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Bored Straight People: thoughts on Bisexual Invisibility

Posted on September 23 2018

Bored Straight People: thoughts on Bisexual Invisibility

 

I sat in the courtyard, sipping at my beer and trying not to look like a loner. We had decided to meet down at my local dive bar, after having some brief but pleasant conversation online. She was late, but that’s not exactly why the date went so terribly.

When she finally arrived I was excited to see that she was cute! And wow, we had so much in common! We were soon talking about our dating history. She had slept with men in the past but eventually realised she was gay. I told her that I was a bisexual. I guess that’s when the awfulness began.

She didn’t run screaming for the hills there and then, but maybe I should have. There were a few indications that she was not a fan of my sexual preferences; raised eyebrows whenever I spoke about hetero-relationships, the way she kept referring to herself as absolutely gay in dismissive response, and her comment about being so over entertaining bored, straight girls.

I was disappointed and completely unsurprised. I had heard about some biphobia that existed within the lesbian community, but this was the first time I was explicitly experiencing it.

I thought, it’s a blessing that I went out with her now; when I am confident in my identity and could simply stop speaking to her, as opposed to maybe a few years ago when I was still working it out. Maybe then I would have forced myself to ‘pick a side’. Maybe a lot of people feel they have to.

A shame, I thought, because she really was pretty for a biphobe.

 

"I was disappointed and completely unsurprised. I had heard about some biphobia that existed within the lesbian community, but this was the first time I was explicitly experiencing it."

 

Bisexual erasure occurs and is propelled in many forms. It is a common reaction for some monosexuals, such as my date, to diminish identities that cannot be so neatly categorised. Often, very often, bisexuals don’t feel they have a place to hold them - they are too ‘gay’ for the straights and too ‘straight’ for the gays. This marginalisation creates a sad reality for us, one where we feel strange about partaking in both gay and straight cultures.

The most glaring example is when bisexual people are in monogamous, heterosexual-appearing relationships. Although there is an experiential difference in same-sex and opposite-sex dating, the concerns and experiences of bisexuals are trivialised and flattened because they are not actively living a ‘gay’ life (even if they may have in the past).

 

"Often, very often, bisexuals don’t feel they have a place to hold them - they are too ‘gay’ for the straights and too ‘straight’ for the gays."

 

Sadly, the things that can be so exciting about bisexuality are often the things that make it confusing and messy - terminology (queer, pansexual, polysexual) and gender politics come with the territory, and bigotry follows. Because it is so tricky to navigate a lot of people tend not to bother at all. This can be seen in the common bi phenomenon of not having a ‘coming out’ moment, or if there is one it is likely subtle and matter-of-fact.

Despite most of my family knowing about my sexuality it wasn’t until recently that I wanted, or needed, to tell my grandparents. I didn’t want to confuse them. I didn’t want to have to explain myself. But I realised now that it’s a big part of my identity, and their love would have to include knowing it.

Unfortunately, much like gay and lesbian people, we often do not come out until we absolutely have to. This moment frequently coincides with becoming serious with a same-sex person, or, for me, it was when I realised that this was a possibility for my life. Of course we want our loved ones to know and care for our partners as we do.

The specific difference in bisexuality comes down to representation. Many bisexuals will go their whole lives without getting into serious same-sex partnerships, so to broadcast this identity seems unnecessary to many. This is also part of bisexual erasure, and why it is so crucial to talk about it.

 

"Unfortunately, much like gay and lesbian people, we often do not come out until we absolutely have to."

 

Last week I was having a stock-standard phone call with my mother. I told her about the stupid date, and suddenly we were speaking about bisexuality. She has always supported me and queer people in general, but it was as if she was realising for the first time what it meant and how much I identified with it (even though I had told her many times). She felt betrayed - not because of my bisexuality, but because I didn’t tell her sooner. Didn’t you trust me? Were you too scared of my reaction? It was then that I had to think about something I’d never considered - it wasn’t until after my teenage years that I even realised bisexuality existed.

I never saw, heard, felt openly bisexual people around me or in the pop culture I consumed growing up. If there was ever a little crush for another girl (while still wanting to kiss boys), it was chalked up to the confusing feelings of adolescence or the potential for full-on lesbianism.

My mother, still slightly hurt, accepted my explanation- at least for the time being. It is something I am happy to keep discussing because I can tell she wants to understand, if only to love every part of me fully. But it’s possible that, if bisexuality was given more visibility in my youth, I would have been able to tell her about this sooner. But we talk now, and conversations like this truly help.

 

"It was then that I had to think about something I’d never considered - it wasn’t until after my teenage years that I even realised bisexuality existed."

 

I tell my mother I love her, hang up the phone, and go back to the dive bar down the road from me. There, I laugh with my pals - pointing out the booth where my date and I sat, reciting her rude comments in a nasally voice. I tell them about an article I’m writing, and they convince me to tell this story.

I realised that I wouldn’t be at this point without them and people like them. Without the freedom to tell them about my seemingly tiny thoughts, I probably would have continued to drift endlessly through sexual confusion. So I keep talking, talking honestly, talking so much it’s actually kind of annoying. The talking helps, not just me, but bisexuals like me. The talking makes concrete something that is already true - bisexuality is a real thing.

 

"I realised that I wouldn’t be at this point without them and people like them."

 

And I am suddenly aware that I have been a bisexual writer all this time and that, not once, have I ever written openly about what I love and desire.

So, I guess you could consider this my coming out.

 

Written by Josefina Huq

Josefina Huq is a creative writer and PhD candidate based in Melbourne. She is into place phenomena, memory, and anything that might involve icky feelings. You can cry to her short stories in publications such as HomerGORE Journal and Alien She Zine. She is also just interesting enough to have Twitter: @Motherhuqer

 

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