This is a post I don’t want to write, but I do. This, of all things, might be the one where I wonder if I’m letting you in on too much because I don’t owe you this. My life isn’t a grab-bag frenzy where your hands roam freely through my experiences. But part of why I am alive is to write the things others cannot. This essay is brought to you by privilege.
I identify as bisexual. Personally, Queer feels more accurate, but Bisexual provides the blatant “yes, I am attracted to both men and women”. If you’ve read my other posts or known me for a bit, perhaps you already knew this fact. This is not a coming out post. Bi is the short answer. It is not the novel of osculating words where I never doubt or fight my feelings, I just believe that they are partially mutable. Bi is to say “not straight”. Bi is bye to some confusion and hello to new confusion.
Sometimes, my essays feel like I’m exploiting myself. But I rage against the binary ideas commonly spouted about sexuality and relationships. People love to call sexuality a complicated subject, but it isn’t. Attraction is simple. Attraction is the match suddenly struck inside your chest at the sight of another person. Attraction is the record time at which you respond to that person’s texts. It’s flushed cheeks and stumbling on your words and fidgety hands. You feel it and know. That is simple. And while I’d love to say that we are all attracted to souls in the end, we aren’t. There’s a carnal aspect to desire. It’s simple. Humanity complicates it. Religion complicates it. Systems and structural oppression complicate sexuality. But sexuality on its own is simple, fluid, ever evolving.
When the world’s default is heterosexuality, the path of least resistance is to assume that you and all others are straight. People march through life unaware of anything else until they encounter someone of the same sex and feel the familiarity of chemistry with the complication of it emanating from an unexpected source. It’s really uncool to shame people who come out later. It’s absurd, really. We all arrive at aspects of ourselves at different times, and sometimes, those stations change. Reign over your divine right to awaken to yourself as it happens. We all deserve this.
The notion that people just always know their sexuality is not universal. Some people realize later. Some people change their minds. Some people do go through a phase. As long as it’s consensual, there is no wrong way to navigate your sexuality. It’s all going to feel clumsily. We are these vain and insecure creatures interacting with each other in the most intimate of ways. There is not a graceful way to do that. It is all sweaty palms and “what if’s” and bigger better deals. It’s taking the risk with a person and abandoning your shoulds along the way. Because, we just get one shot at this wild life. Let’s do it as the fullest, brightest, rawest selves we are.
Additionally, Queer people are more than their coming out stories. Again, straight is the typical assumption. In this way, we are perpetually coming out. There is so much emphasis on coming out. How obligated you are to do it, how it is a big deal, how people will react. You “come out” to people in the same way you lose your viriginity—which is to say that both are social constructs you lose in pieces more than all at once.
I never felt danger in interacting with women. Despite a conservative and catholic upbringing, I never demonized my queer desires. I stuffed them away. I ignored them at times. I don’t blame myself. The stakes were too high— whether it was my housing, my stability, my emotional safety and belonging—something was always in jeopardy. There was this fear of being interested in both sexes but being wanted by neither for being other. Human beings will sever themselves to preserve their survival. And then, I didn’t have to just survive. I could openly date women without enormous penalty.
I always assumed I would end up with a man. There’s so much shame in that statement, but it’s one informed by social expectations. It’s one formed by the heterosexual default. In the past year, my assumption has been shook. In the past year, I’ve dared to ask “what if”. There is also a grief in acknowledging the loss of heteronormative privilege. It’s the destruction of the white picket fence. But maybe all the good things exist beyond that barrier—beyond the rigid rules we set for ourselves. We can love an infinite number of people in this life but we cannot build a life with everyone we love. And the absolutely essential factors to healthy relationships and building a life do not hinge on my partner’s gender.
I still feel wobbly in identifying as bi—trying to gravitate toward either gay or straight but neither feels right. I constantly question if I’m queer enough, if this is all a spectacular lie of some kind and I’m really straight—doing this all for attention. But it all comes back to me. I define who I am. I am attuned to that match in my chest, and know that the flame is fluid. The world, too, is grappling with viewing sexuality as this dynamic web more than a binary. For me, theres a profound discomfort in being treated like some one else’s fetish. I am not a novelty. My openness isn’t an invitation.
This essay is the aspirin to all the pangs you might feel if you aren’t gay or straight or anything in between. This is me telling ok that it’s ok and you aren’t wrong. I am in a constant state of questioning and yet, knowing—knowing that the most important thing is to connect with people, knowing that we are allowed to change. This also means that I know I am relatively secure. I will likely not lose my job or housing for being out. These are luxuries to many people. I take them for granted.
To be alive is to evolve. To be awake in life is to be uncomfortable, but that discomfort births things we wouldn’t have known about ourselves otherwise. So maybe it’s your sexuality or your career or something else, what I am saying is that we get to define ourselves in our own words. We can rewrite as many times as we want. There are no rules to this thing besides to love as hard as we can while we’re here. So let’s do that.