Posted On June 6, 2020
There is a lot happening in the world right now, and as I sit here writing this, part of me feels like I shouldn’t. People are protesting for their lives, freedoms, and justice, and trying to write, or speak, or think about anything else feels like a selfish distraction.
But it is also Pride Month – my first Pride Month – and for a lot of reasons I don’t want to let it pass by in silence.
I am bisexual. Or possibly pansexual. I know there are strong feelings out there about how much of a venn diagram those terms are: the fact that I’m choosing to call myself bisexual is not to exclude other genders from the equation, but just because it feels right, I guess? I’m not sure, and maybe it will change over time, but for now: I am bisexual.
This is not news to me, even if me calling this “my first Pride Month” makes it seem like it might be. My first sexual encounters were with guys, a long time before I had encounters with girls. But some of those early (too early, really) encounters were a problematic, and while I would not go as far as to call them non-consensual I definitely wish they hadn’t happened. I also attended an all boys school, which at times was both deeply homophobic and deeply bi-curious. There were a few times when I had what I in hindsight realise were probably crushes, but most of my high school experience was defined by social isolation, bullying – often “for being gay”, which probably didn’t help – and not being good enough at sports to be invited to participate in anyone’s ball-handling activities.
It wasn’t until late in my teens that I spent any meaningful time around girls, and after stumbling into my first meaningful relationships – with girls – at 16/17, it stopped seeming to matter. I was in relationships through the end of high school and all through college, and then when I wasn’t I was in workplaces and friendship groups that were dominated by women, and so that’s who my crushes formed around. It wasn’t that I felt straight, it wasn’t that I was in denial about being bisexual, it just never really came up. If I’d been forced to confront it, if someone had asked if I was bi, I would probably have said “yeah, probably”. But no one asked. I never had to really think about it. So I never did.
I feel bad for that, because I have always had LGBT+ friends. I have been friends with people as they’ve come out to their families. I have friends whose home lives and work lives are fraught with hurt and bias and abuse because they are trans, and people can’t accept that. I’ve had friends desperate to be married before it became legal for them to do so. I have had so many friends who are active and outspoken about their identity. People who march at Pride. People who are proud. And I have sat there, commiserating and sympathising, sitting in my little bubble of privilege because I never had to fight or sufferer or stand up for the right to just be myself.
I still feel that way, sometimes: like the LGBT+ community is something that I am pressed up against the glass of, looking in through the window but not feeling as if I belong inside. No one has made me feel unwelcome. Quite the opposite. But in the same way that I struggle with not feeling “disabled enough” to identify as disabled, I sometimes feel like I haven’t struggled enough or been through enough to deserve to be part of LGBT+.
But I am bisexual. My last relationship ended at about the same time my ability to work did (I’ll let you do the math on how my medical issues and my love life don’t jive well), and eight years gives a person a lot of time to think about yourself, of what parts of feeling less alone you miss the most, of what kind of person you wish would make your couch or your bed or your arms feel a little less empty. Stephen Amell playing a frequently shirtless version of my favourite superhero definitely helped. Stumbling across Timeless on Netflix and being smiled at by Matt Lanter and his impossibly blue eyes definitely helped. Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 99 definitely helped, and Alex Danvers, Nia Nal, Sara Lance, Curtis Holt, David Singh, John Constantine, Anissa Pierce, Culber and Stammets, shipping Finn and Poe, and all the other parts of my nerd sphere (She-Ra! Sweet cheesecake, She-Ra) that normalised LGBT relationships and their struggles, and helped me figure out how to start figuring myself out. Sharing those shows, and thus those relationships with my nieces, hearing a conversation between two five year olds of “She has a girlfriend??” “Yeah, she’s like Alex!” as if it was the coolest fact in the world, definitely helped. People close to me coming to their own realisations about their identity, and trusting me with that, definitely helped.
On the last day of Pride Month last year, I told my best friend that I was bisexual. She knew, it was obvious, we’d openly thirsted over Jensen Ackles for years, but I finally said it. I’ve said it a few times since, but always with hesitance, always with a sense of not wanting to making a fuss. I put a flag border around one of my Twitter avatars, and at the time it felt like a big deal, but that wasn’t really saying it, not with any pride or decisiveness. I haven’t “come out”, because it doesn’t feel like something I need to do, but I don’t make much of an effort hide it either, as people who follow me on Twitter have probably noticed.
I don’t know if my relationship with my bisexuality will ever change. I don’t know if I will ever feel like LGBT+ is something I’m part of. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say that I’m a bisexual without feeling at least a little bit like I’m a fraud, at least a little bit like there’s an asterisk that says “not that it actually matters to anyone”. But it is Pride Month, and for the first time, I feel like maybe it actually does matter what I am and who I tell. We’ve heard the phrase ‘silence is violence’ a lot these past few days, and while it has been said in relation to racism, I have spent a lot of time thinking about all of my silences, not just the violence I’ve done by not speaking up for others, but the violence I’ve done by not speaking up about myself.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to write this. I don’t know if it helped me. I don’t know if it will help anyone else. But I know that I am bisexual, and I know that I don’t want to just be it without saying it any more.
Thanks for listening.