But you don’t look Bi

The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Hysteria Collective as a whole.

This article is an insight point of view, and frankly, I’ve been repressing myself to write it for a few months now. Mostly because when you’re not straight, life can feel like a series of coming-outs and this article isn’t one.

I am in a heterosexual relationship with someone supportive and informed about my bisexuality and past relationships. Yet, some people, including members of my family or his family, don’t know about any of it.

There’s this constant, draining feeling of having to prove yourself. How many times I’ve heard “but you don’t look bi”, never knowing what this was supposed to mean. Should I prove my attraction to multiple genders by changing my hair? Getting tattoos? Being louder? What kind of stereotype are you looking for? Or is this just another way to turn my womanhood against me?

In my late teen years, I felt like I wasn’t seen. I’d rather say that I’m straight because that’s what everybody wanted to see me as anyway. I started to wonder if I was legitimate. Every time I had a crush on a guy, I would urge to say that I also had a crush on a girl or vice versa. I was paralysed by the idea that if I didn’t have the masculine and the feminine around me at all times, I’d be dismissed.

As I’m getting closer to my boyfriend’s family, making new friends and connections, while being on my way to enter adulthood, I’m starting to feel like I used to a few years ago. It’s not as overwhelming, it’s more of an underlying, slightly anxious feeling “what if they knew I loved women too”. In this modern age of confidence and LGBTQ+ activists being loud and clear about who they are and who they love, I’m not sure where I belong. I admire these people, but I don’t feel the need to be loud, instead just to get more space, more peace. I wish people would naturally use gender-neutral pronouns when asking about someone’s history. I wish I wasn’t afraid to correct some people without feeling like this is another coming-out party I never wanted to throw in the first place, with people nodding solemnly, inquiring how and who and when or playing the “cool” card.

Truly, being bi is uncomplicated. We love people, regardless of gender. Yet I still feel like bisexuality is badly represented.

Growing up, I would feel anxious to lose my girlfriends if they knew I was bi, although I saw them in the most platonic way. The idea of relationships was another source of anxiety. What if I’d only date men for years? I would have to balance up with women quick! What if I would marry a girl? Would it make me gay? No, that didn’t sound right. Now I’m with a man, and in the eyes of some, I become the straight girl again. I’m not saying that labels matter so much – although it depends on people – but I’m saying that hearing a part of your romantic history being erased through people’s vocabulary and perception of you is consequential on someone’s feeling of self-validation.

Yet I know that at the next family dinner or meeting, if one asks about exes, relationships, marriage, and use masculine pronouns, I’ll most likely say nothing to preserve my energy. Or if strangers at a party mention my ex’s name and ask how I know her, I’ll probably simplify things and say she’s a good friend to avoid any misplaced curiosity or uncomfortable silence.

Because sometimes there are safe places and sometimes there aren’t. Sometimes saying the truth isn’t freeing. And it’s mostly not an obligation towards anybody.

Among educated people my age, I would never feel like I’m having another coming-out party. But once you get out of this bubble, being bi is still taboo, frowned upon and highly sexualised.

We should be supportive to those who are loud and proud, and those who only are like that in places they feel like they can be. Being ready for a fight or to stand your ground might not be on any given occasion. All in all, it’s not only the responsibility of the LGBTQ+ community to fight the heteronormative narrative and create safe places. It’s everyone’s.

P.S : if you need to read about good bisexuality representation, I would highly recommend the gripping novel The Seven Husbands Of Everly Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Take great care of yourself and listen to your boundaries.

Image courtesy of Chris Briggs

One comment

  1. As a bi man I get, “You don’t look like the type!” a lot and, yes, I know what the “type” is supposed to look like: Effeminate gay man… which I’m most definitely not. Bisexuals look like… anyone.

    Like

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