This discussion needed a foundation ages ago but, since it didn’t, now seems as good as a time as any. First of all, let’s establish something. I’m bisexual. And I will not let anyone forget that because I wasn’t allowed to. Growing up, it wasn’t as confusing as one must have heard. But the same could not be said for the people staring back at me, dumbfounded, when I told them I was bi.
While very few needed themselves to acquaint with the word ‘bisexual’, most others couldn’t grasp what it really meant. Quite often, questions and remarks (but, mostly remarks) were thrown at me and while I would find myself unreservedly livid at their incomprehension and vulgarity, I knew cutting and running wasn’t an option and it hasn’t come any closer to being regarded as one.
Bisexuality, by its very nature, falls between an ordinary person’s idea of a man and a woman. It’s easier for a layman to understand it in a way that’s familiar to them, i.e., a bisexual man is someone who is attracted to a woman like a “regular person” and attracted to a man like a (heterosexual) woman. With that in mind, bisexuals are often seen as an intermediate sexuality and gender but it is neither. We’re not half-gay or a man-slash-woman. With several expecting us to conform to their ideas of bisexuality, we’re being subjected to contrasting stereotypes pertaining to males, females, heterosexuals and homosexuals. For example, heterosexuals in the past have often assumed that I’m way too badgering, like the women I’m supposed to be “BFFs” with. On the other hand, homosexuals seem to believe that my disinterest in shopping stems from the fact that I’m “half straight”.
Quite recently, a conversation on similar lines with a heterosexual woman led to a full-blown argument. “I don’t want to date a bisexual man,” she said. Upon inquiry, she said that she would never trust a man who eyes other men and can easily cheat, so the relationship would inevitably be “doomed to fail”. She’d rather date a “real man”, she said. Bring out your pens and notepads. Being bisexual doesn’t make you: commit adultery, any less of the gender you are, be a sexual being on a whole other level. In a way, bisexual women bear the worst of it all, often being confused for someone who is “easy” and will always be up for a threesome.
“But, you can still date anyone, right?” No, we cannot date anyone. Much like how a straight person wouldn’t be down to date anyone and everyone. Even if someone were to be interesting enough to date, we aren’t always seeking a romantic or a sexual connection. Or at least, I am not. “What a waste of a bisexual!” What a waste of space…
The problem escalates when I’m not with anyone, and when I am… Actually, the problem persists irregardless of our relationship statuses. We’re always under the lens. “Are you really bisexual? Couldn’t you just be confused?” which usually evolves into, “But you dated a woman. Were you straight then?” or the infuriating, more ignorant, version, “So, are you turning gay?”
You can date a man or a woman and still be bisexual. There are no transitions and fluctuations. At one point, as monogamy dictates, you can only date one person, hence, one person of one gender identity. If you’d like me to date one of each then, I’m sorry, I won’t align myself with the “unfaithful” stereotype that you have erected.
Another assumption, often made by people who don’t know me is that I’m a homosexual, donning the lie of bisexuality like an armour.
First of all, claiming that I am bisexual is not exactly advantageous. Being bisexual means having to face discrimination from homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. I don’t suppose anyone in their right mind would trade into that. Even if a bisexual were to have internalised homophobia, what good is it doing them by pretending to be “half straight”? That’s not how bisexuality works. Heck, that’s not how sexuality works.
Sometimes, people have asked me why I choose to be bisexual. I am attracted to woman after all and if I were to date and later on, marry one, I could live peacefully, passing myself on as a straight man. “Why can’t you just date the opposite sex and live under the radar? Why do you have to be so controversial?” I really don’t but, unfortunately for me, the world is designed this way. Life is not about surviving a few decades in a manner as less controversial as possible. We are who we are. There’s nothing wrong with it and you can’t question us about it. If anything, you should ask us why we’re not doing more to change these norms that continue to stifle us? Why don’t you lend us your voices so we too can be heard? Why don’t you just, for once, question the right people?
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