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Recognizing the fluidity of sexuality

It is no secret that the Lgbtq+ community strives to support those who do not fit into the cisgender and heteronormative identities which are the most commonly accepted in modern society. It offers a space of encouragement for those who are in all phases of their coming out journey. However, those who identify as bi-sexual are more likely to be met with invalidating comments about their sexualities from both the lgbtq+ and cis/straight communities. 

Many times I have been met with the unsolicited advice to “just pick a side.” I’ve been told that I would go back to men after my attraction to women phased out, or that my “inability to commit” was because “you’re gay but just haven’t quite figured it out yet.”

It seemed like other’s opinions on my sexuality were altered based on the gender of my current partner because it was more comprehensible. If I were dating a man, it meant I must be straight and vice versa. These assumptions can bring a sense of displacement and invalidation in one’s sense of self. 

I have had partners who would try to inform me what my gender preference ‘percentages’ were as if it were as simple as dividing myself in two and saying “this half of me likes men and the other likes women.”  

Comments like those can be especially harmful for those who are in the early stages of coming out and discovering how they feel about their own preferences. At the least, it can be frustrating or confusing. Hearing statements such as these can make it more difficult to be open with others out of the fear of invalidation. Personally, they used to make me feel as though I was being brought back to the fourth grade again, when I would steal my older brother’s computer to take the ‘am I gay quiz’, and let my responses to a sequence of questions made by an online stranger determine my sexuality. 

No one should feel as though their sexuality or personal identity has the potential to be up for debate. It’s not something that can be decided by an online quiz, partners, or strangers. Dating a woman should not have the ability to devalue my relationships with men, and dating men does not make me any less queer. My relationships are queer because I am queer. 

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Jewel Saxton

Furman '22

Jewel Saxton is a senior English major with a Health, medicine and culture minor from Pennsylvania. She values learning about different perspectives as well as sharing her own while creating open minded spaces for others. She loves running, attempting baking recipes with her roommates and spending time outdoors.
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