I am and always have, as far as my memory takes me back, been attracted to both men and women. Only as you get older do you learn that there are names regarding sexuality: gay, straight, bi, etc. With age I learnt that there are more socially acceptable ideas concerning sexuality and what the ‘norm’ is.
A few years ago, I came to terms with the nature of my sexuality and my understanding of it was not something that can be rigidly defined to a box with a binary label on it – identifying as either gay or straight did not resonate with me. I viewed it as something more fluid that could change throughout life. I decided not to place such a big emphasis on labelling what ‘it’ was. “I am not a box to be labelled”, I thought, “I am a person and I am attracted to people, it just so happens that the gender of the person I can fall in love with may or may not be of the same sex.”
I later came across a term that recognises my sexuality, and whilst I disliked the notion of having to label myself, I identified with this term. But this term to me felt invisible, dirty, shameful even. I felt no pride in proclaiming it yet I knew it applied to me. I am bisexual.
The responses I have gotten regarding my sexual orientation have been, for the most part, positive.
Others follow up with condescending questions or comments: “But you must have a preference?” … as though having a vague preference either way undermines the notion that I am bisexual.
“So you’re half gay” … no, I’m 100% bisexual.
It’s high time we embrace love in all its capacities.
Bisexual erasure (denying the legitimacy or existence of bisexuality) is pervasive in society. There is a significant lack of bi+ representation in mainstream media, research, policy making and even within LGBT+ communities; this year’s London Pride failed to include a group that specifically represented bisexual people.
An ideal world would satisfy our need or desire to fit in somewhere, to be united and included in commonality, and allow us to find our label with no negative repercussions. We would be ok with having differences, and our differences would be celebrated above similarities. We would accept that the human mind and body can never be simplified to a handful of terms scientific or otherwise. And know we are so much more than that. However, this is not an ideal world, and when you have a lack of representation, role models, and little to no exposure to the spectrum of sexualities, you face feeling insecure and second guess the sincerity of you own feelings.
It is disappointing to see celebrities who have expressed that they are neither gay nor straight and tip toe around identifying as bisexual. It is as though labels are fine if they read ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ but anything else, in this case ‘bisexual’, lacks credibility. “I don’t need a label” is almost a better alternative. Better bisexual representation in the media would have made my understanding of that aspect of myself a lot easier.
The Bisexuality Report from 2012, which looks at bi people’s experiences, highlights that bisexual people have higher incidences of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, self harm and suicide. It found and that this is “strongly linked to experiences of biphobia and bisexual invisibility.” This knowledge combined with my own negative experiences of bi erasure have made apparent to me the necessity of being vocal and proud about your sexuality.
Frankly I am perfectly content being bi, my discontent arises from the ignorance of others and their refusal to acknowledge that part of me.
For those confused or think I’m going through a phase, allow me to clarify for you by paraphrasing Robyn Ochs: bisexuality is having the capacity to be attracted sexually and/or romantically to more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily to the same degree or in the same way. It’s high time we recognise the B in LGBT+ and embrace love in all its capacities.
Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.
Words by Daniel Jones
Image credit: Ludovic Bertron