When I was in my mid-twenties, I was single and finally ready to explore my bisexuality.
I was ready to date girls.
I was ready to step into the queer space and explore this aspect of my identity.
Immediately, several things became apparent – and these things that became apparent, as I talked to other bisexual people, were not experiences that were unique to me.
It appears there is a commonality (you might even say; universal truths?) across the bisexual experience.
So, without further ado, here are the things that every bisexual knows to be true...
Biphobia is real, and it sucks
Biphobia comes in many different, damaging, and frustrating forms.
It comes in the denial of bisexuality entirely, the elimination of bisexuals from queer spaces and the dismissal of our identities.
It can also come in the repetition of stereotypes about bisexuals, in particular the myth of the "promiscuous" bisexual.
In a 2018 journal article, author Alon Sivouy conducted a study to look at heterosexual perceptions of bisexuality, in particularly focusing on the ideas held about bisexual women.
Bisexual women were evaluated as more confused and promiscuous relative to non-bisexual women," the article stated once published in The Journal for Sex Research.
To this I say, I’m disappointed, but not surprised.
There’s something about the idea of being attracted to men, women and non-binary people that seems to signal to people that you like all of them, simultaneously, all the time, meaning that you’re a sex-ravenous beast that simply cannot be in a committed relationship.
You’re "more likely" to cheat, because apparently the mere fact that you’re attracted to the opposite sex or non-binary people, means you also don’t have self-control and will act on this at any given opportunity.
If the sarcasm leaking through my sentences isn’t conveying my opinion of this biphobic stereotype enough, I’ll say it plain – it’s a load of bullshit.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop people from hesitating from dating you or heterosexual couples from assuming you’re up for joining them for a threesome to spice up their marriage.
Sorry Brad and Diane, maybe just try sex toy instead.
If you’re dating someone of the opposite sex, you must actually be straight or vice versa
This one is a biggie - I remember when I first started dating my current boyfriend, someone asked me, "so does that mean you don’t like girls anymore?"
There was no malice behind the question, but it was still frustrating.
I know I’m not alone as a bisexual person in feeling that your sexual identity seems to get erased depending on who you’re dating.
When I’m dating a guy, I’m straight.
When I’m dating a girl, I’m a lesbian.
So, when I’m single and not looking for anyone, I’m assuming this makes me aromantic asexual?
Nope – apparently, it’s just the bisexuality aspect that people like to eliminate from the equation.
I think the issue is that people don’t like to think about things in complicated terms.
It’s easier to look at a female-presenting person and a male-presenting person and assume that they are a heterosexual couple.
But the bottom line is that my bisexuality, like anyone else who identifies as bi, is a part of my identity.
It isn’t defined by external factors like who I date – it’s defined solely and simply… by me.
Bisexuality is confusing in the beginning
It’s possible that the reason that I get so annoyed about bi-erasure (see above) is because it was so damn hard to reach the conclusion that I was bisexual in the first place.
Like a lot of bisexual people, I experienced moments of doubting the complexity of my sexuality.
The moment that girls became attractive to me – big thanks to Mischa Barton from The O.C for that one - my first thought was, "well I must be a lesbian."
This thought was immediately complicated by the fact that I was drooling over Mischa Barton and simultaneously thinking that Adam Brody was cute as hell and could upside-down Spiderman kiss me anytime.
Cue – sexual confusion.
When people start telling me I’m straight because I’m dating a man, it’s echoing the confusion that I felt in my teenage years, already grappling with the complexities of my sexuality.
It plays directly into the conflict that many bisexual people already have already had to come to terms with when they first start exploring their sexuality.
Bisexual representation on television – when it’s right, it’s oh-so-good, when it’s wrong… it’s bad
When Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine started dating a girl and then said that she was bisexual it came as an immediate relief.
The relief stemmed from the fact that that upon entering a same-sex relationship Rosa wasn’t immediately classified as a lesbian.
Her previous partners of the male persuasion were not discarded as some sort of "phase."
This type of bisexual representation is so, so important but also so, so rare.
One only needs to look back to 2000 when Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and The City spoke her infamous line: "I'm not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it's just a layover on the way to Gaytown."
Hollywood’s obsession with female and male characters entering same-sex relationships and immediately being called gay or lesbian is extremely frustrating.
Think Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer who was, throughout seasons three and four, dating, and madly in love with, Oz, the guitar-playing werewolf.
Cut to Season five, and after being in love with Tara, she declares "hello… gay now."
I guess in this instance being madly in love with Oz was just a phase.
Look, whether it’s a conscious choice – because some lesbians do date and love men before coming out as gay – or simply lazy writing, it is frustrating when opportunities for bisexual representation are cast aside for a more binary narrative.
So, it does make it all the more meaningful and exciting when we do see proper representation on television.
I’m just saying to any TV or movie writer out there, if you put a bisexual person done properly in your show, you’re already guaranteed a shit tonne of us are going to flock to watch it.
You’ve got nothing to lose so why not just give us what we want, yeah?
Imposter syndrome in queer spaces is very real for bisexual people
When I first started to explore my bisexuality and wanted to enter the queer scene, I immediately felt like I needed to change every aspect of how I looked.
The reason, at its core, was imposter syndrome.
I latched onto my external appearance as being the reason for not feeling "queer enough," but in all honestly, I think that imposter syndrome and bisexuality just go hand in hand.
There already seems to be a mark against our name for daring to have straight-presenting relationships – and maybe that is because there’s a sense that we occupy a more privileged space in that we can exist in ways that mean our sexuality is not always noticeable.
This, in our unfortunately twisted society, grants us the ability to escape homophobia and discrimination.
So, I do understand that aspect, but it doesn’t make the imposter syndrome feel any less real.
There was a tweet recently that garnered a lot of attention.
I won’t go into specifics, but the bottom line was that the tweet claimed, "bisexual girls, you’re totally welcome in our space… just not your straight, boring boyfriend."
There was, of course, understandable backlash, but the Tweeter was either unable or unwilling to see how this tweet was inherently biphobic and only serves to compound the imposter syndrome many bisexuals already feel in queer spaces.
We are already being viewed with a raised eyebrow for having a "straight-presenting" relationship, now we’re being told that whatever cis man we choose also must conform to some unknown standard to also be acceptable?
The bottom line is that bisexuals should be welcomed into queer spaces regardless of who they date or what they look like.
Let’s work on removing these gate-keeping attitudes and accepting all within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, okay?