Evidently today is Bisexuality Awareness Day (also known as Bisexuality Day or Bi Visibility Day). I usually miss these sorts of things, the many days for awareness or remembrance or pride for this or that. They tend to fly by me while I do other things, and I find out the next day or the next week. Or else I learn about them in time, but I just don’t have anything particular to say on the subject. But today is different. I was reminded in time to say something, and more importantly I have something intensely personal and perhaps even important to say on the subject.
You see, I’m a bisexual woman, and as such I am almost entirely invisible. Part of this is because I came to the realization of my own sexuality rather late, after I was already married to a man. Part of my invisibility is my own fault for being rather reserved and private with that part of my life. People presume I’m straight based on my long term, stable heterosexual relationship, and since I’m almost never trying to have sex with them it seems entirely moot to correct the assumption unless they specifically inquire. Hence, very few people know about my true orientation. My husband. My doctor. A few friends with whom the subject has come up.
A significant cause of my late realization (I was 25) is because of the overall invisibility of bisexuals. Bis in hetorsexual relationships are presumed straight and those in homosexual relationships are presumed gay. Meanwhile, many otherwise enlightened people perpetuate the stereotypes of bisexuality. That it’s a myth, and we’re really just partially-closeted homos. That we’re just sex-crazed. That we’re selfish. That we can’t be monogamous. That it’s all just a phase. The myths are pervasive, and even while speaking out against them, I still sort of bought into them on some level. I didn’t know any bisexuals (that I was aware of), and there aren’t a whole lot of them in media either who aren’t raging stereotypes. I had no hard data, just a gut-feeling that bisexuality was too a Real Thing.
Like most teens, my sexuality began to develop and I started to Notice boys. I also started to Notice girls. I even found myself kissing a few, and finding it not unpleasant. But my undeniable attraction to boys cemented my own (and everyone else’s) assumption that I was just straight and it was all just a phase. But the attractions never went away, and eventually I began to develop romantic interest, budding crushes never fully realized, for women. All this was complicated by the loving and increasingly serious relationship with my boyfriend…who I then married.
I finally realized, admitted, and said out loud “I’m bisexual” after several months of marriage. We had begun reading and listening to Dan Savage’s sex advice column. We found it amusing and educational all at once, and it really opened both our eyes about a lot of things. One of the things I heard consistently were calls from bisexuals. Men, women, experienced and inexperienced, out and closeted. All called or wrote in and asked questions or told Dan their stories. And some of them started to sound awfully familiar. Suddenly, there was a category for me, one that seemed to describe and explain the things I had been feeling for years, in ways the stereotypes never had. I had a sudden Moment of Clarity. I nervously broke the news to my new husband (over Skype, as logistics had decreed we spend a few months apart). He replied “Well, yeah? Uh, so what? You planning to leave for a woman or something?”
The erasure of bisexual experience from our cultural consciousness contributes to the confusion, fear, and distress of bi-teens who have no idea how to explain what our society so frequently claims doesn’t even exist. But today is a day to stand up and be seen, so those around us know we exist.
*Takes a big, deep breath for courage*
I’m a Bisexual woman.
My relationships do not define my sexuality.
I’m Bi, and I will not be erased.