This week is bisexual visibility week, so I thought I’d take a moment to talk about my experience with dysphoria as a bisexual woman in a heteronormative world. Don’t get me wrong here, consider my privilege well and truly checked. I’ve never experienced physical abuse because of my sexual orientation, or gender and I’m white. I know my experiences could have been worse, but that shouldn’t stop me from sharing my story, because I also know a lot of very unhappy bi kids have experienced similar things to me.
See the thing is, until about a year ago I never truly believed that I was bisexual. From the day I came out as a 13 year old I thought I was lying to myself. I told myself I was doing it for attention, that I was secretly straight, I just wanted to seem different (bear in mind, I thought this at exactly the same time as literally being attracted to women). Then about two years ago I hadn’t found a man attractive for a while, so I started thinking I was gay (this is after years of sleeping with men I genuinely wanted to sleep with). On the outside I have always been resolute about my sexual orientation, unwilling to contribute to the prejudice against bisexuals by expressing my own prejudices against myself. But inside it was a different story.
This wasn’t helped by the attitude of some of the women I’ve dated, who towards the end of our relationships have made passive aggressive comments about fake bi women lying because they want to experiment. Apparently, if you’re bisexual, even lesbians think you have to be attracted to every woman who walks the earth in order to validate your orientation. By accusing me of being straight, this made me hang on to my attraction to women even harder.
It is a very strange feeling to know something about yourself but at the same time not believe that thing exists. When I stopped finding men attractive for a while (I’m sure many bisexuals can attest to finding that their attractions to different genders fluctuates over time) I was so relieved. Despite all I know about sexuality, I convinced myself that you could just stop being bisexual one day. I could finally just give it up and be gay, never have to worry about being judged for being with a man or called a liar for being with a woman. At last, people would take me at face value, and my orientation would have an identity.
Of course, shortly afterwards I met the love of my life, I became happier than I’ve ever been, we became best friends and I learned more about myself than I ever thought I could know. And because the universe has a sense of humour, it just so happens that person is a he. But the funny thing is, since being with him I’ve never felt so secure and confident in my sexual orientation. That feeling of being so entirely adored by someone has brought me so much inner peace and understanding of myself, and his questioning of my doubts about myself left me secure in the knowledge that I AM bisexual. Plus, we both fancy girls, which is great.
I know all the things that bi-phobics are thinking as they read this, because I’ve berated myself with the same things since I was 13. ‘You’re not bi if you’re with a man’, ‘you were just experimenting’, ‘women aren’t bisexual, just sluts’. None of that is true.
I think a big part of the confusion about bisexuals comes from the lazy way we’ve adopted sexual orientation into things that are completely irrelevant. For example, ‘gay marriage’ is marriage – calling it gay not only sets it apart from the supposed ‘normal’ marriage, it also excludes bisexuals, because how do we have a wedding without erasing our orientation entirely? If my partner and I got married it could easily be labeled queer, but what about one bisexual with one completely straight/gay partner?
I’ve had a lot negative experiences as a bisexual woman, there’s no denying it. But I no longer see my orientation as a negative, confusing thing – it’s just part of who I am, a left-wing, vegetarian, curly haired bisexual. If you’re reading this in a similar situation, you need to accept it too, because it’s who you are. Accepting who you are is an essential part of life, even if you’d rather be something simpler. There are a lot of people in the world who want to mock you, and more still who don’t think you exist. Believe in yourself and what you are, so you’ll have the confidence to call people out when you see bisexual erasure or biphobia, and help make the world a better place for everyone!
If you’re bisexual and you’re experiencing bullying, abuse or mental health difficulties, please don’t stay silent. Talk to a friend or call the LGBT Switchboard on 0300 330 0630