Is My Bisexuality Valid?
Even though I’m straight-passing, I’ve finally decided I’m allowed to take up space
I’ve always kept my mouth shut during Pride Month. So when this past June came around, I spent 30 days in a limbo (at least more of a limbo than usual), going back and forth, swirling around, deciding to just post nothing again and not acknowledge the truth lodged in my throat.
My sexuality is both nobody’s business, and yet something I want to embrace as loudly as I can. I feel like I’m wearing stilts; I’m shiny and impressive, but I’m also teetering, always thisclose to tipping over and falling over myself. My whole “thing” is writing and posting whatever I want, often without filter, and yet this topic has ping-ponged in my brain for years on end. When I try to speak and open my mouth, only a croak comes out.
The main component of my hesitation is that I am, overall, straight-passing. I have been involved in a relationship with a man for over a decade. I’ve never officially called a woman my “girlfriend.” So I feel kind of weird and like I’m taking up space that isn’t mine if I go to Pride, if I fly the flag, if I label my sexuality. And so I avoid those things. But I’ve read the articles and done the work. If I were one of my friends, I’d tell them their sexuality is theirs alone and that it is valid. I want to give myself the same love I give to those closest to me. So I guess I’m finally ready to say (and type) it out loud.
I’m bisexual. Hold for glitter bomb.
I’ve struggled against elaborating because it feels like I’m trying to prove something, but I’m more so trying to explain how I always knew.
People often dismiss bisexuality as a phase or some kind of attention-grab, but that’s 1) not the case and 2) gross. Sometimes people also think it means being attracted to only cis men and only cis women. That’s true for some, but I identify with bisexuality in a different sense. I see it as being attracted to both my own definition of my gender (female), and everything else beyond that (male, nonbinary, etc.). My bisexuality is gender-inclusive, trans-inclusive, you name it. This is where some people debate the semantics of bisexuality versus pansexuality, and I see the validity of that debate, but it’s my sexuality. The community is flooded with every term under the sun, so I’m going to call myself bisexual and that will be that for me personally.
I’ve struggled against elaborating because it feels like I’m trying to prove something, but I’m more so trying to explain how I always knew that this was me. My first inkling came in early middle school when I realized that the feelings I had toward a frenemy leaned more toward “butterflies in the stomach” versus your average “let’s do our algebra homework and talk about boys” urges. I shoved my feelings down and was a bitch to her (sorry). In high school I was just a clueless bi wreck. I crushed on female friends, then pushed them away and chased boys instead and right before graduation, a beautiful girl kissed me as a surprise goof to say goodbye before college. To her it was a harmless peck; to me it was the Earth standing still and shouting “YOU DEFINITELY LIKE GIRLS!” right in my face. It was not a goof to me.
In college, my high school boyfriend and I hit a couple rough patches where we took time apart, which was ultimately a good thing and let us grow into the people we are now during our late twenties. At the time, everyone told me what I needed was another man, and yet I found myself ultimately pulled toward women, nonbinary people, and, sure, the occasional man. My hidden kisses and affections with people who weren’t men felt special; they felt like these long-awaited moments that I stole against all chances. I’d do them in secret, hidden in the dark, and then I’d run away for fear of falling too deep. But my friends knew what I was doing; one friend called it “being in the closet with the door open.” I guess that’s one way to put it when you disappear at the bar and then show up again half an hour later with someone else’s lipstick all over your face.
After that, I owned being bi with my friends, and after my boyfriend and I reunited I told him about that part of me. He was respectful and kind about it, as were my friends, and yet for some reason I could never assert my own identity beyond whispering it to my closest confidants. I’d go as far as listing women as celebrity crushes but would feel terror when thinking of saying “I am bisexual” out loud. Even recently, I joined my workplace’s LGBTQ+ community but haven’t attended a single event because I’m afraid of taking up space that I don’t feel is mine. But I’ve decided I’m no longer going to let myself buy into bi erasure or fear. Just because I’m a woman dating a man, it doesn’t erase my bisexuality.
This is me. And I love it. I’m going to go take up some space.