I was 20 years old when I realised I liked boys more than girls. I spent two years sifting through my mind’s eye to find the answer and there it was, in the beginning of summer lying face up on a trampoline. The nylon was cool on my thighs and I would get a whiff of WD40 with every silent thrust. No squeak, just recoil and hot breaths. We got the bouncing and thrusting to sync in a perfect tempo. I opened my eyes to the night sky behind him and my stars finally aligned.
This wasn’t my first time. Or even my second. Or any time countable on fingers. I must not be attracted to women anymore, I thought because I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I held onto this heteronormative belief until I had the confidence to reinvent my sexuality again five years ago. I had some people in my circle that didn't support my growth. They wanted me to stay the same; an apathetic, suppressed straight girl. Living as a married proud bisexual fitness coach came at a high price for me. I've paid those stacks in full. But the returns were worth it; a better mind, body and friends.
May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). It was on this day in 1990 (my birth year *smiles*) where the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. IDAHOBIT celebrates LGBTQIA+ people globally to raise awareness and combat discrimination.
This is my experience and how I take action.
I hate sitting down at parties. I somehow feel more drunk and the liquid courage flows. On this night five years ago, I sat next to a close friend. We never strayed too far from our group of friends so one- on-one chats were rare. This was the start of our slippery slope.
“It's time I started being more open again,” I said. “Since I'm older and I know where I stand.”
“Would you, I dunno, have a threesome with anyone here?” my friend said.
She went there pretty quick. I stared down at my drink and shook the contents with a nervous laugh. There was just ice and a lime rind. Damn. I didn't mean it in that way.
“Well...” I said with a grin, trying to keep the conversation going before she got up to check on her best friend. Like I said this was rare for us. It had been 7 years of a stagnant friendship. “It's been a while...”
“You still got it, I bet,” she said. “I could do it just not below the waist. Why don't we hook up?”
I laughed and pretended to take a sip. “Oh, you're serious?” The twist of her mouth said yes.
The only time she had ever been erotic was at One Direction’s World Tour when she caught Harry’s water bottle and tongued the hell out of it. Please, if it was me and it was Machine Gun Kelly's DNA, you better believe that bottle is going up my–
“Yeah, go on,” her fiancée piped up from the other side of the table.
She stood up and my fight or flight was triggered, but it was only to call out my boyfriend's name.
“I think he's having a yack,” I said. “You’re kidding, right? No, we can't!” I expected her to come closer but she didn't. She sat back down and that was it. I didn't want to move. Not even to get another drink.
“I'm just waiting for these two to make out,” her fiancée said to another guy at the table.
I forgot that this happened as the weeks went by because, you know, life. Until the next party, a Halloween party, where her and her fiancée brought along their new co-worker who was new in town. He sat next to my boyfriend and I and started up a tipsy, intense conversation with us. I noticed my friend in the background looking over at me, pointing and talking in our other friend’s ear. Her voice became louder and I could hear what she was rambling. I went over to them and asked what the problem was.
“You always do this!” she said, flailing her arm at where I was sitting. “You’re so proud of it and everything! It’s the way you are!”
If the hook up proposition wasn’t a joke, this sure had to be, I thought. “Are you joking right now?” I said with a scoff. “Are you talking about your co-worker? He started talking to me! Both of us actually!”
“It’s just the way you are – greedy,” she said. “You know what we talked about…”
I shook my head, wondering if I hadn’t opened up a couple months earlier would she still be yelling at me for the first time on my favourite night of the year. “Just talk to me when you’re sober. I’m going inside. I need another drink.”
At the end of the night, she came up behind me pouring my last drink and said in a hug, “I’m sorry. I think we need to talk.” She didn’t have that drunk screech in her voice anymore so I gave her a chance. I nodded and she followed me to the front of the house.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she said. A panel of light from outside lit up her black dress from the neck down. That must be why I can’t remember if her visage was genuine, either that or I couldn’t quite look her in the eye anymore.
“Okay, but it wasn’t like that,” I said. “We were just talking. I waited my whole life for a relationship like the one I’ve got. Do you really think I’m going to throw it all away?”
“No… I’m drunk, I’m sorry,” she said. “I just thought that…never mind… can we put this behind us?”
I agreed and she hugged me again. I hugged her back for the sake of the big holiday we were going on with everyone soon. It wasn’t – oh well, whatever, never mind – actually. The irony in that lyric was strong. Kurt Cobain wanted to be himself and not the person the media made him out to be.
A month later my group of friends and I went to Pride. The after party started as a normal night. Drinks, dancing and losing each other in between bathroom trips. My friend took advantage of this. When both her best friends were out of sight, she grabbed me and pulled me into a very passionate kiss. My higher brain was saturated from the alcohol so my primal brain roamed free and kissed her back.
Now it was my turn to go to the bathroom. I don’t think I even needed to pee. I just needed to be drunk and alone. I rested my head against the cubicle wall. “God damn it,” I said. And rightfully so, the tension never left us after that. I broke the seal and walked into my new hell.
She ended up moving away for work after our month-long holiday to the US. Apart from shying away from her drunk advances in a Miami club and kicking me in the back of the leg for dancing with my then fiancée and not her in a Memphis RnB bar, it was the best month of my life and I think about it every day. Again, my mistake was letting her behaviour go. This time it was riding on the fact I wanted to keep everyone together after she moved.
Then something happened that I’ll never understand. She started talking to me every day. I would finish work and there would always be some sort of DM or Snapchat from her. She was showing me this overly friendly, almost flirty side that I had never seen before. I still sometimes scroll through these conversations to check if it was actually real. I tried to push the shock and suspicion out so I could match her energy. Then maybe we stood a chance as being long-distance friends. I much preferred just having small talk about our day or even a little light gossip than her flattery, but it was better than her yelling at me or acting weird at a party. The tension was easing and that was comforting. I’m glad I didn’t get too invested because it didn’t last more than a few months. I was pushed back to the sidelines and the tension mutated into this detached, uncomfortable energy. This time it spilled over the sides of the cup and nothing went unnoticed. We were living in this new fractured normal of her one-word responses (or none at all) and lack of interest in my life when it was paragraphs and ongoing support the year before. All I wanted to do is go back to the way we were before I opened up to her that night. We were now just two parallel lines running in our friendship group. It wasn’t until two years later I found out why in a heated DM.
I did what I do best, I wrote her a letter. I apologised for asking someone else for advice of how to deal with the tension rather than just talking to her because I was afraid. I rehashed her harsh words and weird behaviour over the last few years and how it silently bothered me. I asked why she told our friends that it was me who grabbed and kissed her at Pride. I wanted to know why my sexuality was her scapegoat. I wanted to know why she still kept me around for years and pretended everything was okay. But what I did know is that she had lived this charmed existence for too long where she could fly under everyone’s radar. My apology and questions were ignored. She denied ever changing her demeanour with me, in a good or bad way, when I have the proof at my fingertips. She blamed me for our downfall; apparently my bisexuality isn’t valid but yet I was (or still am?) in love with her. Doesn’t make sense. I also needed help and my marriage and life in general is inferior to hers.
Her words were a landslide for a long time. Falling, spreading and flowing inside my head, suffocating all my confidence and good will. I was putting energy into reacting rather than healing. I confided in my supportive husband and best friends and decided to join LGBTQIA+ community groups and forums to talk about my experience. I didn’t feel so alone anymore knowing others had experienced similar homo-, bi- or transphobia with people who were once close to them. They speculated perhaps she was jealous of my confidence and transparency to be out and proud so eventually I had to go. Some say she wanted the experiences I had with women before settling down and others say she was going through something she couldn’t handle or embrace, whether that was unwanted feelings or self-identity. But what I do know is that it wasn’t my fault. I hope she has made peace with whatever was troubling her for so long.
I may have come out the other end stronger from this experience with biphobia, but please don’t put up with it as long as I did. I should have been the one to detach myself from her first. I was afraid of losing people, afraid of ruining what we upheld for 11 years, but I actually lost myself. The good ones will stay. Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated. These are the lessons learnt.
And with that I do beg the question, if you had the chance to start over with someone, would you go back and meet them again or would you choose not to meet them at all?