“I like hot girls. And I like hot boys. I like hot people; what can I say?”
This quote is from Netflix’s very popular series Orange is the New Black where the main character, Piper, is bisexual. Despite only being aired online, the hype surrounding the release of the second series was huge and everyone seems to love it: from straight girls, to lesbians, to all the editors of the women’s fashion magazines that have ran pieces on it. Women love Piper’s character so much that Taylor Schilling, the actress who plays her, won Glamour’s Woman of the Year. But for all its success, its main theme is still taboo. Why do women find it so hard to admit that they like other women?
Unlike many gay people, for me there was no light bulb moment or shining epiphany where I realised I liked women as much as men. There was no chance to see it coming. After a few too many drinks, a close friend and I just ended up in bed together. And that was that. Did I feel guilty when I woke up the next morning? Yes – for a second or two. Until I remembered that lesbian sex isn’t a crime – it doesn’t result in hanging or stoning anymore (at least, not in our democracy – but that’s another issue entirely). And besides, I enjoyed it.
Yet I still found it hard to admit, and it quickly became clear I wasn’t the only one. A friend of mine had her first lesbian fling, for want of a better word, with a much older woman – it was the first time I became aware that our generation is, on the whole, much more open and tolerant with sexuality than those only one or two previously. Being older, she found their relationship much harder to accept – after all, she’d only ever slept with men and had heterosexual relationships all her life. How could she be attracted to a woman? Did that make her a ‘lesbian’? She couldn’t find the answers to those questions, and eventually the guilt she felt ended their relationship. But why does it have to be so complicated?
I’m currently in an incredible relationship with another woman and since it’s become common knowledge, I’ve had a lot of interest. No, we don’t want a threesome. Yes, I still like men. No, I’m not a ‘dyke’. In most people’s eyes, you’re either straight or gay; bisexuality is a whole other grey area confined to pornographic clichés or girls so drunk they don’t mind who they shag.
As to why this, the only conclusion I can come to is that it’s the way we’re raised.
First, society expected everyone to be straight; now, it’s just about ok to be gay too. But what about those who don’t want to be boxed into either of those categories?
Secretly, I want to believe that’s why Orange is the New Black is so popular. Piper loves both men and women, and she’s relatively normal. Even Cameron Diaz has recently admitted to having been with a woman – maybe there’s a few other girls out there who are a little more curious than they’d like to admit. And since a study has just found lesbians are more likely to orgasm, who can blame them?
I can’t help but think society’s obsession with labelling everyone as either gay or straight makes us all very blinkered. Perhaps if we all focused not on what a person is, but who they are, love might be a little easier to find.