Tbh, my sexuality has been a hard thing to write about. For someone who writes for a living, this is a thorny confession to make. But let me just say, this hesitation doesn’t come from the fear of societal judgement. Mostly I dither because I get lost in the ambiguity of being bisexual. To be bi, for me, has been about existing in a constant state of flux. I transgress within transgressions. Incessantly I question my own identity. When I finally make up my mind that what I feel is truly true, truth acquires a different form. While my experiences have inspired fiction, it has been incredibly hard to explain my own feelings to myself.
For the latter half of my life, I’ve identified as a bisexual womxn. People I know personally, know this fact. But what does the term bisexuality really signify? I often wonder what others make of it. Of course, there’s the part about being attracted to both men and women, but that only scratches the surface of the bisexual experience. Bi bodies, you see, are eclectic. Our minds are boundless. Each bisexual person’s experience is unique in it that we traverse the spectrum of queer love with no inhibitions. We are, ultimately, fluid.
Bisexuality is complex
One day I may desire a man as one sort of woman, on another day I may desire a woman as another sort of woman. I may be femme sometimes or butch sometimes, alternating my identities between straight and gay relationships. And then there are also days when I may desire none, when I’m asexual altogether. This sexual fluidity is a beautiful thing. Full of potential for self-discovery. But the continuous interplay of conscious and unconscious desires can also be very confusing. In fact, bisexual people are at a greater risk of depression and anxiety than homosexuals[i] and heterosexuals because of this volatility.
In my own life, I’ve tried so very hard to pick a side and end the agony of uncertainty. Actually, I thought that I had picked a side – for most of my teenage years I thought I was a lesbian. My first experience of passionate love was with a girl. It was only later that I figured I was interested in men. After this realization dawned however, there was no stable identity that I could cling to. When I’d think of myself as a lesbian, I’d feel like I’m denying this other heterosexual part of myself, and vice versa. So, whatever I chose to be, I always felt like I was deceiving myself.
It is hard to explain oneself to oneself, because everything is so abstract and mutable.Sometimes, I think that bisexual people are like existential philosophers. We make new meaning for ourselves as we go along, living every moment, yet not letting go of unlived possibilities. It’s very much like Sartre’s theory of being and nothingness[ii] – which postulates that when we are emulating the being-ness of someone, we’re simultaneously negating the existence of another someone within us. But both exist, one in the physical moment, and the other in the mind. Both are part of the whole. This is also true of bisexuality.
Of belonging and unbelonging
Living a bisexual life is to live in the shadows. To exist in the grey. You belong in the straight world, yet you don’t. You belong in the queer world, yet you don’t. Because our desires are both normative and deviant, we’re suspects everywhere. I mean, what does it say about us bi folks that we conform somewhat. Or that we only partly rebel. People may think it’s a convenient identity to have. Perhaps in some ways it is, but bi privilege[iii] is a myth for the most part. Being able to pass off as straight does not dilute the dilemmas or erase the struggles of bisexuality. It is not easy to be caught up between two worlds. To be and not to be. All at once.
For bi folks like me, after dealing with the backlash of our original sin, we have to deal with the second backlash for transgressing yet again. Bi-negativity[iv] comes in many forms – it shames us. Fears us. Mistrusts us. Because people tend to think that bisexuals are always pretending. That we are unstable. If we are never able to pick a side, then who are we? What part of us is real?
Over the years, I’ve had people question my choices. Mock my agonies as unreal. Wonder whether my identity is transient. But I’ve learned to ignore them. The limits of their knowledge and their ignorance does not in any way define my truths. I know who I am. Being bisexual gives me the freedom to be me, to explore every inch of myself and to look for belonging here, there, everywhere. As a bisexual womxn, I am always becoming, and there’s beauty in that.
The truth is ambiguous
Society has conditioned us to perpetuate gendered desire. It has boxed certain desires as normative and others as deviant. But we are all beings of contradictions. We’re all constantly discovering new ways of being ourselves. Who really knows for sure who they are? Everyone is always figuring themselves out. Consciously we think we’ve chosen a path, and this is who we are. But the unconscious has other plans. One fine day, it may trigger our bodies to find pleasure in new places or inspire our minds to imagine radically different possibilities of being ourselves. The question is, will we take the plunge and explore the unknown. Yet again? Bisexual folks say yes, every time.
I for one am happy about the fact that I’m open on the subject of not fully knowing myself. I take pride in my ambiguities and fluctuating desires. Because it has shown me how to love boundlessly. To live by my own rules. My bisexuality allows me to transcend the body and feel myself deep within my soul. I’ve lived these different lives and felt these different ways. And every experience I’ve had, with men and women, and with myself, are equally true, equally real. This is my gift. I cherish it.
Today, I’m a married bisexual mother. But marrying a man has not ended my queerness, mind you. Neither does being a mother seal the heterosexual deal. I still zing between masculinities and femininities, express and experience myself in completely contrasting ways. That feeling of ambiguity never really goes away. It’s the only constant truth. I’m grateful to have a partner who accepts me for who I am. At the end of the day, all I know is that love is love.