Tuesday, April 2

B - Being Bisexual

I fell in love (you know the feeling, that fluttery, happy feeling in your gut) for the first time when I was 17. I’d had crushes before that, certainly, and even dated a couple of guys, but my first true love was a wonderful guy named Don. He was…gods, he was IT. The One. We didn’t sit around making “plans” or anything…or rather, he didn’t. I don’t think I did really, either; we talked about getting an apartment together “someday” with a third friend (the guy who introduced us, my very best friend), but that was about it. And I’m pretty sure, in retrospect, it didn’t even last all that long.

               And man, when it fell apart did my wee little heart crumbled into a miserable little mess and it stayed that way for a right long while.

               But then she walked in the door. I’d never looked at a girl the way I looked at this girl before. She wasn’t drop dead gorgeous—in fact, to be honest, she was rather plain. But I did whatever I could to be around her—and it wasn’t hard, we were on color guard together. And of course, she never knew; we were hardly even friends, really, because I kept a careful distance…gods, why am I sensing a novel in here somewhere…

Anyway, maybe I should specify that this was 1987, and while there were a couple of not-so-in-the-closet gay guys in my high school nobody was out and proud, either. It was the kind of thing that everybody knew but nobody talked about too loudly in the halls (except the asshats). The one lesbian in my class (that I’m aware of) was sort of in the same boat, but seemed to get more flack for it than the guys.

               Needless to say I wasn’t about to act overtly on my attraction to the pretty blond underclassman, even if I had thought I had a snowball’s chance in Hell of her returning my (rather confused at time) affections).

               See, before that moment, I had never, ever considered that I might have a thing for girls. I liked guys. I’d just gotten my heart broken by one. I’d had a couple of boyfriends before that, and had a long history of crushes on guys. All guys. No female had ever made my heart go pitter-pat. Was I just suffering from a broken heart or something? Had I gone to sleep a straight woman and woken up a lesbian?

               No. I definitely still liked guys. And I definitely liked this girl. I was soooooo confused!

               And then I realized there was a name for the way I was feeling.  It’s called being bisexual.
    What a Revolation!!
             The actual process of sorting it out took a few (long, difficult, and very confusing) weeks, during which I secretly lusted after this lovely young woman (okay, we were both young), pined for my ex, and ultimately went out with a guy I had NOTHING in common with just because I was lost and confused and maybe a little bit stupid. (Not that he’s not a great guy or anything, it was just a bad match; we didn’t date long.)  But the more time I spent pondering it, the more I realized I'd always been more physically attracted to women than to men. When I was a little kid Barbie spent way more time with Stacie than she did with Ken--I just never made the connection. (That's okay, I hadn't made the connection between how much time Barbie spent tied up and how much I like to be tied up, either!)

Coming out to my immediate circle of friends (mostly those guy guys and the lesbian) was pretty easy, but I soon discovered that being a bisexual person of either gender meant that both straight people and gay people could and would take pot shots at you for “not being able to make up your mind” and “straddling the fence.” It was very easy to be made to feel like you didn’t belong to either community. Bisexual was definitely a dirty word. I ran into a lot of gay women who wouldn’t date me because I also liked men. Straight men were frequently just pigs, I’d say I was bi and their next words were “so how about you and your girlfriend coming over to my place…?” Dude, if I had a girlfriend, I wouldn’t be on a date with your sorry ass! Those dates ended very quickly.

I don’t know what it is about the word bisexual that makes people think you’re loose or easy or just want a threesome. I don’t know what it is that makes people (gay and straight) so insecure, like even though I’m with you, I’m going to see that person over there of the opposite gender and dump you for them. It’s one of a couple of issues I tackled in my third novel, Hanging by the Moment—although I tackled a lot of issues in that one; the biggest one was probably HIV. I would prefer it if that overshadowed the rest.

Bisexuality definitely something I’m going to write about again because although it’s become “cool” to be bi (gods, I don’t get that), it’s still not easy. There are still people who just don’t get the idea that even though I am attracted (fairly equally) to both genders, that doesn’t mean I’m any less faithful to the person I’m with. Sexual orientation and fidelity have absolutely nothing to do with one another.  

Before I close out for the day, I want to repeat to you one of the most awful things someone said to me. Just two, maybe three years ago, I had a gay man tell me that he wished he was bi, like me, so he could marry a woman and have a “normal life”. That rattled me to my very core. Yes, I am married to a man, but that’s because he’s the person I fell in love with—and okay, he’s the person who can tolerate my shit. Point is, being bi doesn’t mean getting to choose who you love or who loves you, it means that you are attracted to both men and woman and have a chance of ending up with either.

Bisexual awareness day: Sept. 23

At first when I saw that there is a Bisexual Day of Awareness, I wondered "do we really need one? Isn't there already an LGBTQ day/month?"
            But then something happened: I found a blog where authors can promote their LGBT themed books and I thought COOL! I wonder if I can get in, because the books being presented looked totally awesome and several were by fellow Dreamspinner authors. And let's face it, we're always looking for ways to market ourselves, but I admit, I only want my books to show up in places where I'm proud to be and happy to direct readers and potential readers. So I was really excited to find this place.
But then I noticed the blog description:
"This blog features excerpts from current and forthcoming books by leading gay and lesbian authors..."
Apparnetly bisexual authors need not apply. And yes, of course that's the blog owner's perogative (and it may even be an oversight, they might have done what everyone does and simply forgotten that bisexual people exist), but I thought that we're supposed to be part of an LGBTQ community. It's bad enough when straight people exclude me because I'm bi (or simply politely ignore the fact that bisexuality exists), but when the gay and lesbian community does it, it really stings.
So yeah. We need a day. 

In fact, I'm going to give us a whole MONTH.
I know this is planning way ahead, but if you're a bisexual author, or an author or any orientation who has a book about a bissexual character, I'd like to invite you to be a guest blogger right here in September!

My goal is to fill up the entire month with posts from bi authors (and artists and other folks with opinions), about bi characters (written about by authors of any orientation), and generally celebrating what it means to be bi. Anyone is welcome to contribute, as long as the post itself is about bisexuality in some way.


Unknown said...

I think we grew up around the same era, Helen. I was in high school in the eighties, and the "invisibleness" of our community sure did a number on me. Not just the fact both gay and straight people tend to ignore the fact bisexuality exists, but the whole GLBT community was quietly swept under the rug, like mentioning it was tacky or disruptive in some way. I'm just glad things are changing now.

Anonymous said...

I have run into the very same thing. I was a few years behind you, but not by much and I remember well how gay and lesbians were treated.

I was like you, I had no clue what bisexuality meant. I had no clue that's what I was. I knew I liked some girls and some guys and I simply spent high school.... confused.

Since I've come out, I have heard most of the insults, too. Greedy, indecisive... and been asked the same kind of things, had the same assumptions made (even by my now ex-husband) - "so that means you want a threesome, right?"

No, that means I want you to die in a fire. >.>

And I've heard it as much from both sides, both the gay and straight community. And it is so frustrating.

I got asked recently why I don't reblog/share/retweet/whatever all the straight ally stuff. When I told them that I'm not straight, they just sat there without replying for a long time, then said, "But you have a husband." And I said, "Yes, but that just happened to be who I fell in love with. I also like women. I'm not an ally of the GLBTQ community. I'm part of it."

This same person kept repeating the fact that I'm married to a man and I was just... floored by this. So what? Do people really not understand what bisexual means? *shakes head*

I'd love to be part of your Bisexual month in September! Put me down for one of the days, please!

Unknown said...

Nice post! It made me think about the pressures involved with having to define ourselves.

Sue Brown said...

I would be honoured to have a day. I have a number of bi characters and one book very much tackles how I felt when I realised I was bisexual.

Cori Vidae said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog about realising you were bisexual. I'm mostly straight myself, but have a bisexual daughter so I liked the insight into how that realisation was for you.

Thank you for sharing.

~ Erotica by Cori Vidae ~

Moria said...

Excellent post about your coming out. I had noticed that seemed to be the norm even now about being bisexual, to accuse them of being greedy or straddling the fence. That is sad that it even comes from the LGBT side.

Crystal Collier said...

I don't condone the lifestyle, but I'm kind of heart broken about the fact you didn't at least let the girl know you liked her back in high school. I mean, maybe she would have given you a chance, eh?

C. Zampa said...

Loved your post, Helen.

And I SO related to the just thinking you couldn't possibly be attracted to a woman until a woman DOES come along and you...well..you ARE attracted.

My experience was once when I knocked on a friend's door and a young 'man' answered. Dark, shaved close hair, dark eyes, the whole nine yards. Immediate attraction.

Well, when I was informed the 'son' was in fact a young lady...I was a little confused at my feelings right at first, but then felt all nice inside when I realized it did NOT bother me. I LOVED that I knew, finally, that I could be attracted to either sex.

Again, I enjoyed your post!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. My first exposure to bisexuality came in college, and while I didn't have a problem realizing what it means, mentioning my first bisexual friend to my mom was the first of many, many times I've had to tell her that the only thing it means is that you're attracted to both men and women. She's still skeptical that a bisexual person can be monogamous, even though most of those I know are. *sigh*

Personally, I identify as straight, but that doesn't mean I've never been attracted to a woman. It just means I've never been attracted enough to act on it. It could happen!

H.B. Pattskyn said...

I wanted to thank everyone for dropping by today! This was a really special topic for me :) For the most part it is easier to be bisexual today than it was when I came out in the late eighties, but I do get frustrated when I see things that make me feel like people just don't realize we exist, or like Grace said, that people just assume because I'm married, I'm straight when that couldn't be further from the truth. I love women--but I'm in love with a particular man.

Aidee Ladnier said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I wanted to say how much your post touched me. I only came out to my family and friends a couple of years ago and it can indeed be hard to explain when you're married to a guy that you're also attracted to females (but monogamous). I totally agree that we need a day and your idea for a month is wonderful. I'll be here reading every post.