Pride Month 2020: It’s not just a phase, mom.

(Disclaimer, my mum has been accepting and wonderful and everything I could’ve ever asked for)

I’ve known I was bi since I was 15. Which is a scary time for any teenager, with sex and dating in conversation wherever you go and those horrible PSHE lessons that everyone was embarrassed by. But what wasn’t always discussed was what I felt most comfortable identifying with.

Sexuality is often presented as black and white, less of a spectrum and more ‘one or the other’. There are many sexualities that are never properly discussed at school, and what I’m writing is just a perspective from one person under one label. One size simply will not fit all.

Since I’ve come out as bi, these are things people have said to me:

Oh my god, are you just a bit of a slag then?’

Are you not ready to come out as a lesbian?’

But you’re in a relationship with a guy!’

These three phrases have haunted me since, and I’m going to explain why they are all so problematic.

‘Oh my god, are you just a bit of a slag then’

No. No no no no no. Let’s start by just separating bisexuality from wanting sexual activity with many partners. When this was first said to me, I was far from ‘active’ (so to speak) and had only dated one person. Bisexuality is to do with attraction, not a ‘body-count’ or anything else. Some bisexuals may have had many sexual partners, some may have had none. Both are valid. It’s all valid. Sexual activity does NOT determine sexuality. (This could lead me into a whole conversation about why the term ‘slag’ is so vile and why the number of people that someone has had sex with is irrelevant, but I am desperately trying to avoid tangents)

Are you not ready to come out as a lesbian?’

This is the one I get the most. And jeez Louise it is grating. I’m gonna place a big chunk of the blame here on media portrayal for this one. Bisexuality is often seen as either a girl kissing her friends at parties and coming out as bi, or as a stepping stone before coming out as gay. Like… no. Some people do experience the question of whether they’re actually bi or if they’re actually gay or straight or pan or anything else. And some girls do kiss their pals at parties. No big deal. I have questioned whether or not I’m gay (spoiler: I’m not). A lot of my bi friends have questioned their sexuality. But that doesn’t demean the experience of bisexuals. It is completely valid and true that people can be bisexual or pansexual or any sexuality that is not just attracted to one gender. Treating bisexuality as a stepping stone and nothing more than that is an invalidation and is unfortunately one that I know is found coming from within the LGBTQ+ community as well as outside of it.

‘But you’re in a relationship with a guy!’

This is the one that really takes the biscuit for me. Someone once suggested that I could never go to Pride if I was in what appears to be a heterosexual relationship. And that’s bollocks. It’s absolute bollocks. Just because I have been in relationships with men doesn’t make me straight. It means I fancied a guy at that specific time, yeah, fair enough. Does that mean that I won’t date a woman in the future? Nope. Does that mean I’m not attracted to women? Definitely not. I can date who I want and my sexuality is my own. I can celebrate Pride. No one else’s judgement constitutes my sexuality and their audacity of thinking so is dumbfounding. Just because I don’t ‘appear’ a certain way, or I don’t fit the bill of what you are expecting, doesn’t change anything.

All of this boils down to the previously discussed issue of people invalidating bisexuality. It’s seen as sex-driven, indecisive mania. And a lot of this is because of misunderstanding. But misunderstanding is a nice way of saying ‘ignorance’. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. We must stand by our LGBTQ+ pals, whatever their orientation may be. The experience of coming out is different for us all – and of course it’s true that some people never do or don’t feel the need to. But for those of us who do want to ‘come out’ as it were, it must be remembered that coming out is just as valid for a gay person as it is for a trans person as it is for a bisexual person and so on. The idea of bisexuality being ‘less than’ needs to be changed: all sexuality is valid, let’s start acting like it.

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