Guest Blog: The Bi-Phobia Effect & Finding Your Feet In The LGBTQ+ Community
This is not your usual blog stating the same-old complaint that there is a lack of bi-visibility in the world today – I am not trying to state we have not grown our awareness in recent years, however, I am using my voice to make it known how Bi-Phobia has affected me, as an individual, and influenced the way I see myself and my sexuality. It has altered my perception of reality and my identity in such a way that I never would have expected before being subjected to it. I call this “The Bi-Phobia Effect”. And you may relate to me, here, or you may not, but I sincerely hope that I can bridge the gap between awareness and ignorance by telling you my own personal story of how I came to understand myself as a person and how I am still in the process of learning what I am and who I deserve to be in this world where you can dream big and achieve anything your heart desires… within reason and the laws of the universe, of course! 😉
The last thing I want to do is preach a cause. So I am NOT going to try and do that. What you need to hear right now is that everything I say in this blog is subjective and I do not pretend to be an expert in the field of sexuality; I am relatively new to this community and still finding my feet with all the terms and meanings behind them all. If what I say does not resonate with you, or if it is in some way misinformed, please take it with a pinch of salt and feel free to express your thoughts about it. If it does resonate with you somehow, I hope I have in some way contributed to you “finding your feet”, as the title suggests, and feeling validated.
I didn’t identify as bisexual until a few years after I came out as gay/lesbian. It was a long, confusing process. But I was adamant at first that I was more interested in women and had 0 interest in men – apart from that niggling little voice inside my head reminding me of my celebrity crushes and all those guys I’d seen myself marrying growing up – I was over men, for good. Then I started trying to date women and that’s when things started getting really complicated… I found myself dissociating from my old me, the girl in my late teens who had a vision of this ideal man plaguing her – tall, handsome, funny, a gentleman – promising to find her one day; the girl who fantasised about being a classic house-wife with three children, a romantic husband, surrounded by a giant wheat field in the country somewhere. For some reason, that old me disappeared with the wind, and I instead became the me from 10 years prior, the one who’d dreamed of living in a flat with a woman and having the sort of romantic/physical intimacy with her that I never believed could be a reality. Until I reached my early 20s, and it was as if someone flipped a switch.
I ended up going to the other extreme and trying very hard to get a girlfriend – mainly looking on dating sites – to no avail! I can’t say that dating sites have really allowed me to express the love I truly feel, and have always wished to give wholeheartedly, to a woman; it’s moreso given me a greater insight into how hard it is to be trusted as a bisexual woman and get a girlfriend.
Now, the day I realised I was bisexual – not gay/lesbian – after coming out to my family in 2015, was sometime around 2017. It just occurred to me suddenly that, after spending two years NOT focusing on men, I still had a soft spot for some of them, romantically, whether I acknowledged it or not. And that was when I realised – I had been burying my head in the sand for almost two years and pushing myself down a narrow road that did not measure up to the person I really am, I was losing touch with the complete me and focusing on only half of the real me. Yes, I still very much – to this day – desire women more than men, but that does not mean I have to bury all those celebrity male crushes I had and act as if they were not valid crushes. Because they made me who I am today! The love I have for them has fuelled my passions.
I guess the problem was I had a lot of bi-phobia stored up inside me from somewhere. I think it may be that a part of me was scared I didn’t have a choice in who I gave my love to, that the universe was always going to send me men by default – so instead of letting men “steal the show”, so to speak, I got my shovel and buried them away, sealing their mouths tight shut. “You will not be an option for me!” I said. “Because you have brought me nothing but pain, anguish, lies, empty promises and have only served to distract me from my potential – whereas women have inspired and motivated me in ways you couldn’t have”. I swear I must not be the only bisexual woman who feels magnetically more drawn to women – and I wonder why this is... and why does it matter to me so much which gender I date? Why can I not be satisfied with whoever turns up? Why have I got to be phobic of MY OWN bisexuality?
This brings me into mentioning another issue I had concerning bi-phobia. Very recently, after finally accepting my bisexuality and letting myself acknowledge my attraction to men as well as women, I started talking to a feisty young woman on a dating site, and at first, we hit it off very well, but then conversations turned towards me being bisexual and she very bluntly said (I’m paraphrasing here): “I don’t think this will work, because I have to protect myself from future heartbreak, and if you’re bisexual, not lesbian, then that puts me at risk”. I tried to point out that being – or accepting myself as – bisexual does not necessarily mean I am a “commitment phobe” or going to leave her for a man… She was not all too convinced. And I can respect the fact that she needed to establish her boundaries, not too long after a severe breakup where a girl had left her for a guy after coming out as straight. I could totally see her point that I – being bisexual AND inexperienced in relationships with women – could have ended up changing my mind and choosing family life with a man. But then…
This is where the whole “Bi-phobia Effect” comes into play again…
The amount of fear and doubt this put into me, just from being told I was a “risk factor”. It still haunts me to this day, and myencounter with bi-phobia from another person has put me into a moral dilemma, has made me question my sexuality and how I should present myself to people. Should I dumb myself down for the sake of being understood by people like this girl, and say that I’m gay/lesbian not bisexual, just so I can have a chance to be with a woman (like I’ve wanted to for years since I was 13)? Or should I be 100% honest/authentic – with myself and others – and admit I’m bisexual, whether or not they will ultimately trust me? See, that’s the problem I’ve had with internal/external Bi-Phobia, and it is merely the TIP OF THE ICEBERG I’ve experienced. I’ve heard many more cases from other people around the world, throughout the Internet, where Bisexuality is considered a “risk factor” for those who just DO NOT UNDERSTAND what it is like to be bisexual.
For me, these days, it feels like I’m trapped between a rock and a hard place. And I want to get into this invisible magical cave hidden inside the rock, but the hard place keeps following me everywhere I go and blocking the entrance. I want to be 100% myself, I don’t want to live a lie and say I am gay/lesbian when I am really bisexual/sexually fluid, because lying to others and yourself only causes MORE heartbreak and confusion. So, my philosophy has always been to let go of this notion of control and possessiveness. Nobody owns me, not a man, not a woman. I am free to love whomever I love in the present moment, but does that mean I am not capable of choosing, being loyal to and settling for ONE person? No, it does not!
There are examples of bisexual women who have chosen to settle down with and stay loyal to women – one of them being Rosie from the Rose & Rosie YouTube channel. It seems that, thanks to LGBTQ+ influencers like Rosie, Bisexuality is becoming a more widely understood concept and there’s less stigma than there was in the past, but my recent brush with a genuine Bi-phobe did, I admit, shake me up a little, and it made me see that I am, unfortunately, NOT one of the lucky few who are trusted enough to be invited into a healthy relationship by a woman. Perhaps this experience was a blessing in that it taught me the value of trusting oneself and having conviction… Who knows?
In conclusion, what I feel most bi-phobic individuals forget these days is that a person’s sexuality does not define their moral fibre. I deserve love from a woman – if that is what I crave most – even if I am partially attracted to men as well. The underlying issue here with bi-phobia, in general, is really TRUST. If someone makes you feel you can’t trust yourself, or have conviction in your sexuality, or be open and honest about your present needs/wants, then that’s gonna make it much harder for you to really know yourself and move onto the next fruitful step in your life. The point I feel I must make with this blog, overall, is that we should all be more open minded and accepting of the potential for liking more than one gender, and the only way we can really prove our loyalty to our partner is by literally SHOWING it, not just theoretically promising to ourselves and others where we intend to put our love. We must allow each other the freedom to explore and get to know/trust ourselves better, without judgement/fear. Or we will all remain lost and directionless.It’s not enough to just pick a side, anymore, and to put on a temporary mask. If we are forced to deny any parts of ourselves for the sake of exploring one in particular then we end up doomed to run around searching for that missing piece we left on the wayside forever, and we have to waste time circling back on ourselves to retrieve it.
So what must we do, fellow bisexuals? Well, we must learn to stop letting others’ misguided, shallow opinions dictate who we really are and our potential for love. And also, look for partners who see the good in us, not the “risk factors” or “red flags” as they might put it. Do not second guess your integrity, and please show any bi-phobes out there this blog – and possibly the door, if necessary.
If you are bi-phobic and reading this, I ask you: Why judge a person before they’ve proven you right? Why cause a person to question their identity and lie to themselves and others just so their sexual preferences make sense to you? Why don’t you let a person in who’s capable of loving you for you as an individual? I know myself, as a bisexual, enough to say that whether dating a man or a woman, personality is what wins me over at the end of the day. We are greater than the sum of our parts.
I was welcomed into the Chichester Pride community fairly recently – and I am so glad I decided to join, I’ve met some of the most exciting, fun and inclusive people I have ever met since coming out in 2015. I wish Chichester Pride could have been around then because not having a group of people to talk to about my feelings and meet with physically in person, to solidify and validate my sexual identity, has made it harder on me emotionally. Sometimes you just need to talk with like-minded people – people who understand what it’s like to be bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, trans, asexual or whatever – in order to become confident enough to fully embrace yourself and transform into a butterfly! I have learnt that it’s much harder pursuing your dreams alone and in hiding than out in the open with friends. I am excited about Chichester’s first ever Pride event this year and I cannot wait to meet moreLGBTQ+ people and see doors open up just that little bit more around me into a brighter future. The thing I like about our Chichester Pride meet ups is they’re fairly casual and chilled out; you don’t have to be an extrovert or party animal to make connections with the people here. Everyone has an opportunity to learn, grow and feel included. I have found the second family I’ve been looking for!
So this is my very heartfelt love-letter to the Chichester Pride community