Public service announcement for the self-identified "straight but not narrow" heterosexual reader:
So you've finally come to accept a certain basic fact about the world: gays and lesbians exist. You've put aside any shock, horror, and/or disgust and embraced the brave new world of hot boy on boy/girl on girl action, because hey, it's all the same in the end. They're just like you, except in reverse! You're hip to this sort of thing: you go to PFLAG meetings, vote Democrat, and say to the world, "Hey, let them marry, adopt kids, and live the normal all-American life!"
Congratulations for your open mind!
Um, wait, where are you going? Sit back down, you're not done yet. Now we need to tell you about bisexuals. Yes, they do exist beyond drunk girls making out to get attention. In fact, according to various wildly fluctuating and inconsistent studies that everybody's heard of but nobody can actually cite, anywhere from a third, to a half, to pretty much every damn person on the planet could be considered bi! Kind of. But for the sake of this exercise, let's just stick with the ones who self-identify as bi. Can you accept them, too?
You can? Fantastic!
No, you still can't go.
Now we have to deal with something called "transgendered." And no, that's not just a term for transvestites and transexuals, though they certainly are the most visible examples. What we're talking about here is practically anybody who doesn't quite fit into standard gender roles. See, if you really think about it, there's a big difference between sex and gender. The former is something you're born with, the latter is something you aquire through a mixture of upbringing, genetics, and personal choices (Though if you're going to argue about which of those three is the biggest deciding factor, just give up right now. You'll do us all a favor). Can you accept the idea that "masculine" and "feminine" are qualities which are remarkably fluid, and that people who defy standard gender classifications in whatever fashion are still perfectly acceptable, okay people worthy of a few rights?
You can? Rock.
Still not off the hook, though.
Because now you're ready for the big secret. You may have guessed where it was headed from the order we took things: first we said there may be something different from heterosexuality, then we said that this can include more than just its mirror opposite, and then we acknowledged that even gender itself is fluid. Where does that leave us now?
Try a big pile of definitions that just don't work as cleanly as we'd like. Where do you put the clean-cut breeder frat boy who likes to dress in women's underwear and occassionally beats off to gay porn, yet has absolutely no inclination towards being a full-blown crossdresser or even the slightest interest in actually screwing another guy? Where do you put the self-identified dyke who nevertheless loves to have wild monkey-sex with men, provided that said men are self-identified as gay? Where do you put the people with no interest in sex whatsoever, but who still fall in love? Or the polyamorists? Or the ever-popular "metrosexuals"? Or the people who want to "know" God in the figuratively Biblical sense? Or....
You get the picture.
Welcome to PoMosexuality. This snazzy term was made popular by Carol Queen (great name, eh?) in a 1997 anthology of essays entitled PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality. It refers to the very postmodern struggle of trying to explore one's own sexuality after realizing that all the labels, while serving as important guideposts, are really pretty goddamn arbitrary. Why call yourself something if it's going to limit certain possibilities? People aren't consistent, and there's no way of knowing, for certain, which way your trigger is going to be tripped here or down the road.
Mind you, for a lot of people, this kind of possibility is either remote or trivial enough that it's not worth worrying about. Labels are more than useful, they're a foundation for identity, and far be it from us to deny that to others. But for those of us that this is an issue, the standard labels just aren't going to cut it, and may in fact bug the hell out of us. Myself, I'm uneasy with being called bi. I am, by most definitions, but it still doesn't sit well with me. But when people ask for a label - because that's just what we've come to expect - I do what's done every time something comes up that is difficult to pin down and bugs the living hell out of me: call it postmodern. Call it pomosexuality.
Thank you. You're free to go now.