My bisexuality isn’t a ‘phase’, and it shouldn’t be your fetish either

It’s LGBTQ+ History Month – let’s remember the B

I am a bisexual Jewish woman, and I’m fed up of being told that my sexuality is sexy. I want people to understand the stigma and erasure of bisexuality is very real. Who I am is for me, not for you.

I’ve been told multiple times I couldn’t possibly fancy women as well as men, because I hadn’t slept with any. I’ve been called a greedy, attention-seeking slut. I’ve been told – literally during sex – that it’s “totally hot” that I’m into women and “we should have a threesome sometime”.

Over a year ago I was in a long-distance relationship, which is when I started describing myself as LGBTQ+ and began understanding parts of who I am that had always been in disarray. When my ex-partner and I decided to make our relationship open, he told me I was only allowed to sleep with other women. That was less threatening for him, in his head, it was as though sleeping with women wasn’t a real expression of my sexual or emotional desire. It was consistently invalidating that my sexuality was just seen as a play thing and like I was doing it for him, when in reality it gave me the chance to be me.

I’ve experienced similar responses from family and friends. My bisexuality is still being treated as a phase, as something I’ll get over or grow out of. People still expect me to end up with a man. Being Jewish there’s always been a huge pressure on me since early school days to find a ‘Nice Jewish Boy’ and get married and have a gaggle of blue-eyed babies. I’m not even sure if I want to have children or get married at all, and it’s taken me years to realise that I can decide that for myself.

I’ve known I wasn’t straight since I was 12. The first time I said it out loud with any sort of confidence was aged 20. For years I refused to allow myself a label that is mine to wear with pride because I thought I didn’t deserve to be part of the community since – as a white, cis-gender, femme woman – I didn’t look “queer enough” and nobody ever discriminated against me in an obviously horrible way. The fact that I didn’t feel hurt enough by others to call myself bisexual is a serious issue that we need to talk about!

Despite this I wrote and performed a poem at the TEDx event in Utrecht about accepting my bisexuality which included another poem (how meta) which was the first piece I ever wrote where I didn’t change the pronouns to ‘he/him’. This was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done!

Presenting at TedX

It doesn’t help that every time bisexuality is portrayed in film or TV, it is seen as something purely sexual. There is never any romance, and if there is we’ll always “end up” back with a man because bisexual women are ‘secretly’ straight, whereas bisexual men are ‘secretly’ gay.

Fascinatingly, everyone is apparently interested in men.

The only bisexual character I can think of off the top of my head who doesn’t go back to a man is Maureen from Rent (one of the greatest musicals of all time). The representation for the B in LGBTQ+ is lacking, and even more so specifically for women of colour.

It’s LGBTQ+ History Month now, and there’s very few events that consciously focus on bisexuality. This wouldn’t be such a problem if bisexual erasure wasn’t hugely prevalent within the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s absolutely everywhere – whether this comes from lesbians who won’t date bisexual women for fear of them leaving them for a man, or just the assumption that bisexual women are experimenting or more likely to cheat.

Also, we don’t necessarily have to prefer a gender, but also we don’t need to be equally attracted to every gender. Oh and did I mention there’s more than two genders? Sexuality exists on a spectrum and we can be absolutely anywhere along that. It’s a complete myth that we must have a preference. Being in a relationship with one gender doesn’t mean my sexuality suddenly disappears.

I’m sick to death of my sexuality being seen as something temporary or to make me seem interesting – something to appease men and make them fancy me. My sexuality is real and it’s a part of me and if you can’t accept that then you can’t accept me, because I’m not whole without it. So stop asking me if I prefer a particular gender, cause it’s like when people ask you what your favourite colour is and expect you to pick one when there’s a whole fucking rainbow!

My sexuality is not a seduction method. Who I fancy is not a reason for you to fancy me. And no, I don’t want to have a threesome just because I might fancy your girlfriend.

More
University of Leeds