Today is Bi Visibility Day and I want to send all of my love out to my fellow bisexual folks today and always. I see you, I hear you. You and your sexuality are valid. This day is important to me, because often times, my bisexuality is literally invisible. I am married to a cis man and am cis myself. My queerness, if I do not claim and proclaim it, is invisible, and for a long time, I struggled with feeling that I had any right to claim anything at all. People are complicated, and we are not linear. It's hard to know where we fit. Because of my marriage, people very often assume that I'm straight. Heteronormativity bias is kind of an asshole like that. Still, I know that this allows me a lot of privilege that I would not have if my relationship were not straight-passing. But it is really painful to acknowledge something that 1000% benefits you while also erasing a part of who you are. It has taken many years, a lot of books, a ton of tears, and a lot of self work to get to where I am. Someone who is comfortable with owning her identity in all the spaces she takes up.
I never had a real, singular coming out moment when I was younger. My sexuality doesn't fall into a clear delineated category, and I never felt entitled to the whole act of coming out in a big way. Friends and family became aware of my sexuality, which I worked into my life and my words as if daring anyone to comment. I had always thought this was sufficient, but I am learning over time that it was not. It turned out that many had assumed that the act of getting married had somehow ended what was deemed a "phase". Being married and bisexual is something I have had to explain again and again. That who I am is not some sort of bomb I dropped on my unsuspecting husband, but something that he has known about me since the beginning of our relationship. Something that makes me the me that he loves. I, frankly, find it insulting that people think this is something that would change his mind about me, or something that I would hide out of embarrassment.
My sexuality was one of the very first things I told him about me. It had been a deal breaker in more ways than one in the past. Some past partners had been lovely, and some were bi themselves. Others had reacted in jealousy, anger, or, in the case of some men I have dated, a weird fetishizing of my sexuality through a male lens. None of them lasted very long. It took a long time for me to realize that someone who couldn't accept my sexuality, did not accept me, and therefore was not worthy of my time. It turns out that other people do not get to make me feel uncomfortable about my identity. That I get to define for myself what is right. That telling someone I'm bisexual does not entitle them to ask me personal questions about my sex life. This sound obvious now, but is wasn't always, not to me.
Long Island, where I grew up, is very close to New York City. Because of this, people tend to assume it's a liberal place. It is not. Very few folks came out in high school. There was no understanding, no support, and no resources. I had never heard of Stonewall and did not know there was a LGBTQ+ acronym until college. I did not know any openly queer adults. I assume many in my high school were in the same boat. I grew up around an aunt who wielded the word "lesbian" like a sword. When I didn't start dating till nearly the end of high school, she started to make assumptions, about me and my sexuality and what that meant. And when you are a child, you assume adults know best. As far as I knew, and based on her reactions, being anything other than straight was shameful. I did not know that her hatefulness was a thin veil over her own insecurities which had absolutely nothing to do with me. Still, I wasn't straight, and I also wasn't a lesbian, and pre-accessible-internet, I just thought I was a freak who couldn't figure her life out. It's really hard to be one of the first to do something, in a tiny town with people you've known since kindergarten and I will remember those few brave souls who came out in high school forever. But I was not brave then. Over the years, thanks to social media, I've gotten to see folks I knew back then come out from afar. It has been beautiful.
One night, late during my senior year of high school, I saw the movie But I'm a Cheerleader. (Yes, Clea Duvall in the black button down is 900% my root. I am a proud cliché okay?) It was the first example I had ever seen of queer folks on screen. Later that year, I found out that the lead singer of one of my favorite bands identified as bisexual, the first time I'd heard the word. I internetted all over the place (I'm pretty sure I literally asked Jeeves) to learn as much as I could. But I didn't really need to, I already knew that this was me. Still, I started dating my first boyfriend that year and rationalized that coming out was pointless. Part of me rationalized that maybe I could ONLY date men and avoid the conversation all together, keep a part of me secret. But life does not work like that. We hide so much of ourselves out of fear when we are young, until we can't anymore. Once I moved away from home, I started to claim my bisexuality. I faked a confidence in it that I did not have, until it simply became a part of conversation, and a part of me. I got involved with the queer community, and I started to learn about theory and history, other identities and all of those things and people and experiences that I never knew existed. This journey has been a constant learning and a constant unlearning.
My path has not been linear and I am still figuring things out. There are many moments still where I feel like an extra puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit anywhere. I think things change and I think people change and evolve, and that when we try to force each other into clearly defined adjectives, we miss the beautiful gift that we are. You see, you are perfection every single time. My point is, that you get to be you, always and forever, no matter what. Being yourself is not a burden on anyone. Being the whole light of who you are is a gift. The world needs you to be all of you. Happy Bi Visibility Day loves.