As part of an initiative to build bisexual and pansexual solidarity, I’ve asked you all to send me your stories about life as a bi or pan person. This story was sent to me by Lucas. You can follow him on Twitter @SadWhaleFamily
It’s been about ten years since I first came out as bisexual. During that time, there’s been a lot of not thinking about it or doing anything about it, and some lots of thinking about it and some doing plenty about it.
(Profundity to the max, there.)
In the ten years since I told at least someone else besides myself that I’m bi, I have had only serious relationships with women, and the vast majority of any sexual encounters with women as well. It often gets me questioning my own label of bisexual and how honest it is. I could just be a straight dude (and judging by all my relationship partners, I am) who can understand the idea of sexual attraction to another dude. Certainly I could easily erase the idea that I am attracted to men, or have been in the past. That’s almost like a “bisexual privilege”: that we can pass for the heteronormative narrative if we choose to.
Of course, the idea of choosing one’s sexuality is fairly anathema in the queer community. Yet somehow it’s more allowed to be applied to those who identify as bi than those who identify as gay or lesbian. And passing isn’t a privilege when in actuality it’s erasure.
No one in the entire Western world would look at my past relationships and even question my sexuality. They would automatically assume that I’m the Happy Het’ro Man, the normal person who isn’t outside. Maybe even some dedicated homophobes, aspiring to be rich and famous comedians, will feel comfortable trying their best gay-bashing jokes on me, or maybe their entire half-hour set of straight-up anti-gay bigotry, each sketch punctuated with an eyebrow waggle and an unctuous “Riiiiight?” oozing out the corner of their smirks.
But I’m not Happy Het’ro; I’m not one of them. There’s a common refutation among secret bigots, where they say, “Hey man, look, I don’t care if you’re a gay or whatever, just don’t shove it in my face.” Being that just about every person could, at first blush, pass as straight without said person identifying themselves as anything else, that “argument” really comes down to “Make sure you never identify yourself as you wish to be, for my personal comfort is more important.” Gay Pride parades, as flamboyant as they can be (and flamboyant they have every right to be), are necessary because of that kind of half-baked, bigoted reasoning. Queer representation in the media is necessary. My identifying myself as bi is necessary, because it’s who I am. Visibility is important, because that’s how anyone exists in this society. Erasure is as good as death.
It’s not been without personal struggle. It’s like I have to come out to myself every few years. Even now, ten years on, when I see an attractive man and (try not to, but usually) aggressively check him out, there’s that moment of self-surprise, an internal, mental hand-to-mouth gasp that says, “You’re queer??” as if this were news to me, as if I were fifteen again and berating myself for even entertaining the thought. The shock isn’t profound anymore, but it’s still there. I’m stuck here wondering if I’m going to be that neurotic about my sexuality for the rest of my life.