September 24, 2010

Nonentity- Consistently Falling Under the Radar

[In addition to all of our awesome visible and identifying columnists, we also have some awesome anonymous columnists that for one reason or another must use a pseudonym (and pseudopic?). Details on anonymous columnists here.]

“Bisexuality is a choice,” he said.

A choice? How?

Do gay men choose to be attracted to men? Do lesbians choose to be attracted to women? If you asked them, I’m sure the majority would say, “No, I was born this way” or, “No, this isn’t a choice.” And I believe it isn’t. Why would anyone choose to be a minority? A minority often not respected by the whole, a minority struggling for rights and respect and acknowledgement. No, if anything there is nothing to gain (especially not in this day and age) from being gay, bi, lesbian, etc.

Bisexuality isn’t a way for me to be “gay, but less gay” than others, nor is it way for me to have a broader catalogue of selection, and it certainly isn't a way for me to be a slut and over-indulge in the carnal pleasures of life (in fact, I’m a strange combination of asexual and bisexual, mainly because I’m content without dating/relationships and do not actively seek them). I can’t give a reason for bisexuality, but to me it’s merely attraction to both men and women. The same way a heterosexual is attracted to the opposite sex and the same way a homosexual is attracted to the same sex. Perhaps it’s different for others. Perhaps other bisexuals chose to be the way they are, but I sure as hell didn’t. I’m just attracted to both men and women. I can’t explain how or why, but I am. Why can’t people just accept and acknowledge that?

Of course, I’m not expecting everyone to accept and acknowledge the fact that bisexuals exist. My parents… well, specifically my mom, is the kind of person I’d expect this sort of shallow thinking from. She’s convinced that the only two lesbians she knows—who are a couple—are just playing some sort of game and aren’t really into one another and are looking for husbands even though they live together and are raising a son… Yeah, shallow thinking. I wasn’t expecting much from her granted where and how she was raised (I’ll save the topic of my family for another post).

My parents, together, weren’t too accepting of me when I came out to them. I couldn’t really read them at the time and we never talked about it after that night. I was too surprised/shocked to bother with wondering about what they really thought and they were too confused. Why? Because I had said the word “bisexual”. They spent the majority of the time trying to figure out why I “was repulsed by men” (their words, not mine. I like men!) and it didn’t take me long to realize they didn’t believe bisexuality existed. I felt cornered with nowhere to go—at a loss—and there was no way I was going to tell them I was borderline asexual. I knew coming out to my parents needed to be handled swiftly and simply and I wasn’t going to complicate matters and prolong the event.

I haven’t really run into this topic again until coming to Duke. My roommate even explained to me her difficulty in grasping bisexuality when we discussed it and I’m not too sure she even believes that bisexuals exist. I sometimes wonder what she really thinks I am, but I don’t really care much. And then again, this hit me at the first BDU meeting, when Stranger-I-Didn’t-Know was asking those attending what they identified as. She asked if there were gays, lesbians, and transsexuals, (and probably more, but my memory is terrible) attending the meeting, leaving out bisexual. And then asked later, “Those who didn’t raise their hands, what do you identify as?” And then, it happened again this final time when a gay male friend of mine was talking to my roommate about homosexuality. His tirade about how “bisexuality was a choice”…

I don’t know. Maybe I’m looking too hard into this. It’s easier to notice (and perhaps extrapolate) prejudice when you fall into the minority. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe others see the same opposition around and I should just ignore it. I’m not mad about their opinions and disbelief, just perplexed by it and curious as to whether other bisexuals have experienced the same thing; people constantly disregarding their sexuality. Whatever the case, I am what I am. I’m bisexual (for lack of a better blanket term); bisexuals do exist.


  1. This is really sad. It's hard enough when people judge you for your sexuality (e.g., calling homosexuality gross or unnatural). It's even worse when people deny or dismiss the fact that your sexuality exists at all. It's like you're less than a person, and your own knowledge of yourself means nothing.

  2. Thank you for this post. Sometimes it does seem that bisexuality is invisible or impossible, and despite the B in LGBT, your anecdote about the BDU meeting illustrates the general attitude that I have encountered.

  3. Your post really resonates with me--not because I've experienced the implicit exclusion that you detail here, but because in currently sorting through my sexuality the asexual bisexual sort of sums up what I've been feeling in words that I always felt were conflicting and so didn't really know how that "could be." It's nice to know my thoughts aren't totally nonsensical/irrational and that other people think this about themselves, too. Would you consider writing a post about how you knew you were bi, in spite of your asexual tendencies? In my experience, that one throws me off the most.

  4. Hey EW, thanks so much for writing this. I'm really glad to be reminded of this. I once read an article in The Advocate (I think) that said "B" was the largest proportion of the LGBTQ, which is interesting considering that it's one of the less-visible letters. Keep reminding us not to overlook any of the letters. =)

  5. Ebony! Welcome, aboard! And "mazel tov" on your first post (what can I say, I'm Jewish...and sometimes I just think in Jewish phrases. "Congrats" doesn't really feel the same). Seriously, though, welcome to the BDU Blog writing team :) I loved your first post and I'm really excited to read your future blogs because I know that we can all learn a lot from your experiences and that in general, you're going to make a great contribution to our Community(no, pressure).

    BDU Blog Love,

  6. i really liked this post! you should read some of the stuff on advocacy websites dedicated to bisexuality. :) also...check out the journal of bisexuality and the lovely bi books section in perkins. great stuff!

  7. Thank you for writing this, EW.

    I'm in the same boat at the moment. I've now decided not to label myself because whether or not I do, despite the fact some people perpetuate their own opinions about my sexual orientation (because their claims on my sexuality outweigh my own, I'm sure). However, last year I self-identified as asexual; I got the most weirdest reactions, and a couple of unnecessary biology lessons. I couldn't put people into sexual contexts of any degree; physical intimacy was something I couldn't quite grasp or fathom.

    Yes, I find people physically attractive, regardless of sex (so yeah, I may be bisexual, but that seems too binary and constrictive for me, and I'm the type of girl who loves to keep her options open). But at the moment I'm no longer concerned with identifying anymore. I thought I was asexual, and I thought I had finally found my answer that solves my questioning woes. Wrong. The accusatory attitudes lashed out, and people talked, asked too many questions, didn't allow the idea of asexuality to settle before dismissing it completely. I got frustrated. I'm still frustrated. Perhaps I'll see a time where sexuality no longer has to be a huge concern of others, but until then, I'm avoiding the topic of sexuality. Period.

  8. Thank you for the welcome and responses! I'm glad other people notice/acknowledge this "problem". I've never been really active in any type of LGBT group before, so I hadn't even thought about this happening within a community as such. College really is an eye opener.

    @Anonymous 12:29: It's definitely comforting to know I'm not the only one who feels like an "asexual bisexual"; I've only talked to one other before posting this entry. I could write a post like that, though I might find it more effective to integrate that realization into a post about either my family or coming out (I don't want to spam the blog with long, tangled posts specifically about my oxymoronic orientation). Whatever the case, I will talk about it again in greater detail.

    @Sara: You've taken a reasonable approach to the whole "identification" problem. I didn't bother with labeling my sexuality until I was forced to do so in an attempt to get across to my parents just exactly what I was (and it took me months to actually find a label I was comfortable with). Before then, I'd answer with a long winded response in which I detailed the facets of my orientation with arbitrary percentages. I think it's terrible that people attempted to disagree with your self-evaluation. Who made it their job to tell you what you were/are? I also find it pitiable that you have to avoid the topic of sexuality. I do the same in a way. I don't say anything about my sexuality unless I'm explicitly asked, and even then, that's a rare occurrence because I'm very unassuming (and this is why I'm thankful for the existence of stereotypes. I can avoid frustrating conversations about sexuality). I'm also waiting for a time when sexuality isn't such a concern of others.

  9. I just want to note that it makes me furious when strangers come into a space that isn't even theirs and make folks go around and identify themselves.

    It is so incredibly inappropriate to do in a group space (from my opinion), and identification is so personal and should be done on a one on one basis.