Although I identify as straight, I have questioned my sexuality during adolescence and adulthood. As early as age 8, I encountered situations with my girl friends that could have peeked my curiosities to explore further (although at age 8, I did not understand what was happening). When I look back at my overall sexual development, I have no doubt that I have been and am straight. I am fully aware that the certainty of knowing my sexual orientation is a privilege.
Some of you might comfortably declare your bisexuality. Your declaration communicates,”I am not confused. I know that I am attracted to more than one gender and that feels good for me”. Some of you might prefer the term pansexual because it drops the binary implication of the word “bisexual” and captures a broader view of who you can love.
In therapy, I support those who struggle with this declaration. These clients feel so much pain and confusion about who they are “supposed” to love. They love more than one gender and are turned on by more than one gender. They grapple with the binary definition of sexuality and most often, try desperately to “be straight”.
Unfortunately, bisexuals not only feel shunned by the straight community, they also feel unsupported by many gay and lesbian communities. Just look the topic up on-line. Many articles appear with such titles as “The Forgotten B in LGBTQ”.
Has this been your experience? When you love a same-sex partner, you have to defend that relationship to others because it’s not a “straight” relationship. On top of that, you are now labeled “gay or lesbian”. So, now you not only have to defend your relationship, but you also have to remind others that you are not gay or lesbian. Your bisexuality continuously gets converted to gay or straight status, depending on you who date.
Many bisexuals struggle with “being seen” as bisexual. Bisexuality does not wax and wane depending on who you date. It is a part of your life. Unfortunately, as your sexual orientation gets labeled as gay, lesbian or straight, you must continuously come out as bisexual. It’s frustrating and exhausting.
If you deny your bisexuality and keep trying to be gay or straight, then you might need to examine what your own prejudices and discriminations are against bisexuality. Keep in mind that you were not born with these biases. You learned them and adapted them as truth.
Who shaped your belief system? Family? Friends? Church? Movies? Music? Billboards? Magazines? School? Recognize that these beliefs may exist for these people but that doesn’t mean that they feel right for you. You are entitled to your own thoughts, feelings and attractions. You have the right to develop a belief system that honors you.
Get support. In our heterosexual culture, you must find support for yourself. That means finding inclusive groups, liberal religious organizations (yes, they do exist), support groups though LGBTQ resources, online forums or local social groups.
When you expand your world to include supportive people, you let go of shame and recognize that you are worthy of healthy love. You accept yourself more. Support helps you find the courage to live your life authentically and to love honestly.
Link to local support group: Philadelphia: BiUnity