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
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.