I am bisexual. I am sexually and romantically attracted to both women and men. From the very first sexual thought that I ever had, I have been drawn to both women and men. I have been openly bisexual since I was 15. In some ways, it has made navigating the world of sex, intimacy, and relationships an absolutely joyful adventure. In some ways, it has been pretty damn complicated, confusing, and lonely.
Why? You might ask. It seems like bisexuals get the best of all worlds - like they get their cake and eat it, too (sexual innuendo intended here). But let me paint a little picture for you...
When I hang out with my guy friends, I almost feel like one of them, but I also feel a little bit on the outside. When I hang out with my girlfriends, I almost feel like one of them, but I also feel a little bit on the outside. When I hang out with my queer friends, I don’t quite feel gay enough; when I hang in my straight circles, I don’t feel straight enough - you get the idea? There’s no home here.
Why am I writing about this? Maybe because it’s pride month. Perhaps it’s because I just watched the Netflix movie "Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody," and found out Whitney was bisexual and would probably still be alive today if her family had supported and celebrated her sexuality. I am re-listening to all the songs I have loved since I was a little girl with a different ear and it is continually breaking my heart. Moment of silence for Whitney please...
OK, Back to why this topic this month... Well, I am getting more comfortable in my own skin every day, and I can now find the words for this. Perhaps I just want to clarify things for my extremely well-meaning straight and gay friends and family and help them understand. Maybe I want to be courageous and share my experience so that those who follow in my footsteps can have an easier time of it.
Let me lay it out for you really clearly. I am bisexual. Always. I have always been attracted to both males and females. It’s not going to change, and no one can make me more gay or more straight. Because I am bisexual. When I am in a relationship with a woman, I don’t suddenly become a lesbian. I am still bisexual. I am still attracted to both women and men.
I DON’T SUDDENLY BECOME STRAIGHT when I am in a relationship with a man.
I am STILL bisexual.
Pride month. I realized this year that I secretly dread this month. Mostly because I don’t feel gay enough. I know intellectually that this month is for me too, but I don’t feel it unless my lover happens to be a woman. I am currently in the most loving relationship I have ever experienced, and because it happens to primarily be with a man, I feel like I need to apologize to
my queer community when I should take pride in the fact that I found love! This should be a celebration.
But this is how it has always been for me. When I have female lovers, my queer community celebrates me and tells me I am finally actualizing my sexuality. I feel the love and support, and my “cool factor” increases exponentially when I am with women. Interestingly I also see my straight community breathe a sigh of relief, “Oh, finally, she picked a side, and I can now compartmentalize her and call her my lesbian friend.” When I have male lovers, my queer community fades away, feeling betrayed and disgusted by me. My family breathes a visible sigh of relief and welcomes my male lovers with open arms and enthusiasm, unlike the awkward kindness they show to my female lovers. I hear things like, “I really thought you were gay, but I guess that was just a phase.”
Nope, I am STILL bisexual.
When I was 15, I was dating a guy and flirting heavily with a girl. I loved them both, really hard! Everyone knew about the guy, but only I knew about the girl. That is until my mom found a love letter from her in my things. I walked into the living room to an air of “uh oh” as my mom sat on the couch with the letter in her hand, looking at me.
“Are you gay?” She asked and, to her credit, launched into a parental speech about it being ok and that she still loved me no matter what. Being 15 (and kind of an asshole), I didn’t do the best job explaining to her, but angrily, I tried. I tried to tell her I love who I love. That person might come in the package of a woman, a man, or better yet (and sexy as all get-out, in my opinion) some combination- that doesn’t really matter to me - it’s what is INSIDE the person. It’s the beauty in their souls that I fall in love with.
She left that conversation confused, and I walked away feeling very misunderstood.
“So, are you gay or straight?”
I am bisexual.
I know many of my queer friends had horrible “coming-out-to-their-parents” stories. Yelling, shaming, fights, violence, getting disowned, kicked out. I have told myself that I should be thankful for how it went down for me. No yelling, a roof still over my head. But it also hurts to have your community shake their communal head in confusion and just put you in the “whatever, that’s weird” box.
My lover and I have been dating another couple for the last year. The four of us have been radiantly in love and pushing the envelope of what we thought was possible in the realms of intimacy, love, lust, and sacred union. It’s the first time in my life that I have felt entirely whole sexually. Take that in for a second. I am almost 47 years old and this is the first time my external world has reflected my internal desires.
A couple of months ago, the man in that couple died suddenly. We were all devastated. I am still devastated. But more than that, I don’t know how or where to grieve. My internalized …what is it…homophobia?…polyphobia?... will not allow me to properly grieve my lover. When I was at a party explaining what happened, my brother asked me how I knew him. I told him we connected on a couple’s dating site, and the room skipped a beat and went silent. Gulp! Awkward silence...
And then everyone turned away and started talking about other things. I just lost a lover, but sure … let’s talk about where you got those shoes.
So I am left alone with my grief.
I am not ashamed of being bisexual. I love it. I love embracing that part of me and all the many layers that it brings to my life. But it is lonely. During pride month, I feel alone. It doesn’t feel like that parade is for me. I FEEL ALONE when grieving my one lover out of our magical foursome. No one I know has ever been through something like this, so I pioneer it with my other two lovers, and we hold each other and cry... alone.
The Native People of the Americas had a name for people like me. They called us “two spirits.” Isn’t that a wonderful phrase? Two Spirit. We are named such because we are thought to have both the feminine and the masculine inside. We are also thought to have one foot in the spirit world and one in the physical. We are often healers or shamans
playing the essential role of medium, vision keeper, and peacekeeper. I ached so hard when I first heard about that. It’s hard for me to imagine living in a culture where I could be revered for my bisexuality instead of being misunderstood at best and violently shunned at worst (all of which I have experienced, by the way).
This year, in honor of Whitney, who never could, I am taking pride in my queerness. I am letting myself be just gay enough for me. I am embracing the grey areas. I am standing firm in my ever-changing world. I am NOT choosing a side. I am still bisexual.
For any confused and lonely bisexuals out there - I see you, and I love you, and you do NOT have to pick a side. You don’t have to present in any way that you don’t want to. You can mix it up. You can NOT decide. You can love both, AND. I see you, and I love you. And if you’re feeling lonely, call me!
Here is a link to the LGBTQIA Resource Center - You are not alone...