Good Bi Love: Why I Don’t Correct Every Time Someone Mislabels My (Bi)sexuality

9/4/2017

People usually think I’m gay. This isn’t a huge surprise given my lifestyle, (and when I say lifestyle in this context I do mean lifestyle, not sexuality). I don’t think I’ve patronized a straight bar or an event that wasn’t specifically queer since I’ve moved to NY three and a half months ago. I also haven’t had sex with any women, or even been on a single date with a woman since I’ve moved to Brooklyn.

Zachary Zane

It’s not like I’m actively avoiding single women who are interested in me; I simply don’t exist in many spaces with women that are attracted to men. I predominantly exist in gay male spaces, and have predominantly gay male friends, and work for LGBT magazines, so I’m not meeting women. That’s why I haven’t dated any women since moving here. Conversely, I’ve dated a lot of guys, and do talk about all the guys I’m dating.

Additionally, when I tell folks that I write for various LGBTQ publications, they wrongfully assume I’m writing about my experience as a gay man. They don’t think that I’m one of the few guys representing the B in LGBT.

And last but not least, I “act” more stereotypically gay as opposed to “masculine” and “straight.” My limp wrists and high pitched “Yas queen” don’t really give off a “straight” vibe.

This is all to say, that I understand why people think I’m gay – especially, if you’re just meeting me for the first time.

However, I am not gay. I am (very proudly) bi.

Still, I don’t correct every time someone mislabels my sexuality. In fact, I probably don’t correct them most of the time. When I first came out, I was better about it. I would correct someone every opportunity I had (and there were plenty of opportunities). Even if they knew I’m bi and simply slipped up. Even when I was being addressed in a group with other gay men, I would interrupt, “I’m actually bisexual.” When someone said I did something “so gay” jokingly, I would tell him it was actually “so bi” because if I’m doing it, and I’m bi, then what I’m doing automatically becomes bi. When I was serving someone at my bar, and they told me their brother was gay too, I’d clarify and say I was bisexual.

It brought me pride to say this. I also knew how good it was for bi visibility. I also was shocked by the number of people who would come out and tell me they were bi. By revealing my own (bi)sexuality, they felt comfortable to share theirs.

That’s pretty awesome. I felt like in my day-to-day life I was doing my part in making bisexuality more visible.

But now, I don’t correct nearly as much. The excitement of being bi has somewhat worn  off. What’s more, being older and having been out for a few years, I no longer need validation from other people regarding my sexuality. In other words, you can mislabel my sexuality, and I still know I’m bi. When I first started coming out, I needed more affirmation from others to embrace my sexual identity. Now, I’m in a healthy place where frankly, I don’t care if you don’t think bisexuality exists in men. I know it does, and I know that I am. It doesn’t matter who I’m dating, and I’m not going to pull up a sexual resume of past people I’ve slept with to “prove” that I’m bisexual to you.

Initially when I stopped correcting folks as much, I felt like a phony. I felt like a fake activist, as my job, being a “professional bisexual” is to educate people from all walks of life. My pieces, which primarily exist in LGBT outlets, don’t reach many straight audiences. That’s why chatting about my bisexuality with strangers and acquaintances is so important.  In my day to day life, I can reach people who wouldn’t typically read my work.

So I felt guilty for not correcting folks. This guilt caused me to go back to always correcting folks, but this time around, it felt more like a chore. I wasn’t enjoying the educational process. I was tired of receiving the same, “I don’t think I’ve ever met a real bisexual guy before.” I was burning myself out by having the same conversation with new people multiple times a day.

However, I realized that while I am a proud bi activist, I’m an individual first. I have to take care of myself. I know I am going to be bisexual until I die, which means I will inevitably have the “Oh, so you’re not actually gay?” conversation literally thousands of more times in my life.

It is 100% okay to not correct someone every single time. It’s okay to not correct people most of the times. It’s okay to be tired, and to think to yourself, “I really don’t want to have to talk about myself right now,” or “I don’t want to have to justify my existence with someone I just met.”

Sometimes, just by existing and being your true (bi) self, you’re being an activist. Besides, there will be plenty more times to correct someone when they mislabel your sexual orientation. As long as you do when you have the energy, you have no reason to feel any remorse.

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.