As a teenager I thought in a binary fashion, and this affected how I understood sexuality and gender.
My understanding of what it meant to be bisexual was that you liked both men and women, and that you needed to like them equally. The fact that I swayed to one gender over others meant that I couldn’t really be bisexual.
My understanding wasn’t helped by the biphobia I experienced within and without the Queer community. Many thought I was pretending or saying I was bisexual to ‘be cool’. There were a lot of bisexual and otherwise queer women (perceived or otherwise) within the alternative scene, and a lot of men either thought we were faking it or fetishised us.
Our sexuality was merely a commodity, to shows others of our worth or how much we might be ‘available’ for sex. In my experience, the older the man, the more likely he was to find bisexuality attractive in young women. I could go on about predatory behaviour for much longer but I don’t want to centre these people.
At Queer bars many women saw me as a ‘fake lesbian’ or ‘actually straight’, the fact that I married a man as a person perceived as a woman has not helped with this either. When bisexual people date people of the same gender we are seen as gay but when we date those of the so-called ‘opposite’ gender we are considered heterosexual. Any way you look at it we are gatekept from our identities.
It seems like us bisexuals must be constantly proving our sexuality by being involved with as many people and genders as possible. Which of course comes with a lot of slut-shaming which effects gender minorities the worst. Bisexuals do not need to consistently perform bisexuality to be valid.
Being on dating apps as a bisexual is a nightmare, as soon as I talked about my sexuality women ghosted me, I was perceived as an untrustworthy heterosexual who had slipped their gaydar. Maybe they thought I wanted to give being gay a go before eventually settling for heterosexuality. I understand the need for women to protect their interests in this way, I truly do.
Trying to navigate Queer friendships and romances is difficult but being undiagnosed Autistic and ADHD has made things more complicated. All this time I was also a little trans egg waiting to hatch and that gender reveal brought a whole new meaning to bisexuality too.
Claiming bisexuality has been a weird mix for me. It has involved fighting my imposter syndrome as a teenager and young adult, experiencing biphobia in places which should have been safe, and constantly assuring everyone that I did not, in fact, want to sleep with them. It was waving my Queer flag high whilst not being able to engage much in my Queer sexuality. It was trying to navigate relationships and situations safely whilst trying to be myself. It does not mean the same to me as it did 20 years ago, and it may not mean the same to me as other bisexuals, but that doesn’t make my sexuality any less real, it just makes it mine.