Happy Bisexual Visibility Day! Sorry to bring down the mood, but here’s a slightly melancholy blog looking back at my time as a visible bisexual. I wanted to reflect on how as I’ve become more visibly queer, it feels less and less safe to be so.
There’s a lot of things about my experience as a bisexual I haven’t gone into here; positive things, negative things, complicated things… But why write it all in one blog when I’m sure I have many more Bi Visibility Days ahead of me.
I started coming out as Bisexual when I was about 16 by casually dropping it into conversations with friends. As the number of men on my list of celebrity crushes dwindled and my crush on a girl at school hit the year-long mark it had finally hit me what was going on. At the time it was easy, most of the people I spent time with were incredibly chill and I would guess maybe half of them might even identify as queer now. My boyfriend at the time acted a bit strange about it, but was, in fact, terrible in many regards so this was nothing new. It barely touched my life at all for the rest of high school.
I arrived at University out and proud. I also arrived at University single, and this made a huge difference to how comfortable I felt in my sexuality. I hadn’t realised it before but I HAD been holding back. I was a queer girl in what appeared to be a heterosexual relationship. Maybe during those last couple of years of high school, the only reason my sexuality had been so entirely inconsequential was that no one ever had to see it. It was all inside of me. Maybe even then some people thought it wasn’t real.
Two things happened at University (Well no, many things happened at University but there are two I want to talk about here).
Firstly; straight girls started making out with me. For fun, for giggles. I thought I was into it – I wanted to kiss girls so badly that I took every opportunity. It has taken me years to fully unpick what I felt then. I don’t know if those girls thought I didn’t mind because I went around kissing so many people that surely my feelings were never in it anyway? But I hadn’t kissed girls at high school, and the straight girls that played with me at University didn’t know it, but they were chipping away at me bit by bit.
The second thing that happened is people actually saw me as queer. I assume it was the dungarees that did it? I remember when I first kissed a guy I had been into for some time. He said he hadn’t known if I was into guys, or only girls. Suddenly, the victory of making out with this person I had been crushing on so hard was overtaken by the glee I felt at being recognised as queer. I kissed them harder. I remember the first time I was called ‘dyke’. I bubbled with anger but then, relief? This was hate speech. I felt attacked but… they knew! They saw that I was queer. I was in danger because of it, but it was finally being recognised.
I am increasingly discovering how to be truly comfortable with myself. Many of the changes I make mean I am more visibly queer. I have never been so afraid. When I am out alone or with queer friends I have begun to feel scared again in a way I’m not even sure I ever did. I’m scared of what will happen at pride. I’m scared when I wear my gay t-shirts that someone will verbally or even physically attack me. I still have a vivid memory of the terror that gripped me when I boarded my bus the day after the news about the attack on two women on a bus in London.
I face conflict every day as a bisexual person. I face internal conflict about labels, visibility, and how my evolving gender fits in with my sexuality. I face conflict with people who still think I fake it to be interesting. I face conflict with people who believe that because my current partner is a man I’ve somehow lost my queer identity. All of these things are fucking hard.
But nothing has ever been so hard as trying to exist visibly in a world that often wants to see me and my queer community gone. We’re supposed to be moving forward. I feel certain now that we are not.
I am proud of my identity. I am proud of every single bisexual person who celebrates their visibility today. But I also understand every single one of us who doesn’t want to celebrate, doesn’t want to stand out and proud right now.
The world should be safe for queer people, and yet…