“Well, I’m not sure what I am, but I’m definitely not straight!”
This is a sentence I said to myself back in the spring of 2004. As an undergraduate student I was having a pretty tough time of it – struggling with feelings of low self-worth, of loneliness and confusion about my direction in life. I felt the heavy burden of expectation from my family and realised that I was beginning to swerve from a path that I had been raised to think was the only path worth travelling. So I found myself clinging on to whatever certainties I could.
Now it’s the autumn of 2020, and that old sentence can finally be elaborated upon: I am bisexual.
This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to write about being bi. Do I know exactly what I want to say? Not really. Am I daunted at the prospect of putting my truth into words? Certainly. Do I feel that it’s important that I say something? Absolutely.
It’s difficult to spell out and describe an experience you’ve become completely accustomed to. Part of the problem is, everything seems to have been explained better by other people. Nowadays there is a lot of literature out there, if you know where to find it. There are lots of articles, jokes, memes and pithy summaries that almost perfectly encapsulate it all. And yet each individual is, well, an individual. What I’m trying to explain here might be helpful, or it might not. But importantly, it’s my experience to share, and anything that helps bi people like me become more visible has to be a good thing.
The realisation that you’re bi tends to be the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Gone is the self-doubt and the vague confusion about who you’re attracted to, replaced instead with navigating the baffling minefield of assumptions being made by the folks around you. I’m a man, and I find women attractive, and – because that’s still the “cultural default” – other possibilities sometimes just don’t get acknowledged. Even today, in the 2020s, people are attached to the notion of human beings being either straight OR gay, and this is how bisexuality becomes “invisible”. If you “present yourself as straight” (as I have often learned to do) then that is how the world will continue to see you – unless you give them a specific reason to do otherwise.
Think of the people you know who are in happy, loving relationships with members of the opposite sex. I can bet a fairly significant number of them will be bisexual. Think of any friends or family who are described in casual conversation as being gay. Again I would imagine that plenty of them will be bi. Whether or not they are accepted as such depends upon whether they’ve decided to make it known, or sometimes upon stereotypes and illogical leaps made by other people. However this failure to accept that people are bi can be counteracted by bi folks becoming more open about their bisexuality. The core of the issue is, bi folks are actually everywhere. And this testimonial I’m writing is anonymous because, well, I could be anyone. That’s the point.
And so, all that really remains for me to do is give you the proverbial bullet points:
I’m attracted to women and men; I’m bi.
Have I ever been in a relationship with a man? No. But I’m still bi.
Have I ever had a hopeless crush on a man? Oh, absolutely. Because I’m bi.
How many men/women have I slept with? None of your business. And I’m still bi.
Do I have a preference? Yes – women. Still bi.
Am I sure I’m not just gay? I have a relationship history with ladies that would suggest otherwise. Because I’m bi.