People always assumed my sexuality for me. Like most others, people assigned me the societal default of heterosexual. But, I’ve never actually known what it feels like to be ‘straight’. In reality, I’ve only known what it feels like to be bisexual, and, more specifically, for the past seventeen years, a bisexual in denial.
It was challenging for me to come to terms with the reality of my sexuality because it seemed like for every ‘non-straight’ feeling, thought, or experience that I had, society or my family had a heterosexual (i.e. ‘rational’) explanation for it. Dreaming more frequently about having sex with girls instead of guys? They were just dreams, nothing more. Checking girls out at school alongside the boys? I was just ‘one of the cool girls’. Dry humping my friend in the girls locker room freshman year? We were just really close. Before I came to the realization that I didn’t have to be a guy to be attracted to girls, such rationalizations came easy.
In confronting the potentiality of being in a relationship with another woman, there were assumptions about same sex relationships that I had to realize, acknowledge, and complicate for myself. I had to confront the ideas that society, and even my own family, had both consciously and subconsciously imprinted upon me regarding romantic relationships – straight or gay.
For example, staying in a toxic relationship, because I have been socialized to be submissive and to stay in the relationship no matter how difficult or abusive things become. This narrative that society has spun, that to leave an abusive partner would be to give up or to fail. That my job as a woman is to not only be submissive, but to help change the boy, put up with his selfish habits, endure halfhearted apologies, to sacrifice my happiness to help create a man worth dating. Worth my love. Worth my time and my energy. I had to step back and consider how these societal expectations had presented themselves in my life, in my past relationships, and those within my own family. And then, when I came out to myself as bisexual, I had to realize that being in a same-sex relationship doesn’t change any of that.
I do not want to contribute to the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes, but I admit that such thoughts came to my mind when I first came out to myself; the idea that just because I would be dating a girl I would have more control over what the relationship would be like, the idea that there aren’t just as many problematic power dynamics at play in same sex relationships as straight relationships, the idea that it would inherently be easier to date a woman just because I too am a woman. I have met abusers of all genders. I have seen dysfunctional relationships of all gender mixes and matches. Abusive, manipulative, and hurtful behavior and mindsets are not limited to one sex or gender or another, and that’s extremely important to remember.
But, I cannot help but be excited for what this new future holds for me. I’m excited to be able to explore every side of attraction, and its relation to me. While I still get nervous of other people’s reactions when I come out to them, and the fears swell up within me, thoughts like “What if no one understands me? What if everyone’s right and it is just a phase?” I have to remind myself of the freedom I felt when I first came out to myself. I have to remind myself of the knowledge I’ve gained from my own past relationships, from the relationships modeled for me by my parents, and those of my friends.
I have learned to allow myself the freedom to be myself. Unapologetically bisexual. I have learned to remind myself that love finds you, it cannot be hunted and captured desperately. I have actually found comfort in the idea that despite fantasizing for years about ‘my perfect man’, I no longer have any clue the type of person I am searching for, and I’d actually like to keep it that way.