Why do I identify as queer, and not bisexual? Is it just because of other people’s baggage?
AE commentators can tend to be a bit more civil than the rest of the world wide web, so at times, the resulting discussions are actually illuminating. As I started to engage with the other readers’ takes on bisexuality, I started to think more intensely about the labels I attach to myself.
At this point in my life, I’m a 5 on the Kinsey Scale. Before I had other language for it, I used to describe myself, on any given day, as 65-80% gay. And yet I don’t identify as bisexual. Why not?
Honestly? It started with the AfterEllen.com comments section, a long, long time ago.
In my early twenties, when I was very closeted and only dated men and my queer community was solely online, the comments I read on AE scared the living daylights out of me. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go much longer without dating women, but until then, I was somewhat comfortable in my relationships with guys. But if I was bi, everything I read and heard told me that I would pretty much be a pariah in both the straight and the lesbian communities. So for the most part, I kept my mouth shut.
I was so scared for so many years. If that was the label that was going to apply to me, I needed to be certain. I needed to get all of my ducks in a row.
Over and over again during those years, I wished I was a lesbian. Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler, I thought with the naivety of envy, if my path was entirely clear — if my hand was forced?
Years later, I came out and started to meet and engage with (kind, smart) real live people in the LGBTQ+ community. Like many of the people I met who didn’t identify as gay or lesbian, I embraced the term queer to describe my experience. Ironically, given its history, queer differed from bisexual for me in that it didn’t feel like a dirty, private word. I felt that as a queer person, I would be able to navigate the community more easily, without all of the baggage and stigma that bisexual seemed to carry.
Of course, on my OKCupid profile, I was a lesbian. Given the choices of straight, bisexual, or gay, gay felt like the truest choice.
I still feel queer, and identify as such. But as I read the AfterEllen comments attacking bisexuality, I felt compelled to defend it. I typed and typed and typed, refuting myths, describing my own experience. And suddenly, halfway through an impassioned reply to someone, I realized: the experience I was describing was the experience of a bisexual person. And the only reason I don’t identify as bisexual is because I internalized — and eventually completely believed — all of the myths and misinformation I read about the term.
Hi, I’m Queer Girl, and I’m bisexual. It’s time I owned it.
Join me next time for The B Word, Part 2: Mythbusting ‘Bisexual’. It’s time we saw bi people for who they are, instead of what we’ve told them they will be.