A short explanatory prologue:
I conceived and wrote this piece with my phone on shuffle. I usually write with something going on in the background; I find my mind focuses better when it has to concentrate on blocking something else out; but this time it was completely different. Instead of the other stimulus acting as a distraction to be parted with, the music began to blend with my writing and essentially bolster it. Every song that trundled through was perfect, exactly what I needed to accentuate my exact feelings into more intense shapes. The articulation became easier and easier as every track complimented my thoughts and drew out new ones. The list is hilariously bizarre and contradictory at times, and when I reviewed it it almost made me laugh that something so jagged and odd helped me to create something cohesive and cathartic. I reclaimed the random result and have managed to compile it all into a playlist for you to listen to. The order is exactly how they occurred for me, and I love the idea of people listening to exactly what I was as I wrote what they are reading. It’s far too long to play through entirely whilst you read this (it’s roughly 4 hours long) but there you go. I have made it on Apple Music and YouTube so hopefully everyone can access it (I tried but failed on Spotify because I am dim and unimpressive technology-wise). Please enjoy the music and the writing that follows:
I have no idea how to start this one.
The last piece I published was very much fuelled by my own indulgence in the chaotic energy of posting a seemingly ‘anti-romance’ piece that condemned other people’s relationships on Valentine’s Day. I was pleased with how it turned out and the lovely comments some people reached out to me to share. However as time passed and I reflected on the aftermath of what I’d written in a colder light, I became increasingly uncomfortable with just how smug I appeared. That was obviously not my intention and I hadn’t had anyone tell me that’s how they’d taken it, but if they had I wouldn’t have been surprised. I wasn’t and still am not smug about my lack of a relationship, but I didn’t feel my words had fully and accurately portrayed that. The piece could be easily misunderstood and I was horrified about the possibility of being misrepresented by my own words about something I feel so strongly about. If it wasn’t perfect, I didn’t want it; and it isn’t, so I don’t.
Some clarification, some context and some detail. I am single and queer and it is Pride month.
I never really thought I had any problems or confusion with my sexuality. I don’t remember when things started to change or I became cognisant that something was different, but clearly one day I did. I have wavered between feeling totally comfortable and completely bewildered with it. The word ‘bisexual’ flew into my life and my identity when I was maybe 13/14, and since then I have fluctuated within my own mind tirelessly, wrestling with its meaning and my feelings and its place in the world and subsequently mine.
I still don’t feel legitimate in my label; and that pisses me off because I know that it’s an accurate one. I fancy men and women, I can and have verbalised to people how it feels and have had other bisexual people agree and share in my descriptions. I don’t feel ‘gay enough’ a lot of the time frankly. I constantly see my label questioned and undermined in mainstream culture. It feels like whenever I finally settle into it and it begins to feel comfortable and full and fitting around my shoulders and neck I see something that makes me doubt it. Someone chatting absolute shit about it not really existing, someone describing it as a ‘transitional’ sexuality, that it is a stepping stone to being ‘fully gay’, that it is attention-seeking for straight people. Constant shit. Fucking constant. Bisexuality (and similarly pansexuality) is truly astounding because it manages to straddle prejudice, hatred and dismissal from both ends of the spectrum. Straight people can treat us like some sick novelty, an accessory for sexual acts, something casual and disposable. Gay people can also struggle to take us seriously; they perceive we have had an easy ride, that we are almost traitorous within the queer community with our heterosexual attractions as well. We are unsure, uncommitted, fickle, disloyal, greedy, confused. We are in the middle, rejected by what we are but also what we are not. We are lavish, but still manage to lack. Too much but not enough.
To be suspended between two binaries is to be suspended in what can feel like a constant state of purgatory. My feelings define me as uncertain.
In 2017 I experienced my first emotional romantic attraction to a girl, and I actually felt certain about something for once. It was confirmation for me that I was gay enough. My feelings for her were surprisingly strong surprisingly quickly and it further served to tailor the label to fit me even better. My capacity for love and romance was now suddenly blown open to seemingly unlimited expanses; as pansexual comedian Joe Lycett described, now everyone was “at risk”.
I imagined us doing such bizarrely mundane things it almost felt like a joke – eating takeaways together in front of Netflix, going out to breakfast, anxiously meeting her family, driving down motorways both in the front not even talking to each other, loading a dishwasher, waiting in airports, tidying up a bedroom. Sometimes I wonder if I got carried away with my feelings as a side effect of relief – so pleased with my real tangible ‘provable’ homosexual attraction that maybe I took them too far in my head. I hate the idea of that and am so ashamed of it as a possibility but it would feel dishonest to omit it in this discussion. It also alerts yet again to just how real my apparent ‘imposter syndrome’ is within my own identity. There’s not much I can do about that if it’s the case, but it’s another lovely thing to throw on the ‘I’ve got no idea what this means and it confuses me’ pile.
All I can think to do is try and identify then cure what I think has caused this. There is almost no bisexual representation in the media. Characters and people often display bisexual behaviour and yet are never identified as such. A term is either never given, they are labelled as gay or portrayed as casual and ‘flexibly’ straight. This is so effective in completely undermining and absolving bisexuality as a credible, valid and even common sexuality. It’s so passive and indirect and yet incredibly destructive and hurtful. Poor representation is a problem for literally any marginalised group, but poor representation in the context of bisexuality within a heteronormative society creates quite the particular result. When you are raised in a society that only really offers you two options, existing outside of those is obscenely confusing and even scary. You may try to force yourself into either of the options, or you may search out for others like you. And when there isn’t anyone who openly lives and thrives similarly to you, that lonely feeling is like ice water over your head. Let’s break it down.
There’s 3 aspects to this outcome:
- Feelings of heterosexual and homosexual attraction.
- A society that only offers/promotes 2 mutually exclusive options.
- Media that doesn’t contradict this fact.
One of those is unchangeable, but they can all occur in spite of each other.
So what do you do? What do I do? How am I supposed to fix the fact that every time a bisexual person reveals themselves to actually be gay or straight it makes me feel like shit, even though I know they only do those things because of our rigid society and it’s absolutely not their fault? How do I overcome my own internalised biphobia and the fact that I struggle to cling to any conviction about my own feelings and label and legitimacy whenever they are slightly undermined? What am I supposed to do with the fact that I still think about that girl from 2 years ago quite a lot, even now?
Well, it occurs to me that now would be a good time to clarify what bisexuality actually is, not only for anyone reading this who’s wondering, but also for me, to serve as a reminder whenever I’m feeling unsure.
Bisexuality is the attraction to more than one gender, and is distinguishable from pansexuality in that the gender of the person usually factors into a bisexual person’s attraction – that means to say that a bisexual person’s feelings differ depending on the gender of the person. This can occasionally factor into what confuses bisexual people, as they expect to feel comparable/identical feelings about everyone, but that isn’t the case – that’s pansexuality baby! I wish someone had told me that sooner. When I fancy a woman it feels completely different to when I fancy a man. It literally feels different in my body, and absolutely changes the way I behave around them. If only I’d known that, and hadn’t used my variation of feelings as a tool to invalidate a certain branch of them. When I fancy a woman it feels gentle and safe and comfortable and smooth, almost like sliding into a warm bath? When I fancy a man it feels spiky and electric and scary, like jabbing my finger in and out of a flame. Even after identifying this I found myself trying to work out which one was the ‘real’ one – I’m sure you’ve probably just done the same. I wasn’t fine with my differing feelings, I had to be either gay or straight. Inhabiting both just wasn’t an option. And that’s my point.
That’s why when those feelings came to me in 2017 it felt so revolutionary – it was like a light had been switched on, illuminating a huge expanse of feelings I hadn’t even known were there. Unexplored and untouched. I imagine it as a field covered in snow, devoid of footprints. And there’s still further to go – I’ve never fancied a non-binary person before, so I wonder what that would feel like? It’s exciting and daunting to think that there’s still elements of my personality I don’t know or understand or have even experienced yet.
He’ll Have to Go
I’m nervous that this alienation of one part of my identity has bled further. I constantly feel other to other people. Other to others. Everyone else feels homogenous and I feel incredibly singular. Sometimes I feel bored and sad and irritated and distant when around other people. All I can think about is being on my own, and then when I finally am there is initial relief, then bizarrely contradictory loneliness. I started this piece talking about my last post about being single, and how uncomfortable I was having people think I was smug about it. I’m single because I’ve never found anyone truly compatible with me, and every part of me. I don’t really belong with anyone, and I’m worried that that’s because I don’t feel like I belong yet individually.
Make the World Go Away
My sexuality is not compatible with the structure of society it seems, and I’m still completely unaware of how it could be compatible with other people. This piece is the most vulnerable I’ve ever been – I only came out to some of my family this year, some of them still don’t know. (Guess they might do now.) I am not smug, I am lonely. And the funny thing about that is, there are numerous other people who feel lonely like me in the exact same way, because of the same thing.
My feelings do not define me as uncertain to me. I am capable of affinity with anyone, and is there anything more definitive than harmony with everyone?
See You at Your Funeral
I am determined to alter this. I’m not a passive person, I am angry that I feel this way and that I am not an anomaly. Bisexual representation needs vast improvement, the treatment and attitude towards bisexuality and bisexual people needs vast improvement. We’re the 3rd letter for fucks sake. I refuse to be absolved, I refuse to sever a portion of myself in order to be seen. Self-loathing and uncertainty is honestly just too tiring of a load to constantly lug around with you, particularly not when they are pressed upon you by other people. I know who I am and what I am, and I’m done waiting for the obsolete validation of other people.
In ‘You are not incomplete if you are single’ I was keen to emphasise to people just how fantastic our capacity for love is. I still stand by that post, I just felt it lacked context. I wanted to motivate people into realising that and thus not settling for something so unbelievably below our station. I’m okay being on my own, because I know that’s because the right thing hasn’t come along yet, and that could be anything. That’s what my bisexuality means to me; my capacity for love is limitless. You’re all at risk.