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Life Was So Much Easier When I Just Identified As Bi

Dear KitschMix,

For most of my life I mostly identified as bisexual, but after my relationship with a man broke down, I finally came out as gay. I don’t see myself with another man.

However, since doing so life has just got a whole lot harder.

People always say it’s how hard it is being bi, and I keep wondering, am I the only one whose experience is different? I keep wondering if I should have just buried these feelings and married my ex and had a shot at a hetero life.

I didn’t experience any issues being bi, not even biphobia from the LGBT community. I didn’t come out to my family, because I thought I’d just marry a guy. So why freak them out over something that might not have any practical effect on my future.

I was basically treated like a straight person, who was “cool” and “open-minded”. Most women I know also identified as bi, even if they never intended to have sex with another woman, let alone date one. It seems to be the in thing, to not be totally straight. The only mild annoyance was guy fetishizing me.

The last few months have been rough. My dad has disowned me. I’ve been called dyke and spat on, for politely rejecting a guy. I’ve been told that basically I need to be raped, so I can see the light because clearly I haven’t had the right dick.

Also, whomever I spend my life with now, we won’t be able to get legally married in my country. It feels like I’ve become a second class citizen without equal rights. That no matter how I have kids, there’ll be people criticizing my family, and bullying them. And the fetishizing thing? I still get it, only even more so. It seems the only thing hotter sounding to guys than “bisexual”, is “lesbian”. Guys know lesbians aren’t into guys, and yet they still try and get with me like it’s a challenge to force me to have sex with them. I’m basically a rape challenge.

Am I just having an unusually shitty experience being gay?

First, I would like to apologize on behalf of everyone who has ever treated you unfairly. As someone who previously identified as bisexual because it seemed easier, I can understand why you might want to cling to the bisexual title. People are cruel sometimes, and unfortunately there are people who will see you as a “challenge”. It’s disgusting, actually. And it’s especially disgusting if you live in a place where lesbians and bisexual women can be openly sexualized, but not given equal rights. It’s my hope that one day it won’t be a discussion anymore, but unfortunately, this is actually a very real thing for most of the world.

Your experience is not unusual. It’s not even uncommon. And that is really depressing.

I’ve joked about it a lot, because I’m not the most attractive woman out there. I used to say “I’d only be a 6 if I wasn’t gay – but since I’m a lesbian, I’m an 11.” It’s completely true, though. I’ve been around people who weren’t even slightly attracted to me, and then they find out I’m gay, and they’re still not attracted to me, but they think they need to convince me that I’m actually bi.

With their penises.

There’s no such thing as magic genitals that can make someone gay, or make them straight, or whatever. It actually works both ways, too – I actually have had people explaining “for me”, to other people, that I’m a lesbian because I was raped. These people lacked a fundamental understanding of human biology.

In some ways, yes, it is easier to be bisexual – because there’s no need to come out if you’re in a heterosexual relationship. I think this might be why some women don’t explore their attraction to women until they’re married to a man. It’s always easier to pretend a “problem” doesn’t exist than it is to address the problem itself, and while attraction to women is definitely not a problem, it can cause problems when you’re living in an area where it’s not considered acceptable.

Truthfully, there isn’t ever a need to come out, anyway, aside from an internal one. I was lucky enough that most of my family has been supportive, but that hasn’t been the case with other people. I’ve lost friends. I’ve had acquaintances accuse me of being perverted. I’ve had extended family question me relentlessly with completely disrespectful questions.

But, I’ve also met some wonderful people who I never would have had the courage to become friends with if I had remained in the closet. I have helped to inform some people, which I feel is always a mini-win for the queer community at large. I’ve had my nephews adamantly support me to their friends who tried to cut me down because I was “living wrong”. And, of course, I’ve grown from all of these experiences – good and bad – and maybe that’s why I’m so confident with myself these days.

Here’s a little fact that may or may not help you feel better: There are always going to be people judging you, no matter what you do. The best thing you can do for your own mental health is to decide to not give a shit about what these people think. By deciding that you will love the people who love you, instead of hating the people who hate you, you completely destroy their power.

I really wish the world’s dynamic would change in this regard, but that’s not going to happen. There will always be people who try to build themselves up by cutting others down. There will always be people who are taught to hate more than they are taught to love. But it’ll help your sanity so much if you decide that these people don’t matter – because they don’t.

The truth is, your identity is really irrelevant. As a society, we put so much emphasis on these labels, but what do they really mean? I identify as a lesbian hippie. But I’ve known other lesbian hippies (even tried to date one) who were nothing like me at all. If you think it’s easier for you to identify as a bisexual, and simply not date men, there’s no one who can tell you that you’re wrong. Identities are personal, and no two people define things the same way.

(Don’t believe me? Go into any lesbian chat room and ask about the difference between sex and foreplay. Trust me. There are different answers for any question, and when the conversation is about a label, the answers are going to vary, a lot.)

My advice to you is to drop the label – it’s not doing you any good, and it’s really no one else’s business anyway. We put way too much weight into what other people think. You can’t exactly go back in the closet with people you’ve already come out to, but you can choose to not associate with them until they treat you with respect. It might take some time, and when that person is a parent, it’ll probably hurt to cut them out. But parents are supposed to love and support you, no matter what. If your parent doesn’t, and you’re old enough to support yourself, cutting them out might be the best thing to do.

I cut off my own dad for a long time – and eventually he realized that I wasn’t going to tolerate being treated like a second-class citizen. (In my situation, it wasn’t related to my sexuality; he shamed me for it, but never disowned me – I chose to disown him for things he had done.) We talk now, sometimes, but every time he gets out of line, I put my phone down… And he stops. (Or, at least I can’t hear it anymore, which is the same thing as far as I’m concerned.)

In time, people will start to realize that you’re more important than your label, and if they continue to judge you based on that, they’re not worth your time. I know it’s harder when you’re not equal in the eyes of your country, but if we stand united, we can help to change the world, one person at a time.

Please don’t hesitate to write back in if you need some help getting the confidence to move past the people who aren’t worth your time. If you’re worried about your equality in the eyes of your government (and it doesn’t look likely to change in the near future) I’d advise saving up to move to a different country. This seems like an extreme answer, I know, but think about it – you’re probably paying taxes to support a government that doesn’t support you. I’ll never understand how people can idly do that.

If you are particularly attached to your own country, for whatever reason you might have, then you need to stand up and help change things. The status quo isn’t going to change on its own – it takes hard work from passionate people. I believe that those who do nothing to change a situation have no right to complain about the situation. It doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to make things better instantly, or on your own, but you have a responsibility to try.

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