MY PARTNER in commitment claims he is straight, always has been straight, and could never imagine himself engaging in sexual activity other than with a woman. He says he did not choose his straightness, this is just the way things are. Further, he prefers the safety of a committed and monogamous relationship to the variety that might be found in a non-monogamous relationship. His sexual orientation is heavily influenced by the need for trust to accompany sexual activity. When asked, he says that if he thinks trust will not form, he doesn’t feel that spark of chemistry which signals sexual possibilities. His self-awareness of attractions, aversions, and other erotic feelings constitute his sexual identity map. It tells him to keep heading straight, pun intended—or at least how to avoid a wrong turn.
Like my partner, I rely on an inner sexual identity map to navigate the world of relationships. Unlike him, I carry a map that does not neatly display the borders of gender that he finds unambiguous. My map is more topographical, differentiating physical terrain rather than county or state lines. There’s a lot of space left to wilderness and mystery on my map—not typically a selling point for atlases! My map is frayed and split on the creases, worn from overuse, from frequent consultations.