One of the most frequent responses I get when I divulge my bisexuality is,
"...Okay. So what does that mean?"
And to be fair it's a question worth asking but also a question with a multitude of answers. A question neatly packed into a few words, it unravels a history of misunderstanding, of erasure in popular media, of hypersexualisation and dysphoria.
At surface level, it means that I am romantically and sexually attracted to both males and females (though even this statement is laden with further questions about the gender binary). But beyond this, it means dealing with misconceptions that bisexuals are fickle, promiscuous and greedy. That’s it’s a phase. It's being labelled straight if I were to date a man and named gay if I were to date a woman. It means, god forbid, if I were settle with the love of my life in marriage and domesticity, that I have to relinquish the title of bisexual because I'm 'settling', because I've made my choice. And, boys and girls, it means that I don't want to ride the tricycle with you. You can ride the unicycle tonight.
Waltzing down the supposed rainbow lit path to debauchery and sin, it also means that I have questions of my own. Is it a 50/50 line down the middle? Does it mean that I can toss a coin to decide which gender I'm attracted to at any given time? When dating am I meant to operate within a specific ratio of boys to girls? Girls have pretty hair and smell like flowers but boys can kill spiders for me.
Having grown up in an environment of blatant homophobia, bisexuality can be a disorientating experience. If sexuality is a choice, why would I choose a path that has brought dysphoria, confusion and even guilt? Being exposed to incidents where my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are condemned, I feel as if I’ve escaped somewhat unscathed. Because there’s still a chance I can be in a traditional relationship. That I could fall in love with Jack and hide my affections for Jill.
Confronting the reality of bisexuality is to reconcile an identity which feels disconnected from many spheres in society. Absent from the marriage equality discourse and media, despite existing visibly in the acronym LGBTQIA+. But in Australia, it is also recognising that I am born with enormous privileges. I live in a nation where, though I am still potentially unable to marry the love of my life, I am relatively free from persecution. I have access to resources when I am met with uncertainty, and at my university, can be a part of a queer collective (find it here) that is dedicated to welcoming people of all sexualities. It’s a complex and difficult process, and it’s okay to not know the answers.
While I definitely don’t have all the answers, I also believe strongly in utilising representation and education as a tool to reconcile misunderstanding and hatred. Bisexuality is a separate orientation of its own and it’s time it is treated and respected as such.
At the end of the day, all bisexuality means to me is that I am human. That I have the capacity to feel, to love, and to experience the world through a unique veneer. What does it mean to you?
by Alyssa Rodrigo