For Straight People: Tips & Observations From A Bisexual
Let me tell a little something about being bisexual. It’s like one day you are just going along, living your life, and the next you realize you like women/men, and then BOOM! you’re suddenly sucked into this whole world of gay people that you never really knew about. Or maybe that’s just my experience here at college. I don’t know…I haven’t been out for that long, and am not completely out to all of my family, but here’s the stuff I’ve picked up on, or really just want people to know about being bisexual:
- Lesbians seem to move really fast in their relationships. One friend described it as, “First date: sex. Second date: move in together. Three date: engaged. Fourth date: bring the turkey baster.” In the gay community here at college, people seem to jump from relationship to relationship in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. My girlfriend’s theory is that none of these people got the opportunity to date much in high school due to closeted-ness, slim pickings, or their own unawareness of their sexuality, so they are doing through the middle school and high school version of dating now, because they never learned how actual relationships happen. I think she’s onto something, although another theory is that women are more in touch with their feelings, and therefore have a better idea of when they have met the right person. Maybe it’s a mixture of both, or maybe this is only occurring in the gay community at my college–who knows!
- Bisexuals and mixed people seem to have a lot in common. It’s the whole, “I’m not white enough to be white, but not black enough to be black,” idea. For bisexuals, if you replace “white” with “gay” and “black” with “straight” it’s pretty much the same idea. People want all or nothing in their cookie-cutter versions of others, and in reality no one is just one label. We all have intersecting identities, it’s just that some of those intersections are more apparent in mixed people and bisexuals. So people get pissed, and try to tell you that you don’t belong in their minority, even though you aren’t the majority. Everyone just wants to divide each other up into subgroups until we all forget that it doesn’t matter who we are or aren’t: we all are human beings. We all call Earth our home, we all have loved and lost, and are just trying to find happiness if we haven’t found it already. But labels make people comfortable, so people who don’t fit into them are often uncomfortable.
- “It’s just a phase”. I hate this idea. I hate that people look at me and say, “You think you’re bisexual now, but this is just a college thing,” (aka a “B.U.G.”, bisexual until graduation). First of all, stop trying to belittle everyone who is bisexual. Second of all, it’s not just a phase. Third of all, even if it was a phase, I’m allowed to explore myself and my sexuality without your ridicule. This is why there is a stigma against bisexuals in the gay community. Everyone thinks we are either using the term to hook up with people of our own sex when we are drunk, or that we are using it to transition from straight to gay. Guess what? Even though some people do that (and shouldn’t….seriously, just tell people you are “questioning” so we can get out of this mess), not all bisexual people do that. Some of us are genuinely attracted to men and women, for life.
- Appearance is everything. Since hardly anyone holds up a sign announcing their sexuality, how you dress, wear your hair/makeup, speak, behave, etc. says everything. Though there are a lot of women who cut their hair super short simply because they want to, there are also a lot of women who do it to look gay. Also, septum piercings are associated with lesbians the way piercing one ear used to be (still is?) associated with gay men. And shaving one side of your head. And about a million other things I was completely oblivious to before I came out. Appearance is such a big thing in the gay community that sometimes people try really try to “out gay each other”, meaning look or act the most gay. While it is a wonderful thing to be proud of your sexuality and feel comfortable presenting it to the world, don’t lose who you are to these signals and competition to be “most gay”. Your sexual and romantic preference speaks for your sexuality, not your wardrobe or knowledge of gay activists.
- People are going to hassle you about coming out to your parents–don’t let them do it. I’ve come out to my mom, but the rest of my family is in the dark about my sexuality (or at least the gay half of it). All my friends know, heck, even strangers know, but not my family. And when people find this out they get this concerned look on their face and immediately say, “Well, when are you going to tell them?” Listen here, mother fucker: I’m going to tell them when I damn well please. It’s my business and I’ll share it when I want, how I want, and with whomever I want. Butt the hell out of this. Okay, so my response to this kind of concern may be a bit harsh, but this is the zero-fucks-given policy you need to take with people. Be in charge of your sexuality, because it’s yours. For some reason everyone gets hung up on the coming-out part of being LGBTQIA+, and really coming out is just your business, and doesn’t have to be super dramatic or heart-breaking like they make it on TV. Come out the way you want to come out, and if you don’t want to come out to certain people then don’t do it. This is your life, and you are the one who has to deal with the possible positive and negative repercussions of coming out, not anyone else.
- Gay people are just like straight people—they aren’t constantly scamming on every guy/girl they see, so stop worrying about it. Honestly, one of the more stupid parts of coming out to my friends were asking my roommate and our friend if they still wanted to live with me next year. It’s ridiculous that I felt the need to ask this, but there are silly people out there who spread this belief that gay people are always checking you out and ogling you. This is such BS. Just because I am attracted to women does NOT mean I am attracted to ALL women. And besides, my own personal philosophy is that if we are friends, you are off limits. I think of most of my friends who are women like they are my sisters, so the idea of being attracted to them is just as weird as it was when I thought I was straight. Anyway, my point is, you can quit worrying about sharing space with someone who is LGBTQIA+, because even if someone who fits into one of those labels is attracted to you, they have self-restraint just like everyone else.
- You will not “save us” by telling us we are going to hell. Really, just stop that. We get it, you and your God don’t like gay people. You don’t have to keep telling us.
So that’s my deal. I wish I could wave this list around and show everyone. Especially my mom. She right away said, “Don’t you think this is just a phase?” Um, no Mom, because if it was I wouldn’t have gone through all the anxiousness of telling you I’m bisexual. And as for my Dad, it’s complicated. I haven’t told him because it will not go well, and he will “probably never understand” (as my mom told me). I’m not particularly close to my dad or my brother, and I’m in no hurry to ruin the shred of a relationship I have with them. Like I told my mom, “I don’t want to be ostracized from my family.”
But it’s not just my family that I’d like to read this list, it’s everyone, especially most straight girls. I remember in middle school one of my friends coming out as bisexual to me and another friend. Later, when it was just me and the straight friend, she confessed how weird and uncomfortable she felt with our friend’s bisexuality. “Is she going to check out us? What if she already has?” were questions floating around in this friend’s mind, and I’m sure a lot of other straight women. On the one hand, I understand that most of us were not taught how to act around LGBTIA+ people as children, and that most of our families skirted around those kinds of conversations, leaving us unsure of how to handle situations like the one I was in. But on the other, I wonder why this is such a dilemma for straight women. After all, you don’t find every guy you see attractive, right? So why would it be any different for a LGBTQIA+ person?
Well, those are the thoughts of the day about being bi. Feel free to comment, ask questions, or share with anyone who you feel might need to read this!