Saturday, 14 September 2013

Tell me it gets better

I watch a lot of Youtube, it's part of my daily life. Today, one of my regular shows (shep689) recommended a coming out video, which I dutifully clicked to and watched.

It has invoked such a depressing reaction that I need to reach out for some support, guys. It was a young, Australian gay man telling his story. After going through the part about coming out to friends, mother, college, father, the gay man in the video starts using the phrase 'it gets better', and for the first time of hearing that (having heard it many times before, of course) I realised that it actually applied to me.

I don't feel like I'm in a place with my sexuality to testify to the fact; one thing stands in my way - my parents. For over half my life, the only people who understood me were my parents. Apart from two exceptions, it took me until 16years old to find other people who completely got me, totally took me for who I was and loved me for it.

Now I'm here; I know who I am and I love myself. It all makes sense to me and I know my place in this world as a queer, bisexual, cisgendered woman, with mostly-feminine-but tendency-towards-some-masculine self-expression. I have surrounded myself with people who I care for deeply who also know me and love me on this level.

But now, my parents don't understand. And they seem to think that because their world is cisgendered heterosexual, they have no need to see me as anything but a blip in that world. And I've never been a blip in their world before! They've always shifted their world around me to include exactly who I am as a totally integrated part of that world (it's the same with my brother, I'm not being egotistical, I'm pointing out this is their way of parenting, and I've always thought them great parents) but I don't feel integrated any more.

It hurts. It's upsetting. It doesn't feel right. As much as I don't think they mean it to be, it is a rejection. I suppose it is made worse that I'm not just living a bisexual life, I am engaging with my sexuality beyond romance (ie this blog, being head of the LGBT society, going to pride, etc). But that's not the part that hurts. I would get them leaving me to go about all that without them engaging with it, the same as they leave my brother to his fitness regime, diet and MMA (mixed martial arts - also known as ultimate fighting) training.

It's the fact that I get the impression they think it shouldn't change how I live my life at all, that they see it as a weird thing, as if it isn't normal for who I am. That's it - I would understand bisexuality being weird to them because they don't know it, but they treat it as if it should be weird to me as well, making it a blip. Every other thing that I do, that I am, they accept as normal, whether it's unpopular, not average, unmainstream - to them, I am perfectly normal watching Disney films, going into a career in theatre, being close friends with a church community that it on average 40 years older than me, because that's who I am; but my sexuality being not-majority - that is apparently a strange thing for me to be doing, as it they expect me to stop at some point.

Thinking about it, I think they would react different to me being a lesbian. Lesbian is more normal to them, it's unusual by dint of being minority, but I think they would embrace me being lesbian. Bisexual is being weird for the sake of being weird. That's the impression I get. I've gone past the line of things I do that are weird that they can accept as just being me, and now it's-

I don't know. I don't want to think that they think that ultimately I'm experimenting, rebelling, trying too hard, essentially identifying as bisexual simply to be different rather than it being fact. But they behaviour and their attitude seriously worries me to the point of suspecting that they might.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable in feeling rejected and betrayed. My relationship with them has been, on their side, a constant love of who I am and proactive welcoming of whatever unlike-the-majority characteristic I have shared with them. And the feeling that they just tolerate my bisexuality, that they don't understand how fundamental it is to who I am, that they don't feel like they need to understand more - you can't treat your child's sexual/romantic orientation the same as their interest in doing a sport.

And talking of my brother's MMA, it's a good way to show how my parents treat me bisexuality, because it's pretty much the same, which, now I realise it, appalls me. To my parents, my brother wanting to be a professional MMA fighter is something he does with like minded people, that makes him happy, and they accept that he sees it as something that fits him to do. They will support him in what he chooses to do now, without knowing more than a rudimentary amount about what he does.

Now, you might ask, Esme, why do you want your parents to know more than a rudimentary amount about your bisexuality? That implies you expect them to want to know all about your romantic life. But that's not what I mean. They treat my bisexuality as if they don't and can't know more than a rudimentary amount about what it is in life - they don't understand that it is in fact the same concept as my brother's heterosexuality, in terms of how parents understand their children's sexuality ie. to them, they assume a deep understanding of the social structures and norms that make up my brother's sexuality, and they assume only a rudimentary understanding of those things that make up mine, when it fact, because the only difference with mine is a wider gender pool of possible partners, they can understand it as the same as before they knew about they extra possibilities of partners.

But they don't see it as deep, valuable, and ingrained like my brother's heterosexuality; it's almost like they think I'm pretending, just to be edgy.

Urgh, you see why this video made me depressed? I still struggle with my parents - they don't take me sexuality seriously. And it doesn't feel like it's getting better. It upsets me that they also don't understand why I'm upset by their attitude - they think they're being accepting and loving, but they're doing it a distance, treating it like a fucking phase, a trend that will pass, and therefore does not need to be considered something to be integrated, it is a blip, inconsequential. But it's the characteristic that defines how I go about finding that one someone to combine with to make one life together til death - not inconsequential!

Communication. Tell them how I feel. Yes, yes. But these are my parents - I'm not the responsible one in the relationship, I'm the child, and the parent-child relationship is heavily biased towards the parents' responsibility in relationship maintenance. Yet I also keep stum to maintain their happiness, because they would feel guilty that they're failing on the "how to deal with your child coming out as bi" score. Endless circles.

Do the circles have an end? Will it get better?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Does it feel weird being bisexual?

The title of this post comes from my blog statistics. You may or may not know that Google like to collect lots and lots of stats and as a content creator, I can look at the stats relating to who is reading my content, from where, and how they got here. Tidbits include my top five countries for audience - US, UK, Germany, Latvia, Russia. I find the last three inexplicable. My most read posts include my Dr Who rant, the one that used to be called 'bisexual video', and one of the ones about my mother. This is more understandable.

As I was glancing through all this today, idly in a moment of quiet when I was up to date on all my subscriptions to YouTube and online TV catch-up, I noticed something in the 'searches' section. This tells me what people who found my blog through web searches put into the search engine. One of the things that someone, or more than one person, had searched was "does it feel weird being bisexual?"
Something about that made me stop and think, and I want to share my thoughts.

This is a question I would never have conceived of being asked, as it seems to be one from the outside of bisexuality, and of course I am on the inside. I have never been asked this, and I find it really strange to answer it. What does it mean? What makes someone not bisexual think it might be weird to be bisexual (as opposed to anything else that isn't their own orientation)? It's the use of 'feel' that gets me. I could understand 'is it weird to be bisexual?' But 'does it feel weird?'

Does it feel weird being bisexual?  How could your orientation feel weird? Is the person asking someone scared that they are bisexual, wondering if it's a bizarre thing to be and therefore it should feel weird? Because that is saddening; it breaks my heart. My immediate answer to that is it shouldn't feel weird. But it does feel alienating. I feel like I'm seen as weird, because most people identify as straight, and most people think the only other option is gay. It feels weird to moderate my behaviour to fit into the binary world, it feels weird that I can't fully engage with people how I want to, because me being with a man is not seen as bisexual, nor is me being with a woman, even though whenever I am with anyone I am attracted to, it feels bisexual. And I know the world doesn't get that.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? In many ways, no. It's my natural state; it's intrinsically who I am and influences everything I say, think and do, the same as being a ciswoman, or white, or British. Being attracted to more than one gender is the only way I understand the world - the thought of being attracted to only one is weird! It feels like exactly how I ought to be, the best way for me to be, the path that I am meant to take. It feels good because it's right for me, and it gives me something solid about my identity, and that in turn gives me membership to a great, worldwide network of everyone who goes under the 'B' umbrella, and it's so amazing being part of such a diverse set of people whilst still having something in common.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? It's not like I have anything to compare it to. Though it took until I was 14 to realise that I needed to use that label as opposed to the default 'straight', actually being bisexual is how I've always been as far back as I can remember even having a concept of liking my peers even just platonically. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back, as an eight year old, I felt as 'bisexual' as much as the majority of my prepubescent peers felt 'straight', without any true understanding of intimate relationships. So if I've been bisexual since I was aware of my relationships with peers, how could it feel weird? It's all I've ever been - it's all that I've ever known. It's normal for me.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? If I sat outside myself, and looked objectively at the concept of being bisexual compared to the gay/straight binary, it can look weird. It seems insubstantial almost, so undefined and flexible, which doesn't seem human. But then, coming back to myself, it seems like the only plausible option! Love is, to me, the greatest goal, and everyone has the capacity to love, so why would you not be open to loving and being loved by anyone? Gender seems such as arbitrary thing to be picky about, especially when you know how sex/gender/gender expression are all one spectrums between the concepts of male and female. But then, I wholeheartedly accept that straight people feel absolutely nothing for the same-gender, and gay people feel absolutely nothing for any gender except their own. That's how they feel, and it doesn't feel weird to them.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? It's not a specific sensation to feel. It's a state of being, it's a worldview, it's part of what's floating behind my eyes. There's no set of criteria, or symptoms. It's a label I use to describe a very personal part of my life - attraction, and intimate relations; it's a fact of human existence that some of us are attracted to people, and some of us are distinctly not attracted to people, and me, I am attracted to people. It's as important to me as breathing. I'm bisexual head to foot, outside and in, every molecule, because my relationships with people I am attracted to affect me mind, body and soul, and the power of it rings through my life like a sound wave bouncing off a canyon's walls and filling to whole thing with echoes.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? It might do when you first realise life is not going to be how you expected it to be. It might be when you first crush on someone of a gender you haven't crushed on before. The first time I kissed a girl, it felt good, but it felt weird, because I had spent 14 years not expecting it be part of my life. But now, kissing women, and kissing men; sleeping with them, loving them, talking to them, sharing affection, wanting them - it doesn't feel weird. It feels bisexual; it feels like what I want, and who I am.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? Not now I've embraced the truth of who I am. It feels great.