A Message To The Men Who Tell Me I’m Not Bi

6/30/2018

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This June, I was excited to attend my second Pride celebration in Chicago. The previous year, I had a blast meeting new people, attending events, and immersing myself into the crowd of loud and pround people who were out to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. While it was a great experience overall, there was a blight on my first Pride experience; a gay man told me that, as a bi man, I shouldn’t be at Pride and should only come back when “you actually come out.” That comment put a cloud over the rest of my Pride celebration; while I did have fun, this moment has stood out clearly in my mind ever since.

Heading into this year’s Pride Fest (the celebration weekend preceding Chicago’s Pride Parade) I was hopeful that the biphobic incident from last year was an anomaly. Unfortunately, in the midst of my second Pride experience, I had yet another biphobic encounter with a gay man.

I was having a conversation with someone I had just met about marketing; we both work in the field and were discussing groups and organizations that marketers in the Chicago-area could join to make connections through. One group that came up had “Gay” as part of the title, and I laughingly said, “I’d love to join, as long as bisexual members are allowed!” The man I was discussing this with laughed and said, “Of course they are!”

However, this comment caught the attention of a man standing nearby. He came up and introduced himself and asked, “Did I just hear you say you’re bi? How old are you?” I responded with, “I just turned 26!” He laughed and, with an eye roll, said, “I was bi when I was 26 too; you’ll figure out you’re gay soon enough.” Instantly, I felt the same stab of irritation and hurt that I did the year before; here I was yet again, in the midst of a celebration that is supposed to be for all LGBTQ+ people, having my sexual orientation dismissed as invalid, as if it was some sort of joke and I was just a confused man going through a phase.

In the moment, I decided the best course of action was to walk away; I clearly wasn’t going to change this man’s mind and I didn’t want to ruin the afternoon by launching into an argument about how what he was saying goes against everything that Pride celebrations are supposed to stand for. I went back to my friends to vent a bit before we all continued on with our day. But since that moment, I have been figuring out the best way to address this incident and others like it, specifically when it comes to dealing with gay men. For in my life since coming out, I have personally gotten more hate and negativity from gay men than any other group I’ve encountered.

So if you are one of those biphobic gay men out there, I implore you to keep reading. You need to understand that these comments, however insignificant or funny they may seem to you, are wrong and damaging.

Consider the actual implications of what every snide remark, eye-roll, or any other invalidating action you make regarding about bisexuality has on a bi individual like me. You must know deep down that you are not going to change me as a person. I spent years of my life figuring out who I am and, today, I am exactly who I am supposed to be.

However, you will have an impact on my life in another way; you will join the long list of narrow-minded, bigoted people who have told me I am confused, in a phase, or fundamentally wrong for simply being who I am. Through these actions and comments, you will become one of the oppressive people who has caused me to experience years of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. You will become a person who has tried to make me feel small, invalid, and unwelcome in what is supposed to be a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space.

Ask yourself if this is who you really want to be, because if you’re one of the people who routinely denies the validity of bi individuals there is no alternative way to describe you. If you can’t open your mind and accept that there is more than your personal way to express love and sexuality, than you’re no better that those outside of the LGBTQ+ community who are saying the exact same thing. In fact, it’s actually worse when it comes from someone within our own community, because you’ve probably experienced these very prejudices in your own life.

You can say I’m overreacting. You can say it’s no big deal. But I have a right to be accepted in the LGBTQ+ community and to be able to celebrate my Pride just as much as anyone else who is part of this group. If you can’t accept that, then maybe you should reevaluate yourself and return to Pride when you can accept all who truly belong there.

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.