A friend of mine sent me the following article and requested that I host it on my blog. This friend wishes to remain anonymous and since I feel their story is both well-told and fitting for the content of this site, I have included it below.
“I hate being LGBTQA. For those of you that do not know, LGBTQA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Asexual. Most of you have seen these initials in its shortest form “LGBT”. I hate being part of this group because most people don’t understand, and even the enlightened ones do not understand it fully. They don’t get that every single letter of this initialism means something to someone.
Heterosexual people, and even non heteros, tend to believe that there are only two options. Black or white, right or wrong, straight or gay. The same is true whenever straight people accept gays or lesbians. They tend to think that there is always the man or the women in a relationship, because that is how they wrap their head around that alien idea. So the more effeminate man will always be the woman in the relationship, while the butch woman will be the man. They often ask “Who is the man/woman in the relationship?”, without stopping to think that the answer is “Both”. “Do you like men or women?” Both Bisexuals and Asexuals suffer from this classification, as they fall into “All of the above” or “None of the above”, while Questioning will say “I DON’T KNOW” and flip the table.
The thing is… I don’t consider myself either gay or straight, and I don’t think a lot of people understand that. My best friend, insists that I am just gay, despite my claims that I’m either bisexual or the more comfortable “questioning”. I must also add that she is a woman, so for her the idea of having a G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) is inherently appealing. She’d usually start conversations with “faggy,” or diminutives of my own name. Today I received a text from her that started with “Passive”. I most also add that I am not passive, and that she was already making assumptions on my sex life.
The reason this controversy started, and why I felt compelled to write this post was because I was tagged in a picture with a friend. A friend that happens to be openly gay. She said she could immediately tell by the picture he was gay. I said that he was, but immediately telling her that he was just a friend of mine. Then I made the mistake of asking her if she could tell by how I looked at that picture if I was gay (she refuses to call me bisexual). One should never ask questions they don’t want to hear the answer to.
“You can tell right away.”
I hate being part of the LGBTQA community, but I hate more that I instinctively want to pretend that I am not. Because my first reaction was to remove that tag, or to hide it from my timeline. I hate to admit this, and I immediately felt ashamed of it. I told myself that there was nothing wrong with it. So I went to my hidden posts to unhide my photo, and what I found out was appalling.
I apparently usually hide from my timeline pictures where I am tagged next to my gay friends. Friends that I am not even in a relationship with, as if being next to them will make everyone believe that I was gay by association. I hit a low point today, and I felt ashamed, but not because of my sexuality, but because of my shame.
I am a 23 year old man, and even though I am already a bit experienced and most of my sexual encounters have been with men, I do still consider myself either Bisexual or Questioning. I have never had a serious relationship in my life, and I simply do not want to put myself in either category yet. I know I’m not strictly straight, but I am not purely gay either. I still am attracted to a lot of women. I am also attracted to a lot of men.
There is a term called Bisexual Erasure, which is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll still explain because that’s what I do. Basically it is the thought that bisexuality does not exist. You are either gay or straight. Once you go gay you are automatically gay your whole life, never to be straight again. If a gay man or a gay woman suddenly feels attracted to a person of their same gender, then they feel like it was just a phase, or worse, that they are cured of their homosexuality. The thought of being bisexual never occurs to them. Bisexual erasure is common in both straight and gays.
How does Bisexual Erasure affect me? In the environment I live in at the moment, whenever I tell people that I am bisexual, they will automatically put me in the gay category. And it is that fear of being classified as gay that doesn’t allow me to choose A or B. The fear of experimentation makes me want to avoid either altogether, which has seriously put a strain on my intimate life. Have I never wanted a boyfriend because I do not want to be seen as gay? Do I reject the idea of having a girlfriend because I think that I’d be lying to her? And am I bisexual or just deeply in the closet and in denial? Or am I just, as many people would put it, a pussy?
I hate being LGBTQA, because it has always been LG. And I hate having to choose a side.”
I am a cis, heterosexual, white male, which to a lot of people puts me in the “privileged” category. I may not feel like that is fair, but I think it is. My life isn’t easy itself but so what? I still get more advantages than a lot of people and I’m not even aware of it. This is why I decided to post my friend’s story. Keep in mind that this is clearly a very personal story that my friend shared, and I don’t want to see anyone jump on it for its cultural depiction of gender norms that may not completely comply with feminism or gender equality all the way. My friend lives in a different part of the world than most of my readers and deals with things differently, and that’s okay. We can’t change the entire world all at once, or at least that’s not practical. We can change the world but it will take time.
The topic of bisexual erasure, I think, is important. We’re so used to things being the way they are just because that’s “the way they are” but that’s not a default starting position. We didn’t just spring into existence five minutes ago with everything that we consider to be normal set this way intentionally. It took us a long time to get here and along the way we’ve picked up some terrible habits.
It frustrates me when people try to offer explanations for things while completely ignoring social development, psychological evolution or cultural change. I used to be one of those people. I’m glad I’m not anymore. It’s still difficult at times. I still say ignorant, hurtful things. I’m working on it.
We need to start acknowledging the differences between people. We have to stop assuming that there is any such thing as normal. What is normal? Popular? Not really. Loud? Obvious? I don’t think so. More and more we are discovering that there is no real unifying measure between people other than being humans. We discover new things about mental health every day, we learn new things about how society works, has worked… could work. Sitting back and declaring a certain group of people “abnormal” will never get us anywhere but backwards.
So I am sharing this story today because although I do my best to speak out, I don’t have much authority to share in the actual experience of being anything other than heterosexual and cis and white and male. All I can do is try to convince people to open their eyes to the experiences of someone else outside of their ignorance-is-bliss life. It worked for me. I’m sharing my friend’s story because they can talk about things I can’t, things that need talking about.
I hope you find this helpful, at least a little bit. I hope you’re with me on trying to make the world more understanding.
“Sex-sexuality-venn” by Jokestress – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sex-sexuality-venn.png#mediaviewer/File:Sex-sexuality-venn.png