If you possess a grasp on that ever terrifying and fleeting concept known as ‘time’, you will have noticed that today is not Tuesday, which is when I usually publish these posts. Apologies for that, I’m sure you’re convulsing with outrage at the delay. Truth be told, I did actually have this week’s post ready to go, but in light of certain events (which I will come to) I felt compelled to rewrite it from a fresh perspective. In honour of Pride Month, I wanted to talk about something which I have never admitted outside of my immediate social circle, or on any other social media site aside from brief and casual rambles in the tags on Tumblr, which is that I am bisexual.
When it comes to tales of self-discovery, it’s tempting to want to go back to the beginning, to start from scratch and find a definitive point where your identity began to form and progress. But to be honest, that doesn’t really exist for me. As far back as I can remember, gender has never factored into my attraction to somebody. I’ve just always been this way. Male, female, non-binary, whatever, it doesn’t matter to me; if I like you, I like you. That’s as simple as I can put it, and I fail to understand how it can make anybody froth at the mouth with rage.
My first crushes were on Velma from Scooby-Doo and Ray from Beyblade. This did not seem out of the ordinary to my preteen brain, but it’s a puzzling sensation to understand something about yourself but never being able to articulate it on more than a subconscious level. Also, it turns out severe anxiety makes for a potent poison against self-acceptance. Who would’ve known. It’s only been within the last two years that I’ve stopped and thought, actually, you know what, I am definitely Not Straight, so it’s pretty fair to say that I’ve been kinda repressed about it.
While I may not have been able to fully express what I was feeling, I do remember experiencing an awful lot of shame over it. I would read about gay people being murdered, or beaten, or sent to conversion therapy by their parents, or told by crowds of protesters that they were unnatural and were going to hell, and just feel this dull sense of horror in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t even know how to comprehend this aspect of myself, but there were people out there who already would’ve hated me based on it alone. As horrifying as it is to learn about these far away acts of violence in the news, it’s even worse realising that people you know and care about hold the exact same viewpoints. I would suggest purely-hypothetical-but-really-quite-transparent-who-did-I-think-I-was-fooling scenarios to my ‘friends’ about how they’d react if they found out I liked girls, and far too many of them told me “I’d disown you” as easily as if I’d just asked the time.
So I kept myself to myself. Whenever I would feel the seedling a crush on a female classmate, I would stomp it out and ignore it so that it wouldn’t sprout. During secondary school, I was one of those girls who “just got along better with guys”, but in hindsight I was a) consumed by internalised misogyny and b) terrified of girls because I didn’t know how to handle my attraction to them like I did with boys. High school is not exactly the epitome of acceptance if you divert from the norm, either. I acutely remember girls being ostracised because they were rumoured to be lesbians, and were given wide berth in the changing rooms. Because obviously, whenever a gay girl sees another girl naked, they pester them with the intensity of a pigeon going after a discarded pack of McDonalds fries. Surprise, I’ve been seeing you naked for years, and I’ve never harassed you! Incredible!
I’d see people unabashedly spouting insults about queer people, but there was also a weird fetishisation of them. Boys I hung out with would obsess over lesbian porn, would try to get girls to kiss when they were drunk, and fantasised about having a bisexual girlfriend because that obviously meant they would be showered in threesomes every night. Whether people would’ve instantly hated me, or morphed me into some sort of figurehead for their sexual fantasies, nobody would’ve seen me as a person any more if I told them about my leanings.
It didn’t help that there is an incredibly limited amount of bisexual representation in entertainment. Growing up, I never really saw a bisexual character that wasn’t played for laughs. While bisexuality in the media is now substantially more prominent than I remember as a teenager (God bless Korra and Annalise Keating) it’s still only a smattering, and oftentimes characters are never even addressed as such. Piper Chapman has relationships with men and women, but her bisexuality is never once labelled; instead, Alex derogatorily refers to her as a “straight girl”, a pretender. Frank Underwood had palpable sexual tension with Thomas Yates, and even engaged in a threesome with his bodyguard and his wife, but his bisexuality is dismissed by the show-runners as mere “whims and desires.” It’s easy to consider representation as not that big a deal when you’re so used to seeing yourself on television, in movies and in literature that you don’t even notice it any more, but when you can just about count the times you see somebody like you in the media – without any form of erasure – on one hand, it matters a whole lot. It makes you feel like you’re even more of an anomaly, like you’re more alone than you really are. Here is a helpful image to explain how this feels:
It wasn’t until I got to university that I started to feel less ashamed. When you get to undergraduate education, nobody really gives a fuck about who you are or what you do so long as you’re not one of those dickheads who asks the lecturer a question in the last thirty seconds of class and sends them on a ten minute rant. My LGBT+ friendship circle naturally expanded, and I even considered joining the university society, but I still felt a little reserved. In my own mind on my Tumblr, I grew more and more open about it – I had a crush on Natalie Dormer so all-consuming it almost made me vomit – yet this transparency never quite transferred into reality. By the time I was 20, I had finally admitted to myself that I was bisexual, but I never managed to vocalise it to anybody else aside from my closest friends.
This was purely down to the fact that I had never done more with a girl than a drunken kiss and fondle. It’s kind of funny that as soon as I internally placed a label on myself, I doubted it, even after years of subliminal understanding. I felt like a fake, like I wasn’t a real bisexual – but you know what, that is complete bullshit. None of my straight friends ever doubted their sexuality before they had an intimate heterosexual encounter, so why should I have to? Sexual orientation isn’t about tallying points. There’s no levelling up. You don’t get a medal proving you’re an Honorary Bisexual after shagging a certain amount of different genders. You are perfectly valid regardless of the amount of experience you have. Considering that I had spent my entire life feeling embarrassed over who I was, hearing those around me call bisexual people ‘attention seekers’ or ‘greedy’, and even labelling LGBT+ people in general ‘disgusting’, I think it’s fairly understandable that I never got round to being with a girl, to be honest.
So, what made me decide to write this blog post and publicly expose something I’ve been extremely self-conscious of my entire life, then? Especially since I’m not really a fan of the whole Coming Out of the Closet concept. LGBT+ people aren’t obligated to announce themselves, and doing it to every new acquaintance is incredibly annoying; plus, it reinforces the idea that being heterosexual and cisgender is the norm, and any deviation must be explicitly addressed. But in the last week, something happened that made me realise I’m sick of hiding. I am tired of being ashamed of who I am.
Last Sunday, 49 people were shot dead in an Orlando gay club called Pulse. A further 53 people were hospitalised. This is the most fatal act of violence against LGBT+ people in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the States since 9/11. It was not, as some people may insist, a random act of brutality that could’ve happened to anyone in any nightclub – it was blatantly intentional savagery against queer people purposefully and meticulously planned by an openly racist homophobe. When the news broke, I wept, for the lives wiped out solely because of one idiot, for the unbelievable amount of loss experienced by so many families, for the devastation towards the LGBT+ community when there are so few places of refuge as it is. I wept because this could so easily have happened to any of my friends.
Please don’t think that I am attempting to detract from a tragedy here. I’m not trying to make this all about me, because it so very obviously isn’t. The fact that the shooting occurred on Latin Night, meaning that a majority of the victims were Latinx, adds a whole other level of prejudice that I will never even be able to comprehend what it’s like to be the brunt of. But I feel like I needed to do something, because I’m done with pretending to hold myself together whenever something awful like this happens. In response to the shooting, Mara Wilson, the actress who played Matilda now renowned for her writing, came out on Twitter as a gesture of unity, to spread a message of support in a time of need, and it inspired me to do the same. I want to pitch in my voice, however small it is, with the millions of other LGBT+ people who are mourning over this tragedy but are resiliently coming together, and help keep our community strong.
Of course, I’m not implying that if you’re not out yet you must immediately write a 2,000 word blog post detailing the history of your sexuality. It’s completely reasonable to not want to come out in the wake of such a horrific act of violence. You are still so, so brave for keeping your composure and remaining collected because you can’t afford to be seen crying. Everybody shows solidarity differently, and I am here for you. Nobody is as alone as they think they are. Together, we are infinitely stronger than any individual or group’s attempts to demonise and belittle us.
I know that I’m being an idealist here, and I don’t mean to gloss over the myriad of issues that queer people face every day of their existence, because it’s bad enough without a massacre factoring into it. Plus, as a white cis woman, it’s safe to say that there is very little at risk for me coming out compared to other LGBT+ minorities. But June is Pride Month. Next Saturday is the London Pride Parade. Now more than ever, I feel like it’s important to be proud of who I am, to exist within a community that continuously fights on regardless of what’s thrown at us, that has achieved incredible things in spite of others consistently invalidating us. Christ, I’m getting far too cheesy here, and I’m not about that jam. I need to cut through the tension.
Perfect. Anyway, I’m here, I’m queer, and I sort of know how to articulate it now, hooray! Thank you for reading, I love and support you all. ❤