I came out as bisexual when I was 15 while simultaneously admitting to having the biggest crush on one of my girl classmates. It was pretty uneventful, honestly, and for the most part, my friends and family accepted it as normal and moved on. Except, things weren’t really normal anymore. It was hard to put a finger on it because no one was outright homophobic, nor did anyone say something directly offensive, but the subtle microaggressions and stereotypes forced upon me began to add up. What I later realized was that biphobia works in those nuanced ways, where you often end up isolated from both the cishet and LGBTQ+ communities.
Bisexual people are often written off as those who are still “figuring things out.” While it’s true that some later come out as gay, it’s important to recognize bisexuality as valid in and of itself. Even within the LGBTQ+ community, it’s common for people to dismiss bi people as “almost gay,” as if bisexuality is merely a gateway into homosexuality and not something to be taken seriously. And for a while, I believed them.
I used to question whether I was identifying myself as bisexual as a subconscious way to hold onto a shred of heteronormativity or because I genuinely was attracted to both boys and girls. Maybe I only liked girls, but the idea of liking boys had been so ingrained in me that I couldn’t completely abandon it. Maybe my internalized homophobia was so strong that even if I were gay, I couldn’t claim that for myself. For people who ask themselves the same thing, confidently identifying as bisexual is made harder when societal bi-erasure says that bisexuality doesn’t exist.
For me, bisexuality is loosely defined. I don’t prefer one gender over the other, nor do I believe in a discreet gender binary scale. However, for the people who constantly ask me “what percent gay” and “what percent straight” I am, it may be hard to understand that there is more to it than that. When I was in a relationship with a girl, we were the token lesbian couple among our friends and were treated as a novelty. When I was in a relationship with a boy, I received the exact opposite attention and suddenly the same friends were asking me if I was still into girls at all. Being bi can seem like a lose-lose situation when your relationships must constantly justify other people’s perceptions of your sexuality.
Despite biphobia and the occasional snarky comment about my sexuality, I’m lucky to feel comfortable in who I am and who I identify as. One stereotype about bisexual people that I can endorse is that we really do have the best of both worlds. As a straight ally, it’s important to remember that others don’t owe you an explanation of who they’re attracted to and it’s not their responsibility to help you understand. As a queer person, it’s time we end the stigma and invalidation of bisexuality so that we can all find community among one another.