From the looks of it, the only African American op-ed columnist at the New York Times is claiming to be bisexual.
And while he doesn’t have a problem with that, Charles M. Blow does have a problem with how the word is defined. The 44-year-old father of three explores this conflict, among others in “Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir.”
In addition to his struggle with the term bisexual, according to Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, Blow reveals how fighting the idea of his sexual attractions almost ruined his life.
“In addition to being attracted to women, I could also be attracted to men. There it was, all of it. That possibility of male attraction was such a simple little harmless idea, the fight against which I had allowed to consume and almost ruin my life. The attraction and my futile attempts to ‘fix it’ had cost me my dreams. The anguish, combined with a lifetime of watching hotheads brandishing cold steel, had put me within minutes of killing a man. . . .” he wrote. “
A coming of age story, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” offers a look into Blow’s worlds as he recalls an incident of childhood sexual abuse that haunted him for most of his life. In addition, the cable news pundit touches on abusive hazing he experienced at his alma mater, Grambling State University.
The release of “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” comes years after a 2005 article in the Journal of the National Medical Association addressed bisexuality. In the piece, Gregorio Millett, David Malebranche, Byron Mason and Pilgrim Spikes state that “black men who are currently bisexually active account for a very small proportion of the overall population of black men (2%) .”
Regarding his issue with being called bisexual, Blow wrote, “while the word ‘bisexual’ was technically correct, I would only slowly come to use it to refer to myself in part because of the derisive connotations. But, in addition, it would seem to me woefully inadequate and impressionistically inaccurate.
“It reduced a range of identities, unbelievably wide and splendidly varied, in which same-gender attraction presented in graduated measures — from a pinch to a pound — to a single expression,” he stated.” To me it seemed too narrowly drawn in the collective consciousness, suggesting an identity fixed precisely in the middle between straight and gay, giving equal weight to each, bearing no resemblance to what I felt. In me, the attraction to men would never be equal to the attraction to women — in men it was also closer to the pinch — but it would always be in flux . . .”
Charles M. Blow’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir,” is set to arrive on newsstands Sept. 23.