I was ten years old when I realized that I was bisexual.
I still remember it clearly: sitting in my car, and thinking to myself, “wow, girls are really cute. But so is Johnny Depp. Maybe I’m one of those bisexual people?”
That was the last time it was ever that simple.
Over the next ten years, my sexual identity was something that I struggled with. Although I recognized that I was bisexual, recognizing it and coming to terms with it were two very different things. I was very hesitant to come out of the closet, and for many reasons, though I didn’t understand them at the time. At the time, I just thought, what do I have to be afraid of? I’m not homophobic, so why should I be against this?
It took me a long time to realize that being homophobic and being biphobic were two entirely different things. No, I didn’t have anything against same-sex relationships, but that wasn’t the only thing I had to come to terms with here. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was attracted to more than one gender in a world that constantly asked “why can’t you just pick one?” I had to grow up in a society that looked down on teenage girls who came out as bisexual because they were obviously “sluts” who were “just looking for guys’ attention”.
When I was thirteen, a good friend of mine came out as bisexual, and I was so excited. Here was someone doing what I knew I would eventually have to do, and so when I went home that night, I wasted no time in telling his news to my mother. She, however, informed me that few people were actually bisexual, and that he was probably just too afraid to come out as gay. And sure enough, a few months later, he announced that he truly was gay. Now, I don’t blame a thirteen year old boy who was struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality for this, and neither do I blame my mother when she really didn’t realize at the time what she was saying to me, but this experience taught me something. It proved to me that bisexuality didn’t actually exist: that what I perceived to be bisexuality was actually a fear of being something else.
So what was I?
I pondered over this question for a long time: was a lesbian who was just afraid to commit? Or was I a straight girl who wanted to be unique? Every time that I thought I knew the answer, something else would happen to prove me wrong.
Then, when I was sixteen years old, I had the worst possible thing happen to me: I fell in love with a girl, and somehow, for some reason, she liked me back.
Now, I’ve never been the type to hide things from my friends and family. And so, in anticipation of my dating this girl, I came out to them. It was sudden and messy, because I still wasn’t sure of anything myself, but I knew that I liked her, and that that was all that should matter. Still, I shouldn’t have done it. It doesn’t matter that the relationship lasted only a month or two: even after she was gone, I was still out, and I was not ready for that.
For the most part, everyone was supportive, except for the occasional friend who I could tell was uncomfortable with it. And as quiet as they kept about their opinions, I still felt them hard. I could feel everyone judging me, and I felt like I knew what they were saying. “She’s a slut”, they’d say, or “she’s not really bisexual” – all the sorts of thing that I’d heard people say about other bisexual girls. It wasn’t long before I started to regret my decision to come out, now that I no longer had a girlfriend to rationalize why it was worth it. Instead, I started to wish that I could just set back to default, that I could just be what everyone originally thought I was.
So that’s what I did. When I was about seventeen or eighteen, I played into the stereotype of the bi-curious girl, pretending that I had made up my bisexual identity because of one girl who I was kind of interested in.
Needless to say, it felt wrong. And I know what some of you are thinking: “why would it – it wouldn’t affect your life much to be in the closet. I mean, sure, you couldn’t date girls, but you can still have healthy, normal relationships with guys.” I know that’s what you’re thinking because I thought it too, and I quickly proved myself wrong. Even when I was with men, the topic of attractive women would always come up, and I had to sit there pretending to have nothing to contribute. Somehow, it felt like I was lying to people, or hiding from them a part of my identity. And that made me feel like I had something to hide, like there was something wrong with me. And from there, it only got worse. Not only was there something wrong with me, but by being bisexual, I had committed an unforgivable sin. Fifty percent of people say that they would never date a bisexual, for one reason or another, and that was enough to convince me that if anyone ever found out about me, then I would never find love. Instead, I would only ever find straight men who just wanted me to be the third party of a threesome, or lesbians who were afraid I’d want to ‘go back to boys’. I was dirty, wrong. I didn’t deserve love.
I’m twenty-one now, and I’ve been out of the closet (for the second time) about one year. And I don’t ever intend to go back. I still don’t know how comfortable I am with my identity, because, really, growing up surrounded by biphobia is a bitch. But I’m working on it, because logically, I know that there is nothing wrong with me. I know that I am a beautiful human being who is capable of love so incredible that it transcends the boundaries of gender. And anyone who doesn’t see that isn’t deserving of my love anyway.
So today, on Bi Visibility Day, I am celebrating who I am. I am bisexual. I am not an uncommitted lesbian, and I am not a straight girl striving for attention. I am bisexual and I am real.