Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

On bisexuality

I first realised that I was bisexual in my early teens, although at the time I had no idea that such a thing existed. I just knew that I fancied girls as well as boys. It was confusing and something that I kept to myself as no-one else seemed to be having the same feelings. As I grew older I became more open about my sexuality and had several girlfriends as well as boyfriends before meeting my husband when I was 21. He’s always known of my sexuality and is perfectly comfortable with it – we even have similar taste in women!

Not everyone is so accepting, however. I’ve never told any older relations about my sexuality after having several devastating arguments as a teen with my loudly homophobic grandfather (although obviously, if I had ended up in a long-term relationship with a woman I wouldn’t have hidden it!). I have friends who, although they’ve known me for many years, believe that my relationships with women were a phase and that because I’m in a long-term relationship with a man I’m now heterosexual. This is wrong – if my husband died or we split up I’d be just as likely to be in a relationship with a woman as with a man – but it isn’t an unusual view, sadly.

Being bisexual, in my experience, means facing criticism from all sides. Many people believe that bisexuals are attention-seekers, or just haven’t made up their minds which sex they’re attracted to. It’s also a common belief that bisexuals are gay but in denial (interestingly, I’ve never heard anyone claim that we’re straight but in denial about it). If you’re a young bisexual female then a lot of people assume you’re faking it to attract men – this seems a touch ridiculous until you consider the fetishisation of lesbianism in men’s magazines. I’ve even heard claims that bisexuals are gay but so afraid of our own sexuality that we spend our lives maintaining fake heterosexual relationships. I hesitate to label the antipathy towards bisexuals biphobia, as I feel it comes under the umbrella of homophobia; there’s no doubt that the antipathy exists though. Read this article, for example, recently published in The Spectator. The author (Cosmo Landesman)’s vitriol against bisexuals seems entirely disproportionate to the point he’s apparently trying to make (that we’re not all bisexual – an argument that I mostly agree with) and makes me profoundly uncomfortable. Even in the last few days Mariella Frostrup, acting as agony aunt in a national newspaper, seemed to refer to a woman’s bisexual boyfriend as being undecided when she wrote “If your boyfriend hasn’t yet decided what sex to go for…”. (I tweeted Ms Frostrup about this – she dismissed me as being over-sensitive).

Basically what I want to say is this. Being bisexual doesn’t mean you’re confused, undecided or gay-but-in-denial. It means you’re attracted to both men and women. It’s as simple as that. Some people are only attracted to one sex; some are attracted to both sexes. Some are only attracted to one or two genders, some are attracted to more. Instead of constantly trying to criticise, belittle or second-guess one another why can’t we just accept everyone’s sexuality as being what they say it is?

Comments on: "On bisexuality" (13)

  1. “She dismissed me as being over sensitive.” I love that she wrote something which is *factually wrong* (the fact that one must choose one sex to ‘go for’) and potentially harmful but that to criticise that is over sensitive.

  2. It is so sad that we are still in a place where people have to justify their sexuality. Good on you for tweeting MF. Obviously I am commenting without the benefit of seeing either tweet, but it sounds a rather flippant response to a genuine critique.

  3. This is a WONDERFUL blog post!!! I’m DELIGHTED that you wrote it. Bully for you, my darling!!! I just finished reading a book by one of my favourite authors, John Irving, titled In One Body, written from the viewpoint of a bisexual male. I couldn’t put it down. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it to you. It begins with him as a boy encountering his first urges toward both genders and his experiences on through to his 60’s. He faces all the judgments, paranoia, accusations and ridiculous ‘advice’ you talk about. And some great humour is always involved in Irving’s novels you will enjoy. And compassion and humanness that will fill you up.


  4. I find lesbians hot, more hot than straight girls. Something about them makes them more attractive than usual.

    So no reason to be ashamed.

  5. disconcerted72 said:

    I just happened upon this, but you stated so much that rings close to home to me – specifically the realization during your teen years and not having terminology to describe it. Bravo!

    And I find it really…ahem…”disconcerting” when people question the validity of bisexuality. It bothers me, a lot!

  6. Really interesting! Good on you for writing so clearly about it, and for taking on Frostrup!:)

  7. nikkiharvey said:

    I wish I had read this many months ago. After my cousin spent many long phone calls saying she didn’t know if she was straight or gay because she was attracted to both men and women, I said ‘you realise that what you are describing is someone who is bisexual. Have you even considered that you don’t need to know if you’re gay or straight because maybe you are bisexual?’
    And she said ‘bisexuals are just people who can’t make up their mind’. I asked where she got that idea from and it’s something her dad had said.
    She is now much more accepting of bisexual people and has found that she is bisexual.
    I wish I had this post back then to help me explain some things to her.
    I do like the word ‘biphobic’. I’ve not one heard that I’ve before but to me it’s a word that makes sense unlike homophobic. We all know what phobic means but homo is the start of the word homosexual but also homosapien. Ever since I noticed that the word ‘homophobic’ conjures up images of a phobia suffered by aliens.

  8. Another brilliant blog post, you write so well that you’re a pleasure to follow. Some people are either narrow or closed minded and it’s sad that here in 2014 people still question other people’s sexuality.

  9. You know how and where to look for balance though your journey there will have detours. You’re honest and strong and way ahead of those stuck down in the dirt throwing mud. Your writing is stellar as is your outlook – all the best in your travels. AnnMarie
    new blogger hiking around blogworld

  10. Very well said. Your honesty is refreshing.

  11. I’ve never liked Mariella Frosty-Top – and since when did she become an expert (or not so much) on relationships?

  12. Sean Ayling said:

    What a brilliant post; I’m thinking a lot about labels at the moment and in 2014 it doesn’t matter if you’re guy, bi or straight. You like who you like.

  13. Great post! I’m bisexual but never spoken much about it – should really be more open and honest with the world!

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