I was a wanna-Bi – and I feel really, really bad about it
I thought I was bi. Turns out I’m not
Coming to university is a life-changing event.
Consequently, many students buckle to the temptation of using the opportunity to re-invent ourselves in a new environment, far away from parents and old friends’ expectations, surrounded by so many shiny new people.
Some change their forenames, dye their hair some stupid colour (though, admittedly, this is more of a thing in Brighton than it is here in good ol’ normative Cambridge), or do something else equally self-assertive.
Me, I decided I was bisexual.
Please, before you sharpen your talons and scroll down to throw abuse at this seemingly generic, “ooh i love girls jus cos i get with my bff when we’re drunk lol!!!!!!11”, blatant exploitation of sexual identity, hear me out.
I’d got with numerous girls in the years before coming to Cambs, and had a drunken sexual encounter with one friend wherein I “lost my L-card”, as she told me playfully afterwards.
It was an odd experience (the main thing playing through my mind throughout was “THERE IS SOMETHING IMPORTANT MISSING HERE”), but one I felt I could grow to enjoy if I did it with someone I properly liked. I found (and still do find) many girls extremely sexually attractive, sometimes developing crushes on female strangers just in the same way as I did with guys.
I’d only ever had boyfriends, but I pinned that down to never actually having met a girl I crushed on who felt the same way about me. Therefore, what more perfect way to expose myself to other likeminded, experimental bisexuals than by throwing myself into the LGBT+ scene when I got to Cambridge?
I befriended the Churchill LGBT+ rep, went out to Spectrum a few times, had a few drunken kisses, but, again, all of my actual sexual encounters / crushes seemed to happen to be guys.
In my second term as a fresher, nobody at my college wanted to run as LGBT+ officer, and I was cajoled into it under the premise “if no one at all runs for it, there won’t be any LGBT+ predrinks/events for the Freshers when they arrive.” That seemed unfair, and I wanted to make sure everyone who arrived next year felt welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, so I went ahead.
Unfortunately, the realisation I was, in fact, pretty heterosexual came later — as I flitted from straight relationship to straight relationship, I realised I was living a lie.
This led to nearly 9 months of intense guilt for being a “rep” of a minority I no longer felt a part of. People kept reassuring me “sexuality is a spectrum, you probably aren’t entirely straight,” but it was in my second year, when the freshers arrived, I realised it really wasn’t that simple.
A couple of people came to me wanting support for real problems, such as coming out to their friends/family or dealing with an unrequited crush on someone straight. Hearing their stories affected me deeply.
I had always felt I was as empathetic as possible when it came to LGBT+ issues, and passionately campaigned for awareness and equality. However, after trying to offer advice to people who actually were in that minority, I realised empathy only goes so far.
I have never had to deal with being disowned or thrown out of the house by my parents because of my romantic choices. I have never dealt with homophobic abuse thrown my way. I never considered suicide because I couldn’t fit in with society’s expectations. My life had been — in this respect — extremely easy: a nice, parent-endorsed, heterosexual track record. I couldn’t possibly claim to “represent” the group at all.
I felt horrible, useless, a sham. By which point, of course, it was too late to handover to someone else, so I had to wait it out and do what I can until re-elections last week.
I did try and host pre-drinks and events, but I think people somehow felt like I was unrelatable to. Whether that’s my infamy at Churchill as a result of my Tab involvement (lol sue me), or the fact I just do not come across as anything other than a pretty generic, white, straight, cis-female, no one ever really came. After the freshers had settled in, I pretty much gave up.
Looking back on it, I don’t think I should feel guilty for subconsciously lying to myself, or to others, about my sexuality.
University is a time for self-exploration and experimentation. I thought I was bisexual, but coming here made me realise I’m not, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But acting as LGBT+ rep for a year wherein I was constantly faced with comments like “but you have a boyfriend!!!” or “have you ever even fucked a girl?” was a challenge, and I’d urge anyone who’s not entirely sure yet of what exactly they are, to think twice before committing to a 12-month role representing a minority you may never really be a part of.
Without having faced the same challenges and obstacles as them, there’s a limit to how helpful or “representative” you can be.