Welcome to AH&HL’s third annual guest-post series for Bisexual Awareness Week! The “Bisexuals and their Laptops” series aims to share a diverse set of bisexual stories, histories, and celebrations. This post is by nonbinary bisexual writer, Ksenija Krivokapic (she/they). Read all identity posts.
I technically knew I was bisexual when I was four. And I know, I know, this sound kind of weird doesn’t it: a four year old knowing her sexuality? But it really isn’t how you’d think, and it’s not so different from how kids sometimes get “married” to each other in preschool. But it’s true! I did know when I was four, and so began the journey to accepting my bisexuality.
At age four, I was young enough not to have had society’s heteronormativity pushed on me yet, so I had no idea that the relationship “norm” was a man and a woman. Also, at that age my parents (who are hetero) and my grandparants (also hets) were pretty much the only adults in relationships that I knew. So as a little bisexual kid, I saw my mom and my dad and could easily picture myself in a relationship like theirs. Now, some of the only other adults I saw in my life were the parents of my best friend at the time–and she had two moms. So when I saw them, I could easily picture myself in a relationship with another girl as well. And I never thought much of it. I had no idea that not everyone felt the same way.
About a year later, my family moved, and I never saw my kindergarten best friend or her mothers again. I started going to a new school, and at this school, all my classmates had hetero parents, and when my female friends started talking about crushes, they only ever talked about their crushes on boys. It began occurring to me that I seemed to be the only one to have crushes on girls and boys, and so I got the idea into my head that this was wrong. So I “decided” that I only liked boys. That seemed to be how everyone else felt, so why couldn’t I feel that way, right? Wrong!
Somewhere along the way, I learned that being gay was a thing, and so I spent a significant amount of my elementary school career debating over whether I was gay or straight. Never being able to settle on either one because of my attraction to more than one gender. I think I was about ten when I discoverd the word bisexual; I don’t remember how, but I remember learning what it was and feeling like I might identify with that. But I kind of tucked that thought away into a small corner of my mind, not wanting to be more different from all my other classmates than I already was.
Throughout middle school I had crushes on many girls but refused to admit it to myself because, well, internalized homophobia. But finally, when I was 13, I decided that enough was enough; I was bisexual and I was done denying it! So I wrote it down in my journal, and I remember smiling so much as I wrote it down, I am bisexual. And I know it sounds corny, but it really was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders! And about two months later, at one in the morning, during our grade eight camping trip, I told my best friend. Her response went a little something like, “That’s cool. I never would’ve guessed, you don’t really look bi, ” which, thinking back, was probably not the best response she could’ve given, but it made me happy that she didn’t think of me differently.
Unfortunately, that was at the end of the school year, and we grew apart in the summer. Then we went to different high schools and never spoke again. So, I was back to square one: nobody knew that I was bisexual but me. I had never planned to come out to my parents because I knew that they were homophobic and wouldn’t accept me, but I was also too terrified to come out to my older sister. I knew she wasn’t homophobic, but I worried that if I came out as bi, she would be biphobic and tell me that bisexuals don’t exist–which, let’s be honest, is something that most bisexuals have heard way too many times to not be afraid to hear when they come out to someone. But about six months later, a surprising opportunity presented itself.
It was midnight, and neither my sister nor I could sleep so we decided to sit up in my room and watch TV. But, like always, we only gave half of our attention to whatever we were watching, (I think it was some doctor show) and we just talked. Ranting to each other about our parents, school, gossiping about things we had done and people we found annoying. We were lounging around in the dark, my head hanging off my bed, when she brought up this kid from our school, “And I know that he’s gay but…”, she said, continuing on about some way that he had been a bother, but I stopped listening right after she said ‘gay’. Beacuse he was not gay, bisexual–just like me. Tears sprung to my eyes, and I felt like someone had dropped a boulder on my chest, She doesn’t believe it, I thought, She doesn’t believe in bisexuality. I could no longer hear my sister talking or the show playing in the background, my head was pounding and my face felt numb, all I could hear was this refrain, in my head, on repeat. She doesn’t believe in bisexuality.
“Do you not believe bisexuals exist?” I blurted out. She turned around to face me, confused.
“What?” she asked.
“____ he’s not gay, he’s bisexual.”
She chuckled into her hand, “I know!” she said, “I just said that as a generalization, I didn’t think you would understand.” I was silent after that, let her continue on with her story; of course I would understand that, I was bi too! But how would she know that, if I never told her?
At some point, later in the night, we lay on opposite ends of my bed, drowsy but we still didn’t want to sleep, when she asked me a question. “Is there anything that you’ve never told me before?” It felt like the universe was pushing me to tell her, I should do it, I thought. Everything is easier to say at three am.
“I have something to tell you,“ I said, and as soon as the words were out my whole body went numb. My head felt like it was spinning. My throat closed, and I couldn’t speak. I opened my mouth, trying to get words, any words, to come out, but they just wouldn’t. I shouldn’t do it, I thought, I’ll just tell her something else. But hadn’t I kept it in long enough? Could I really take another conversation with her where she told me that I’d find the right boy one day? No. I couldn’t do that to myself again. She won’t hate me, I convinced myself. And for the split second that I believed it, I forced out the words, “I’m bi.”
My face began to tingle and I felt like I was falling, What have I done? She would hate me now, I was sure of it. We would not be best friends, she would not support me, and when we grew up she would move away and we’d never speak again.
“That’s cool,” she said casually, and suddenly everything was okay again. She didn’t care, it was okay, we would still be as close as we were now. The rest of that night’s conversations were a blur; I had done it, and most surprisingly of all, I was happy. It was such a huge relief, but it is still, to this day, one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.
Although I had figured out my sexuality and was out (ish), I had still not accepted it. I felt ashamed to be bisexual, for many reasons, but the biggest one was because I’m Serbian. I am a Serbian orthodox christian, but my family stopped going to church regularly when I was pretty young, before I could really comprehend what they said in service, so I really didn’t know my religion’s stance on the LGBTQ+ community. (And personally I have always believed that God loves us all and has nothing against queer or trans people.) But I knew that the people who went to my local church would not be accepting of me for my sexuality, not because they were christian, but because they were from Serbia, a country that claims that LGBTQ+ people don’t exist. And throughout all of my childhood, I had never heard of a Serb being gay. I thought I couldn’t be queer because I was Serbian. Which hurt a lot because my sisters and I are first-generation Canadians, my parents grew up there, and my Serbian identity was really important to me. And I’m not proud to admit it, but I felt ashamed to be bisexual; like I had let everybody down beacause I wasn’t the Serb I was supposed to be. But mostly I just felt alone. I had never met another Serbian queer person, so I felt alone in my struggle and identity. But that all changed in the tenth grade.
By the tenth grade, I had been out to my big sister for about a year and a half, and a few of my closest friends knew as well. But I still felt ashamed of it, and I felt like I was betraying my Serbian identity. But one day, in what I think was english class, we had a Serbian supply teacher. As always, it was nice to have someone who could pronounce my name for once, plus this lady spoke five languages (which I thought was pretty cool). But while demonstrating to us all the languages she could speak, she casually said, “And my wife claims that I’m also fluent in cat,” and I just lost it. Not because she proceeded to meow at us for the next two minutes, but because I had finally found another queer Serbian. Someone like me. It was that experience that led me to be able to honour my Serbian identity while still being able to be who I was and love my sexuality.
But that was not the end of my bisexual journey. Because no matter how much I knew I was bisexual, I was only surrouned by straight poeple (or so I thought): my sisters, my friends, and I felt ahsmed to talk about my bisexuality with them, like it would be a burden, or it would make things weird, or that they would think I was “forcing” my sexuality onto them. Which I now realize is a horrible way to think and a clear sign that I had not yet overcome my internalized homophobia/biphobia. But that was how I felt, and it prevented me from living as my true self. Then one day in February of this year, my older sister (the one I thought wouldn’t accept me for being bi) sat me down in her room and shut the door. She sat on her bed, fidgeting with her fingers and looking at the floor. “Remember when I went to coffee with my friend, Anna, before she moved away for university?” she asked. I snorted, of course I would remember that, it only happened in the fall.
“Yeah,” I answered, unsure of why this was relevant to anything, let alone why this would be making her nervous.
“Well, I think it was a date.” Her face reddened and she turned around so that her back was facing me. I was not surprised, my sister told me that this girl confessed that she liked her at the end of last school year.
“Maybe she just didn’t get the message when you said you didn’t feel that way about her,” I offered. It didn’t seem like such a big deal to me; she’d gone out many times as friends with guys on what she later found out were dates. And she had no problem laughing about those times with me, this certainly didn’t seem like something to be embarrassed about.
“But I did like her,” she said, still not facing me, “I liked her a lot. And I think I wanted it to be a date.”
I burst out laughing, I couldn’t help it. Immediately she whipped around to look at me, with such a worried look on her face. “You don’t believe me?” she asked.
“What? Of course I believe you! Who am I to tell you how you feel?” I exclaimed. I was smiling so much, I couldn’t help the happy giggles that came out. But she still had a frown on her face, looking anxiously at the ground. I felt so bad, she probably felt as nervous as I had when I’d come out to her, and my reaction was probably not what she was expecting. I ran over to the bed and wrapped my arms around her, squeezing tightly.
“You’re not mad?” she inquired.
“Why would I be mad? I’m so happy!” I told her, how could I, of all people, not accept her for being queer.
“I thought I wasn’t allowed to be queer cause you were, I thought we couldn’t both be queer,” she amitted. And then we both laughed, out of relief, at the absurdity that internalized homophobia makes you believe, and just out of happiness. I was not alone, surrounded by only straight people, I had another queer person right beside, and best of all, it was my sister. She said that she didn’t want to rush into labeling herself. (Which is understandable; labels can be tricky.) Then around March, or maybe it was April, she said that she was bisexual, just like me!
She had been denying her sexuality and suppressing her true self for eighteen years of her life, so after she came out as bisexual, she dove all into loving herself and being who she was. It took some time, like it would for anyone, but she became more open and loving and not ashamed of what anyone thought of her sexuality. And for me, that felt like permission to finally love myself. I finally had someone to talk about gay stuff with, and who pushed my to do the things I was too afraid to do before. Like buying clothes that I actually liked and felt comfortable in, getting some pride gear to put on my jackets and backpacks, and finally getting a big bi flag for myself!
Now I can proudly state that I am bisexual, I love myself and I love my label. I’ve made new friendships, stronger than I’ve ever had before, and in the online LGBTQ+ community I’ve found such love and support and a safe space where I can connect with trans and queer people all around the world. For me the term bisexual means being attracted to more than one gender: women, men and non-binary folx. It’s been one heck of a journey and a long time coming to get here; but I’m so proud to be the ‘B’ in the LGBTQ+ community.
Ksenija is a non-binary bisexual screenwriter, writer and poet. They’ve memorized an unhealthy amount of musicals and dream of one day acting on the big screen. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sending Ksenija a few dollars on PayPal.