I find it strange that my Trans status is perceived as a bigger part of my identity than my sexuality. After all, if someone is gay or lesbian, then that is usually the first thing that people associate them with. It takes a pretty big thing it seems, to overwrite the defining aspect of one’s personality when that thing is sexuality. Perhaps a physical disability or being morbidly obese might do the trick, but then to some you may always be ‘that fat dyke in a wheelchair’.
It is unlikely though, to hear anyone described as ‘that fat bisexual in the wheelchair.’ It’s almost like people don’t know what to do with us. They don’t know how to define us or label us, and it can be quite sinister to the uneducated mind, that we can seem perfectly heterosexual one minute, and then suddenly being doing gay or lesbian ‘stuff’ the next.
There is a stealth aspect to being bi that one cannot really get away with if one is exclusively attracted to the same gender as themselves. We sneaky fence-sitters can date people of the opposite number, while all the time still being capable of being attracted to our own. I feel that this has contributed a great deal to the image crisis that bisexuality has.
I am guilty of this myself, having grown up in environments where being gay was ‘undesireable’ at best, and downright disgusting at worst, the surest way to avoid that negativity was to act completely heterosexual. My coming out as Bi to my parents happened on the same day as my coming out as Trans in more of an ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ situation, than just running my colours up the flagpole and saluting like everyone who lives openly has to do at some point.
But is this reluctance to come out as bisexual widespread? If you were a girl back in the late ‘90s, early ‘00s, being bisexual was almost fashionable. The average red blooded, knuckle scraping male of my acquaintance who wouldn’t think twice about hurling abuse, or possibly solid objects, at a homosexual male, would get very excited at the prospect of two girls kissing. This seemed to be a fool proof way of getting a guy, whereas in reverse girls seemed far more reluctant to date bisexual men. Women have many burdens placed upon them by society, but one thing they aren’t burdened with is this expectation of masculinity. Men must be men, and any man who either takes the sexual role of a ‘woman’ when looking at something heteronormative eyes, is suddenly considered to be less.
All this was happening as kids were trying to discover themselves and how they fit into a society that was then, and to a large extent still is today, a heteronormative world. There were those of us who couldn’t fit in if we tried, and those of us who could just about squeeze through the gap even though it would be thoroughly uncomfortable. We weren’t allowed to talk about it though… it was shameful, and dirty and probably just a phase we were going through… hormones and the like.
The big joke though is that, for all the protestations of heterosexuality and sexual conformity, most of us are at least a little bit Bi.
Oh, I’m not talking about an Alfred Kinsey scale where everyone is considered bisexual to a degree, and there are certainly proper ‘dyed in the wool’ heterosexuals (Just to point out, if you bring up this matter to someone at a party, especially a guy, the chances are that they will feel the need to affirm how heterosexual they are before you can carry on). Most people I know who identify as heterosexual have revealed some kind of bisexual leanings or even experiences. Whether from having erotic dreams about someone of the same gender, or experimenting with a friend, or even just getting a little turned on by erotic images or literature of a gay nature, most heterosexuals I have known feel comfortable telling openly bisexual wee Tam-Tam. And that is an interesting thing, that while people may feel uncomfortable talking about anything bisexual with someone who isn’t openly Bi, along comes an equal opportunities fornicator and there is a point of reference through which to reconcile something within oneself, even if it just the reassurance that I’m far more bi than they are. Of course, this is certainly not information that goes on census forms or public facebook profiles, but it is there. Not that someone’s sexual preference is the business of anyone but the individual, but isn’t it likely that people would be less judgmental over anyone who isn’t ‘straight’ if they knew just how many weren’t 100%.
Perhaps it is why there is such suspicion heaped on us Bi people. It is not that we cannot be trusted, or that we spread disease, or we want to have sex with everything and anything like the stereotypes say, but that, like Gay guys have ‘Gaydar’, we have ‘Bi-dar’ and if we get too close we’ll spot them and shame them. Suddenly, mister Blokey-Bloke O’Manliness with eighty kids and page three pinups all over the inside of his van may have to confront the idea that when he was fifteen years old he creamed his sheets dreaming about that boy in the year above with the long hair. Or Miss Girly-Girly McPenisonly may get found out for having snogged her girl-mate after a bottle of chardonnay and a weepy movie. Perhaps rampantly homosexual men might have to acknowledge that they actually enjoyed snogging their high-school ‘beard’.
People say ‘Oh just pick a side’ but it isn’t a competition, it’s human nature and we’ll all be a lot happier once we stop being ashamed about something no one has any right to make us feel ashamed about.
But then again, since I am now living as a woman, maybe it’s just naturally easier said than done from this side of the gender fence…