"On Being Bisexual"

The first time I really came out as a bisexual, I was away at summer camp. It was the first night, with eight girls in a tent, chatting the night away. The others in my tent were very loud. We were all around the ages of 13, 14, 15; basically, the oldest campers there. But still very young and immature.

At one point in the night, a conversation on homosexuality came up.

“I like gays,” one girl said.

“Me too,” another chimed in. “I don’t care if anyone here was a lesbian. I’d be ok.”

“Yeah. I mean, I’m not gay. But I’m ok with it.”

Everyone around the tent began to chime in. They all said basically the same thing; they weren’t gay, but they were friendly to gay people.

But then it was my turn.

“I’m bisexual,” I said.

The tent was deadly quiet.

“What does that mean?”

“It means I like both guys and girls.”

There was a pause.

“You know, I think bi people are really greedy,” said the girl who insisted that she wasn’t gay. “They want both.”

“No, that’s not it!” I protested.

But it didn’t matter. For the rest of the week, they avoided me as if I were a leper. It was the last year I went to camp. But more importantly, it was the last time I felt safe telling people my sexuality.

My experience as a bisexual girl has not been traumatic. My difficulties and my pain has not been nearly as bad as what others have suffered. But I’ve still been enormously frustrated with the world around me and how it reacts to bisexuals.

Here’s the problem: society only sees two groups. No matter how you view the struggle for Gay Rights, most Americans believe that people fall into two categories: heterosexual or homosexual. And that’s the problem. Bisexuals fall in between gays and straights, mostly attracted to one gender more than the other. Somehow, we remain inconspicuous.

But we’re not that way by choice. Even though we are the B in the LGBTQ community, we’re not exactly welcome all the time. Many gays and lesbians believe that bisexuals are just confused or coming out of the closet. A gay man once told me confidently that my bisexuality was “just a phase” and to talk to him in a few years when I’ve figured it out.

No. That’s not the way it works.

And of course, the straight community isn’t entirely welcome either. What bisexuals face as a group arguably isn’t as bad as what the LGBTQ community faces as a whole, we still deal with a lot of subtle difficulties. For example- most dating websites don’t have an option for bisexuals. When facing Match.com, I can’t even answer the first question: I am a woman looking for a – man or woman? There is no in-between. Television also has a scant lack of bisexual characters. The only two I know of is Jane, from the BBC sitcom “Coupling”, and 13 from “House.” Not very good examples either. Jane is an idiot and 13 only enters same-sex relationships when she is acting self-destructive. The only public area I know of that accepts bisexuality is Facebook.

That isn’t to mean that there aren’t any places that accept bisexuality. But in my limited experience, these are the roadblocks I have faced, and it’s frustrating.

I am a bisexual woman. I am not confused. I am not experimenting, I am not going through a phase, and I am not being greedy. Don’t ask me to choose. Can a gay man choose to be gay? Can a straight woman choose to be straight? Don’t ask me to choose when they can’t. As a bisexual, I face ridicule from my family, my friends, and my community. So please, don’t judge me. Just accept me for who I am. Look around you. The world isn’t black and white - there are enormous and lovely shades of gray in between the two. And that’s where I and every other bisexual fall – into a lovely shade of gray.