Bi Visibility Week: You Don’t Have to Choose

In honor of this year’s Bi Visibility Week (September 19-26), Loud and Alive will be publishing pieces on different experiences of different people, all of whom identify as bisexual. Stay tuned!

 

I am bisexual.

Wow. That felt so odd to say. And that wasn’t even out loud.

Which is kind of funny, considering it’s just as integral to who I am as person as, say, my gender, or my nationality, or my ethnicity.

But that probably has a lot to do with how I’ve never had to struggle with my gender being accepted as a valid, existent thing. Same with my nationality and ethnicity.

I had my first girlfriend when I was fourteen.

I liked her a lot. She liked me more, I think.

But I broke it off, seven months later, because I was starting to believe what everyone was telling me — it’s just a phase.

So I tried to focus on boys. There was no trouble with finding things about boys to be attracted to, at all.

But at the same time, I couldn’t stop feeling frustrated and annoyed with myself. Why was it so easy to find things I liked about boys when I was paying attention, and yet still just as easy to find things I liked about girls when I wasn’t?

It’s just a phase, I reminded myself. I’ll grow out of it soon enough.

And I kept on reminding myself that — for the next eight years.

‘You can’t like both,’ I told myself countless times. ‘You have to choose. You can’t play for both teams.’

Because that’s what it feels like sometimes, doesn’t it? Like not having a singular preference means that you fail at life — you are a Bad Human. Game over.

We’ve been fortunate enough to see bisexuality edge its way into a mainstream spotlight over the last few years. Celebs like Evan Rachel Wood, Michelle Rodriguez, and Halsey are paving the way for more and more people to feel comfortable in their own bisexuality.

But this hasn’t always been the case.

Q: Why couldn’t fourteen-year-old me accept that bisexuality was a thing?

A: Because I didn’t even know it was.

No one talked about it, plain and simple.

People were straight, people were gay, people were lesbian. No one ever came out and said “I’m bisexual”.

That’s a huge deal, considering how many of us there are out there. (For example, it’s estimated that bisexuals make up about 41% of the LGBT POC community in the United States. That’s nearly half.)

But yet, out of all these numbers, out of all these people, 39% of bisexual men and 33% of bisexual women are still not willing to disclose their sexual orientation. For comparison, only 13% of gay men, and 10% of lesbians are unwilling to do so.

As if that wasn’t discouraging enough, this statistic doesn’t pertain to coming out publicly, or even just to friends and family. This is just regarding disclosure of personal information to their medical providers.

This is a problem. Not only that, it’s a bisexual-specific one. In fact, compared to both heterosexual and homosexual adults, bisexuals are much more likely to have problems with depression, binge drinking, sexual health risks, self-harming behaviors, suicidal thoughts, and several other mental health problems. As much as we encourage youths exploring their sexuality to find adults they can trust enough to talk to about their problems, the fact remains that bisexual youth are less likely than lesbian and gay youth to report having supportive adults they could turn to.

And all of this is a direct consequence of bisexuality not being recognised and affirmed, just as much as heterosexuality or even homosexuality now is.

For all my heterosexual or homosexual friends out there, please know that I am not trying to take anything away from you. I am not equating my struggles to yours. I am not comparing my pain to your own.

I am simply saying that the only way we’re going to see a change for the better is if bisexuals start receiving the legitimacy they have been denied for far too long. It’s important for bisexuals to have pride in who they are. But it’s just as important for bisexuals to be seen, to have who they are validated not only by themselves, but by everyone else.

So, yes. I am bisexual.

It’s not the first time I’ve said it, of course. Goodness knows it won’t be the last.

I’ve never had to justify being of both Indian and Chinese descent. I’ve never had to justify being into both makeup and sports.

I don’t have to justify being attracted to both men and women.

And neither do you.

 


You can find out more about Mel on her author page.

 

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