Bisexuality: My sexuality is perhaps the only thing I’m not confused about by HannahWritten by The Young Women's Movement
I had an inkling that I wasn’t straight since I was about fourteen, kissing girls playing ‘Truth or Dare’ at parties and loving Shakira for reasons aside from her musical stylings. I dismissed these crushes and antics, writing them off as the results of raging hormones and Smirnoff Ice, reasoning that I couldn’t be into girls as I already knew I liked guys.
This pattern reoccurred for a few years, suppressing my feelings, conflicted about falling for women whilst continuing to date men. The only experiences I had with women were clandestine, often tipsy, encounters, which left me spinning and confused. My attraction towards women felt different than it did towards men, so I tried to dismiss it but it hung around, nagging, insistent, snapping at my heels.
It wasn’t until my first term of university that I realised that it’s natural to be attracted to different genders in different ways, that attraction is not a linear, straightforward or simple process, and that the fact that I hadn’t seriously dated a woman didn’t make my bisexuality less valid. So, I came out to myself, my boyfriend and a handful of close friends.
Coming out whilst in a monogamous, long-term relationship and at university has its own unique challenges. I was constantly made to feel as if my sexuality wasn’t valid because I’d only dated men, that it was an act of attention-seeking, a way to satiate an uncontrollable sex drive or simply a ‘college phase’, like dying your hair pink or taking up longboarding, something to be forgotten about as soon as I matured.
In most ‘straight’ social situations, I simply shut up about the fact I fancied girls as it was usually met by a series of invasive questions about how I could ’really’ be bisexual if I was dating a man, how I could maintain a monogamous relationship as someone attracted to multiple genders, or whether all I actually wanted was a threesome.
Conversely, in queer spaces, I didn’t feel gay enough. I was often made to feel inferior and unwelcome, my bisexuality perceived as a stepping-stone to becoming a lesbian, an intermediary phase resulting from indecisiveness and the need for patriarchal approval. Identifying as bisexual put me in a liminal space between the straight and queer communities, I felt alienated, invisible and excluded from both and so I stayed silent. Being openly bisexual in a largely hostile climate didn’t seem worth the hassle.
One day, I was having a conversation with a friend who made a comment about people ceasing to be bisexual once they got married, and I snapped. I realised that not being vocal about my own sexuality was perpetuating myths about bisexuality and contributing to bi-erasure. Since then, whenever I feel safe to, I try to be vocal about my sexuality and proudly so.
I’m learning to challenge misconceptions about romantic and sexual attraction, realising that its fluidity is as natural as fluctuations in the weather. The fact that one day my attraction may be 80/20 men to women and then flip to 40/60 the next day is perfectly valid, and I need not have certain experiences, behave or dress in a certain way to ‘prove’ my bisexuality. I’m finally feeling comfortable within my sexual identity and I want to inspire others to feel the same way.
I want to hug my confused fourteen-year-old self and tell her that, yes, you can fancy your best friend and the boy who sits next to you in history! I want to tell her she is not weird or irrational; her feelings are valid. I want her to feel safe and accepted, to be able to kiss, flirt and date whoever she wants, fearlessly and without judgement.
So let’s fight for queer spaces that give the ‘B’ LGBTQA+ more than empty lip-service, realising that what stops people coming out as bisexual is the same homophobia that effects other LGBTQA+ folk. We should be creating spaces that are about inclusion and acceptance, not exclusion, by breaking down rigid boundaries and accepting sexual identities in all their forms.
In conclusion, Happy Pride Month, babes, grab your glitter and dancing shoes and get ready to celebrate!
Hannah Stephings is a Philosophy and English Lit student, often out running but more likely drinking coffee and tearing down the patriarchy. She is particularly interested in mental health, movement, media representation and self-confidence and hopes to inspire girls and young women to view themselves as instruments rather than ornaments, empowering and valuing themselves through what they can do rather than how they look. Hannah has worked for various blogs and zines, writing on everything from book reviews to breakups and actively campaigns for mental health for charities such as Young Minds, Time For Change and Mind.