It’s Saturday evening, and I’m sat at my laptop while the National Lottery draws blare out in the background. I think I might be sick, and I’m shaking so hard I can hardly click through the right menus.
No, I’m not checking my bank balance, or waiting for my lottery numbers to be drawn. I’ve just posted a Facebook status in which I’ve told my entire online world that I’m bisexual. My coming out is there in black and white, cursor blinking. This is A Big Deal. It’s taken me over two years to get this far, although I’ve probably known for my whole life that I like women.
Now suddenly feels like the right time. After a year settling into Southampton, my coming out has been prompted by a light-hearted Facebook conversation with a university friend – a conversation which reminds me that the famously liberal environment of university is in fact not a myth, and that my sexuality will simply be accepted. He told me “just be you,” so here I am, sat on Facebook, “just being me” and telling 170 people that I like men and women just the same.
Here I am, sat on Facebook, “just being me” and telling 170 people that I like men and women just the same.
Attending an all girls’ secondary school and sixth form, I repressed my sexuality and hid it away. I kept my head down, watching as girls who decided they were bisexual in Year 9 suddenly decided that had been a phase, and part of my brain hoped that maybe it was the same with me. It didn’t help that at school, people had made assumptions – I was single, I had mainly female friends, I didn’t dress “girly,” I seemed to have no interest in guys… all of which, in the minds of the girls in my year, made me a rampant lesbian. When I recently spoke to a classmate who came to Southampton with me, whilst I avoided coming out and pointedly spoke about my ex boyfriends, she admitted embarrassedly: “I always thought you were a lesbian.”
But it had never just been the assumptions. There had been the looks too, and the comments people thought I couldn’t hear, the reactions when I said something “too lesbian.” And then, of course, there was the online problem. In 2012, thanks to the joys of social media, I befriended a group of girls from across the country who liked the same TV show as me. We were, for a time, very close, and in my naivety, I told them about my fledgling sexuality. Unlike the majority of mature human beings, they asked all the stupid questions: “do you fancy me?” “OMG do you want to have sex with me” “do you fancy ME?” “No!” “OMG WHY NOT?!” (By the way, these questions get very, very boring. Straight people do not fancy everyone of the opposite sex. Gay people do not fancy everyone of the same gender. Bisexuals do not fancy everyone.) They didn’t understand, and a year later, when it all came crashing down after a ridiculous argument over music tastes (yes, really.) I was cast out. Worse than that, my sexuality was now something they could hold against me: I was nicknamed “scissors,” comments were posted on Instagram between these girls that mocked my sexuality, comments that were so childishly homophobic they were almost funny in their immaturity. But even thinking about it now makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach, and my breathing feel tight. It was enough to make me feel ashamed of who I was, enough to make me want to hide it away and try to ignore what I felt.
A secondary reason for my hiding away was the simple fact that I just don’t like the word bisexual. Too often it is used out of context, or to excuse behaviours. Some guys think it’s hot, some guys think it makes you easy, society thinks it means you’re greedy, adults think it means you’re confused. Let me clear this up – bisexuals are not confused. (except about taxes, and banking, and things like that.) One friend commented on my status: “bisexuality should just be called people liking… bisexual [is] a stupid definitive term that defines you as one thing on a spectrum when really… it’s never fixed.”
She has a point. A bisexual woman can have a monogamous relationship with a man and it doesn’t make her straight. It doesn’t mean she can’t still be attracted to women, or that her bisexuality is a “phase.” A bisexual man can date girls, but it doesn’t mean he won’t still fancy men. I can change from day to day – some days I’ll feel more attracted to women, and some days I’ll feel more strongly towards men. I don’t want to define myself as bisexual; I don’t want to define myself at all. I might end up with a woman, or I might end up with a man – either way, I know that I am confident in myself, and whilst I don’t like the label “bisexual,” I will not give it up just because I enter a monogamous relationship.
Bisexuality should just be called people liking… bisexual [is] a stupid definitive term that defines you as one thing on a spectrum when really… it’s never fixed.One Commentator
So I sit at my computer, waiting, waiting… and then come the notifications. Ten people like my status before a comment is posted, and once one comes there’s no holding back. People I haven’t spoken to in months, people from my school days, people from university, even my dad – all of them comment and tell me that they’re proud, they’re here for me, they don’t care what I am because I am primarily a person. They tell me love is love, no matter the gender of the person. No one asks pervy questions. No one makes jokes. Several people message me and tell me that they’re proud, or that they’re bisexual too, and I’m so completely overwhelmed by all the messages of support and love that I think I might actually cry. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.
I feel free, and I feel like I am finally being honest with myself. I let something that should not be significant in the grand scheme of things become something I needed to repress and hide, afraid of the consequences. And now? Now it isn’t a big thing anymore, because everyone knows. Now I am just who I’ve always been. Liz.