I never questioned my sexuality growing up. I didn’t struggle to figure myself out. I was gay until I wasn’t. My late 20s had a different idea. A confusing idea. An idea that left me feeling lost and alone. Uncertainty followed by the realisation that my queerness evolved to include men.
This revelation didn’t come without a price and that price was me having said and done some things that were incredibly biphobic. I may not have realised it, but that doesn’t excuse my actions or the now deleted words I wrote about how I thought it was possible for a lesbian to sleep with men and still consider herself a lesbian. This mess of words made sense to me, in a trying to figure out my sexuality way, but they were hurtful and disrespectful to both bisexual and gay women because their sexualities are not the same.
I have the words “Always Learning” written on a post-it note stuck to my laptop. These simple words are what I’ve taken from my experience. Learning is what I did when I was called out for writing a biphobic blog post. Learning is what I did when I was called in for writing those same words. I also learned that for some people sexuality can be fluid; myself included. This learning wasn’t instantaneous or easy. I resisted people’s push back. For a while, I doubled down on my stubborn belief that sleeping with a man did not mean I wasn’t gay.
I wish it was that the tough and kind words of friends and strangers got through to me, but that’s not quite the full story. Their words only sank in when I realised that my attraction to men went beyond one man. Of course, I was still a lesbian even though I fancy him, but oh wait…what’s that? Finding myself attracted to another man meant I had to stop and think. The lived experiences of other people only made sense when I began to live those experiences too, which tells you a lot about my privilege.
That’s not to say my own experience wasn’t valid. It was true for me in those moments, but those moments didn’t happen in a vacuum and there were knock-on consequences for people. I will forever be grateful to the people who explained, with calmness they need not have for a stranger on the internet who was essentially saying their sexuality didn’t exist, the inherent bias in my words and the way in which they actively perpetuated stigma toward bisexual people.
My intent didn’t really matter, but the impact of my words did.
So much has changed since that first flutter of finding myself attracted to a man. I am a bisexual woman married to a straight man. We married in March 2015, two months out from the referendum which legalised same-sex marriage. It isn’t lost on me that had I fallen in love with a woman I could not have gotten married when I did.
While questioning my sexuality I was fortunate enough to discover the warmth of Bi+ Ireland, an amazing online community who are, as their Facebook page describes them: “Not at all straight. Not at all gay.” A community that provided a space for me to explore the feelings surrounding my changing sexuality.
People who helped me unpack the idea that I never have been and never will be queer enough. People who got to know me instead of deciding I was a biphobic person incapable of changing. People who believed in me, when I didn’t believe in myself.
Community is vital. It can be life-changing. Visibility matters. Representation matters. Being able to be yourself matters.
In Bi+ Ireland I found a community full of understanding and acceptance, with a side order of much-needed truth-telling, myth-busting and dismantling biphobia even when that biphobia is internalised.
Bi+ Ireland is a network of people who fit somewhere under the bisexual+ umbrella, and who have close ties to Ireland.
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