Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ever - I’m bisexual and I’ve never had to come out

I haven’t hidden it but I don’t declare it. I’m not going to meet someone and say, “Hi, I’m Ever and I’m bisexual.” For a start, I don’t think my sexuality is anyone’s business. But it’s not that simple, is it? When I introduce my husband people will assume I’m hetero and that bothers me. If I’d married a woman people would assume I was gay. That bothers me too. It also bothered me when equal marriage rights came into effect in Scotland and many headlines read: ‘Gay marriage law…’ I felt invisible. It’s not ‘gay marriage’. It’s ‘equal marriage’ or just ‘marriage’. Our society is stuck in a binary of us and them. It’s not that simple.

So when I read about the Bisexual Visibility Experiment I immediately signed up.

When I chose my t-shirt I knew I didn’t want the one that said ‘proudly bisexual’. While I understand the use of the word ‘pride’ to counter persecution and enforced shame, being proud of sexuality makes no sense to me. I’m not proud to be bi, I’m not ashamed to be bi; I just am. And as my friend Cherry said, ‘bisexuality rocks' sounds like “we are trying to recruit people to some slightly dodgy cult.” ‘Bisexual everyday’ made sense to me, as it clearly counters society’s denial of bisexuality and nicely sums up the fact that I’m bi whether in a sexual relationship or not, and reinforces that I’m not suddenly straight because I married a man.

I felt self-conscious wearing the t-shirt but other than the friends I was with, no one seemed to notice. We were discussing the film Carol, which moved easily into a discussion about the t-shirt and sexuality. Out of a group of six, three of us (including myself) identified as bi, one as gay and bi-curious, and two as hetero (although, we all professed an unease with labels). Our discussion highlighted the main problem with people’s reaction to bisexuality – one of disbelief. People immediately question your own narrative of your life and identity. Stefani said she came out as bi aged fifteen and her mum’s reaction was: “Are you trying to tell me you’re gay?” to which Stefani retorted, “No, because then I would have said ‘I’m gay’.” Cherry confirmed this disbelief, telling us that one of her friends said, “But you’re not really bi, are you?”

Stefani pointed out that people tend to say “well, if you haven’t slept with a girl you can’t be bi.” She highlighted the absurdity and hypocrisy of this: “You don’t question a hetero virgin’s heterosexuality, do you?” This all demonstrates that hetero is still considered ‘the norm’ and any other sexuality is under interrogation. This is partly why I didn’t want to ‘come out’ – people who are hetero don’t have to ‘come out’, so why should I? But of course that doesn’t help with the rampant denial of bisexuality’s existence. Although, things are improving, with many more people understanding that sexuality isn’t a binary, and there’s an increase in people placing themselves somewhere on a spectrum between hetero and gay.

I don’t like labels, but bisexual is the one I chose. Why bi and not pansexual? Even though pan is probably more accurate (if I fall for someone I fall for someone, I don’t care what genitals they have or don’t have, if they’re male, female, masculine, feminine, both, in-between, intersex), I chose bi because it’s a political statement and it starts conversations.

If I had to choose a label I’m completely comfortable with, it would be ‘Queer’ with a capital ‘Q’, which doesn’t simply refer to sexuality - it’s a rejection of identity politics: identity is multiple, unstable and fluid. While it might then seem counterintuitive to choose a sexuality label of ‘bi’, which on the surface seems to consolidate dominant binaries, bisexuality works as a Queer identity because bisexuality doesn’t allow for either/or. There will always be the ‘othering’ of people we don’t think are like us, people we want to keep at a distance; bisexuality problematizes the ability to ‘other’ because bi is hetero, homo, and neither. The existence of bisexuality decentres heterosexuality, positioning it as one side of two extremes - people find this challenging, so they deny it exists. Which is where the Bisexual Visibility Experiment and the slogan t-shirt comes in; here I am - while I think it’s no one’s business, while I think it shouldn’t matter at all what my sexuality is - here I am, making my political statement: some people are bi, get over it.