Posted on September 13 2020
For the purposes of this article, bisexual refers to a person who is attracted to people of the same and different genders as their own.
I’m a new bi. It was only 6 or so months ago that I fumbled my way in to the B of LGBTQ+, wide-eyed and open, excited and cautious. I’d been toying with the notion of being bisexual for years. I was attracted to people of multiple genders, sure, but I had never been in a relationship or shared any intimate connection with someone other than cis, hetero men. How could I possibly identify as bisexual when to date I have only been emotionally and physically intimate with one category of person? Doesn’t that negate the whole meaning of the word bi? This was not the only hurdle in my self-identification journey.
One of the biggest drivers behind my self-doubt was the fact that I didn’t feel I was worthy of identifying within the queer community. Having only been in hetero relationships, who was I to suddenly hold a space in a community whose people have had to deal with centuries of prejudice, disadvantage and scorn for openly (and secretly) being their true selves? I felt that if I were to start to identify as bi, people within the community itself would shun me. I feared being called a poser, some form of socially ‘woke’ individual who claims to be bisexual without actually experiencing the struggles associated with being in a queer relationship. The whole talk the talk but won’t walk the walk analogy comes to mind.
But then, I did something that undoubtedly changed my life. I reached out to the group Bi+ community of Melbourne for help and the response I received was incredible.
Up until that point, I had a very radical and limited notion of the bi community. My knowledge and experience of openly out individuals came mostly from social media, where friends or acquaintances who identified as bi were largely in same-sex relationships and were, as the saying goes, loud and proud. They were radical and fierce and staunchly defiant to societies attempts to change them. While this stance offered a beacon to many who felt they could align with it, to me it was intimidating and isolating. I was a woman in a long-term committed relationship with a man (my best friend and partner of nearly 8 years) and in my mind I had no right to engage with these incredible people. I haven’t struggled, I haven’t had to hide my relationships from my family, I haven’t had to consider my surroundings when I go to hold my partners hand or kiss him.
I held this internalised confusion for about 3 years before deciding to learn more about bisexuality and what it meant. That’s when I came across the website for the Melbourne Bi Network. I read through their posts and information about what it means to be bi, confirming that I fell within this space, but was no closer to accepting myself as a bisexual woman. I decided to send them a message, hoping for some further readings or additional tools to figure out whether or not I should identify as bisexual. I introduced myself and briefly explained my situation, what I felt and whether or not it was fair of me to identify as bi. This was a huge deal for me as it was the first time I had put the notion of identifying as bi out in to the world in a real or tangible way. I’d discussed it with my partner, but I never let myself sit in the thought for too long.
Soon I received a reply. Not only was it full of reassurances and resources to help me feel comfortable identifying as bi, but it suggested that I post my query within the Bi+ community of Melbourne Facebook group. And that’s what I did. I copied my original message, edited it to be more approachable for a Facebook audience and I posted it. There it was, a 200-word paragraph identifying myself as bisexual where queer people, strangers no less were going to see it. I was nervous, what if they acknowledged my fears? What if I was told, actually, that I was correct and how dare I have the audacity to identify as bisexual?
“I literally could have written this entire post myself” was the first comment to appear. A few comments down “I have been struggling with this myself”, “Thank you for posting this”, “I’m in the exact same situation”…
What I found from the post and the 40+ comments which found their way to it was that not only was I allowed to identify as bi, but that my experience was shared with so many other bisexual people. The community supported me and cared about me and acknowledged my confusion as their own. I learned then that all my internalised fears; that I wasn’t bisexual enough, that people would tell me I’m just a confused straight person, were so common to bisexual people that I was actually living the existence I was so afraid of disrespecting. Hindsight, am I right?
What I learned, and what I want to pass on to you is that yes, I am bi enough. It doesn’t matter who you’ve slept with, who you’ve kissed or who you’ve fantasised about, what matters is that you and you alone know who you are. You don’t have to prove anything; there is no hidden club card to being bisexual, sleep with x amount of genders to be a gold level bi. There is no one correct way to be bisexual. Out and loud or closeted and quiet, dating one gender or another, dating no-one, being attracted to 90% women, 10% men, 50% women, 50% men. There are always going to be people who doubt you, people who disregard you and say you’re either straight or gay and they will be defiant in their assumptions. These people will try and put you in a box that aligns with their knowledge of the world, don’t let this dishearten you. It’s very likely that these people don’t actually know what it means to be bisexual. What matters above all is that you know who you are.
And trust me, you are bi enough.
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