My Identity Journey: Bisexuality

A bisexual pride flag has 3 stripes divided horizontally. The middle stripe is thinner than the other 2 stripes. The stripe colors from top to bottom are as follows. Pink, purple, blue.

Here is the third leg of my identity journey. Read part one here. Read about my journey with asexuality here. (3/5).

Bisexuality

Tumblr’s queer-quest had given me “bisexual” and it was the first label I felt especially drawn to, and it’s also the first label I started using publicly. I added “bi” to my Tumblr bio and used it in these spaces for months to test how I felt about it. I thought I felt sure.

Now I think maybe I’d just been desperate to fit in. I waited long enough to fit in somewhere and went all my teen years without it. So, I clung to this. I clung to needing a label to fit in somewhere even though this one wasn’t right for me. But thanks to Tumblr’s “everyone is valid uwu bend the labels however you need to” environment, I kept the bisexual label for years.

During the attraction-investigation of my past, I determined that I experienced some level of sexual attraction to a boy (as discussed before) and some level of romantic attraction to a boy (not the same boy), and both happened around 2012. I still couldn’t figure out if these were real attractions, or just the need to fulfill an expectation that society seemed to require of me. But at the time, I let them both weigh-in on the fact that bisexuality absolutely was my label.

Tumblr presented bisexuality in a few ways. Firstly, the platform consistently pointed out that attraction was not 50% men, 50% women. While this is no longer much of a controversial topic and is still a valid facet of the label, I saw this discourse so often during my early queer years that I thought it meant it fit me. After coming to terms with my non-heterosexuality, I’d been very aware that my preference for women was much, much high than any attraction I experienced for men. I recognized my attraction was probably 98% women, 2% men, and found that bisexuality described this. But at the time, I couldn’t distinguish the difference between compulsive heterosexuality and real attraction for men, so I kept using bisexual just for this fabricated 2% attraction to men.

After enough time had passed, and the only attraction I ever experienced for men stayed in 2012, I began understanding that I would likely never experience that attraction again. And maybe that the attraction was never actually experienced at all, but only a product of expectations. Even still, I kept the bisexual label because of Tumblr’s environment and my fear of limiting myself with labels.

Another Tumblr presentation of bisexuality came as attraction to 2 or more genders, which would include non-binary genders. While I’d be learning more about the LGBTQ community and meeting people who were non-binary, it became very clear to me that I experienced attraction to non-binary people and trans people, and especially more so than with cis-men. So, this definition of bisexuality was often paired with the example, “You can be attracted to girls and non-binary people and still be bisexual.” Therefore, experiencing attraction to men was no longer a bisexual prerequisite.

But what I had loved about the label then, was the fact that “bisexual” didn’t exclude any gender. By the second year of using the label for myself, I was so sure I would never be attracted to cis-men. And yet, I’d been afraid to limit myself with a different label for that possibility that I could be attracted to men at some point in the future. When I thought I was straight, it limited the way I experienced attraction to women, even when that attraction was very strong. I didn’t want to use a label like “gay” or “lesbian,” thinking that it might limit the attraction I could possibly experience for men the same way “straight” did for girls when I was a teenager.

Bisexuality is a label that fits many people in the queer community and people experience and express attraction in various ways under this label, which are valid. But what I did with that label was a sad stereotype. What’s worse is I’d been acutely aware of the stereotype, using bisexuality as a stepping stone to lesbian, which is probably yet another reason why it took that much longer for me to shed the label. I didn’t want to be stereotype. But I already came out to everyone as bi: my parents, my friends, everyone on Facebook. I feared being limited by a same-sex only label. But the bisexual label is what kept me stuck.

Up next

The next post will discuss “queer” as a label and the separation of sexual and romantic attractions.

If you connected to this post or learned something from it, please consider donating $3 to my ko-fi page to support my work.

If you have a similar experience, tell me about it in the comments, send a DM to me on Twitter or Instagram, or send an anonymous message to my Curious Cat.

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