Can You See Me Now?

This week, September 17th to the 24th is BiWeek. The idea is to raise awareness and visibility for the bisexual+ community.

I am bisexual. If you’re not sure what that it is, very simply it is someone attracted to two or more genders. I came to realize at a very young age that I liked both men and women*, and I’ve been out as a bisexual since I was 17. In fact, I often say that I was never really in the closet because I never hid my sexuality. I never thought it was a big deal.

However, now that I’m older, now that I’ve been around a bit, as they say, I realize that maybe I never had to hide my sexuality because nobody saw it. Nobody saw me.

Hell, I didn’t even see me.

There’s that joke that bisexuals are unicorns because no one believes we exist. And that sticks us in a weird sort of purgatory. We’re not straight. We’re not gay. And there’s this outdated idea that you have to be one or the other. Pick a side, pick a team. This is why we straight up disappear in relationships. Our sexuality is immediately invalidated the second we make a commitment to a partner. Now we’ve decided.

Years ago, when I was in my early twenties, some new friends of mine were talking about another one of our friends. She’d apparently dated a woman for a while, was single for a bit, and then got interested in and began dating a man. My friends said that she finally “figured it out”, that she’d been “confused”. Well, maybe she had been. But the idea of her being bisexual never entered the conversation and I felt like I didn’t know her well enough to introduce the possibility.

They probably would have just written me off as “confused”, too.

For years, I’ve been championing queer causes. I’ve been supportive of equal rights and marriage equality and civil liberties and all of that. But never once did I feel like I was working for my own cause. I had somewhere along the line bought into the myth that I wasn’t nearly as oppressed or discriminated against because I could “pass”. I wasn’t queer enough for that unless I was dating a woman.

I’ve been out for twenty years but only recently began to accept that even though I can pass, I’m still queer. That the validity of my sexuality doesn’t rest on the perception of others. That there is no unicorn fairy that will come and sprinkle rainbow dust on me and POOF! My sexual orientation will be valid. It already IS valid. Just by virtue of my existence.

Only recently did I finally start seeing me.

I am bisexual. I am queer. I am queer enough. My letter is right there in the damn rainbow alphabet. My sexual orientation operates independently of who I am in a relationship with. I am attracted to men and women whether single or partnered. That’s how it is, my friends.

So.

Can you see me now?

 

*For clarification purposes, yes, I like men and women. No, that doesn’t make me transphobic. As far as I’m concerned, trans men are men and trans women are women, end of. As for people who are non-binary or gender fluid or people who are intersex, I honestly don’t know. I’ve never been sexually or romantically attracted to anyone non-binary, gender fluid, or intersex before, but I’m certainly not dismissing the possibility.

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A Quick Thought on Love Winning

rainbowflagLast Friday marriage equality was declared law of the land and I am down with that. Not because I’m the marrying kind (thought if I do decide that I am the marrying kind and the kind I want to marry is a woman, then yes, I have a vested interest in this outcome in the future), but because I know that there are other people that are the marrying kind and I think they should have that civil right. I am all for it.

The reason I think I am so all for it and probably would be all for it even if I wasn’t a bisexual gal is because of my great-aunt and my childhood.

I have a great-aunt who is a lesbian and throughout my childhood she and her then-girlfriend were often present at family functions. These were happy occasions usually, filled with food and laughter and hugs. Wonderful, warm occurrences in my existence. Now, the children were never expressly told that my great-aunt was a lesbian (I was in my teens before I did that math and then got confirmation from my mother), but in my kid-brain I put her and her girlfriend together. They were always at the family functions together so in my head they were one entity, a team, a partnership. And I remember a lot of my cousins referring to them likewise.

The big thing about these family functions, though, was that even though it was not expressly stated to the children that my great-aunt was a lesbian, none of the adults treated her as anything but a beloved family member. She was never treated as an other or a less-than. She was never treated, at least in my memory, as a deviant or a disappointment. She was loved and respected and cherished and so was her girlfriend.

So to see people so dedicated to treating people like my great-aunt as other or less-than, to deny them a government contract that grants them a certain set of rights that are only granted to couples that enter into that contract, to see people that I share DNA with, my own blood, HER own blood, putting their religion and their adherence to a cherry-picked handbook above someone that they are told by that same handbook to love, is just fucking baffling to me. I don’t get it and I decided on Friday, once and for all, that I’m not going to get it and I don’t want to get it. I’m sorry you feel that way and I feel sorry for you because you feel that way. I’m sorry you choose self-righteousness and a promise of an afterlife by some super judgmental god over loving and protecting and relating to people in the here and now. But if that makes you happy (and considering how many folks are frothing at the mouth right now, it doesn’t seem to make them THAT  happy), then you do you.

But my great-aunt is not an other. She is not a less-than. I am not a less-than. That guy you don’t know marrying his partner of fifty years is not a less-than.

The way you cut your own humanity off like it’s some sort of defect, though, that’s pretty less-than.

Love wins.

Bi Bi, Baby, Bi Bi

Overlapping pink and blue triangles, symbol of...

I’m bisexual.

I’ll allow you all a minute to process what that means to you before I get into what it ACTUALLY means.

Being bisexual means that I am sexually and romantically attracted to members of both sexes. I was once challenged in high school that I couldn’t be bisexual because I’d never slept with a woman. If that were how it works, then I couldn’t have been a heterosexual at the time because I’d never had sex with a man at that point either. But that’s not how it works.

Being bisexual brings up some interesting stereotypes.

One is that I don’t exist. People who claim to be bisexual are just confused. In a society so obsessed with labels and the concept of either/or, all or nothing, bisexuality is a mind-boggle. I have to be attracted to either men or women. I can’t be attracted to both. And in this world, adherence to convention would be preferred. But if I were a lesbian that would be okay because at least then I would make a COMMITMENT to a choice. For some reason the idea that I could be attracted to both sexes is considered impossible.

Speaking of commitment, therein lies another stereotype. That because I’m bisexual (if you believe in that sort of thing), I can’t be in a committed relationship. I am somehow unsatisfied if I were to pick one partner because I’d always be yearning for the opposite. The problem with this idea is that it has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with monogamy. I know some perfectly straight people and some perfectly gay people who couldn’t be in a committed relationship if you tied them to someone. I’ve personally gotten to the age and experience that commitment to ONE person is my ideal.

You may be wondering why I’ve never brought up my sexuality before. I’ve talked about my dealings with men before, but not women.

Well, first of all, it’s none of your damn business and I’ll mete out information about myself as I see fit. Second of all, my dealings with women have been fewer, but no less confusing, awkward, and difficult than my go-rounds with men. While I’m more trusting of a woman flirting with me than I am a man (in other words, if I realize they’re hitting on me, I don’t automatically chalk it up to them looking for an easy score, they’re joking, or it’s because I’m the only single girl in the room), I’m as clueless as a man when dealing with them in relationships. I’ve also been witness to a few sour women break-ups. That alone has been enough to make me tread extra carefully.

Lastly, I’m not exactly in the closet, but I’m not sure everyone knows. In fact, when I did let my parents in on the fact that I was bisexual, they were actually both shocked that I wasn’t a lesbian. So there ya go. But still, there are certain friends and family members that might not be too thrilled with my sexuality.

Which raises another fun point.

If I date a man, I’m okay. If I date a woman, I’m a lesser human being. Isn’t that strange? Nothing else about me changes. Not my personality, not my weight, not my eye color, not my job. Just my relationship. And that one little thing determines if I can go about life peacefully or if I get people coming up to me in the mall to tell me I’m an abomination (it’s happened!).

Think about that, kids. How would you like the value of your existence, whether or not you’re entitled to the same benefits as everyone else, whether or not your family LOVES you, whether or not your friends will associate with you dependent upon who you’re fucking? Nothing else about you changes. Everything about you is the same. But making that one relationship choice, dating that one person, changes everything about how people feel about your and treat you. Just that one little thing.

Amazingly fucked up, isn’t it? Not very fair, huh?

Welcome to my world.