I live in a country that I love. People of different religions and ethnicities work and play together. We have equal access to education and opportunities, regardless of the color of our skin. For all this and so much more, I am grateful every day.
But some of us are invisible, because of whom we happen to fall in love with. Some of us can’t buy a house or have children or get married like everyone else.
I am a cisgender female, a femme (a ‘girly girl’), and I identify as bisexual. Sometimes, it seems like bisexuals who look like me have it better than the other letters, because of our ability to blend in with the straight female population. But we are a lonely minority — too gay for the straights and too straight for the gay community. We’re not acknowledged as a legitimate sexual orientation. Even my closest friends have trouble grasping it fully, but I try my best to explain it.
The first real person that I had a crush on was a female classmate at the age of 12. She was a tomboy with long hair, and as strange as it sounds, I was attracted to the way she walked. I was shy and nervous whenever she was around. I wanted to listen to all the bands she liked and asked my Mum for the same brand of sneakers. I was surrounded by females, but she alone made my cheeks burn when we spoke. I wondered why I felt the way I did. Surely this wasn’t normal? My friends were all crushing on older boys, but I hardly took any notice of them.
Then I met my first boyfriend at 14, and we were together for 4 years. I was in love for the first time, head over heels, giddy and infatuated. I thought we would be together forever, as you do at that age. In those 4 years, I was blind to anyone else. Nobody compared to him in any way, nobody could even come close. Although I eventually chose to end that relationship, I was devastated. I still loved him, but we were too young to understand how to handle our emotions in the right way. Jealousy and possessiveness often led to frequent arguments that spun completely out of control, and it had degenerated into mutual emotional abuse.
I jumped into a relationship with the next boyfriend immediately, and we called it quits after a rocky year. He accused me of not having real feelings for him. He was just a rebound, a safety blanket, and he had had enough. He thought I was still in love with my ex, and maybe I was.
I was in junior college at the time, and trying to mend my freshly broken heart. During rehearsals for the inaugural school musical, I met a girl. I was an actor and she was one of the stage hands. She had a fresh fade, glasses, three tongue piercings, and a flat chest. I was backstage one Saturday morning, and made a casual comment that having some M&Ms would be really nice. After lunch, she handed me a 7-11 plastic bag. Inside were packets of different flavoured M&Ms- dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut. “I didn’t know which flavour you’d like,” she said. “So I bought them all.”
Dating a girl felt new and different, and yet also exactly the same.
If anything was different with her, it was because she was a different individual. She would leave notes in my locker that began with the words ,‘Hey Stranger,’ along with a selection of my favorite snacks. Once, when I was suffering from painful period cramps, I opened my locker to find a hot water bottle and a bar of chocolate.
Did she do it because she was a girl too and could fully empathize? Maybe, but my first boyfriend had done plenty of things that were equally thoughtful, if not more. She did these things for me because that’s the kind of person she was, and not just because she was a girl.
Since then I have gone on to date men, and had a brief fling with a woman. Does it mean then, that I am, say 80% straight and 20% lesbian? Perhaps I’m really just straight but occasionally get tired of men, or maybe I just want attention. Maybe I’m secretly lesbian and just trying to hide it.
There is a common misconception that your sexual orientation is determined by the relationships you have had. This is not true.
You can be bisexual even if you have only ever dated members of the opposite sex, or if you have only dated members of the same sex. Being together with one gender doesn’t mean that your attraction to the opposite gender is invalid. You might identify as a bisexual male, but have never met a woman that was right for you. That does not automatically make you gay.
Being bisexual also does not equate to greediness. It does not mean we are promiscuous or polyamorous, although some of us choose to be, just like straight or gay or pansexual people can choose to be.
Being attracted to both genders does not determine how faithful we are to a partner. I am a serial monogamist and exclusivity is important to me. That’s just my preference. Just because I could ‘go both ways’ doesn’t mean that I want to do so at the same time.
And no, I was not hurt so badly by a man that I became confused.
I am now in my late 20s, and the victim of constant, well-meant but infuriating nagging by family, friends, and co-workers to ‘find a nice guy’ and settle down before it’s too late and my ovaries begin to wither and die. Society has progressed an awful lot, but when it comes to awareness of LGBT issues, we’re still stuck in the Middle Ages. They simply assume that I will marry a man and have children, even the ones who are aware of my sexual orientation.
I’m lucky that I have never been abused for my sexual identity, but I have been frequently dismissed. Most people seem to think that bisexuality is a myth. Girls were probably just a phase or an experiment. I couldn’t possibly think that I could fall in love with and spend my life with a woman.
Yet as I write this, the person constantly on my mind is female. She dresses like a guy, but she is undeniably a girl. And that’s what scares me. What if the love of my life turns out to be a woman? Some of us pay a bigger price than others just to be with the one we love. It might cost us friends, family, personal safety, basic rights… The list goes on.
Sexuality doesn’t necessarily need to be defined. I’m not very fond of labels myself and I am waiting for a day to come when I don’t have to explain my preference with the word ‘bisexual.’ If I like you, I like you. You’re good with me — male, female, trans, whatever.
I just want to say to anyone who is anywhere on the spectrum: You are valid. You deserve to be loved. You are not a failure. You are not a bad person. You are not less than. You are equal.
Be brave, even though it can be tough, and be proud of who you are. Most of all, you are not alone.