Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bisexual Erasure

Hi there, I'm bisexual!

Now that we got that out of the way, we can talk about something that is important to me. You see, I've been bisexual for a long time. Well, all my life, actually, but I didn't even know what homosexuality was until I was in high school, so of course I had no idea that I was bisexual. I remember when I first heard about being gay: it was when I was watching Clue, and Mr. Green came out of the closet. I had no idea what he had meant by it and asked my mortified mother, being too naive to know how embarrassing that was for her.

Later, I realized that I had been crushing on some of my female friends just as much as I had been crushing on the guys. In fact, crushing on girls was almost easier. Sleepovers, locker rooms... They never suspected anything, and I wasn't dumb enough to get caught staring; I behaved myself (probably because I was also extremely shy as a kid). But I knew, somehow, that it was "wrong" to like girls and kept my feelings hidden for a long, long time.

I did prefer men, however, and dated them exclusively (though I came really close with one particular girl in college...the sexual tension between us was as thick as pudding), and eventually got married to a man (who later also came out as bisexual!)

But you know what? I'm still bisexual. That hasn't changed. I still like to look at pretty women. And men.

Bisexual erasure is a real thing. It's the idea that people aren't really bi. They are either just straights "experimenting" or are actually gay and just haven't admitted it to themselves (or others) yet. It's a form of discrimination, often called monosexism (both gays and straight people are monosexual). People have actually asked me if I was still bisexual because I was married to a man."Shouldn't you just call yourself straight?" I've been asked.

No, no I shouldn't.

Being bisexual is as intrinsic to me as being gay is to gay people. I can't change it just because I got married. Gays have had this problem a long time, too. Just because they got married (to blend in, because of social pressure, because of hostile times in history, etc.) didn't mean they stopped being gay. They just had to hide it and suffer through a marriage they probably didn't really want. Luckily for me, I don't have to hide my bisexuality just because I'm married. I even got really lucky and found a man who later came out as bisexual himself.

For a long time, though, I did have to hide it. It was frustrating to explain to people that I was married to a man but still identified as bi. A lot of times I got confused looks. I wondered if people thought I was delusional or kidding myself and really was a lesbian. But I had tried out that label before I had met my husband, and I just couldn't do it. I still liked to look at men. And women.

So I just stopped talking about it. I didn't "come out" to friends because I thought it wasn't important. Yeah, I was still bi, but I was married. I bought into bisexual erasure. My identity wasn't important because of my relationship status.

That sucks.

This is the last weekend of Pride, and I'm going to be marching in Chicago's Pride Parade with the Bisexual Queer Alliance tomorrow. And I'm proud of that. I'm telling the world that I am bi, even though I am married to a man, and that's okay. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, and I'm certainly not going to stop saying I'm bi.

You can't erase me. You can't shut me up, and you certainly can't label me as straight.

I'm bisexual, and I'm proud of it!

(BTW: I do realize that the term "bisexual" is a little dated, and doesn't cover the entire spectrum of gender identity. I've always said that it didn't matter to me what was - or wasn't - in someone's pants, and that still applies. It's what is part of being bi...we like it all! "Pansexual" might be more accurate, but way harder to explain.)

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