Lisa Michelle Tells Us About Her #StillBisexual Video

8/10/2018

We’re sitting down with folks who have made #StillBisexual videos, to find out more about their story. Here’s Lisa Michelle’s.

So you made a #StillBisexual video! Did you share it with anyone?

I may have shared it with a couple of my queer friends. I just kinda did it for myself.

Why did you choose to do a #StillBisexual video?

At the time I was going through a lot with [my bisexuality]. Now I know that I was experiencing some bierasure. I was trying to understand what it was I was looking for in my relationships. I had recently come out and with that had come the unwanted attention of people that assumed I didn’t take my orientation seriously or didn’t want a real relationship, that I was just experimenting or playing around. So it was a tough time for me.

The hard time that you’re talking about, when was that?

It was leading up to the video. I had developed feelings for someone and experienced heartbreak. It all came with moving back to Chicago and just feeling very alone. Sometimes it’s easier to restart when you’re going somewhere new and you can kind of forget about the pain, but I was going back to the place where the pain started.

I had some hard times with establishing assertiveness with my boundaries. I don’t know what other people’s experiences are, but I think sometimes bi people get pretty objectified. I have felt many times I’m treated sort of like a sex toy to people. I’m also a sex worker, I dance at a strip club. And every time a couple comes in, if I tell them I’m bi, they’re like “oh, well then you’re gonna come home with us and be our sex toy for the night.” And I’m like, “wait, for free?” [laughs] So that dynamic is really interesting since now I’m out as a sex worker and a bi person.

So now you’re totally out. What was that like for you?

It was slow. I was already kind of out, but it was very specific. I was newly single and trying to date. I went on so many horrible dates.

It was just funny because you’re on a date, you’re like okay, at what point do I tell them I’m a sex worker and at what point do I tell them I’m bi? I wasn’t afraid that they would say “oh, go away, you’re gross.” But I was afraid they would try to fetishize me.

I was in that phase of dating and dealing with trying to divulge two marginalized identities. And not feeling like I really had a deep connection to support within both of those subcultures, both of those identities. I had some friends that identify as bi or queer or gay. I just didn’t know how to reach out to them. I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling. And I didn’t really have any friends that were sex workers either because when you work in competition with them, it’s really hard to have healthy relationships with coworkers.

I learned a lot about what I want to divulge to people. I have to put all that on the table right away. Straight up, I am bi and that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a threesome. I’m bi and that doesn’t mean that you and I are just going to be girlfriends that play and keep boyfriends on the side. Because I have real feelings and I have value and that needs to be reciprocated.

I also tell them up front I am a sex worker. It’s a big part of my social identity. I’m really involved with the sex worker community in Chicago and that’s never gonna go away. So coming out and doing that video helped me to start really allowing my sexuality to be a part of my identity, which helped me find healthier relationships.

If you were to make the video today, is there anything you’d add from your life experiences since?

I did end up in a relationship with another woman. [I had to recognize] my own biphobia because my girlfriend is also bisexual.  

And also seeing I don’t want to label myself sometimes because I don’t know what’s gonna come next, but I know that I have been bi and I know that putting that out there and having that identifier at least gives me a place to look or to feel some sort of community.

I’d really love to talk about the overarching message of your video, love and acceptance of self. Was there anything in the years since that has challenged or enhanced this?

That’s definitely the hardest thing that I’ve ever tried to do. The reason I had a lot of issues with my orientation was because I grew up in a home that was religious and stifling to anyone that was not heterosexual. I think coming out is what really forced me to confront the deeper wound of growing up in a dysfunctional home. So as I started putting those identifiers out there and it created that rift in relationship with my family, it kind of isolated me for a time, but it brought me to a place to seek help. So I started doing a recovery support group for people that grew up with dysfunctional families. Until that point, my relationships would develop and then crumble, just be a cycle, one after another. Lots of relationships that were under the two year mark or less. And since I started doing [the support group], now I really confront the demons inside of me that want to create drama in my relationships. And it’s gotten so much better.

My relationship with myself is unique and fun. It’s definitely not easy. But I have that support group which is really the foundation for everything. And it’s cool to go to a place where everyone knows my story, they know I do sex work and they know about my relationships romantically and everything else. And no one ever judges me and they totally support my recovery. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be able to be having this phone call. There’s no way I’d have the awareness that I have to talk about it.

Anything I would have tried [before] in a relationship was just quicksand because I couldn’t stand with myself. I couldn’t accept myself. And when you have roadblocks like that in your life you’re going to keep tripping and falling over them until you really confront it. I think doing [the #StillBisexual] video was the first step in that process. It helped with boosting my self esteem and being vulnerable.

It kind of started that process of developing strength and vulnerability. Identifying as queer, bi and also having a girlfriend that’s bi, and non monogamous, and also doing sex work full time for a living, having all of those identifiers, it can kind of be crushing. But because I’m practicing vulnerability and learning how to build strength through that, it connects me to other people. So the relationships that I have may be more unique and harder to find, but the relationships I have with people, they’re more intimate and they’re tighter. So in a way it’s that bittersweet kind of thing. A little bit of pain is what makes everything beautiful at the end.

SB Swartz
SB Swartz is an author covering inclusive wellness, queer family, and reflections of our world as seen on tv. As a contributing writer for bi.org, SB created the Step Bi Step series for bi parents and originated the This Bi Life series showcasing bi community stories.

SB would very much like to talk to you about your pets, her pets, and the way you view the world. She's her favorite somebody's mama. And yes, she's #StillBisexual.

Find SB Swartz @sbswrites on Twitter and read more of her latest @sbswartz on Medium.