I am a 46 year old divorced mother of two teenagers (who mean the world to me) and although I might be starting over...I'm not one to quit...ever. I graduated in December (2013) from Utah Valley University with honors and an Associates degree in an ABA approved Paralegal program. I was fortunate enough to recently start a new job working for the state of Utah (I'm starting at the bottom...but I'm determined and I'll move up if it kills me! lol). In my spare time I've been working on writing a YA urban supernatural novel with faeries and vampires. The writing is the easy part. Forcing myself to sit and do it? Not so easy. I have a wide variety of interests from seeing concerts and riding motorcycles (did I mention I have my own leathers?!) to snuggling on the couch with a good DVD, and about everything in-between. My philosophy on life is that we are the sum total of our experiences and choices (good and bad) and if we like who we are today (and I do) then there are no room for regrets - only room to learn and grow...(very "Zen"...I know...lol.)
What being bisexual means to me
Funny, I have all these long answers. But this one? I don't know. It's just who (what) I am.
What I would like the world to know about bisexuals
As a straight person you never think about how society views bisexuals. It’s just not on most people’s radar. And in the one community in which we are a blip on the radar screen, the LGBT community, it turns out we rank about as high up as the proverbial red-headed step-child. Let’s be honest, bisexuals are pretty invisible to society as a whole. Over the last couple years of my life, since I officially came out, I have vocally supported my gay and lesbian friends. I consistently stand up to be counted for “gay rights issues”…yet, as a bisexual woman, the very community I fight for often ostracizes, ignores, and judges me. The term “gay rights” its self is a silent snub. One I’m just as guilty of perpetuating. Nowhere is this more evident than most main stream online dating sites. Try creating a profile on most dating sites and you will be required to choose between men or women. Okay, let me think. Men…or women? I’m bisexual and you are telling me I can only pick one? That I have to deny half of my sexual identity? Let me make this predicament a little more “straight” friendly for you. You are straight; you create a profile with the hopes of finding “the one”, the love of your life. You cozy up to your laptop eager to start your search. First question. Blonde or brunette? You sit back, confused. Or? “Wait, I can only pick one,” you ask the non-responsive screen. So which do you prefer? Now before you make up your mind, be aware that you will only be matched up with, or shown to individuals with, that specific hair color. “Okay,” you think, “I’ve always been a little partial to blondes,” so you pick blonde. A colorful pop-up flashes on your screen…”Congratulations, you picked blonde! From here forward you will be associated with suntan oil, beaches, and a propensity to party. You will liberally inject terms like OMG and “I know, right?” into your speech patterns and little will be expected of you academically.” Now naturally you don’t want to be seen in that light by society and would prefer to be taken a little more seriously, so you hit the back arrow and check brunette instead. “Congratulations,” the new pop-up exclaims, “you have chosen brunette! You will now be expected to earn a 4.0 GPA, spend your Saturday nights curled up in bed with War and Peace instead of having a social life, and your friends will routinely come to you for your sage (yet boring) council.” Are any of us that one dimensional? Of course not. And we all know that stereotyping people based on hair color (as I just did) is moronic. If the average person pulled up a site with only those choices they wouldn’t create a profile and would move on to a dating site with more realistic options. A website such as that would be ridiculed, mocked, and quickly go out of business due to a lack of advertisers. But this is exactly the choice a bisexual person has to make (often). And the problem doesn’t stop there. If I check the box for the opposite sex, and God forbid actually end up in a relationship, as far as society (and unfortunately the LGBT community) is concerned, I am now straight. Poof, my bisexuality is now not invisible, it’s non-existent! Society can relax now because I won’t be making them uncomfortable by holding hands with a woman in public. You think I’m exaggerating, don’t you? I’m not. So I can fix that by clicking the button for my own gender, right? Nope, now not only is my bisexuality still invisible, but now I’m a lesbian. Although that last one doesn’t end up being as big a problem as it could be, because a large percentage of lesbian women will simply not date a bisexual woman. Surprising? The primary reason (at least that I’ve been told, on numerous occasions) is an unsubstantiated fear that the bisexual women will leave their lesbian girlfriend for the first man that shows her any interest. So regardless of the fact that I am personally monogamous; apparently I am incapable of refusing any and every penis that comes my way. Now logic says that someone who cheats will cheat regardless of their sexual orientation. They are just as likely to be abandoned or cheated on by a lesbian for another woman…trust me I’ve seen it happen on social media more times than I can count. But logic doesn’t seem to play a major role in the issues society (and gays and lesbians) put on those of us who are bisexual. Many bisexual individuals repress one side of their sexuality so that they can fit in and be accepted by the community in which they live (be it straight or gay/lesbian). Often switching back and forth between which side we repress based on the people we are with. When we are noticed by society it is quickly seen that bisexual women and bisexual men are not created equally…in the eyes of straight men in particular. An abundance of straight men see bisexual women as an acceptable turn-on but see bisexual men as “gay”. Two women kissing in a bar? “Grab my camera Joe!” Two men kissing in a bar? “Nobody wants to see that homo!” So what do we want? Equality! When do we want it? NOW! Could I be anymore trite? Maybe. Hell, probably. But ironically that really is all we want. Recognition. All we are asking is that we receive the same consideration that we afford (and fight to have for) everyone else. Gays and lesbians want to be recognized by society, for laws to be inclusive, to overcome inaccurate and rude stereotypes…for equality. I want the same thing for them. Is it too much to ask that I want it for me as well? Is it too much to ask that they afford bisexuals the same considerations that they want themselves? The solution is so simple. Just remember the “B” in LGBT is an entire class of people who would like to be acknowledged for who they are…in their entirety…rather than trying to force us to choose between blondes or brunettes.
What was your path to a bisexual identity?
I was the co-chair of Spectrum, the gay/straight alliance at Utah Valley University, for about 8 months. I had gone into the position as a straight ally. Or so I thought. The more engrossed I became in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, the more I realized what a complete and utter fraud I was. Digging through my memories there is one in particular that should have triggered an epiphany…it should have been a great big a-ha moment. It wasn’t. Peeling back the years I become assaulted by a haze of cigarette smoke, booze, and testosterone as I remember slinking into the club with my (then) husband. Every head turned in unison and followed me across the floor. I was the gazelle, and but for my male escort, I would have been fair game to every hungry lion in the room. I slide into the springy red booth, clutching a stack of crisp one dollar bills in my sweaty hand. They weren’t going to be crisp for long. Crows, having consumed the butterflies, fluttered in my belly…a riot of feathers and claws. Music blared from speakers causing the bass to pulse under my flesh. The small stage in front of our booth was surrounded by a low metal rail with a shiny metal pole in the center. A curvaceous blonde, in a G-string and pasties, conducted a slow deliberate bump and grind as she made love to that pole. Lucky pole! All I saw the rest of the night was the curve of feminine hips, the sway of ample breast, and the tilt of soft seductive lips. Needless to say, my (then) husband reaped the rewards of my overstimulated libido later that evening. I had been happily married to a man for most of my adult life, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate the soft curve of a woman’s body. Right? Denial is a funny thing. I grew up certain that all women felt this way…they just weren’t willing to admit it. Imagine my surprise when I realized that every other woman wasn’t in denial. I was. It took me approximately 40 years to admit to myself (and everyone else) that I was bisexual. It took considerably less time to experience the invisibility and prejudice that goes along with that particular label.
What is the toughest thing about being bisexual?
A while back, as I headed to a club with several of my dearest friends (all of whom happen to be gay men, go figure), one of them made a random comment referencing how “all of us gays” were going to have an amazing night. Walking a little ways behind him I yelled back that two of us were bi, not gay. His response? ”There is no such thing as bisexuals!” He was joking. I think. I hope. But the whole incident was indicative of how the gay/lesbian and straight community see bisexuals…or more accurately…don’t see bisexuals. I’ve been told (in no uncertain terms, and by a complete stranger no less) that I am actually a lesbian and just not willing to admit it yet, even to myself. And unless I admitted it she wouldn’t set me up on a blind date with her friend. Her friend, who is apparently one of those women who thinks a man’s wrinkly penis, is my kryptonite. The other side of that coin is no less insulting when I’m accused of actually being straight, but just experimenting (or drunk!). My sexuality is a “phase”. A forty, some odd year, phase. Or better yet… I’m just greedy. Yep, us bisexuals want our cake and to eat it too. How selfish of us. It would just be nice to not to have women refuse to date me (without even knowing who "I" am) and to not have men proposition me on dating sites...solely because of my sexuality.
What is the best thing about being bisexual?
I don't just see "genders". When I look at someone I don't have to worry so much about "plumbing", as it were. It's nice, after all these years to be able to admit that I'm attracted to both men and women (in whatever form they may come). And I have been able to change the opinions and biases of many people in my life. I was also able to do a presentation at the Writing for Social Change Conference at Utah Valley University on Bisexual Invisibility. In fact....a lot of the rather sarcastic and (somewhat) suggestive comments on my profile were pulled straight from that presentation. And instead of being heckled and judged (like I was anticipating), I was met with a wonderful reception from a packed house.
How have other people in your life reacted to your bisexuality?
Wanting to enforce acceptance in my two teenagers, I made it a habit of taking them with me to Spectrum events. About three years ago I came out to my 13 year old daughter, the results of which were met by an incredibly awkward silence, after which we both agreed that it might not be the best idea to tell my 15 year old son, who I feared would not be able to keep the knowledge a secret from individuals that would try and use it against me. A couple days later my son, with his learners permit tucked proudly in his wallet, was driving us home from one of those activities. I sat stiffly in the passenger seat, making an effort to not be tossed from one side of the car to the other, my son taking the corners like a NASCAR driver. My daughter and I belted out lyrics along with the radio. Suddenly my son blurted out, “Mom are you gay?” The ground dropped out from under me, I fell like Alice, tumbling head over heels. When I caught my bearings my eyes slide to the mirror and locked with my daughter’s in the back seat. I exhaled audibly and became as still as prey caught in the cross-hairs of a hunters rifle. “I’m not gay,” I hedged, while my daughter held her breath hostage. She had asked me, the night before, if I would lie to my son about my sexuality if he asked. He wouldn’t ask. Why would he ask?! “Are you bi?” After a protracted silence, that felt as if it stretched into an eternity, I repeated, “I’m not gay.” He turned and stared at me as realization sunk in. None of us were watching the road anymore.“So you are bi.” He stared at me with his head turned, intently focused on my reaction. “I’m not gay,” I repeated weakly, not able to bring myself to admit to him that I was bisexual, but also not willing to lie. My daughter choked on her laughter.“Right,” he drawled, and finished driving us home. And that was that. They could care less. What great kids I have! When I told my seventy (something) year old father, we had an awkward exchange where he advised me not to go around telling people and I said I was not going to hide it anymore...then we stood there in silence for about a minute and I finally asked "Do you think the floor needs vacuuming?" And we didn't talk about it again for a long time. Since then though his views have really changed....I'm proud of him, he's come a long way.
What advice do you have for someone who thinks they may be bi or who is in the process of coming out as bi?
Find a support system! Read! Read! Read! Read the recent studies on bisexual invisibility and be prepared for the responses that you may get, not just from the straight community, but from the gay and lesbian community, as well. Don't hide who you are for 40 years...especially not from yourself. And come out. The more of us that come out and are proud to say we are bisexual...the less of a stigma that label will have.
*And as for the Youtube video I shared... What can I say? Just something to lighten the mood after all of my ranting and raving :P lol