily assumed, before humanness is replaced by labels; that time when curiosity and hormones move you to explore intimacy with your most intimate relationships at the time – your friends.
But this was something else.
It was after high school, after I’d slipped into the ‘he versus she’ system of relating. After I’d just assumed I was ‘into guys’ and that was that.
We met at a party and she pursued me, following me, flirting with me… When I left, she walked me to my car, pushed me against the door and planted her sweet, soft mouth on mine and kissed me like no boy person had done before.
It was nothing less than a revelation.
And the revelation was this: It was all so… same same.
Different, yes. For example, she was certainly physically softer and more sensual to kiss than many of the fumbling young men I’d brushed up against.
But the relating? The toying, the flirting, the chasing, the coyness, the heat of it, the framing of the sexual pursuit? All pretty much the same as everything else I’d experienced with men.
It was my first introduction to the idea that regardless of what dangles between your legs or what bits turn you on, human sexuality has a gamebook for hooking people up: flirt, test the waters, pursue, get in there…
And this is the case no matter what sexuality labels we ascribe to.
More than 20 years and many lovers of both sexes later, this still rings true for me.
The only thing I can now add is that human relating in general plays by the same rules regardless of who you’re playing with.
Whether you’re loving up against people of the same sex and gender or opposite sex and gender (or neither/and), what constitutes a good relationship is the same: honesty, open communication, compassion, care…
Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual – the drivers underpinning our interpersonal relationships are the same.
It’s worthwhile remembering this when destructive elements in the heteronormative system feed off othering and when haters try to make difference into a crime punishable by community, state and God.
So for me, when LGBTI awareness months roll around, it’s not to highlight difference. It’s to remind us that our most foundational longings are the same: to get jiggy and to get loved.
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