My Life Changed When I Just Owned My Bi Label

5/17/2017

It took me five years of having sexual relationships with men to have penetrative sex with a man sober. The first time I hooked up with a guy was my second week of college. To get to the point where I felt comfortable kissing (and doing a little more) with a man, I had to drink so much, that I left our hookup session to go vomit…twice.

Four years later, nothing had changed. Two weeks before graduating, I remember being on my knees, hugging the toilet bowl for dear life. This was right after I had hooked up with yet another guy hammered.

All throughout college I hooked up with dozens of men. Not once did I identify as bi, and not once was I sober.

Needless to say, this led to a lot of confusion surrounding my sexuality.

“Was I actually gay? Was I straight and just horny? Do I just have a drinking problem? Why do I keep doing this?”

These were just a few of the questions running through my head on a daily basis.

There were many reasons for my confusion, however I actually don’t think internalized homophobia or biphobia was to blame. I was intensely lucky and privileged to be born into a liberal Los Angeles family who is completely okay with various sexual orientations. This wasn’t always the case, but I have gay uncles on both sides of my family who have paved the way for me. Growing up, my parents made it clear that it would be okay if I was gay. They said this because some of my mannerism made them think (correctly), that I may not be straight.

I think the reason it took me so long to proudly claim the bi label was because everyone I asked didn’t think bisexuality existed in men (and at the time, neither did I). I’m someone who values the opinions of my friends and family members. I took their words very seriously.

When I offered the suggestion that I may be bi, I received a lot of  “Are you sure you’re not just gay?”

At many points in my college career, I thought I was “just gay,” but then I’d remember all of the women I had loved in my lifetime, and all the times I’d cried over a woman I liked, and it was clear that I am not gay.

After graduating from college and moving to Boston, I sought out an LGBTQ-specific therapist. Upon our second session, after I revealed to him my attractions and sexual experiences, I told him how tired I was of feeling confused. I was so tired of hearing, “You’ll figure everything out.” I just wanted to know what I was, so I could live my life accordingly.

That’s when he said, “It doesn’t sound like you’re confused. It sounds like you’re bisexual.” I was pretty shocked. No one had ever told me that with such confidence.

When I replied I wasn’t sure that’s the case, he rebutted, “Why not? You like hooking up with guys and girls. You’ve been attracted to girls since you were born, and you started exploring your attractions to men in college. It seems pretty clear to me that you’re bisexual.”

After that conversation with my therapist, I started tentatively identifying as bi, as if on a trial basis.

This is when I told myself I’m going to sleep with a man sober. So I did, and I’ll be honest with you, having sex with a man sober the first few times was really, really awkward. Not bad by any means, but after years of sleeping with men drunk, and telling myself I only hook up with guys drunk, it was incredibly intense for me to sleep with a guy sober.

Despite the first few times being uncomfortable, I kept at it. After feeling more confident with my sexuality, I really began to enjoy sleeping with men. But it definitely didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t have that “aha” moment that I hear many gay men have. When they kiss a guy for the first time and it “feels so right.” For me it felt weird. Good, but also weird.

As I became more honest with my friends and people I was meeting about my attractions/sexual exploits/dates with folks of various genders, people started asking what I identified as.

I would reply hesitantly, “I think I’m bi.”

That’s when the slew of questions began. “Are you sure?” “Why do you think that?” “How many [insert gender here] have you slept with?”

All of these questions really complicated my coming out process. Despite my therapist’s confidence in my (bi)sexuality, I still wasn’t 100% sure, as people kept insinuating I was confused or in a transitionary state.

But through having more dates and sober interactions with men, which eventually lead to me falling really hard for a guy I met, I finally became positive that I was bi.

Now, I claim the label. None of this, “I think I’m bi.” Now I say with confidence, “I am bi.”

Interestingly, since I’ve started proudly identifying as bi, very few people now provide the unsolicited, “You sure you’re not gay?” advice. Some people are definitely skeptical, and will ask “When’s the last time you’ve been with a woman?” I usually get this response from gay men who think that I’m “actually gay.” At which point I tell them, but I also let them know that frequency of intercourse with women doesn’t in anyway affect “how bi” I am. I could not be sleeping with any women and still be bi.

But in general, fewer folks question the so called “authenticity” of my bisexuality since I’m no longer hesitant.

I wish I had known this sooner. I wish I had known that if I just owned my bisexuality, I wouldn’t have to deal with all the nonsense from the skeptics.

So now I always claim the label with confidence. It’s not only cut down those obnoxious conversations by more than half, it has also bolstered my own confidence in who I am.

I now say it loud. I’m bi and I’m proud.

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane is a modern day Carrie Bradshaw from Los Angeles. His writing focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, dating, and relationships. He's currently a contributor at Cosmopolitan, Bustle, PRIDE, and Huffington Post Queer Voices. He's working on a novel, which explores the modern relationship between masculinity, vulnerability, and sexuality.