Butterfly Cauldron

Monday, December 18, 2006

Waking up bisexual

I was talking to my bestest friend last night and we were discussing that stupid 'soy makes you gay' article that's been floating around. And I made a joke that the fact I was allergic to milk as a baby and had to be fed soy milk was the cause of my bisexuality. And it occurred to me, it was the first time I'd said the words 'my bisexuality' outloud to another person. I mean, it's not a secret. She has known for ages that I liked girls as well as guys. I just had never said it like that, out loud. My bisexuality. It actually made me pause, the sound of those words outloud. Which I wasn't expecting, since I've been aware of and at peace with my sexuality for a long time. We've talked about girls I've had crushes on, what I found attractive in women before. So, like I said, it's not like she was unaware. And still, saying it outloud was...I don't know the word for it, really.

The first time I was aware I was attracted to women sexually, I was 16. I'd been aware I dug men for years, since I was like 11 or something. But at 16, I was spending the week with my best friend at-the-time, Sera. We had been doing gods only knows what during the day and were getting ready to go to bed. We were sharing her double bed, which we'd done so many times I lost count. Just goofing around, tickling and whatnot. Like we'd done so many times before. At one point, she had me pinned on my back, straddling me, tickling my stomach. And I thought -- gods, I've got to kiss her.

I didn't. I was too afraid by even having the thought. It struck me dumb. It made me go very still. I wanted to kiss her? Where the hell did that come from? And yet, even after I thought about it for a second, tried to rationalize it away as some crazy Devil-inspired thought (hey, I was a good Southern Baptist then), I still really wanted to kiss her. Kiss her and much, much more.

I don't think I slept that night. I remember being very aware of her laying next to me. She had the longest brown hair. And freckles all over her face. Her breathing seemed so loud and I thought for sure she could hear my heart beating, it was so loud. But no. She didn't notice. I must have covered well.

We spent the next few years as best friends, even rooming together at college. I never told her about that night, about how badly I had wanted to reach over and kiss her, run my hands through her hair, count all those freckles. And, eventually, those feelings faded and she was just my best friend, who happened to be in love with the slimest, skeezest man on the planet. But those are details.

I had no words for what I was experiencing then. I freaked out, but eventually I realized I did have a genuine attraction for men. So it must have been, what? A surge of hormones? Mistaking friendship-love with sexual-love? I was only sixteen, what did I know? And I didn't have those feelings for any other women for a long time, so I was able to write it off as a fluke. Then I meet my Ex and fell madly in love with him, so it didn't really matter if I had been or hadn't been.

As I've said before, spending those seven years with the Ex gave me the space and time to really come to grips with the fact that, yes, I did like women too. I don't believe I could have done it if I hadn't had that safety of being in a committed hetero relationship. It wasn't threatening, because I know I wouldn't act on it so long as we were together and, in the foolishness of youth, I believed that would be forever.

I started to entertain fantasies of hooking up with the cute girl in my chemistry class or the punk with two-colored hair who performed the most awesome poems at open mic night. Or you know, both at the same time. I never told my Ex about those, but he used to tease me that I was going to leave him for a woman. Eventually, all of my friends just sorta knew I was bi, i didn't have to tell them. I never had to come out, in a way, because I just sorta evolved into it and I was with a bunch of people who were accepting and didn't make a big deal out of it.

So, when I said, finally "my bisexuality" it sounded stark. Sort of. . .it gave me a chill down my spine. I suppose I still have enough Southern Baptist in me to inspire a fearful reaction, even though I've long given up the trappings of that particular religion. Even though I'm just putting into words something that's no secret. Even though I know the person I was talking too had no issues at all with my sexuality. And I think, if it makes me feel like that now, all these years and years later, there's no way in the world I could have ever said it to myself, to anyone else when I was 16, if I'd managed to understand it.

Because there doesn't seem to be any real guide for coming out bi. If you're gay, well, you've got people in the public eye (now, anyway) who have done it and have been successful. There are books and groups and it's in the social consciousness. But being bi? Most people want to say it's a phase. Or it's a stop on the road to full-gay disclosure.

And if you are bi, are you still bi if you're in a hetero relationship? Do you become gay if you're with someone of your gender? We're invisible, really, since the world likes to label relationships based on the gender of the partners. Which pisses me off, because what happens to all those little girls and boys who are bisexual and don't know how to be that? Whose going to tell them that it's okay? That they're fine like they are, that it's perfectly normal to like people regardless of gender. I really wish someone had been around to tell me, to let me know it was possible.


posted by Zan at 5:55 PM


I had never realized that there are no public role models for bisexuality. How amazing. That must make it very difficult.

6:48 PM  

There are a few, now. Angeline Jolie. Alan Cumming. Not so many, really. And AJ is with a man, just had a baby. Alan is involved with a man, last I heard, so he's more visible. But it can be really hard when you're a kid and you're dealing with these feelings and you don't know -- it's always presented as having to choose. You have to be gay or straight. There isn't any in-between. But there is in-between. There's a lot of in-between.

I was very confused when I was a teenager, because I knew I really wanted to a man. But I also wanted a woman. And I was told, I had to make a choice. And yet, I didn't. I never did.

6:53 PM  

Saying it out loud makes it more real, or official. When I hear myself saying things I've previously only thought, I freeze and take stock and feel like I'm setting my words in stone.

I guess the schools down there wouldn't let you speak on the subject, so that you could tell the kids it's all right.

It aggravates me that Angelina Jolie is considered a weirdo, and that her liking women is taken as part of that or as an effort to shock. She's fucking awesome! The fact she likes Brad Pitt raised him in my esteem. She's my hero. She said if she hadn't married Jonny Lee Miller, she would've married Elizabeth Mitchell. Great taste.

I would climb the Andes
solely to count the freckles on your body
Never could imagine there were only
ten million ways to love somebody

--Shakira, "Whenever, Wherever"

8:12 PM  

David Bowie!

7:41 PM  

My role models (back in the 70s) were, yes, David Bowie and other glam rock people I thought were bi, and the feminist writer Kate Millett. If you search around, now, there are many more of them (see label on my blog "Bisexuals I never met") but most people - celebrity or not - do not come out because the personal price is too high. It's also complicated by the fact that a) too many people think that bisexuality / bisexuals don't exist and b) that female celebrities do say meaningless things like "women are beautiful" because they think it will attract gay fans and alienate no one. They don't have actual girlfriends, of course.
But thanks to blogging, people can find bisexuals all over the place - so we are our own role models now!
All the best, butterfly cauldron. Great blog.

11:03 AM  

Conversation I had with my ex, while we were still dating:

[him] "I didn't know I was bixsexual until I met you."
[me, surprised] "How could you not know that?"
"Because I thought 'I like girls, so I'm straight.' But then 'I like guys, so I can't be straight, I must be gay.' But I liked girls..."
"And you couldn't concieve of liking both at once?"
[me, laughing, but also saddened by that revelation, hugging him] "Well it's a good thing I'm around, eh?"

But... it was very weird, to have to realize that some people actually couldn't conceptualize "both at once", and later, that some people thought/think you "have to choose".

(Or that bisexual automatically means both at once! Or that you can't have a sexual orientation until you have sex. That's the one that pisses me off the most.)

4:54 AM  

Oh yeah. That one always gets me. "Well, how do you know you're gay/bi until you've had sex with someone?" I mean, it makes no sense. With that logic, the first person you have sex with would imprint your sexuality forever. So all those poor kids who are abused as babies would be stuck with the orientation of whatever fuck was molesting them. It's sick.

7:43 AM  

Good for you for saying it out loud and being (sort of) comfortable with it. It's a huge step. Hope it gets increasingly easier and more natural to do so!


6:41 PM  

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