I have experienced my first encounter with bi-erasure.
For those of you that don’t know, bi-erasure is the kind of discriminatory behavior that bisexuals experience from both heterosexuals and homosexuals. It is the essence of negating our sexuality and requiring us to “pick a side”. And yesterday, I became involved in a conversation that focused directly on that matter. For me, it was an interesting experience, because I have never faced that kind of thing – online or in real life. Granted, I am not out, publicly – it’s easy to hide behind the screen of the online experience, but I have always had reservations about being open about my sexuality and have always treated it like it was on a need to know basis. So, let me get into the discussion I had on Twitter, yesterday – and for the record, I’m only paraphrasing the discussion from memory, because I’m too lazy to go find the actual statements said.
Anyways, someone I’m connected to had shared a story about a Ohio legislator that got caught in his office engaged in a sexual tryst with another man. This politician had an anti-LGBT platform and is an obvious hypocrite. The share of this story was the point, and I made a side-handed joke that not all anti-LGBT people are horrible, sometimes it takes us realizing we’re bisexual to be able to break that mentality (Self-deprecating humor is my specialty, by the way). The conversation, quickly became complimentary and encouraging of me (Yeah, I never handle that well…lol) and I made another joke about not giving me too much credit, since I’m not out. I had indicated that my wife knew I was bisexual, but I have chosen to live a monogamous lifestyle. And then another person engaged in the conversation…
I always believe everyone is entitled to an opinion. This person, however, went on to express that I should leave my wife, because it was a guarantee that I would cheat on her with a man. Of course, I challenged him on the idea, much like I claimed on a previous post – that the issue of loyalty in a relationship had everything to do with behavior. The tone of the conversation was highly condescending and it felt like it was an attack on my own emotional fortitude. The exchange was cordial – excluding the overture that I didn’t know what I was talking about – but some of the statements said were bothersome to me. Again, I’m giving the intention, if not the exact words, but they were things like, “If you sucked dick, you’re gay”, “It’s cool, if you’re gay, just don’t lie about it”, “You should leave your wife, so she could be happy”, “Bisexual people, regardless of gender, are more likely to cheat”, and then my personal favorite, “There’s no such thing as 50% gay” (I love this, because it’s a correct statement, but not for the reason most people assume – bisexual people don’t see themselves on a spectrum. We don’t put a percentage, because our sexuality isn’t focused on gender as much as it is on loving a person).
I can tell you, coming to accept my sexuality was no easy task – as many of you are aware – that for almost an instant it made me question everything about myself again. There are so many nuances surrounding each of the assumptions that are made about bisexuals, that it is difficult for many of us to feel pride. Although, we are a distinct community, we experience a different kind of discrimination, because of this uniqueness (And I’m not trying to take away from the negative experiences any other demographic has had, just pointing out that there is a difference). On some level, there is a surrender in my mind – almost like, “Why do I bother? Maybe he’s right and I don’t want to admit it to myself.” It’s a frustrating place to be, to have a certain self-image and having others criticize it and make the very same assumptions I, myself, have made on more than one occasion. Even having been down the route of my marriage failing and being separated caused me to question everything about myself and wonder if I am capable of being loved. Truly, there are very few days that go by that I don’t question my worthiness to be loved.
But I have been through a process of accepting myself. It’s not a battle that ever ends with me, but an interaction like this will not be my undoing. Granted, I’m not going to wave my bisexual pride flag, out of choice, but I do take some pride in understanding myself much better than I used to. I take some pride in accepting the fact that I have shared intimacy with someone. And I am learning to appreciate love that is freely given to me. I am learning more about myself all of the time. And, I’m going to say something I have never said in the entirety of my life:
I love that I am bisexual.