The Double-Edged Sword of Bisexuality and How I Overcame It

You're damned if you date a woman, and you're damned if you date a man.

A bisexual person is confusing for those who are used to society's forced binaries like homosexuals and heterosexuals. Even for some members of the LGBTQ+ community, a bisexual woman is a walking contradiction; she's either experimenting or on her way to realizing she's a lesbian. As someone who has only been in heterosexual relationships, for most of my life I thought I didn't need to come out: It didn't matter.

But I remember the first time I felt ashamed about my bisexuality. I was thirteen years old, and I Googled lesbian adult films. The search caused my laptop to freeze due to a virus. My parents got involved, and both of them tried to ignore what was on the screen as best as they could.

The next time one of them became even slightly aware of my sexuality was when I was seventeen. My mom looked through my phone without my permission and confronted me about my Tinder profile: I had messages from both women and men.

bisexual pride illustrations by Rory Midhani

When I came out to my parents, neither of them remembered these moments. My dad didn't remember looking directly at me when he'd ask my homophobic grandfather, "Well, what if one of your grandchildren were gay?" because those weren't notable moments for him, but they were for me. Every LGBTQ+ person has these moments, when they feel like their sexuality is different and maybe even wrong, but I never expected to have those experiences within the queer community, too.

Then, during my freshman year of college, I went to my first gay club. I remember it so well, even though I was sloshed. I was wearing converse, a crop top, and high waisted skinny jeans. I had a star on my cheek. Wherever I walked, I felt glares. Women know what it's like to have a man glaring at them, but this time it felt different: I felt unwelcome. Throughout the night, I was nudged, elbowed, and pushed on the dance floor by countless gay men, like it was funny to them. As much as I tried to have fun, I felt small.

The memory stuck with me more than all the other times I've been made to feel ashamed of my identity. Looking back, the memory of my first time in a "gay" space is informed by the knowledge that some gay men assume that you're a straight woman enjoying their safe space unless you have "butch" lesbian identifiers. Three years later, at the height of political correctness, there's no reason not to be more inclusive.

Concurrently, some lesbians still believe that women who identify as queer or bisexual without having had any sexual and/or romantic relationships with women are invalid. This sentiment hits particularly close to home for me. The first friend I ever confided in about my sexuality was someone who was also unsure of her sexuality at the time. We confided in each other about everything, but I still held some walls up around myself. I never told her how religious my family was or about the internalized homophobia I carried within myself, or the paralyzing feeling of never allowing myself to explore that part of my identity. I shut down.

I didn't tell her my whole truth, so I can't really blame her when, two years later, she sent me a massive text about how she believed I was queer-baiting and disrespectful towards my queer friends, concluding with, "It's okay to be straight." At twenty-one-years old, the only person I trusted to help me through the trenches and despair of hating myself, of hating my sexuality, used it against me. She didn't know that I wasn't questioning anymore and that I was confident about my sexual identity, but at the time I knew she was gatekeeping her protected community. And I felt invalid. I thought I'd come so far, but wearing rainbows while not being in a relationship with a woman made me wonder what my intentions truly were.

I lost my best friend. Through everything—through exes telling me sex isn't cheating unless it's with a man, through gay men giving me glares, through being told in high school that people "wouldn't be surprised if you were a lesbian" and everything else—this was the final blow. It wasn't fatal, and it wasn't anything compared to what too many gay, lesbian, and trans people have experienced, but we don't need a hierarchy of oppression to connect through our struggles with coming to terms with who we are in the face of judgment and rejection.

Ultimately, my greatest rejection came from within my own community. To be honest, I never thought I needed to come out, because I happen to have only been in heterosexual relationships. I thought: If I never dated a woman, it would never matter. No one needed to know about this tiny part of myself that would only "other" myself and potentially cause great pain. In my mind, I believed being closeted would protect me from the confusion and delusion of people's prejudices. I knew I wouldn't experience any violence or discrimination for walking down the street with my boyfriend. Everything about my outward sexual identity was "normal" (according to close-minded people)—until grappling with the truth consumed me.

When your sexuality starts affecting and destroying your personal relationships, it's devastating. It wasn't until I saw Ariana Grande performing in 2019 that I realized I should be my greatest, truest self, because that's what she did. I know it sounds dumb, but the concert moved me to the point that I couldn't deny myself the catharsis of being free of mental and emotional constraints.

And I did: I freed myself. Afterwards, that friend I mentioned reached out to congratulate me. She wished me a happy Pride.

I'm going to celebrate Pride for the first time this Sunday. I will be going with my boyfriend. While I'm scared of glances, I'd rather attempt to celebrate who I am than hide behind my heterosexual relationship like it's a mask. I am an individual who is attracted to women and men. I dress femininely and like rainbows—I am proud of who I am, and regardless of what people say, you should be, too.