To start this off: this is raw and largely unedited. So if it seems meandering and pointless, I apologize.
If you’ve been following my blog or even just read a couple of entries here or there, you know I largely focus on anything writing-related. Usually, this just means updating everyone on my progress and current works, but it extends into other areas as well.
In a way, this is still related to writing, though only infinitesimally. On a larger scale, this is about something that is more personal, but also fairly universal. Not in the sense that the experiences of one person reflect everyone else sharing this particular commonality, but in that many are impacted by it and the recent discourse surrounding it.
Because yes, this is not apropos of nothing. This is brought on by the on-going discourse on Twitter, wherein biphobia and bi-erasure run rampant in the writing/publishing communities—because of course they do. Particularly where bisexual authors (primarily female, and not all of them out) are being attacked and ostracized for daring to write books involving queer characters and relationships.
Perhaps you’re wondering why this matters to me, and if you are (and assuming your interactions with me have been nil or non-existent), the question is fair. The reason this matters to me is because I myself am bisexual.
I’m not going to go into everything that’s wrong with the current gate-keeping between queer authors, however. There is too much to cover in that regard, and I wouldn’t be saying anything that hasn’t already been said by others, nor would I be able to touch on it quite as concisely as they have.
But because of this discourse, I do feel the need to speak of my own experiences, to really dig deep and get into all of the vulnerable, uncomfortable shit that though I’ve been out for 2 years (the first time on Twitter and Tumblr, where no one in real life would see it, and more publicly almost one year later) I haven’t really talked about.
This will probably get long, so you might want to grab your choice of beverage (and possibly a snack). And for the record, no, none of this is me “proving” my bisexuality; I don’t owe any non-believers a damned thing. This is, however, my way of offering solidarity to others with similar experiences, and also my hope that those who are not bisexual—perhaps even some of the gatekeepers themselves—will be given perspective that sometimes, what you see is not what you get.
This first account (and some others following it) is retrospective. I didn’t know back then, but looking back, I think this qualifies as a starting point. Though I am still very much a tomboy in a lot of ways, I was more so as a child. Even as far back as kindergarten, I preferred playing with boys over girls, because I found a lot of the girls I knew liked games I wasn’t as fond of; this isn’t a “I’m not like the other girls” thing, because I mean no criticism to more feminine girls. It just simply is what it is: they liked playing house and with dolls, I was more rough-and-tumble.
This hadn’t changed by the first grade (age 6-7). What did, however, was when a new girl joined our class. Until then, I hadn’t actively sought to make friends with another girl; I either already was or I wasn’t, and it made no difference to me either way. And yet, I fell all over myself trying to befriend this girl (she literally had no interest) and when I did gain her reluctant company, I tried very hard to emulate and impress her. We didn’t remain friends for long (if you could even call us that; it certainly wasn’t a good friendship) but I distinctly remember how I felt and what I thought the first time I saw her. It wasn’t so much in words as impressions: “She’s so pretty. I want to be her friend.”
After first grade, I don’t recall ever having this particular feeling regarding another girl. I had girls I liked being friends with, so there’s a possibility there were stirrings of that nature—but if I did have those feelings, they were buried under 1) The numerous crushes I had on boys and 2) The many and varied problems present in my home life (which I will not be going into here).
I will say that certain things occurred later in my Elementary school years that I believe contributed to my repressed feelings for other girls, my confusion, or the otherwise belief that I wasn’t anything but straight.
The first thing isn’t really one thing, but several different occurrences of the same thing. By the fifth grade, I’d found the mean girls. If you’ve never encountered them in your life, be glad for it—but I assure you, they are not the stuff of urban myths and legends. These were the kinds of girls that smiled sweetly and said “Hi!” a little too brightly when they caught me within earshot. The same ones I’d see darting looks at me while they whispered amongst themselves, and who laughed loudly after I went by. Among their bag of cruel, two-faced tactics was tricking me into complimenting another girl’s prettiness, only to quite loudly, for all to hear accuse me of being a lesbian. You know, after they made me feel bad for dodging the question (which only happened after the first time they pulled this nonsense).
The second thing sticks a little more in my mind, because while the girls could be quite vicious, I was used to that kind of bullying from school mates. Having your own mother lose her shit over something, however? Yeah, that’s a little harder to shake off. For context: I was in the eighth grade. Another girl and I were making jokes about the song “Come Through My Window” by Melissa Ethridge. I don’t know why we found it so amusing then, but at 13-turning-14, who knows? Anyway, we accompanied this by making inappropriate doodles. Mine involved two stick-figures: one standing in a window, the other lying in a bed. They had balloon bubbles for boobs.
Long story short, we got caught, and while the principal was more amused than anything (this was a Catholic school), he had to send notes home with the pictures for our parents to sign. When my mom saw it, she lost her shit, ripped the picture up, and said, “So what, are you a lesbian now?” (or “dyke”. I don’t actually remember her wording, to be honest; only the accusation of being gay while she frothed at the mouth about it.) This same woman would later act as if she was completely tolerant of gay people and say cliché shit like “Love is love”, but I never forgot that day. It might have gotten buried beneath a lot of other, more pressing childhood abuse (for clarity, she wasn’t the primary offender and hers usually stayed in the realm of the emotional) but it was always there. This is important, because of where I’m headed next.
Enter some of the most hellish years of my life, both at home and socially. The first two years of high-school were particularly nasty (I won’t go into why I was a target of so much harassment; only that childhood trauma was being weaponized against me) and into the years where I rapidly gave up any clothes that might have been considered feminine and enveloped myself in baggy men’s wear—always many sizes too big. Hoodies, T-shirts, pants where only my belt kept them up, backwards baseball caps, and a big “Fuck you” attitude to anyone who had a problem with it. Naturally, I got called a dyke by a lot of people who didn’t like me, and while I couldn’t have cared less what some assholes at school thought, I still think on a subconscious level, it (along with my mother’s freak-out) kept me repressing any budding feelings I had for other girls. Crushes on boys? Easy to recognize, easy to acknowledge. When I started noticing I was drawn to this female friend or that female friend, however? Nope, just having some of my first, toxic-free friendships with other girls. It didn’t seem to occur to me I wasn’t drawn to all my female friends in the same way, so how could it just be because I was enjoying the benefits of healthy female friendships? Or more precisely, any time I found myself questioning this flawed logic, I’d shut the thought down before I could reach a conclusion.
In sum, I knew there was more to me being drawn to them than simple friendship on a subconscious level, but consciously I didn’t know it—despite the fact that one of my female friends was openly bi (though never dated another girl due to her own fears and insecurities) and that this girl was also one of those I was overly fond of.
When I did finally start dating (I was a late bloomer), it was pretty limited; I lightly messed around with a guy I liked at 16, but we never dated. I dated another guy sometime later, and it didn’t last longer than four months. The next person I started dating, at the age of 17, would go on to be the man I’m married to today.
There’s not much to say here: I don’t remember a lot of specifics. But what I do remember from around the age of 18 into my early 20s is that on a number of occasions, I would say to someone (sometimes a friend, sometimes my now-husband) that I thought I might be bi-curious. I was under the misguided impression that I couldn’t call myself bisexual, because I’d never been with a girl (stupid, I know. How does a straight virgin know they’re straight? Had that entered my mind sooner, I probably could have saved myself some time). Anyway—a little TMI perhaps, but I said this would be vulnerable and uncomfortable—I remember fantasizing about girls sexually, but unlike with my fantasies about guys, this was always followed with shame, so I repressed those feelings (because it’s what I’m good at—and not just in this specific area of my life, but all of them). Late 20s and I was still dealing with a lot of those feelings and the shame attached to them. These thoughts and feelings, like most everything else I’ve repressed, became more insistent with time, popping up more frequently and with no regard for the peace I was trying to sustain. Which leads to…
At the age of 31, two months before my 32nd birthday, I could no longer lie to myself. I lost sleep, night after night, and when I did sleep, my dreams said what I had worked so hard not to say until finally, I did it; out loud, I said to myself, “Oh fuck, I’m bisexual.”
I…fucking…cried. By the following morning, amid some serious nerves, I told my husband, who was not the least surprised (even reminded me of some hints throughout our relationship, subtle and otherwise) and we both had a good laugh about how I’d gotten myself worked up over nothing.
In the 2 years since, I’ve been on one hell of a rollercoaster ride emotionally and physically. Sometimes I barely think about it, and other times it occupies my mind a lot between all the other psychological clutter. My experience in how others have reacted has been largely positive; yeah, there has been the odd comment here or there, but if I’ve faced bigotry for it, it’s been from complete strangers on the internet. You know, opinions that mean less than a dog fart to me.
So you might be asking yet again: “Then why are you writing this overly detailed account? Why does it matter, since your experiences haven’t been so bad personally?”
The point is that regardless of what my experiences have been like, there are other bi people out there who, like me, have only been with the opposite sex—but unlike me, have dealt with a lot of hostility and gate-keeping from both within and without the LGBTQ+ community because of it. That no matter how much “straight-passing privilege” people think such bisexuals (and other non-monosexuals) have, there is always, always a story of adversity behind their coming-out story (or their lack of coming out). That regardless of being in a “straight-passing” relationship, what that bisexual person experiences is not the same as what a heterosexual person does.
And yet, too often the gate-keepers like to conflate bi people in opposite sex relationships with heterosexuality. This is extremely reductive, not to mention ridiculous; claiming someone has passing privilege simply for being in an opposite sex relationship completely ignores the individual experiences that person may have had prior to that relationship. It assumes that the bisexual person in question has never been prejudiced against for their same-sex attraction, while simultaneously defeating the gate-keeper’s point—for by being hostile toward said bisexual person, they are perpetrating the very bigotry they claim bisexuals in opposite sex relationships don’t face.
So this is it—this is my official, in-depth coming out experience. What I hoped to achieve with this, I don’t know. I wanted to share in solidarity, yes, but also in the hopes of helping others—perhaps those still not out—understand that they’re not alone, and that they don’t have to apologize or justify themselves to anyone.