How Bi is “Bi Enough”?
My coming out was a slow burn of realization. I’d had experiences with both sexes on multiple occasions, but I never felt like I had earned my badge of bisexuality because I had never had an actual girlfriend. I’d had flings and crushes that society told me were nothing more than “girl crushes.” Compared to my bi friends who had several exes of both sexes, I felt like I wasn’t qualified enough to actually be considered bi. I hadn’t found a female to fall in love with yet, so clearly I must still be straight with some flexibility.
Growing up in Southern Oregon, the queer community wasn’t the best place to find other queer women, and I never found someone who I clicked with long enough to pursue a relationship. I just figured that I was an open-minded person, but ultimately heterosexual since I’d only ever dated men. I would go on and on to my friends about various “girl crushes” I had and would often spend hours swooning over, sometimes she was an empowered #BossBitch woman who I thought the world of, or the cute pizza delivery girl who left me blushing and giggly. I would see these women and feel a strong pull to them, but I had never proved myself queer enough in the past to ever feel like I could call myself bi. So I disregarded my emotions as unreal and continued to walk blindly in my false-heterosexuality. Occasionally, I would open up to those in my life and use the label “hetero-flexible” since I had strayed from strictly straight a time or two before, usually when alcohol was involved.
I started feeling a pull towards other women after high school when I was on my own and dying to have a safe and genuine relationship. I thought I was searching for a close connection in a best friend. I developed a pattern. I’d find a new bestie, we would often joke around about how we were so single and essentially each other’s boyfriend, and how we’ll always manage to sustain our old, married couple dynamic. I felt that strong emotional connection one often feels with the person they’re dating, but strictly platonic. We’d never move into a physical relationship, but we exposed ourselves emotionally and allowed our walls to come down. We connected. I loved this person in my life and had created a functioning balance of dependency. We planned our weekends together, whether a road trip or bar night, and made sure to find excuses to see each other during the week, like errands and other trivial things. Our worlds revolved around each other. Eventually, we faded; our lives got busy with other drama and we no longer were each other’s everything. When she faded, I slowly found another woman to replace her and recreate that same type of relationship I had before. I kept telling myself that they were just filling the best friend gap, not that I had felt the same way with them that I had with prior boyfriends.
I was later able to recognize that the heartache I felt over each relationship ending was that of a break up, even if at the time I never admitted it. For all of these women I had bonded with, I mourned over the loss of each one and the impact they made in my life. No, I never dated these women I had dedicated so much of myself to, but when we hit a snag in the road and parted, it hurt more than breakups with my “official” boyfriends from the past. So, no. I have not actually dated another woman, but I’ve fallen for plenty before I ever realized that I was allowed to feel these emotions for them. They were all straight, so I never pushed them to be with me in a physical way. But I became more intimate and raw with so many of these women than I had ever been with a former romantic partner.
There’s plenty of people who watched me go through this and saw the pain I felt trying to recover from losing these “girl crush” “best friend” “platonic life partners.” These same friends continue to question whether or not I am bi. They tell me I was just confused. They are right, I was VERY CONFUSED because I believed that my romantic love must have been some kind of mixed up platonic soulmate. I was confused that I could feel so strongly for someone without needing any kind of physical side of it. I loved them, plain and simple. I was confused by what others had told me for so long, not that bisexuality didn’t exist, but that I wasn’t BI ENOUGH.
Even in high school when I started acknowledging some of my feelings, I talked to some of the cool, hipster bi cliches for guidance and they all just tried to tell me that I really wasn’t bi because of my dating history and that I was essentially stepping on their label, a label that they had worked for and earned. I had this idea that because I had not dated a woman by this time in my life that I never would be able to and that I would never be a real, card-carrying bi person. I was convinced that I was nothing more than a straight girl with an “open-mind.”
My point in all of this was that my fear of coming out of the closet had nothing to do with me being afraid of being labelled as bi, but me claiming an orientation that I felt I hadn’t earned. I wasn’t afraid of how my friends would see me (most of them already queer in some way), or even how my family would take it. I was afraid of not being seen as genuine. It took years before I was able to realize that I AM BI. I was afraid of claiming a label that described me, yes, but I didn’t have the experience that other bi people around me had.
I’ve been on #StandBi for quite a while, and no matter who I end up dating, I will still be bi. I am not going back in the closet just because I don’t have enough bi street cred. I am not going to go out of my way and force a relationship with a female just to get more bi street cred. I am just going to keep living my life and going where the wind takes me.