After what felt like an eternal spring, I was made well aware of our transition to the summer months through an onslaught of #Pride2020 articles. This was partly because I enjoy reading articles anyway, and partly because it really was one of the few ways, we could celebrate pride this year. Being fairly new to embracing my bisexuality, and very new to trying to do so ‘loudly’, I was itching to join in. I’d sit down and attempt to write something hilariously witty about ‘playing for both teams’ and how I always was a greedy child. Or, I’d try to write a heart wrenching piece about the struggles I faced when trying to accept my sexuality (nothing significant – I’m an extremely middle-class white girl and, for the most part, we’re all fine.) I couldn’t find my ‘inner bisexual voice’, or whatever else I’m supposed to call it. It’s now, only months later, that I realise why. Whilst I am proud of being bisexual, it has very little to do with my identity, not because its insignificant to me, but because I’m not sure I know what a bisexual identity is.
So much of our life and identity is defined by the people around us, especially if you’re a woman. You can move seamlessly from being someone’s daughter to their girlfriend/wife/mother/grandmother. And I’m not saying being defined by other people is necessarily a bad thing – for example, being friends with serial killers, arsonists and geography students are pretty good indicators you’re not someone I want to spend my time with. However, it can get complicated. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to say that characteristics of sex and gender don’t interfere with my attraction to someone, but in reality whoever I’m interested in generally does have a sex or gender that does define them, and by extension, me. Put simply, if I date a girl, I’m a lesbian, if I date a man, I’m straight, and only when I’m alone and unattached am I actually bisexual.
Now, it would be easy to rail at society for putting these restraints on me and my identity (when will the oppression end?) With straight girlfriends who are obsessed with pointing out the fact I’m interested in pussy during psych games, and gay friends who will casually refer to me as a straight woman, it’s clear I’m not the only person struggling to fully nail down the bisexual identity. To non-bisexuals I seem to be defined by the ways in which I am different to them. I mean there’s only so many times you can say ‘I’m bisexual, actually’ without it sounding like the new ‘I’m a vegan’ (no offence – we’re only bitter because you’re better than us.) And the thing is, I can’t even particularly blame them, or society. The moment I feel some sort of attraction to a man part of me feels like I’m betraying my LGBTQ+ family. Perhaps I was doing it for male attention all along – why else would girls be into girls? Equally, the moment it’s a woman, I feel as though I need to stop kidding myself. I’m secretly a lesbian who only says she’s into men to make herself more societally acceptable. I mean, if I am having this much trouble, how am I supposed to expect people whose lives don’t revolve around me – a surprise, I know – to not define me by the people I choose.
I suppose the answer is that I can’t. Like most of the other types of identities that a person can carry with them throughout their life, my bisexual identity will evolve and change throughout my life. That’s something I need to become comfortable with. Or at least that’s what I imagine a life coach/inspirational therapist would tell me.
Ideally, I’d like to end this article with a big loud bang! I’d like to say my bisexual identity is me and no-one else. I’d like to say that I have a third sentence to finish off this list. But, currently, bisexuality at the best of times feels like a nebulous concept, and at the worst of times feels like something I should keep to myself. So, instead, I’ll say that by Pride 2021 I will be able to say ‘bisexual’ more than once in a conversation without panicking that I’m coming across like an attention seeker.