For Bisexual Awareness Week, I have a series of guest posts scheduled every day leading up to Monday the 23rd. Buckle up for some bi visibility!
This post, from an anonymous author, follows their experience growing up without the language to express their attraction to men and women. (Read all posts in the series here.)
I was born female. When I grew old enough to play outside, I played with the boys. We raced toy cars, rode bikes, threw a football around. I dressed in boy clothes because it felt natural. My mother forced me to wear a new dress every Easter, and I hated it. You can see me scowling in pretty dresses in family photos.
When I was about seven, I begged for a short haircut, and my parents obliged. I asked everyone to call me a boy’s name, but they wouldn’t do that. They laughed it off, figured it was just a phase. But I felt like I was supposed to be a boy. Like there was some kind of mistake. After a couple years of people ignoring and dismissing my new identity, I gave up, let my hair grow long again, and accepted my name and my assigned-at-birth gender. That was basically the end of my gender identity journey, although it would be almost 30 years until I felt comfortable in my own skin.
I distinctly remember being in fourth grade, so about nine years old, and becoming infatuated with an older girl, a sixth grader with golden blonde hair. I often rode my bike by her house after school hoping to get even a quick glimpse of her. I guess she was my first crush. Not that I ever talked to her or anything. I remember being obsessed with another girl that year too, a girl in my grade. She shaved her hair to a buzz cut and wore baseball caps. I teased her and bullied her a little. I’m ashamed of that now, of course. My actions were clearly motivated by jealousy. She knew who she was already, and she expressed herself bravely.
At that point I had never heard terms like “trans” or “gay” yet. Any thoughts I had about being a boy or liking girls were completely my own. What was I? Was I normal? I didn’t know.
Cut to puberty. The pain and embarrassment of my breasts growing in was depressing. I hated my body, as most teenagers probably do. But soon I began to receive a new kind of attention. From boys, from men. By fifteen I looked old enough to get into bars, and I became steeped in drugs, alcohol, and party culture. I wanted so desperately to be a grownup. For all the confusion to be over and to start my real life—as an adult. So I went along with the men’s advances. I let them do things to me. It made me feel grown up. Did they know I was fifteen? Yes. Was I sexually abused? Yes. Was I straight? Was I gay? I still didn’t know.
At 17 I met a girl at night school. She was fun and beautiful. One evening, fueled by alcohol, I said I bet I could please her in bed better than the guy she was dating. She was intrigued. We kissed and went for it. Everything felt natural. I fell in love. Got her name tattooed across my stomach. Moved in with her and slept in the same bed with her for a year or so while she went through a series of casual boyfriends, each one breaking my heart a little more. She knew how I felt about her, and she liked having me around, but she didn’t want to be my girlfriend. In fact she only wanted to be my lover on a few drunken occasions. She was straight. I was sad. We parted ways eventually.
I wasn’t totally against men, but the ones my age were so weird and immature I couldn’t stand being around them. So I went on a few dates with an older man I met online. He was over twice my age. And married. We would meet for drinks, sit in his car and talk and make out. He was nice enough. We never had sex. One time he reached in my pants and gave me an orgasm with his hand. It was the first time a man pleased me sexually. But soon he broke it off with me, overcome with guilt for betraying his wife.
Then I met her. I was 19, and she was new at my job. We’d been talking for a while, and one day she challenged me to a contest of whisky shots. I was delighted because I happened to be an expert at whisky shots but also because she was gorgeous and exciting. We went back to my place, where I learned she didn’t really come for the shots. She liked me. She kissed me passionately out of the blue. I fell in love again. It turns out she was married, but she wanted out of the marriage. I ended up having to fuck her husband (with her) before they divorced. But she and I became a serious couple after that and lived together for several years. We had grownup lives and talked about adopting kids someday. So finally, I figured, I was a lesbian.
But secretly, I still found men attractive. Sometimes I craved a man’s touch. One time my girlfriend and I were engaged in a threesome with a woman whose boyfriend was in the other room. There was nothing secret going on, but the boyfriend unexpectedly walked in. I encouraged him to join, offering myself. My girlfriend was appalled by this. We had only ever been with women together since we became a couple, and she had sworn off men. The incident eventually led to our breakup.
But our love was that insane kind which wraps itself around the muscles and bones in your body, and we couldn’t let go. We clung to each other. We talked by phone every single day when I went off to college. She had a new girlfriend, who was expected to understand that this was a package deal. I was part of the package. My ex and I had joint custody of our two cats. We visited each other often in our respective cities, still affectionate but not sexual. We held hands and cuddled on the couch to watch tv. It went on for years. I didn’t get serious with other people because I was still in love with her. She used me for support. Obviously it was dysfunctional.
I dated a few people very briefly through college, men and women. One guy even wanted to marry me. We really liked each other, but I wasn’t interested in settling down yet, and then he moved away. I had some sexual encounters with straight women who just wanted to “try it out.” I was their guinea pig, which could be fun but also painful in a rejection kind of way. Nothing ever seemed to click into place or alleviate the confusion around my relationships.
I still wasn’t clear on who I was. I generally preferred women. I sort of liked men. But I didn’t know what that meant or what to call myself. It seemed like I just fell for the person, regardless of what body they were in. Maybe because I felt like I might not be in the right body myself.
Then I met him. A strong, attractive man with a sensitive side. He shared my background of involvement with drugs and alcohol at a very early age and the wild years of debauchery that go along with that. We both had troubled pasts and experience with dysfunctional relationships. We were kind of lost and broken in the same way. We bonded. We went on dates. We laughed. Had the same values and interests. The sex was great. We fell in love.
My ex girlfriend was jealous. She poked fun at me for being with this man, and I found the strength to cut things off with her because he meant so much to me. We got married. We’re happy together. So finally, I figured, I was straight.
But it’s not that simple. While my husband is loving, patient, passionate, and all the things I could want, I still fantasize about women sometimes. I miss the ease of certain communications that are simply understood, unspoken, between women. But you know what? No relationship is going to be perfect. Or easy. And when you love someone deeply, you work it out together. So that’s where I’m at now.
As LGBTQ+ issues became discussed more in mainstream media, I learned that my identity does not get erased depending on who my partner is. And I don’t have to choose one thing or the other based on society’s definitions. For me, I learned that it is possible and acceptable to be attracted to both women and men. There are a lot of different kinds of love.
So who am I after all this? I’m definitely bisexual. Sometimes I still feel like maybe I was supposed to be a boy, but I do feel okay being a woman now. We all live within a spectrum of qualities and characteristics that could be called male or female. I’m a bisexual woman. It wasn’t easy getting to this place of understanding and acceptance of who I am. Nobody’s journey is easy. But we must go on that journey for ourselves because living in denial is harder. So keep asking questions about who you really are. Be as honest with yourself as possible, and remember it’s okay not to know all the answers.
I’m sharing my story because I hope if any people are struggling with who they are, they can see that sometimes it takes a long time to figure it out. Life is a confusing journey, but if you listen to yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself, and just allow your authentic self to shine, you will eventually arrive at a place where you feel comfortable.
And please, if you have kids, talk to them about their journey. One thing I wish is that someone had talked to me more about sexuality and my identity when I was growing up. My parents were not able to do that, so I fumbled through on my own. At least now I feel okay with who I am, a bisexual woman. I still hate dresses, but I finally love myself.
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