Bi-Pride

Jun. 22nd, 2017 06:50 pm
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[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd
I don't talk a lot about being Bi-sexual (for me that means I'm attracted to two genders, mine and not mine. I know that technically that may be more pan but I've been using bi since high school and it feels more comfortable to me) lately, particularly with it being pride month. I've always wanted to go to Pride, like since I was old enough to know what Pride was, and yet I've never been. Some of it I say is that the idea of being in the sun surrounded by a bunch of people, and that's certainly true. However, a big part of it is that I've never felt like I belonged in the LGBTQIA community until recently.

I'd had crushes on girls about the same age I had crushes on boys. I didn't realize you could have a crush on girls so I tended to read it as "I would have a crush on them if they were a boy" or "I want to be like them" or "I admire them". I realized my freshman year of high school that I was, in fact, probably bi and definitely liked girls like I liked boys. I came out to one of my best friends, who was gay. His response "It's a phase. Everyone gets crushes on people of the same gender. You haven't ever dated a woman so you're not bi. You're just horny". I mean, I figured he was the expert. And I heard a lot of bi-bashing from him. The idea that a bi-person would always leave you for a straight passing relationship, that bi folks are permisuous, that we are doing it for attention, that we are defined by who we are dating, that if we are dating someone of our gender it's still not real because we still identify as bi. I don't hold any anger or resentment towards this person. But I took that biphobia and made it mine. Plus it was kind of widely thought that I was a lesbian anyway by a certain portion of my high school in spite of the fact I exclusively dated boys in high school. My experiences with other women, when I did tell Holden Caufield Guy, he turned it into the selacious story for his titlation and like, got really weird about it and in retrospect displayed Abuser Red Flags around it. But I didn't have a community or the internet. I didn't know that this treatment was shitty.

I went to Knox and felt a bit freer to also like girls. This is back when girls kissing at a party was A Thing That Was For Entertainment and there was a lot of pressure to prove that you weren't "just kissing girls for attention". I didn't use the word bi because again, I tended to date men even though I had sexual experiences with other women (not while dating the men). I started saying I was heteroflexible, or a Kinsey 3. I thought I couldn't really be bi because clearly I didn't like men and women exactly equal. I eventually stopped talking about it all together. I got married and at that point talking about my sexual identity seemed moot. I mean, I married a man so what did it matter if I was also attracted to women? I thought of coming out to my family at some point, but figured it would be met with at best a "so?"

I did come out to my brother and aunt. It...it feels like so much less of a high stakes thing. I was in my 20s, in Japan, married. And my brother, who tried to start a GSA in our town and did start one in college, said "it doesn't matter who you're with. it's your identity." My brother has always spoken from a place of his truth. I was out in grad school, at one point my professor pointed out to me that I may have been the lone LGBTQIA person in our program and I joked "Well I'm married to a man so I barely count" and he said emphatically "you count". It was easier for me on like, day 2 of grad school to tell a bunch of strangers that I was bi than it was for me to put on facebook on national coming out day (up until this year I either didn't comment or said I was an ally.)

I know there are so many experiences I didn't have because I am bi and have been in straight-passing relationships. And I often feel like there isn't space for me. Like being a Jewish kid with a Christian mom, I feel like I have to prove my ability to belong. I have to show people that I am queer enough to be able to go to pride and not have people think I'm a tourist.

I make sure my bi-students feel affirmed. Some of my students know I'm bi because I've accidentally used "we" when talking about bi-phobia. When they ask, I don't deny it. I affirm their identity no matter who they are dating. A lot of them have said that family members or friends would be ok with them being gay or lesbian but cannot deal with the fact that they are attracted to more than one gender. And yes, friends who are a part of the LGBTQIA community too. It breaks my heart when my students hear the same things I heard from a community I was supposed to be a part of. I know in that community I have a lot of privileged. I'm white, upper SES, cis, and in a straight-passing relationship. And bi-phobia still hurts. Maybe someday I'll go to Pride and not be pre-occupied with people figuring I don't belong.

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