Bi Bi Bi Bisexuality
Some would say they struggled with their sexuality, but I would prefer to say I have been on a curious quest to figure out more about my sexuality for a few decades. As all quests go, one must start at the beginning, so here is my roundabout, coming out story. Get ready to get gay…
To be clear, this isn’t the coming out to the world story you’re used to, you know the telling my parents, my friends, exclaiming it to the world. This is the coming out story before that, from me to me, the personal realization, coming out to self, labels and the acceptance that I continue to work on.
First I am going to describe how I came to realize that I might be straight or have a straight side at least, which is how I describe it.
In high school, I discovered a person that was just like me in the form of a cis male and I classically fell madly in love with him. He was everything I found attractive in another person. He was kind and made me melt as they say. I also still cackle thinking of the things he would do or say to make me laugh. We were high school sweat hearts.
This boy made me feel all of those feelings of being in love that were overwhelming, but expected. I expected I would like the opposite sex. That was ingrained in me from day one just by existing.
He was what I expected, a man that would probably make some adorable, annoying kids with me one day. A man that would be seen as with me, holding hands. A man.
I realized I might be gay, or may have a gay side the instant the first woman that ever made me nervous walked by me. She was a veteran player on my rugby team and a stellar one at that. I saw her walk across the field on my first day ever as a rugby player. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a star player like her or be with a star player like her.
We are since great friends, but that day, she made my mouth drop like a cartoon character. In a matter of weeks, maybe seconds, I knew her favorite everything, and all of my roommates knew every word to the Ani Difranco song that was obviously about me and her. I was entranced by feelings I hadn’t had before, that I hadn’t expected. I was in a daze after I saw her that first time.
When I saw her that first time, my brain went absolutely, wildly berserk. Time halted and there was no one else there near me, on the field, or maybe in the entire world. I didn’t even truly know her, but in that instant, I loved her and, in turn, I realized I loved women.
Now, of all people, I would have thought I knew that gay was okay. I mean, I did know that gay was okay, but it still rocked me. I did not expect it. When she walked on the field, everything changed.
Now I am one of the lucky ones who has found accepting people in my life, but this acceptance only came after I accepted myself. That self acceptance was not as automatic for me as people would think. The battles in your head are fought in silence and at that time, I battled losing that future of ease that a normative lifestyle provides as typical gendered expectations slipped away.
Connection comes in many forms:
- Romantic connection
- Sexual/ physical connection
- Soulful/ spiritual connection
- Emotional connection
- Intellectual connection
For me, navigating those feelings and connections have always been complicated.
I have had numerous connections with cis men before. The first of these connections was, of course, my high school sweetheart I mentioned. This was the first and the strongest connection I have ever had with a man. This was a true connection and it fell into every category across the board.
Connection with men has not typically been like that for me. Connection with men was different and often besides the physical, more rare than with women. It was like when I discovered women, it illustrated for me the difference in what I had with men and made it harder to find the kind of connection I was looking for in romantic partners.
As I alluded to, connection with men for me is typically physical and beyond that, HEATED. I am undeniably attracted to the male form, to masculinity. No one in the world who saw me and my high school sweetheart would deny I was attracted to him. However over the years of dating, there were few men that I more than tolerated outside of the physical sense. That means if we were together in the physical sense, I mostly preferred to still have my bed to myself… which means “please go home so I can sleep.”
Anyway, connection outside of the realm of the physical was difficult for me to find in men. Men and I typically connect on a truly platonic ‘bro’ level. The bonds I form with most men are that anyone would have with their close best friends, for sure, except you also find them hot.
Women were different. I found all kinds of connections with women and I found them easily, fluidly. Women connected with my soul on a different level that I couldn’t exactly describe. I don’t trip over a step in love with women, I fall down a goddamn mountain. This is with friends and lovers alike. Love with women has just found me in a different way than I ever found with men. I find myself wanting to know women, to experience them in a different way than I find myself longing for men. Don’t get me wrong, I have men in my life I absolutely enjoy and adore; this is just different.
So what does this mean about my sexuality? Am I really bisexual? Is the sex in sexuality what we are basing this on? What connections count?
For me, bisexual is the label I have used for the most part. This is similar to pansexual, but I prefer to not have to go into a full explanation of terms all the time, so I use bisexual.
All of these labels have definitions in the textbook sense, but this is my working definition: Bisexual, for me, means I don’t see gender as an issue or really as anything important. In fact, I don’t fall for gender, or for one gender trait at least. Bisexual does not mean I am a more sexual person than others. It doesn’t mean I am greedy, or even poly-amorous. Attraction is still fairly rare for me or I believe it’s as rare as most people. I am also the most monogamous minded person, in that it’s hard for me to even focus on more than one person. I do prefer dating masculine people, but this preference doesn’t have anything to do with body parts. Bisexual means I know I can fall for anyone.
Herein lies the problem with labels. Everyone has a different working definition. Everyone also has widely different perceptions and stereotypes attached to these labels. This makes it hard to choose a label, hard to know how you want to be seen or thought of according to everyone else’s working definition.
The instant someone hears bisexual, I am labeled and this schema is created of me. This could mean one thing in one community and something completely different elsewhere. You may not know this but bisexuals don’t actually have the best rep with the gays in Gay Town. In college, I was actually told by a true lesbian *sarcasm* that my opinion “didn’t matter because I was just going to end up with a man anyway.”
There are so many problems with labels. It leaves me wondering if I need to say bi bi bi to calling myself bisexual, to labels at all.
As I grow and learn more about myself, the label just doesn’t feel right. Labels don’t feel right at all. Bisexual sounds like a fifty fifty fair shot to me. This is just not the case. I have different filing cabinets in my brain for connections and it is not fifty fifty. It is not fifty fifty when it comes to intellectual connections, sexual connections, emotional, etc. The label has never felt fitting, nor has anything else.
Sexuality is fluid. Sexuality is ever changing. That is for me. Maybe it isn’t for everyone else. But for me, I can’t really picture my life without that moment on the field. For me, I don’t fully understand how other people actually are fully straight or gay. It is so fluid for me that it almost doesn’t process in my brain that some people don’t have a Romeo and a Juliet of the past. I realize that might be like that for everyone. If you don’t feel it or experience it, maybe you really just don’t know.
Maybe there is no true normative sexuality. Maybe sexuality is on that Kinsey scale, where people are basically rated from mega gay or the gayest to kind of gay to not so gay to absolutely straight. I think that is a decent retelling of Dr. Kinsey’s work, but definitely worth further thought should you choose.
As for now, I am living in the in between I suppose. I find myself labeling for the labels sake still. Someone asks “Are you gay?” and it is hard to say I fall in the between. A label is easy.
In my head though, the me to me, I am still adjusting. It is hard to say you are straight for years, say you are bi for some years, decide you are unsure, etc. It is hard for others to understand or trust you when your mind changes and so I still will always struggle with labels. I struggle with how much it makes sense to shift away from labels when they in fact make my life easier. I struggle with labels because defining yourself is important to your identity and living with a false label feels ingenuine.
I have always prided myself in being a lover of learning, a lifetime learner as it was called in my teaching classes. Being a lifetime learner in this sense means working to continue to find myself in this way, continue to read about sexuality, about other’s experience. The more I do this, the more I come to connect these experiences to my own and, in turn, find myself more. This helps me have a better understanding of other people and their experience as well. Understanding others’ experience should be something we all strive to do because it truly is the only way to bridging the gaps between different people.
To be a lifetime learner as a teacher means to encourage your students to be lifetime learners. In this case, I want to encourage you all to be lifetime learners as well.
Explore your sexuality for the sake of acceptance, acceptance of yourself and others. Share your story, listen to other people’s stories. Straight people, this applies to you, too. Maybe you don’t need to explore what you like romantically about both genders, but you can still learn that there are similarities between all of our experiences with connection. Understand that we all have similar experiences even though everyone’s story is different.
I may sound naive, but the more we decide to find and truly see similarities in each other, the further our differences may seem.
*Note to readers: For the love of God, please don’t call people in the LGBT community “the gays” in public. Being in the group of said gays, it is funny when I say it, but is viewed as rude when you say it. See dentist jokes rule via Seinfield cira April 24, 1997.