Confronting Bi-Erasure In The Mirror

Louisa Leontiades Sexual Shame, Vile Depths

For a woman in an open relationship, I was what they called vanilla. Hetero. Boring. Not really into fetish if it involved equipment. I don’t go for orgies. And no, my open relationship doesn’t translate into ‘threesomes’. But then I experienced Midsummer in Sweden. Because if there is one country that does it right…

The solstice is potent. A celebration of fertility. The sun is at its full power all night. And there’s a lot of fucking on the night the sun doesn’t go down. As it happens, both my children with my Swedish boyfriend are born 9 months after the solstice (surprise). It’s madness, magic and revelry in the land of the midnight sun. And overcome by the energy and the teensiest bit of alcohol last midsummer, I gave in to my own bisexual desires.

It raises an uncomfortable question for me because I was quite happy in my comfortable heterosexual pigeonhole. But far from embracing the fluid nature of my sexuality, I’ve discovered it’s a conflict I simply don’t want to face. And if I am intolerant of my own sexuality it means that somewhere along the line I have internalized society’s homophobia. I came out as polyamorous. It was traumatic and I really don’t want to have to come out again.

I don’t want to be bi- because I think I know how people would look at me. Defined, accepted or rejected by my sexuality alone. Relegated to a minority.

‘I would have thought you would be rejoicing’ said my boyfriend (delighted, no doubt at the potential of this discovery of mine). ‘You’ve now got double the population to choose from if you want to go on a date.’

But I am not rejoicing. I am scared of those battles. I don’t want them to be mine. And it appears so many others are just like me. We lie about our sexuality as a matter of survival in our society.

In a recent Slate article Why a Straight Man are right to fear Homosexuality the author propounds that the reason men fear being gay is that the power of heterosexuality lies in perception. If a man is perceived as being gay or bisexual – through even one gay act – he will be defined as gay. He will become A GAY PERSON. Forever stigmatized. Bisexual and gay men choose to stay hidden because as humans we desire and need connection. We fear rejection.

It’s assumed that women don’t have it as bad. Well certainly, if you are the type of ‘bisexual’ who will permanently entertain another woman in bed with your boyfriend, then basically you’ll be okay. Since this aspect of bisexuality is allowed and even encouraged, statistics show that 12% of women under 35 on OkCupid self-identify as bi. However the same study shows that only about 1 in 4 of those women actually write to both guys and girls at the same time. That means that 3/4s of fantasies are, in fact, fantasies of a fantasy (The Biggest Lies in Online Dating).

It is concluded by the world in general that these ‘false bisexuals’ do it to appear more attractive to men. Well, that’s only one interpretation of the statistics.

The other interpretation is that even if a woman might be bisexual, making advances towards other women independentlyconfirms her ‘equal’ inclination towards women as a fact. And whilst men might want a bisexual woman in their bed, they don’t want the penis to be eradicated from the play area entirely. Women like men, fear rejection. Coming out as bisexual by dating another woman without a man present, changes your relationship to men and the world forever. If you question the hetero-norm of society by your actions, you become a threat. It’s that simple.

If I could stay in the closet I would, but I can’t.

Because there’s no getting away from my own ethics. This attitude towards myself is a mirror to how I must really think – or at least a part of me must think – despite my attendance at gay pride, my vocal hatred on Facebook about what is happening in Russia and my fluid declarations on my OKCupid profile. Confronting and eradicating these attitudes from the world are more important than staying shielded in my false heterosexuality. I can’t contribute to bi-erasure.

It takes a different value system if you wish to change the world. Jacque Fresco

In a world which is today fostering and ignoring violence towards people simply on the basis of their sexuality, I will stand up and be counted. I will be a part of the movement which embraces and supports sexuality in all its consensual forms. I’m coming out even if I have little idea of how to define my own sexuality.

What’s important, is that if I can’t even accept that my own sexuality is beautifully fluid in nature and can continue to evolve over the course of my life, then by definition I do not accept other people’s expression of sexuality either. And that’s a problem.

Which is why I’m coming out again, bi and proud. Do you dare?