This Bi Life: Black, Bi, and Sexy
I will start by saying intimacy is hard for all of us. Like so many of the most important things in life, no one really teaches us how to go about finding it, keeping it, or nurturing it. That being said all of our journeys are different, and the intersections at which our identities meet can alter perspectives and change realities.
Beginning with existing in a patriarchal society that always places cisgender heterosexual men as hunters and cisgender heterosexual women (and everyone else really) as the hunted. Speaking from my own perspective, my own reality, this is the first layer. This is the layer that taught me to “guard my virtue” but also “if you don’t do it for him then some other girl will”. This is the layer that taught me to lay back and take it even if I didn’t want it but also to perform like a pornstar if asked. This is the layer that taught me that my sexuality was not my own. That sex was not for me. That if I withheld it, then I was a prude. That if I had it, then I was easy. That if I enjoyed it, then I was a slut. But that no matter what it was a requirement.
Another piece of my reality is that I am black. A reality that I am incredibly proud of, a reality that comes with an entirely unique set of standards regarding intimacy. Think about the world, sex, and desire. Now think about those things and place a black woman at the center of it. Historically black women have been hypersexualized. Seen as exotic, forbidden objects of desire behind closed doors, while being openly chastised, slut shamed, and seen unworthy of love in public. Black women statistically shown to be the least to receive responses on dating platforms. We are seen as unworthy of partnerships but often ideal for quelling lust.
An example from my personal experience. I met a boy at a bar, a cute boy, a white boy. We had a good time. We hung out for hours. We didn’t end up sleeping together but we did exchange numbers. The next morning, excited about what I believed to be a new connection, I searched for his social media accounts. I came across his twitter and saw a series of tweets about the night before. Amongst those tweets was a reply to a friend of his who I had also met that said, “Damn bro, I almost had one.” Context could only leave me to believe that that “one” meant a black girl. This is not an isolated incident. I can’t tell you the number of “I’ve never been with a black girl” predatory non-black men have approached me. Most women are seen as sexual conquests at one time or another but women of color are often, as mentioned before, some exotic and excitingly deviant sexual achievement.
Bisexual is a word that for many years was banned from Google search results due to “explicit content”. A word that has its own category on every porn site (along with ‘Ebony’). A word that causes cis het men to salivate at the perceived opportunity of a threesome. A word that when added to any dating profile prompts messages and requests from couples seeking a playmate. As if my sexual orientation by default precedes my humanity and therefore any desire to find an actual relationship outside of sex.
It’s on these same dating sites that I have been on the receiving end of harsh rejection from lesbian women because of my bisexuality. Many of them will come right out and say that they don’t mess with bisexual women. My favorites are the ones who at least save you from the rejection and put “no couples, no men, no bis” right there on their profiles. There are memes floating around right now mocking bi women and their supposed lack of ability to please women sexually because ultimately they’re just straight women “playing” gay.
There is also the undying belief that bi people are inherently more likely to cheat than other people. And to take a step outside of the basic, there are people who reject entertaining anything with a bi person because they believe that bisexuality reinforces the binary – even though many Trans and non binary people identify as bisexual (myself included).
Suffice to say that my reality is that intimacy, sexuality and ultimately love are difficult at my intersections. I have, at this point, become accustomed to the performance piece. Being self aware, I know and have known what is expected of me sexually. I have truly learned the art of flirtation and at times, consensual meaningless sex. I also understand the way the world sees me sexually because of the supposed implications of my race and sexuality. I try not to let these things bother me, and usually the right amount of alcohol can quiet the questions I have around people’s motives to be involved with me.
As a survivor of sexual assault and rape, having control over my sexuality and acting out of my own desire has been in some ways liberating. The part that I struggle with most is love. “Making love” doesn’t even feel right passing my lips. Not just because it feels dated and corny but because outside of performing intimacy in the way the world expects me to, sex with someone I care about brings up a long list of insecurities. Questions of whether or not I’m exciting enough, is my body desirable, do I live up to their fantasies, and what if I’m not “queer enough” for queer sex. That last question haunts me the most. With heteronormative ideas of how sex should look I’m able to fake it based on what I know the expectation to be. Outside of that, I feel simply inadequate.
All of this leads me to question, challenge, and analyze how we access intimacy at our many intersections. What informs our desires and in what ways do we challenge how that shapes our interactions and ultimately our relationships to one another? I would love to exist in a word where I don’t feel like I’m constantly in competition with my lover’s current, past, and future. A world where I’m not in competition with the stereotypes surrounding how I should engage the world sexually. I would love to live in a world where expressing love and desire physically didn’t feel like a challenge to meet. For me, it starts with analyzing these questions and having open and honest dialogue about it. Hopefully at some point I can truly feel like the sexy, black, bi, demiwoman that I am.