When People Find Out I’m Bisexual

Birthday party of an old friend at a local club: Me, watching a girl I’ve never seen before. I enjoy how she moves her hips, how she throws the end of her long ponytail over her shoulders, how she smiles — I feel a quick rush of adrenaline.

Suddenly, some guy I talked to earlier bumps into me and grins: “What are you looking at?”, he asks as he noticed the startled expression on my face. “That hot girl over there”, I reply without thinking. Now the puzzlement is on his face.

“So are you a lesbian?”, is his next question. I tell him that no, I’m bisexual, and that I sometimes find men attractive, too. Now the expression on his face is no longer puzzled, but completely clueless.

What Happens when you tell people you’re bisexual

A few weeks ago, I found myself in this exact scenario. I got all the standard questions: “But you will make a decision eventually?” — “So do you enjoy threesomes?” — “Don’t you just want to seem more attractive for guys?” The answer to all three of these questions is no. A loud and aggressive NO.

The reason why people react in this way is probably that bisexuality is one of the least accepted sexual orientations. Of course, people still discriminate against gays and lesbians, however, a considerable percentage of people at least tolerates them now. But it’s a different story for bisexuals. Chances are that they face discrimination from both sides because they neither belong to the straight nor to the gay camp.

As long as a bisexual is in a heterosexual relationship, they’re considered straight. If they’re in a homosexual relationship, the gay community will happily accept them as gays. But what if, like in my case, people know you’d been in relationships with both genders?

It’s Just A Phase

If a bisexual person stays in one relationship for long enough, be it either straight or gay, people are likely to think the bisexuality was ‘just a phase’ and that the person has now settled down for one gender. But that’s just not how it works. As you saw in the story of my Christmas party, I still fancy girls...

Many bisexuals encounter this problem the other way round. If they’d been in a same-sex relationship, they are no longer considered viable “candidates” for the other gender. They’ve got the gay stamp and they can’t get rid of it. Just like I have the straight stamp.

With one foot in the closet

Bisexuals can’t fully come out, they will always have to leave one foot in the closet. Even if they stand up and tell all the people they know that they’re in fact bisexual, the rest of the world will still conceive them as either gay or straight, depending on whose arm is around them on the streets. This issue is known as bisexual invisibility.

I know that we have bigger problems in the world, but it’s still something I deeply care about because it’s a part of me. I’m not saying that from now on, all bisexuals should walk around with a purple stamp on their forehead. I’m simply pleading for the awareness that bisexual people are a reality and that they’re just like everyone else.

There are more sexualities than gay and straight

Now let me broaden the picture a little bit. It’s not only bisexual people who face discrimination, it’s not even only LGBT+ people. Sometimes it’s asexual or agender people. But sometimes it’s “normal” people, too: People with younger partners, older partners, partners from other ethnicities or religions, partners from the other end of the world, several partners or no partner at all.

All of these preferences are perfectly acceptable as long as everyone who’s involved is okay with it. We live in a heteronormative world, which means that every relationship other than that between a man and a woman of about the same age is considered deviant, abnormal or even wrong.

It’s Not Just About Sexuality

Heteronormativity isn’t just about which gender you fancy. It’s also and mainly about gender identity. In a heteronormative society, gender identity is based on fixed cultural expectations. Little girls wear pink and play with dolls; little boys wear blue and play with cars. Everything else is not normal. If a girl likes to play football or a boy wants to get into horse riding, that’s considered abnormal.

“[Heteronormativity] is an undocumented and institutionalised way of keeping marginalised groups of people marginalised and oppressed.” — Hannah Witton

Some parents might even try and get their daughter to do something more girly instead because they’re afraid she could become a lesbian or otherwise ‘deviant’ female. These heteronorms are everywhere, but they’re nothing but a cultural construct. I promise you that Stone Age kids didn’t wear differently coloured furs according to their gender. And I also promise that not all boys who like horse-riding are gay. Let’s get rid of headless conformity.