Coming out is hard. You will face prejudice and queerphobia. You will stand up and declare who you truly are and not everyone will hug you after that. It could be the single most petrifying thing you will ever do in your life. But in the end, it’s so worth it.
Today is Bi Visibility Day, the celebration of all bisexuals. And I am about to tell you why you should care about it.
Bi Visibility Day, or Celebrate Bisexuality Day, is the last day of Bisexual Awareness Week, taking place from September 16 to September 23 every year. It’s the time when all bisexual people can honour their sexuality, which is often overlooked in the LGBTQ+ community.
Men loving men and women, women loving women and men. People loving people.
Many bisexuals end up in so-called “straight passing” relationships, meaning dating or marrying members of the opposite sex. Some have claimed the LGBTQ+ community only supports bisexual people when they are in same-sex relationships.
And that is bi erasure.
When a bisexual man is dating another man, the whole queer community supports him. Because they see him as gay. When a bisexual man is dating a woman, he suddenly isn’t considered bi anymore. To all bisexuals out there, remember: your partner’s gender doesn’t change your sexuality.
Stephanie Beatriz, a bisexual actress best known for playing Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, opened up in an article for GQ.com about being in a relationship with a man:
“I’m bi, and I’m getting married this fall. […] I’m choosing to get married because this particular person brings out the best in me. This person happens to be a man. I’m still bi.”
Being bisexual means you can be in a straight-passing relationship and live in the closet for the rest of your life. You can find a romantic partner and happily live with them without ever coming out.
Is that what you really want?
I know how hard it is to come out of the closet. Personally, I was terrified. My mother is very religious and I’ve heard her say many times how homosexuality is a bad thing according to the Bible. My mother asked me if I were in a lesbian relationship, would I be “the one who takes care of the other or the one who is taken care of?”
That was the most awkward conversation I have ever had with anyone. She has proven to me people have no idea how same-sex relationships work. It’s the ignorance that causes the prejudice and the hatred. Relationships are about equality, mother. I would take care of my partner, yes, but they would do the same for me.
However, I am still not sure whether the question was actually literal and innocent or if the sexual undertone was meant. If you think having The Talk with your parents or guardians is traumatising, try having them ask you if you’re a top or a bottom.
My coming out could be described as a very short conversation, during which my mother seemed much more uncomfortable than me. She appeared pleased bisexuality means I can still be with a man. She quickly changed the subject and forgot the entire conversation ever happened. Meaning I had to come out to her twice. Ouch.
I was never hiding my sexual orientation. I admit, coming from a homophobic country with little to no sex education, it took years to figure it out. But once I did, I just decided to be myself. And then came the struggles.
“You’re not a lesbian?”, asked my heterosexual classmate after I told her I found a man attractive. Once she figured out I was attracted to women, she labelled me lesbian. Because straight people often perceive bisexuals as gay.
“You’re gay? I thought you were straight”, said my homosexual classmate after seeing me express interest in women. I told him I was bisexual and he seemed disappointed. Because gay people often perceive bisexuals as straight.
We are neither. When I’m dating a woman, I’m not gay, I’m still bisexual. When I’m dating a man, I’m not straight, I’m bisexual. When I’m dating a non-binary person I’m still bisexual. When I’m single I’m bisexual. I am always bisexual.
Remember when I said coming out is difficult and scary but worth it? I was speaking from personal experience. I never have to worry about saying or doing something that will out me. I never have to worry about others outing me. I don’t have to hide my sexuality, I embrace it. I can be myself.
Of course I encounter biphobia. I hear people say how my lifestyle is a sin, how it’s unnatural. How I am simply undecided and experimenting before I settle down. How I’m a threesome fantasy of a straight couple. When that happens I either try to explain bisexuality to people or ignore them altogether. You are not obligated to educate people on your sexual orientation or gender. It is not your responsibility to explain to them something they can google anytime but can’t be bothered to. You don’t owe them anything. You can help them understand, but only if you feel comfortable doing so.
When people ask me how I define my sexual orientation, I say I am bi, meaning that I can be attracted to everyone.
“But that means you’re pansexual.”
No, it doesn’t. And I am tired of people defining my orientation for me. Bisexuality is often seen as an umbrella term for all non-monosexual identities. Bisexual means attracted to two or more genders. So bisexuals can just be attracted to men and women, but they can be attracted to more genders as well.
At the very beginning of this article I promised to enlighten you. I said I would tell you why it is you should care about the Bi Visibility Day. After sharing my story with you, I must admit; it feels nice to be acknowledged. And being acknowledged by nothing more than embracing who you are feels thrilling. Think about it as a birthday. It’s your day. The day everyone wishes your dreams come true and they celebrate your person for simply existing. Bi Visibility Day is like that for us, bisexuals. It’s a special day on which we celebrate and are being celebrated for just being there. Whether open with our sexuality or in the closet. Pre- or post-coming out.
So, come on, don’t be shy. Wish us a happy Bi Visibility Day.
Featured Image Credit: Jonathan Boomer