The Bi Line: I Don’t Tell My Gay Friends About The Women I Like
I spent a few weeks back at my hometown where I reconnected with a woman I had a thing with back in college. We could never actually date –I went to school at a different university in a different state, I moved around too much, she spent time abroad in her native country for a while — it never lined up. In a different time, I would have worked my hardest to get her to be my girlfriend. She was, and still is, to me one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met.
When I got back home, I never told any of my gay friends about those few weeks. It was a weird few weeks with too many emotions of individuals who once were involved. It was exactly the type of drama that I would quickly text my friends about, if it were a guy. But it wasn’t and I’ve never felt comfortable talking to my gay friends about the women I’m interested in.
I’m a bi man who experiences life primarily in queer male spaces. I work in mainstream LGBT advocacy which is dominated by gays and lesbians. My friend circles are predominantly male and don’t include many women who are interested in men. My nightlife is exclusively either gay or queer: I attend either gay parties that have gay and bi men or queer ones which have queer people of all orientations and gender identities.
Nightlife, and online dating, is how I find most of the individuals with whom I involve myself. It’s more than likely I find men interested in those spaces since my femininity has always labeled me as gay instead of bisexual. If my femininity doesn’t negate my attraction to women, my advocacy for LGBT rights typically does. These stereotypes make it hard for me to date across the genders to which I’m attracted.
When I do find a woman who is interested in me, and I in her, I tend to keep it a secret from my gay friends. The times I’ve spoken to gay men about women I had been dating or was interested in, I received awkward, or worse, negative responses. Most of my gay friends vocally affirm my bisexuality (I wouldn’t be friends with them if they didn’t!) but many haven’t seen me interact romantically with women. Bringing up my interest in a woman can still result in confusion as if they forget I’m not only bi, but also do bi advocacy and writing.
Sometimes it’s worse. My attraction to women can elicit responses of revulsion from gay men. For many gay men, the belief that they’re unable to be sexist due to their lack of sexual attraction to women, keeps them from examining their sexist responses. Yet gay men can be just as sexist as bi or straight men. In a time when so many gay men don’t even want women in their gay bars, it’s clear that if I began to openly date a woman, my partner wouldn’t be allowed in the same places I find so much safety in.
It’s due to a mixture of sexism and biphobia that I keep my feelings about women to myself. I typically rely on my friends for emotional support and advice when in the beginning processes of romantic relationships. My not telling them about my involvement with women seems like I’m erasing myself and lying to them. It’s a hard juggle: wanting to be honest about my bisexuality with my friends while also not wanting to have to engage with that sexism or biphobia.
True friends would be willing to hear me talk about whomever I’m interested in, regardless of their gender. I know that logically, I should be able to be honest and open with anyone whom I hold close. Yet my past experiences keep me from feeling confident being my full self with some of the people closest to me.