Two eternal stories – sexual love and illness – are captivating. The modern twist of cancer and the switching of sexual orientation (Gilbert’s announcement also said that she has ended her marriage to Jose Nunes, whom she met while researching Eat, Pray, Love) is an arc that seems to speak to today. This despite our knowledge that men have loved men and women and women have loved women and men throughout history.
But perhaps it resonates because we are finally beginning to recognise that sexuality is neither a binary nor fixed. That love, attraction, identity, attachment and sexuality are more layered and interesting than they have been allowed to be represented in the public space as being until now. That, as their complexity is opened up to us, the crudity of realising you were always gay or always straight is for many people a nonsense.
Well, it's fascinating to see the stunning leap between saying 'we've known about bisexuality throughout history' and going onto say 'we are finally beginning to realise that sexuality isn't binary' in the very next sentence, but..
.. 'switching of sexual orientation'?!?
How do we know – specifically, how does Susie know – that Elizabeth Gilbert hasn't been bisexual for ages, possibly her whole life? There is precisely nothing in her long post on FB about her attraction to women being new. Or that her identity has changed. Or that this is her first relationship with a woman.
(It might be in the more than ten thousand comments, but I will leave it to someone who can stand FB to search through them. Without loading more, 'bisexual' doesn't appear on the page at all, and there's only one use of 'lesbian', in the title of an article and referring to her partner.)
This is what erasure looks like.