So, it’s official. Congratulations! You’re now an established member of the Bisexual Subcommittee that doesn’t exist – I’ve just made it up. But it feels like it should exist because in my personal experience, navigating bisexuality in a modern Irish society is not as easy as one might think. Despite living in an age where same sex marriage has been legalised and our granny’s are warming up to the idea that gay people actually have more to offer than comedy relief on d’telly, it feels like bisexuality gets overlooked, underrepresented and misunderstood more often than not.
I always knew I was bisexual. But still, to this day, I struggle to come to terms with it and accept it as a part of me. When I’ve reflected on the reasons as to why this might be I’ve always come back to the same theories so I’ve decided to share some that other bi folk might relate to:
Reason 1: Not Gay Enough ☹
Often, we as bi people believe that our sexual orientation is not valid or merely just a phase. This can be due to the way that bisexuality is portrayed in society and the media, for example, that bisexuality people are ‘greedy’ or ‘promiscuous’ or ‘confused’. Bisexual people may also feel that they don’t fit in with either traditional LGBTQ+ communities or with more mainstream heterosexual communities. Although these perceptions may not be true, they can feel very real to a bisexual person. This can make it difficult for bisexual people to meet other people in their community, making them feel even more estranged and confused about their sexuality.
Reason 2: It’s a Phase!
Probably the most annoying thing you can say to a bisexual person. Hearing someone say that your sexuality is just a phase can be very invalidating to a bisexual person and may cause them to feel unworthy or unheard. Experimentation is an absolutely natural and normal part of growing up and even if someone is just experimenting with and exploring their sexuality it doesn’t make their feelings or experiences any less real or valid. People may also think that once you have entered into a committed relationship as a bisexual person you are no longer bisexual and that you are now either fully gay or fully straight, based on the gender of the person you are in a relationship with. This is absolutely not true, and a person’s relationship does not determine or change their sexuality. And no, it doesn’t mean they are more likely to cheat *sigh*. Side note, a person can be sure of their sexuality without ever having to have had a relationship or any sexual experiences.
Reason 3: Hard Out Here For a Bi
From my experience as a bisexual person, I have often felt like it would be a lot easier to be either fully gay or fully straight. Obviously, this is not true as everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, faces their own struggles and difficulties in life and I do not mean to invalidate the experiences of others, but sometimes, like everything, being bi is hard and the grass can seem greener on the gayer/straighter side. Being straight seems very straight forward (pardon the pun). What I mean by this is that being straight is more socially acceptable and straight people are generally fairly certain that they are straight. Same for gay people. They like one gender and that’s it. Unlike growing up as a bisexual person where you’re unsure as to whether you’re gay and confused or just going through a phase or just defective in your sexuality and it can be very very confusing and isolating during an already difficult stage in adolescence. As I said, everyone has their own valid struggles, especially through puberty, but navigating bisexuality on top of all that just feels more confusing than algebra sometimes.
So, what next?
It’s important to be gentle with yourself. Here are a few key things to remember going forward as a bisexual person:
- You don’t have to disclose or prove your sexual orientation to anyone.
- Who you chose to be in a relationship with as a bisexual person does not make you any less bi.
- Sexual identity and orientation is fluid and everchanging, a change in sexual orientation does not make any prior sexual identity invalid.
- You are valid and your sexual identity is valid.
Not bi yourself but want to be a good ally? Here’s some tips!
- Understand and accept that bisexuality is valid, this includes validating others who are bisexual.
- Try not to make any assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation based on the gender of their partner.
- Try to use inclusive language.
- Be an advocate for bisexuality to recognised as a valid sexuality, both inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Most importantly, remember that no one is perfect, and mistakes are easily made! Just be open minded!