Fun fact: This week is Bisexual Awareness Week. To which there are always those who feel the need to ask does such a thing needs to exist and doesn’t the gay community get enough attention as it is? (Yes, it was phrased that exact way to me.) The short answer is that yes it does need to exist. It needs to exist, because bi erasure is a real thing in both the real world and the media.
I am bisexual. I “came out” as bisexual when I was 18. (By coming out, I mean I started acting on my desire to go on dates and kiss girls as well as boys without feeling like I needed to make a big speech. My mom is an amazing person who has always made me feel accepted so I never felt like it was a big deal. I am so very lucky in that respect and I wish every bi/gay/queer human bean had the same automatic love and acceptance.) For those that really want to keep count, they makes for over fifteen years as an openly bi woman. It’s a pretty mixed bag of experiences, not going to lie. Here’s some of what I’ve gone through in no particular order.
During the late 90s/early 00s most of what I heard from both the gay and straight communities at large was that eventually I would “make up my mind” or that it was only a matter of time before I figured out I was really a lesbian. (Spoiler: To date, I am not a lesbian. Nor am I straight.) In all fairness, a big part of some people’s journeys to coming out as gay is to first come out as bi. I get it. The world is not always an accepting place and it’s scary. However, that is not everyone’s story. That was not my story. That was not the stories of many, many people. Our stories are simply that we like both men and women. That simple.
Then came the dating. Women I dated or slept with, by and large, did not give a fuck. Men on the other hand tended to fall into two camps. The first was morally repulsed and threatened by the idea that a woman could be satisfied by anything other than a dick. Basically this whole speech in Chasing Amy:
Then there were the men who figured that dating a bi woman automatically meant they were getting a threesome. For what it’s worth, I am fiercely monogamous. I experimented some with non monogamy, but turns out that if I’m in a relationship I don’t want to share my person with anybody. I don’t want them to share me with anybody. It’s just the way I work. Nothing against people who non monogamy works for, but I am not actually that unusual for a bi in that I can still value monogamy.
Fast forward to now: I am happily married to a man so I have the privilege of straight seeming. I also have to constantly explain that having made the marriage commitment to a man does not in fact make me straight. Since I also don’t walk around wearing a shirt that says “Hi, I’m bisexual. Ask me how!”, I also have the fun experience of dealing with straight people feeling comfortable telling me their opinions about “those gays”. One such actual sentence: “There weren’t this many girls dating girls when I was younger. It’s just a phase for them I’m sure. They’ll get some dick and realize what they’ve been missing.” It’s really, really intensely uncomfortable. When someone talks about how things like gays on tv are ruining our country, they don’t realize that they’re talking about me. They are basically saying if I had ended up loving a woman enough to marry her, I would deserve less than I have with my husband. It makes me incredibly sad and angry, because at the end of the day love really is love. Whether I had chosen a man or a woman to spend my life with, it would not affect anyone else’s daily existence for them to say I deserve less for one of those choices.
On the other hand, I have never felt entirely welcome in the queer and gay communities. Part of this is that the course my life has taken has given me the privilege of not worrying about my rights being taken away and I understand this. But it also takes all those years where I was affected by the same prejudices when I walked with a girlfriend down the street and somehow says that they didn’t matter as much. The b in lgbtq stands for bisexual, so please remember we are a part of your community and not to write off our sexuality for any reason. We are all in this together and we are all love.
(Part 2 on bisexuality in the media will be posted later this week.)