I always knew that my attraction to women was stronger than my attraction to men. I knew by the way I was afraid to get close to other girls as a child. I’d watch my girlfriends show platonic affection, hugging and playing in each other’s hair, and the idea of it just made me nervous.
Years later, I’d learn that while no bigger than a toddler, I looked up at my christian fundamentalist white mother (you’d be surprised how many Black kids get stuck with these delightful parents) and told her that when I grow up I’m marrying a woman. She then spent the consequential years shaming me in an effort to “curb the gay”.
More than two decades later, I’m openly bisexual.
The journey in itself isn’t that spectacular. I grew up, got away from toxic family members, read a shit ton of books, and met people from LGBTQIA+ community that inspired me to speak my truth. I broke up with my yt boyfriend of four years (which I blogged about extensively) and spent time truly exploring who I am. I’m bisexual.
Now, almost two years later, my partner is (many things), but if you saw em you’d probably register a cis-man. And while I’m also many things (of which, I’m still defining), you’d probably register me as a cis-woman (and I’m mostly okay with that). So that means when the two of us walk down the street holding hands we’re registered as “straight”.
And that’s where my problems with bisexuality begin.
As a bisexual person, it’s infinitely simpler to “just be straight”. First, it’s easier to confuse or dismiss romantic feelings for the same gender as platonic (like I did as a kid), and since you do like the opposite sex, you’re able to have a romantic relationship society doesn’t side-eye or discriminate against you for the way it does when you appear “gay”. I think these are the major reasons it took me so long to recognize myself, (and then came that pesky thought of being disowned by my family).
Being biracial (I use the word mixed, but realize from living in Germany that the term can be problematic outside of the US), I’ve always felt the need to “find my place” while feeling simultaneously rejected and tokenized by my communities. Over time, I’ve learned that my position is not a place where I can rest my head. Racially, my position is fluid, and depending on where I am and who I’m with, the definition changes. That makes it really important to know who I am in my heart, and as someone living and working in a way to create and support social justice, this fluidity constantly confronts my beliefs about intersectionality and solidarity. It’s not easy, but I appreciate the level of accountability that comes with living in between racial oppression and privilege.
Bisexuality is another challenge.
While I clearly have access to certain colorist privileges, everyone within my communities or beyond them recognize that I am connected to the African diaspora. Ya girl Black, somewhere, somehow. And although the perception of my race changes depending on who I’m with (the only “Black” person with the white fam, the “light-bright” with the Black fam), I’m still seen and accepted as mixed by both groups.
Being bisexual is different. It is invisible, no matter who you’re with.
When you’re with someone of the same gender, the gay community is so quick to grab you, congratulate you, and tell you how “they always knew!”… It’s a form of erasure and disregard for your truth, but mild in comparison to when you’re with someone of the opposite gender, and these toxic straight mfers feel comfortable to say the nastiest homophobic shit in front of you. A couple weeks ago, I went to visit a newer friend and while we drank tea, she went into a full-fledged hotep rant about how gay women are “just confused since they’re out of balance with their feminine sides”. Although there are elements of androgyny to my gender expression, I’m mostly femme and am perceived by that. I kindly disclosed that I’m not straight or confused, but I am offended by the toxic stereotyping she subjected me to listen to. A few weeks later our friendship ended. But unlike when I have to listen to some dumbass microaggressive comment from a white person I can go back to my Black friends and fam to vent about, there is no community to really run “back” to as a bisexual person. Especially when in a “straight”-appearing relationship.
I can’t change my genetic makeup, but I can fight for racial accountability, equity and justice no matter what side I’m on. I can’t change my sexuality, and to even acknowledge it leads to hostility and ridicule on both sides.
It’s a lonelier in-between than being mixed, I must say.
This weekend I met with one of my bi-friends who has been seeing someone of the same gender for months now. It was so nice to listen to the stories of their love and plans for the future. Since it’s Pride in the US right now, we talked about our feelings toward the time right now. “I like the idea, but I don’t really feel queer enough to be a part of anything even though I’m in a same-sex relationship right now. That’s just who I’m with right now. A year ago this time I was seeing someone who wasn’t the same gender as me.”
It made us wonder, are we only welcome when we appear in a box? And what does that make the B in LGBTQIA+? Who can define it, if not us?