I’ve never done one of these important discussion posts that I see so many other, more popular blogs written by people who are better at expressing their feelings do, but I feel like I need to get my thoughts together into a more coherent form. I’ve been posting a lot of my feelings on Twitter because it’s comfortable for me there, considering that I know I have a ton of support from the wonderful people who follow me and who I follow, but I feel like I want to address these feelings I have more than 140 characters at a time, so please stay with me, if you can.
My name is Joyce. I am 21-years old. I am a woman of color. I am bisexual. These are all parts of who I am and as of this moment, they’re fairly stable, in that I am comfortable enough to share them all with you. This is how I identify now, as of December 1, 2016. It is not how I’ve always been. If you had asked me on December 1, 2012, I would have said I was straight. Hell, if you had asked me May 1, 2016, I might have still told you I was straight and I knew for a fact that that wasn’t entirely true.
Most of my life, I assumed I was straight. I knew that I liked guys, I knew that I was attracted to them and I knew (when I was old enough to really think about these things) that that meant that I was straight. When I got a bit older, however, I started to realize that maybe that wasn’t entirely true. I found myself realizing that I felt the same way about girls I went to school with as I did with guys I went to school with. I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to be with girls just like I wanted to be with guys but I wasn’t sure what to do with that information. I liked girls, but I liked guys too, which meant that I wasn’t straight but I definitely wasn’t a lesbian. I never told very many people about this and a lot of that came from a fear I had that I couldn’t like men and women at the same time and when I tried to tell my friends that I did, I was met with a fierce reaction that made me think that my assumptions were correct. I was just a straight girl who liked girls. It was probably just a phase.
Spoiler: It wasn’t a fucking phase. My senior year of high school, I realized that I had a crush on one of my best friends from high school. I tried to ignore it and say that we were just friends, but the feelings I had made it very clear that, yeah, we were friends, but I wanted to be more than that. She probably wasn’t the first girl friend I had felt that way towards but she was the first I had acknowledged in that way and when I came to terms with it, I felt better and more comfortable with myself. There was some backlash, mostly in the form of telling me that I couldn’t like girls, since I’d only ever mentioned crushes I’d had on guys. It was difficult for me but I was leaving my high school anyway and I knew that the student body there wasn’t super open-minded about much anyway, so I chalked it up to my environment and was ready to move on to the next stage of my life.
And then I got to college.
I go to a women’s college and the LGBTQIAP+ community here has taught me a lot. It preaches love and acceptance and for the most part, I see that in practice here. For the most part. I have heard a number of my otherwise wonderful lesbian schoolmates tell me that they do not trust bisexual women, that they’re only experimenting, that they aren’t really queer since they like men and how they’d never date bi women. Bisexual people aren’t thought to be trustworthy by anyone, be it lesbian, gay or straight. There is this idea that bisexual people are just indecisive and will one day pick a side and from a community that claims to be about acceptance, love, compassion, understanding, etc., I don’t understand how they can abandon all of those ideas the moment someone says that they like men and women. Bisexual erasure is very real, even in the LGBT community. Bisexual people are victims of abuse, be it verbal or even physical, at the hands of their partners.
This all hurts so much to see and to hear repeated over and over and honestly, it’s one of the reasons why I was never truly out, even among my lesbian and queer friends.
Looking at the controversy over Julie Murphy’s book Romona Blue, which hasn’t been released and has no available ARCs, just an admittedly problematically written synopsis (that the author has vowed to work on), it has made me once again realize that the “B” in LGBT means nothing to a lot of people, even those who are a part of the LGBT community. Sexuality is fluid and this odd hierarchy I’m seeing from a group that preaches acceptance and faces constant discrimination at the hands of others makes me a bit confused. It hurts.
Do I feel like this kind of backlash wouldn’t be as huge if the main character had been straight and then realized she liked women? Of course. There’d still be backlash but not like this. I feel like bisexuality is seen as a threat. As if one day, your significant other is going to say that they’re bi and that means something about you as a person. As if it means that they are less of a person. Biphobia is real and it has been very apparent in this discussion, in the one-star reviews people were leaving on Goodreads, in the death threats they were writing to the author.
Whether you like it or not, a change in identity, such as going from believing you are a lesbian to believing you are bisexual, is a queer experience, just as my experience was and this book should definitely exist and I will support and promote it with my dying breath because someone somewhere needs this book and you have no right to deny it.
You are being toxic. You are being dangerous. You are being as bad as those who discriminate against you and this biphobia is dangerous. And before you ask, is lesbophobia real? Yes, it certainly is very real but that is not the conversation that seems to be happening right now. You have no right to invalidate someone’s experience or identity just because you feel threatened.
Bisexual people are not a threat. Pansexual people are not a threat. Queer people who don’t have particular labels because they don’t know them or choose not to use them are not a threat. You don’t get an award for always being comfortable in your own skin. That kind of thinking is so dangerous and I’m so done with it.
To any bi/pansexual people reading this, I love you, you are important and you matter. The world would not be the same without you. Your identity is valid, your experiences are valid.