Monday, 20 December 2010

Being asked if I'm bisexual

Today I was on a long car journey with a group of people I was good friends with, but from a professional relationship background. So they had all heard me over the last few months occasionally reference ex-gfs and the like, but I'd never used the word 'bisexual' specifically, it had just never come up.

One of them I knew less well, having spent much less time with her, and one particular occasion when I mentioned my ex-gf, she just said straight out "Do you consider yourself bisexual then?" or some similar, plain phrasing.

And I was overcome with gratitude. This is just the simple answer to many of the social awkward moments that can come from other people not being bold enough to clear up my orientation. Because I'm not going to announce it or something, why should I have to? And it's not my fault the opportunity didn't arise for me to clear it up neatly. That particular fact about me was dealt with easily and painlessly, as it should be.

Being asked plainly was not insulting, or rude, it was a neutral enquiry, and so I was able to the just "Yes," and that was that, like asking if I had pets! And it would have been fine if she had asked "Are you gay?" because it would again be simple to say "No, I'm bisexual".

Furthermore, I can accept that the majority of people don't meet bisexuals that they know undoubtedly to be so, and so are a little intrigued. It didn't happen on this occasion, but she may have been interested to know more about my being bisexual, and to a certain point I'll happily answer other questions that might have followed (obviously letting them know when they had reached a boundary, which I generally draw at questions that I wouldn't be expected to answer if I were straight).

So this incident made me realise that we should be unafraid to simply ask someone their orientation, without it being misread as aggressive or nosy, and that I am very proud of my bisexuality.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Celebrity bisexuals

In an age where every Gok Wan, Louis Spence and Stephen K. Amos is not a novelty, and we are no longer shocked by Sue Perkins, Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes (I couldn't find any more lesbian celebrities who are British!) I see more media attention on bisexuals for being bisexual. Not a lot, but they have replaced articles about gays being gay.

This post was inspired by an article in the Sunday Times where I read the revelation (to me, that is) that D H Lawrence was bisexual.

Some celebrities who are out bisexuals include
Cynthia Nixon
Jessie J
Lady Gaga
Duncan James
Megan Fox
Giorgio Armani
Pete Burns
Alan Cumming
Anna Paquin
Drew Barrymore
Angelina Jolie
Andy Dick
David Bowie
Carol Ann Duffy
Craig Revel Horwood
Drea de Matteo

And those only rumoured to be (or may be those who have experimented/be bicurious) include
Lindsey Lohan
Errol Flynn
Kathy Najimy (look her up, you'll recognise her)
Dusty Springfield
Nelly Furtado
Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine)
Christina Aguilera
Hans Christian Anderson
Sammy Davis Jr
Freddy Mercury
Laurence Olivier
Robert Downey Jr

Monday, 22 November 2010

The wife of Ellen Degeneres

I read an article in The Times magazine about the wife of Ellen Degeneres, not because I care about them as celebrities, but simply because it was about a lesbian couple.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, the fact that I only read it for that and no other reason. I suppose it makes sense that I would read an article that has relevance to me, but I see it as indicative of why we LGBT+ struggle. We will never get to the point of being the same as the majority hetero, because being non-hetero is fundamentally being different, a minority. An article about lesbians will eventually become accepted, but always be an exception in a popular, mainstream magazine.

I don't let myself get sad about that. One day we will be accepted as easily as any other minority, like gingers, twins, and any number of other groups, I just can't think of them off the top of my head. I can think of lots of minorities that aren't accepted easily though, which is sad, but shows just how easily other minorities are accepted, so that they are not prominent enough for me to register.

Or something. I'm not sure if that makes sense. But anyway, we should shrive to gain that easy acceptance, but at the same time not get so caught up in a pessimistic contemplation on how the world doesn't work the way we want, because if you did that for everything, you'd never enjoy life, even as it is.

So being part of a minority is a chance to show the world that your life is going to happy and fulfilling, whatever gets thrown in your way, within the world you live in. And enjoy the exceptions in popular culture when they crop up.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Small Mention

The mention of your sexuality, even in a small way, can put an edge on a conversation. You may not be sure how the other person feels about non-heteros, or you may not have known them for long, or you may have a more formal relationship with them. In a relaxed environment with friends who accept you for who you are and embrace your sexuality as a way of life that is simply different to theirs, you can talk about same-sex ex's til kingdom come, but other times, it cools the air. Sometimes even in a friendly environment, they are all hetero and feel uncomfortable even if they have no problem with you being bi.

You probably didn't want to bring up bisexuality as a topic, or even draw attention to it. I find myself telling anecdotes as part of most conversations, and they may be about an ex-girlfriend, and I feel no shame about referring to her as 'my ex-girlfriend'. I feel like I'm lying, to them and to myself, if I call her anything different.

But the key is getting the balance, between being yourself and letting them save face. You need a bit of both, which isn't an alien concept of course. Don't emphasise the fact that the person you're mentioning is the same sex. Don't use phrases like 'because I'm bi', or 'being bisexual' or similar. But also don't mumble 'my ex-girlfriend', or whatever you would prefer to say. Say it, and move on with the point of the anecdote, or whatever the reason you're talking at all. It's their problem, and you only have an obligation to not insult them, not to pretend like theirs is an opinion you agree with.

It doesn't have to be hard. You don't lose anything, and while they may not be okay for a moment, it will pass and they can ignore it as they wish. If they bring it up, if they pick on it and start a conversation like that, it isn't your fault, so don't feel any blame.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A tricky situation with other Christians

I have just started a new job, on a touring theatre production. I am in a group of people with whom I will be living very closely for the next three months. We are a theatre company brought together by a shared Christian ethos.

This sets a stage for disaster if I upset the wrong person or people. I am unable to gage, after only a short while with them, what the reaction would be to a revelation of my sexuality, and this has put me a little out of kilter.

It has not upset all my interactions, far from it. But just occasionally I have been reminded of the strong religious aspect of the company, and I get on edge. I am at a loss as to what I will do if the question comes up (which is unlikely, I know). What I need to find out is what the stance of each individual is on LGBT+ is, but it'll be difficult to do this subtly. I may have to hope the discussion comes up naturally, though it's difficult to see how.

As you may have guessed, I am a Christian myself, and I have found that the two parts of my lifestyle - religion and sexuality - are compatible (but I will go into how and why in another, detailed post). So if I am in a minority of this thinking within the group, I risk a lot of problems. My main concern is getting into debate or even argument which can lead to personal hurt, either to myself or others, and upsetting the balance of the group.

They are very nice people - most British Christians are, being one of the most mild groups I have ever come across. But there is a real issue within Britain about the right and wrong of non-straight sexualities and the attitude of Christians, because the majority on this island of ours are Church of England, and being Anglican, that includes a vast range of attitudes from liberal to conservative. So no one agrees. The Catholic Church has an official 'no' policy, the United Reformed Church has an official 'each congregation decides independently' policy, and the Quakers have an official 'yes' policy. The Anglicans have a flimsy 'it's under debate' policy.

Then of course there's the problem of whether all the group are of the same denomination, and then, whether they agree with their denomination's policy. Nightmare!

The problem will arise from those who cannot see how not being straight can be allowed within Christianity, and those who believe Christianity condemns it. But I may have no trouble, and everyone agrees with me.

I suppose from one perspective I am being worrisome, stressy and paranoid, and I'll just deal with it if it comes up. Stay firm that I am proud of who I am and my reconciliation of my Christianity and my bisexuality. There's not much else I can do. I must remember to stay calm, not to rise to any challenge, and turn the other cheek, to use a relevant expression.

And pray. Fervently.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The difference between dating men and women

I came up against one of the problems of being bisexual the other night, or at least a problem I have come across before. The unspoken signs of affection, attraction and interest between two girls within a group of friends.

In my group of friends through my last two years of sixth form, we have been three straight men, three straight women, two bisexual women (one being me), one bicurious man, one gay and one lesbian. I have dated one of the straight men, dated the other bi woman, enjoyed a make-out session with the bicurious, and been asked out by the lesbian. Slowly over the last few months, another bisexual woman has become closer and closer to be within the core group, and few nights ago, her place was confirmed at a party for the group.

This girl and I were part of the same friendship group in the last two years in secondary school. During that time, it was obvious she was not straight, but it was a single-sex private school and we didn't talk about such things... For the last two years, we've vaguely kept in touch, and she's been invited to more and more gatherings.

Now, like I said, I've seen her occasionally over the last two years, and she has changed quite a lot (like all of us) but the most prominent thing has been her acceptance of her body, letting us see how attractive it is. I, being bi, have noticed this. So occasionally she's played a part in my fantasies, but I haven't really thought about it.

A few nights ago at a party with friends, later on in the evening, we ended up next to each other on the sofa, and I noticed both she and myself doing all those little, nervous mannerisms that indicate teens in attraction. She made the first bold move, of laying her legs across me when there was little space (something that is common amongst me and my close friends, but not her up to this point) which I read as holding significance. I replied, by laying my arms over her legs, and loosely holding her knee.

I was really not sure how to react. It's very different with straight men, there's a lot less grey, they are either definitely flirting and wanting, or not. Because that's the norm. I meet more men into women than women into women, and I've known I'm into men longer than I've known I'm into women. So I find it harder to read these situations, plus I'm used to being more casual with straight girls, because I know there's no subtext. With women I know are into women, my experiences in those contexts don't help.

At one point she very lightly stroked my arm, so I shuffled my fingers over her knee. This all seems trivial, but at the time, it felt highly charged. I eventually became sure of what I was reading because right near the end, I curled up with my head on her ample chest, and she plaited my hair. I was thinking about it on the way home, and it makes sense, because the hair is a safe bet; still intimate to be a signal, but not as intimidating or suggestive as interaction, say, as taking a hand, where the recipient has to make a quick decision as to whether to respond or withdraw. I had time to sum up what I felt and decide to let her carry on, because I enjoyed it.

So what this made me think about was what I have found to be one of the difficulties of being bi - the fact that one interaction with one gender cannot help as experience to learn from for improving with the other gender. Really the problem comes down to having to have and develop two different ways of interacting, reading others, flirting, and all the things involved in sexual/romantic relations. And that is annoying to realise - double the effort required for a fulfilling love life.

But we have deal with it, and take it as a challenge to succeed even better than our straight/gay friends!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Insight into women? Not a chance

This post is inspired by an incident with my mother, when I gave my opinion on a coloured lipbalm she was wearing. Now she said she was upset by the way I gave this opinion (which was negative, if you haven't guessed) and granted I may have been a bit blunt, and if she had simply said that she was hurt by my comment, I would have apologised and told her I was sorry that I hurt her feelings, which I am. But she had to get all nasty with me.

After the small row, I got thinking. It's one of the problems of women. That she is a woman was a factor in her reaction, I have no doubt. We're often more vain than we like to let ourselves believe, and pretty sentimental and emotional most of the time. I should know.

Well, you would think I would know. But there's the thing, people assume, I think, that women in same-sex relationships have it easier then men in hetero relationships, because they can understand their partner better. Well bullshit! I am a woman, and the only insight I have into any other woman I may have a relationship with is that they are near-impossible to comprehend. Especially if you're a fairly blunt person like me. I'm as incomprehensible as the next woman I suspect.

So far, it's been the men I've been with that have been easier to comprehend. This of course is probably entirely subjective, but I can only write from experience. The girls have been more cyptic, capricious and their actions/reactions harder to foresee.

Really, the gender issue is a moot point (which most bis will agree on!). Each person is different, and humanity is the most diverse part of nature. Each relationship therefore is unique, and we should come at them without expectation. But humanity has noted the differences since time immemorial, so the generalisations might have something to them after all.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

My bisexual story part 1

This post is sort of my bisexuality story.

I realised I was bi in April 2006 when I was 14 years old. It's not very clear in my memory, but then again, for me it wasn't a single moment of realisation. When I look back with hindsight, I see now that there were incidents before then that were because of my sexuality that I didn't realise at the time, such as at primary school, finding I was okay with kissing a girl's cheek, and sometimes wanting to, but the girls I tried to kiss were not okay with it, and drawing pictures of women with accentuated features and skimpy outfits, when my friends gave them big dresses and big make-up.

What brought my attention to not being straight, as I had assumed I was up til then, was a particular girl. When talking to my friend on the phone about her, I would refer to her as 'Richard' so my parents wouldn't cotton on if they overheard, but on here, I'll use the pseudonym Marigold. She was a girl in my year who I was vaguely friends with. And I sought out her attention more frequently, and tried very hard to make her laugh, and when I noticed my behaviour I found that I felt the same warm feeling that I associated with my crushes on boys. This was in April, and I spent the weeks until July and the summer working out what it meant. My first thought was that I was gay, but I knew I liked boys too, so I started to research it, and when I came across bisexuality, it just clicked. At a basic level anyway. I spent until January 07 realigning my sense of self identity. I also spent that time falling in love with Marigold from afar, and getting closer to her as a friend.

Now, I was under the impression that all the girls in the year were straight, naive as I was, and it was only when I identified with being non-hetero that I gave it any thought, and eventually understood that, as in most averages, about 10% were gay or bi. I dreamed of Marigold being bi, but I saw it as just a lying-in-bed-at-night fantasy, especially with her record of sleeping with men, even at 14. So when I went to the cinema alone with Marigold, I just enjoyed being with her and expected nothing.

What happened, I did not expect. I was high on feelings from being close in the dark to the girl I loved, leading to the bold move of taking her hand. We leant in closer and closer until our cheeks were touching. I don't think I realised what was happening, I wasn't thinking at all really. So I just instinctively turned my head and we kissed. My brain jammed with the single thought "I'm kissing her, I'm kissing her!" She was an experimenting teenager, and I was only just coming to terms with my sexual identity. A few weeks later, Marigold 'asked me out' and we began a three month fling. I didn't realise at the time what a nonsense relationship it was, and how Marigold used me to express her sexual confusion and frustration.

But it did teach me a few things about who I was, and some things about my bisexuality. I noticed I felt protective of her in the way I wanted to be protected by a man, and that I was highly sexually attracted to her body, much more than to men's. That was my first same-sex relations experience. I drew self-confidence from it, and it led me to come to terms with who I was. I spent the time up to my GCSEs not talking about it except to one friend (who had the unfortunate task of being on the other end of the phone the night I first kissed her. Wow, was I loud).

Then I truely came out to friends when I moved to a new college for my A levels. I met a new group, and simply mentioned it casually if it came up - and it felt good. They totally accepted me no questions, and I flourished, even asking out a girl in my drama class. My next important relationship was with a boy I'll call Colt. He introduced me to sexual relations with men, and how someone else can love my bisexuality. He enjoyed comparing notes on our tastes in women, and I completed my initiation into being sexual.

So I come to my current relationship. After months of crushing on a girl I met at the start of the academic year who became a part of our social group, I asked her out, and here we are eight weeks later. I am learning every day how to be a strong girl without a prescribed role in my relationship, doing what I can for her and myself to make us happy. I am learning some of the differences between having a girlfriend and a boyfriend, from the roughness of men's kisses in relation to the softeness of women's, to the almost opposite needs of them, as well as the similarities.

So that's part of my story (up to the point of writing in June 2010).

Saturday, 5 June 2010

About being bisexual

Hello, and welcome to the start of my blog about bisexuality.

- OED: sexually attracted to both men and women
- Wikipedia: a sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical or romantic attraction to both males and females
- Wiktionary: sexually attracted to persons of either sex

The above definitions are archaic and inaccurate. As everyone knows, sexuality and orientation is not only about physical or romantic attraction, but also attraction on an intellectual and emotional level. Nor is gender, sex, or gender expression, binary. Let's just get that clear from the start. (Google 'genderbread person').

Bisexuals are attracted on some or all levels to more than one gender.

That's the basics of it. It is not better or worse than being hetero or homo, nor are the problems with relationships any easier or difficult. In LGB, they are probably the least understood, and for the majority of straight people (and some gay people) the most confusing. Such questions as "Why can't they choose?" and "Aren't they being greedy, with one foot on each side?" crop up in conversation with people who are monosexual. This blog hopes to clear this up and give some clarity for all readers, regardless of their orientation, age or gender, for sexuality transcends all boundaries of human society and history.

I am a bisexual myself. Please be aware that I am using my own knowledge and experiences (as well as Google searches!) and giving my own personal opinion. I believe that orientation is a result of nature, with only small influence of nurture, but I realise that others believe different. I don't think it can be changed, though I do believe that some people exist with a fluid sexuality, and I don't think falling love can be bad simply because of the gender of the recipient. But I am not using this blog to impose these views on anyone, for we're all entitled to our own views.

Bisexual is a misleading term. Some people, like me, are 'bi'sexuals, in that they are in fact attracted to men and women (the two ends of the spectrum) in a binary fashion, with no preference. But that's not often the case; bisexual in terms of LGBT is used as an umbrella to mean all those who are 'not gay or straight', and that includes people who are attracted to more than two genders, or who are attracted to both but have a preference, or for whom gender is not an issue, or who's sexuality is fluid and the parameters of who they are attracted to change over time. This is one of the hardest elements of bisexuality that non-bisexuals have difficulty understanding. The 'bi' as in the 'two' does not have much to do with what bisexuality as an identity has emerged as meaning since the term was coined.

To put it another way - being heterosexual, a woman has the potential to be attracted to anyone who is a man. I am a 'bi'sexual, so have the potential to be attracted to anyone who is a man or anyone who is a woman. Some bisexuals don't work like that; they don't feel that just any man or woman is potentially attractive by dint of being man or woman - their gender doesn't factor into the equation. They just identify as under the umbrella term 'bisexuality' to show that gender doesn't limit them to one option, they are open to same-sex or opposite sex romantic and sexual relationships. Or they only identify with bisexuality umbrella because most people are even less aware of the other terms for people's sexuality, which often strive to point out an attraction to transgenders, and genderqueer people, or that their attraction isn't based on gender at all (people who identify with this last one most often identify as 'pansexual').

This post gives a basic definition of bisexuality. But it's actually very hard to define, and so it will only be found in all the posts collectively on this blog, which will discuss different aspects of what living this life is like. Every bisexual is different, which I really shouldn't need to say, because everyone is unique, and every hetero is different and every homo is different as well.  Ultimately, it is not for other people to use their own parameters to judge what bisexuality is; if a bisexual identifies as bisexual, that is what they are and other people should accept that.

But anyway. Bisexuality. It's an attraction. To more than one gender.

See also: