Happy Bi Visibility Day to my fellow bisexuals and anyone who is questioning whether they might be! I’m very open about my sexuality now and I’ve been wanting to write a post about it for a long time. I debated doing a post about bi representation in books, films and tv, however that’s something for another day. Today I want to talk about my own experience as a bisexual woman: the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculous.
Content warnings: I will be mentioning some things I have experienced, including biphobia and hypersexualisation.
Being bi is something that I found extremely confusing to figure out. When I realised I wasn’t straight, I spent around a year or so researching different sexualities (and I mean research – videos, posts, documentaries, articles – you name it, I tried it) and it took me a while to accept bisexuality for myself. Of course, labels are not the be all and end all – if you don’t want one or don’t relate to any, that is also perfectly valid. For me, it wasn’t an instant fit. I didn’t have an epiphany moment of realising I was bi. It seemed to just gradually become something I identified with. It would have probably helped if I’d talked to friends about how I was feeling but I honestly can’t remember that even crossing my mind at first. I got there in the end, but even now, when I’m vocal about my identity and out to family and friends, I still (like arguably all queer people) have to come out continuously to new people. My friends and family are wonderfully supportive – some of them get things wrong sometimes, or don’t understand certain things but I am in no way unsafe around them and I feel comfortable talking to most of them about my sexuality.
From my own experiences and from speaking to other bi people, one of the biggest issues is exclusion and biphobia from the LGBTQ+ community. It stings more when someone who is part of the queer community is biphobic and makes offensive, and sometimes quite insidious, comments. It should be somewhere we are accepted yet I and many others I know have faced biphobia in these communities. Usually, it’s to do with not being “gay enough” since we are only “half gay” (what even is half gay…this is always the most stupid comment) or the fact that we can apparently “choose” when we want to be gay or straight therefore we are less oppressed. I mean, I hope my tone is clear here but to really make it known – this is completely ridiculous! I currently have a girlfriend so I am more likely to face discrimination in some ways and can’t “pass as straight” however, I can’t just choose to love a man instead for an easier life. I think it’s important to note that we can have a level of privilege and this changes person to person. If you are in a straight passing relationship, you are less likely to experience homophobic comments or hate crimes for holding hands with your partner. However this does not mean you don’t experience biphobia.
A place I find quite difficult to navigate in terms of sexuality is the workplace. For the past year, I’ve been freelancing (sadly not anymore due to COVID) which means I’m constantly working with new people which in turn means coming out every time – I’m quite a pro now! In my more recent jobs at more arts based places like film festivals, I’ve personally felt super comfortable being open about my sexuality. I’ve met so many fellow bisexuals as well as pansexual people and people who are fluid in their sexuality at these places (hands up if you’re an artsy bi!) so it’s so nice to be able to chat about it and not feel apprehensive when someone asks if I have a partner. I have worked at other places which are…not so great.
For example, here are some of the things I was asked/told at one workplace:
- How do you have sex with your girlfriend?
- Who’s the man in the relationship? Is your girlfriend the butch one?
- I remember when I told people I was bi because it’s easier than saying gay
- How are you going to have children? How will you get pregnant?
- Would you and your girlfriend have a threesome with me?
- *After learning most of my university friends were bi* I bet your house was fun…
- Did you have bad sex with a man?
The worst thing is, at the time I didn’t even think some of these comments were that awful, even though they made me feel uncomfortable in myself and the situation. They’re intrusive, uncomfortable, and inappropriate. It’s only in the last year or two I realised that these kinds of things are not okay. I was once on a night out with a lot of these colleagues, when two women started kissing and a lot of the men were making lewd comments and leering at them. I felt so deeply uncomfortable by this that I had to move away from the situation. No one would have cared if it was a man and a woman kissing. The fact that this is how they would potentially view my own relationship if they saw me with my girlfriend made me feel sick.
Being overly sexualised is a horrible feeling and for me, it’s probably the thing that makes me begin to feel ashamed of being bi (luckily I am more secure about my sexuality now so I am less ashamed by it however this is not the point). It can be so horrible to be surrounded by these kinds of people. I had some amazing colleagues from this workplace who I’m still friends with now. However when some colleagues, and even the managers, make sexualised jokes aimed at you or make comments they didn’t make to straight people, it can feel horrible and for me, alienated me from work.
With all this being said, I’m so glad I am bisexual. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love love and I love that I am attracted to all genders (even though I’m rarely actually attracted to specific people). I have a wonderful group of friends, most of whom are bi, all of whom are accepting, wonderful eggs. I make bi puns almost daily – seriously, it’s a problem. I enjoy learning more about the history of bisexuality, I enjoy finding bisexual stories and characters to read about or watch.
I did a Instagram Live tonight with Jaz from Travels In Fiction about the book, The Bi-ble which is an anthology of personal essays about bisexuality. We also spoke about myths, stereotypes and our own experiences! If you’re interested, you can check it out on Jaz’s Instagram in the IGTV section! I will also be making a spreadsheet soon of bi books, films and tv shows – mainly because I love a spreadsheet but also to share around and spread the bi love! If you have suggestions of what should be included, let me know!
This was a super personal post (self therapy? maybe) but I wanted to write this as it’s something we should talk about more and I personally find reading about experiences of others helpful and validating.