So yesterday, Sunday the 23rd, was Bisexual Awareness Day. I identify more frequently as queer, as I feel like a big umbrella covers a multitude of identities. But I do also identify as bisexual, meaning I am attracted to men and women.
The thing about being bisexual is that you’re usually only identified as bi when you are single. The second you have a partner, everyone is in a rush to identify you as gay (because I was dating a girl) or straight (because my partner is male). When you’re with someone of the opposite gender, you pass to the point of being invisible. You’re seen as an ally of the community at best, and just as a breeder at worst.
I’ve been married for twelve years, so why should I care? I ended up with a dude, so that is the deciding factor, right?
I care because my partner’s gender identity (whether they identify as male, female, or genderqueer) ends up defining me. I am the same person I was when I dated M, or made out with B, or slept with A–and they were all women. I am the same person I was when I dated J, or slept with F, or made out with K–and they were all men.
Yes, my husband is a man, and I do not wish to change that. Marrying him didn’t settle a bet, or make me “get off the fence.” It doesn’t change that I am attracted to women.
When I am open about my sexuality, I am generally several questions. This is by no means a comprehensive selection, nor is it questions I only get from straight people (although it’s mostly straight people).
I am asked to rate where I fall on the Kinsey scale. If zero is totally gay and ten is totally straight, what’s my number? Am I more attracted to men or women? If I’m a 7, doesn’t that really mean I’m straight. If I’m a 3, doesn’t that really mean I’m gay? Just pick a side already! This is a really toxic line of inquiry. The idea that bisexuality (or pansexuality) is just someone who is greedy is hurtful.
When was the last time I slept with a woman? If it’s been x amount of time, doesn’t that prove that I’m mostly over women? If I really was bi, I’d have to punch my card x times a year to prove that I’m actually attracted to women. It’s not like a driver’s license where you have to renew it or it becomes invalid.
But you’re married with two kids. Why do I want to horn in on gay pride? Because I’m queer, too, and I deserve to be part of the community, regardless of how many women I’ve slept with, when it last was, or who I married.
I struggled a lot with my identity in college. If I’d been gay, I could have handled that. I had no problem with the idea of being gay. But I’d listened to those toxic opinions, and the idea of being bi made me feel dirty. That I needed to pick a side. That I was greedy. That I was just a dirty slut. PICK A FUCKING SIDE.
You may laugh, but I ended up in therapy for a while as I processed something that had always been there, that I’d just excused away or denied. But it had always been there.
If I could say something to parents whose kids are going through dealing with their sexual identities, it’s to be supportive. Don’t tell them that it’s just a phase, or that they can just overcome it. Don’t kick them out of your house (SG parents, especially, I’m looking at you). Would you rather have a dead child because they committed suicide (suicide rates are very high for queer teens) or accept and love your child as they are? I would hope the latter–which is also a good lesson to apply to obsessions about grades, hair styles, or any other choices your child makes or things they do that might not be what you wanted.
So don’t erase or demean your bi kids. We just want to be loved, and to be defined as individuals, not as a reflection of our partner’s perceived gender identity.