How Rave Culture Helped Me Embrace My Bisexuality

3/25/2017

Whenever my mother and I get back around to talking about my bisexuality, she points out that I will be perceived as weird because of my bisexuality. She goes on to say that I’ll be seen as even more of a weirdo because I am so open about my bisexuality, because I take pride in it.

I let her know that regardless of my sexuality, I would still be a raver, and therefore still be seen as a bit of an outcast. There is no version of myself that could conform to her idea of normal, and I can either spend my life trying the impossible – or take pride in who I am.

Rave culture and my bisexuality aren’t unrelated either. Rave culture helped me to define who I am, to realize that there are accepting communities out there, places where I don’t have to be “normal.” Many people think of ravers as those lost kids who listen to weird music in sketchy places and do lots of drugs. Although there is always music, often in unusual places, and some do use drugs, what makes rave culture great is so much more.

I went to my first rave when I was 16. It was in the middle of the forest, a couple of hours away from Mexico City. Raving means a lot of different things to different people. For me a rave is where the mystical sounds of Psychedelic Trance, Progressive Trance, Acid House, and Tech-House echo through the woods (or a run down industrial building) all night long. It is an environment, an atmosphere, a vibe that feels as if you have entered into a sacred space, a space where you dance the night away. It is a place, both physical and spiritual, that embraces the concept of P.L.U.R. (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect).

My first rave was also the first time that I met a seemingly “straight” couple using the word bi to define themselves. Both of them identified as bi and were very open about their sexuality. They mentioned it, just as if they were sharing their favorite color with me. It was no big deal, but also something they love about themselves. The way they communicated with each other about their attractions caught my attention. They were very open with each other about the fact that they were attracted to people regardless of gender. I had never seen a couple communicate like this before.

At that time, I had so many doubts and insecurities about my own sexuality that this was a revelation. I knew the word “gay” and that it didn’t really fit me. I also knew that I wasn’t “straight.” But this was the first time that I thought the word “bi” might describe me. Talking to this couple at a rave in the woods made me let go of so many of the negative stereotypes that surround bisexuality and to embrace it as an identity.

Eventually, I moved from Mexico City to the US. I got older, I participated in other subcultures and I met a ton of wonderful people. I encountered many open-minded and loving communities. I found friends who accept me. As a result, I became much more comfortable, even proud, of the word bi.

It wasn’t until I reconnected with rave culture in the US that I realized how profoundly open and loving rave culture is. This wasn’t a phenomenon unique to one night, one city, or one country; raving has always provided me with a welcoming home regardless of age, sex, gender, orientation, language, or culture. Its openness and acceptance is a large part of why I was able to come out as bi. Raving is why I quit trying to be someone else’s idea of “normal” and just started being myself.

I’m so happy being weird. After all, what could be more boring than total normality. Of course, none of us are truly “normal.” We all have some things about us that put us outside “the norm.” These are the details that make us unique, the core of our humanity.

So, sorry mom. Even if I were straight, I would still be “weird.” And thank goodness for that!

Damian Emba
Damian Emba is a Mexican/American artist, activist, translator, and writer. A contributor for Bi.org, Damian also coordinates Spanish Language & Youth Outreach for amBi, the world’s largest bi social community. You can follow him on Instagram @dmntial.