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Four Questions Bisexual People Are Tired of Hearing

“I love boys. I love girls. I love love and I love being bi.” These were the words I shared with my followers on Instagram back in February, when I decided to stop hiding who I really am. Just two months prior, around Christmas time, I had told my mum that I was dating a girl and something I had always deep down known: I identified as bisexual.

This process of coming ‘out’ as somebody who is attracted to more than one gender was overwhelmingly positive. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful, accepting, understanding group of friends and colleagues around me, and the discussions of my sexuality were more often than not met with support and kindness from anybody I told.

That said, the revelation that you are bisexual, something often considered to be a ‘diversion’ from the societal, cultural ‘norm’ of heterosexuality most of us were raised with, has provoked a series of questions that five months in, I’m sort of over hearing.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not somebody who is easily offended. In fact, I really don’t mind curious minds sharing their questions with me, as I understand people are genuinely interested, want to learn more, and may not know other bisexual people. Asked in the right way (by, for example, prefacing their questions with thoughtful disclaimers such as ‘I hope you don’t mind me asking this…’) help me to feel far more comfortable about the whole thing, and willing to share my story.

But unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Sometimes, when I tell others I am bi, the person launches into a series of personal, intimate questions which leave me feeling awkward, uncomfortable, and a little frustrated about the whole exchange.

Interestingly, this has not just come from those who identify as ‘straight.’ I have had a couple of experiences with members of the LGBTQIA+ community where I feel as though my bisexuality has been questioned or looked down upon slightly. Comments from friends have previously left me feeling out of place, rather than accepted and welcomed into a community I so expected to be wholeheartedly embraced by.

Frustratingly, these experiences – and many of the questions that come with them – are not only contributing further to bi-erasure, but are a direct product of it, says Lois Shearing, author of Bi The Way (a book that I have personally found to be exceptionally useful in my own journey).

“People have these questions and misunderstandings about bi lives and identities because bisexuality is still very invisible in mainstream discourse/education,” she explains.

Shearing agrees these types of questions can certainly contribute to bi people feeling out of place and like they don’t belong. Also: “It does a lot of harm to bi people's mental health to be treated like we're something weird and different and that our personal lives and relationships are open to questioning and debate.”

Similarly, she notes, we can experience “double discrimination and exclusion from both straight and gay communities.”

As mentioned, my conversations with both heterosexual people and those within the Queer community have been overwhelmingly positive, and I have felt supported by most. However, I’d love to stop hearing the following questions fired at me immediately after I disclose my sexuality (please also note that I am not claiming to speak for the whole bisexual community with this piece, these are just my personal experiences and opinions).

Question one: ‘Are you sure you’re bi? Aren’t you just XYZ?’

The end of this sentence is usually something like ‘confused’ or ‘experimenting’. Well, as Girl In Red sings in one of my now-favourite songs, Girls: “no, this is not a phase or a coming of age, this will never change.”

I’ve known deep down I was attracted to more than one gender my entire life, so I am most certainly not just ‘confused’. But – real talk – I’ve realised that’s not something I even need to prove to anybody to justify my sexuality.

I am also often asked if I might identify with another sexual orientation. This for me is equally – if not more – frustrating, as it has taken me nearly 30 years to share my truth as a bisexual person, so you can rest assured that I am sure, and that I know who I am and what I identify as, thank you very much.

Question two: ‘Can you even be bi if you haven’t done XYZ?’

This one really gets to me, perhaps the most. It feeds into an archaic notion that your bisexuality is only valid if you have had certain experiences, both in your dating history and your sexual experiences.

Before I had had intimate experiences with a woman, I was sometimes asked if that meant I could truly define myself as bi. As if sharing sexual experiences with someone is the only thing that can solidify and ‘prove’ your identity. Do we only consider a person able to define themselves as ‘straight’ once they’ve had sex with somebody? No. So why should it be any different for others with different sexual orientations?!

Similarly, my history of predominantly dating men is something that often comes up. Because I’ve mostly had boyfriends, my ‘commitment’ to being actually bisexual is questioned.

Here’s how I will answer this one from now on: bi people do not have to prove to you that they are bi, nor do they need to present their romantic history to prove their sexuality. Anybody is allowed to define themselves as bi, no matter what their backstory is.

Question three: ‘Who is the sex better with?’

Anybody who knows me will be aware that I am VERY open when it comes to talking about sex. I share a lot with friends, and am never afraid to discuss issues and experiences.

But please, people who I barely know, stop asking me so matter-of-factly who I prefer sex with. It’s boring. And intrusive. And uncomfortable. And not something you deserve to hear about – at least not until you know me a little better.

This is something summed up by Shearing perfectly, when she tells me: “Bisexuality is still seen as something exotic and taboo, so people feel more entitled to ask you personal and invasive questions which can make you feel stigmatised and judged.”

Question four: ‘Who do you think you’ll end up with?’

This one nicely feeds into the commonly reductive portrayals of bisexuality so rife in our culture. It suggests not only that we have a ‘choice’ about our sexuality, but that we will eventually ‘pick a side.’

The point of being bi is that you’re attracted to more than one gender, so you actually have no idea who you’ll ‘end up with.’

Shearing agrees that this also plays into the idea that you must have a preference and sit on one ‘side’ more dominantly. “By asking if you have a preference I think what most people are actually asking is 'what are you really, gay or straight?'.”

To summarise: for me, being bi is about being open to all people of all genders, so who I will ‘end up with’ is neither something I can predict, nor is it really anybody else’s concern.

The original article can be found on Glamour UK.

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