Three years ago, Antoine Dodson became an internet celebrity, due in no small part to his flamboyant behavior. A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Dodson’s hilariously over-the-top interview with a local news reporter gave him a degree of fame. Then living in a housing project with his family, his sister was attacked by an intruder who forced his way into her bedroom. Dodson’s filmed reaction for the evening news was YouTube gold, even inspiring some intrepid fans to autotune and remix his original remarks.
Dodson decided to come out shortly thereafter, but since then has made two controversial decisions.
When, last summer, fast food chain Chick-Fil-A was under fire for comments its president made against same-sex marriage, Dodson supported the company. At the time, he said that freedom of speech applied even to people opposed to marriage equality.
"We don't all have to believe in the same things," Dodson said. "We all have our different beliefs and can still come together and still be friends and be cool with each other."
Bizarrely, Dodson has now chosen to renounce his homosexuality, stating that he wants a wife and children. This decision seems to have been made because of a religious conversion of a sort, though the details provided are vague and unclear.
In early 2012, actress Cynthia Nixon got in hot water with LGBT groups by stating that being gay was a choice. Later forced to clarify her remarks, she said she spoke in terms of her own bisexuality. With time, Nixon chose to pursue exclusively same-sex relationships, despite being attracted to both men and women.
In a Daily Beast article, she also added that "I don't pull out the 'bisexual' word because nobody likes the bisexuals," "Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals...We get no respect."
I greatly appreciated her remarks, especially because it’s tough to define myself accurately. When in LGBT groups or at LGBT conferences, I refuse to self-identify. Many people assume I am gay, and I often allow myself to be wrongly identified to avoid conclusions being drawn about me that I would rather avoid. When among straight friends or in an explicitly straight context, I speak a different lingo and conform to a different standard. There, I am automatically assumed to be straight.
I have felt at times that I had to favor one side over the other for the benefit of other people. Should I be with a woman, I'm assumed to be straight. Should I be with a man, I'm assumed to be gay. Fearing that I was somehow promiscuous or untrustworthy, some gay men felt that I, as a bisexual, wasn’t dating material. Women I’ve dated have often feared that I was going to leave them for another man.
Most of the criticism I receive falls into the category of microaggressions. No one has ever given me an especially hard time within the community for my bisexuality, though I do wonder at times how much some understand it. Instead, it's instant reactions and incomplete conclusions that I fear most. Times are improving. One paradigm is departing and another is asserting itself. It’s almost a cliché now to state that sexual orientation falls along a continuum, but we still resort to binary thinking.
The gay world to me was full of places to go, people to see, and experiences to take in that were formed in opposition to what one observed impassively day after day. While I was part of that bubble, I felt in general sympathy with others who shared that universe, one that always felt shadowy and even a little dangerous. Outside it, I often breathed a sigh of relief, though I knew what I saw in front of me was only half of my identity. How could I honor both of them without feeling like a traitor?
I had the ability to gravitate back and forth, forever seeking the balance that suited me best. Every bisexual person I have ever met reaches the same conclusion I have, or that Cynthia Nixon has. A friend in college had a relationship with a woman, and was the only student in her dorm to refuse to conceal it. She often talked to me about her simultaneous attraction to men and how it manifested itself.
When in gay clubs or in other gatherings of LGBT folks, I feel as though I’m not a native speaker. I’ve learned the language with time, of course, but I’ll forever be learning the grammar and the syntax. Will this brave new world before us remove the need for qualifiers? Until it does, I’ll always feel like a motherless child.
I would never renounce the homosexual part of me, because I couldn’t suppress it if I tried. Antoine Dodson’s decision reinforces an idea that being gay is a choice, which is not my experience and never will be. I don’t have much energy, nor much need to criticize him for what seems to me to be an impulsive act, perhaps even a publicity stunt. I never felt much reverence for the closet door. He seems to have even less of it than I do.