I’m a bi woman in a different-sex relationship – where do I fit in when it comes to Pride?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my sexuality and where I fit on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. When I was 16, I nervously texted a friend, ‘hey, so I think I like girls’, which was my first coming out. As any LGBTQ+ person will tell you, you have a lot of coming outs. I spent the next few years figuring myself out – was I gay, pan, queer? Now I think I’ve settled on ‘bi’ as an identity that truly fits me. Seven years and two disastrous same-sex relationships after that initial coming out, I feel like I’m closer to knowing who I am. The issue is, I’m afraid that it’s two easy for other people to ignore that. I even wonder if some people in my life haven’t breathed a sigh of relief that I’ve ‘finally settled down with a man’.
The assumption that I’m straight is something that I find quite upsetting, and I’m even a bit too sensitive to jokes about it. Not because being straight is this inherently bad thing, but because it throws out years of coming to terms with my identity, of being disgusted with myself and battling that internalised homophobia, and years of fearing that unconditional love might be conditional after all, as nothing but a teenage phase. I still remember being 12 years old, freezing up in fear because an older girl on my school bus, one who loved to bully and berate me for the crime of being a weird pre-teen, asked if I liked girls. I really thought she’d found me out, and I was scared. I used to ‘make’ myself get crushes on boys to convince myself I couldn’t possibly be gay, and when I finally came to terms with my attraction to women, I was proud of myself.
I held hands with my first girlfriend with just as little caution as I had when walking with my first boyfriend. That is, I did until a group of men on the bus decided they could ‘fix us’, finding their own descriptions of graphic assault hysterical. The word that set them off? Bisexual. They had overheard one of us say it, seen us holding hands, and those two simple actions had triggered something that turned into a police investigation. They never did find those men, of course.
I’m still proud of who I am. I’m proud that I’ve overcome my own self-hate and rejected the hatred of others. But, I don’t entirely know where I fit in now. As a bi woman in a committed and happy different-sex relationship, do I belong at Pride? Do I belong in LGBTQ+ spaces at all? Or should I just take a seat, accept the privilege and safety that this relationship offers me and move on? Deep down, I know I still have a place in these spaces. My experiences are not erased due to the way that people perceive me, and they might even let me help others who have experienced similar things.
This year, I was hoping to go to my first Pride parade – an international pandemic has scuppered that plan slightly, but all the same, there is nothing that can take away my pride.