For a long time, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I was gay. I caught myself looking at other girls in class, but I told myself it wasn’t normal, and that I should “try to be normal” from there on out. Of course, it didn’t work – I was still pretty gay. But, I pushed all those thoughts aside, repressed my inner “demons”, and tackled the world as if my thoughts about females were completely unwarranted and unnatural.
Obviously, they weren’t. We know that being gay isn’t something you can change (even if you’re dedicated to trying). We know that there’s only so long you can push things back before they start to bite you in the ass. And of course, we know that “straight-acting” girls don’t face the same hardships that queer-presenting girls do.
Yet still, there’s an astounding amount of biphobia and gold star elitism within the queer community.
I dated guys for a while when I was young – 7th and 8th grade, mostly. Things never really worked out, and most of the time, it turned out that the guys I picked were actually interested in guys. (True story, my first boyfriend came out about a month after I did… But I had known for a lot longer.) And yet, I couldn’t see the connection.
I tried dating guys again, when I was a little older – the year between 18 and 19, to be specific. (Yes, my “bi-curious phase” lasted almost a year to the day – I think I was about ten days short.) It didn’t work out, then, but for a different reason. I already knew who I was, and I was trying to shove myself back in the closet.
As I’m sure you could tell, it didn’t really work. I was really, really gay, and no amount of man-dating could change that.
It’s a funny thing, though. When I identified as “bi, gay-leaning”, I didn’t have as many problems as I did when I identified as “gay, with a bi past”. The differences between the two are super subtle, at least from my perspective, but they do exist – and sometimes, they make all the difference.
If you’re considering dating a woman who used to identify as straight or bisexual, but is interested in dating women, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Human sexuality is fluid.
Although it doesn’t change for everyone, there is a possibility that your sexuality will change over the course of your life. A woman who once identified as bisexual (or even straight!) may change her mind over time. That doesn’t mean that either identity was untruthful, but it does mean that situations change.
Most people are conditioned to default as straight.
I can remember a saying in my family for a long time: “It’s okay to be gay.” Of course, it was always mentioned abstractly – like don’t judge the gay couple that lives across the street – rather than in a concrete way that made it okay “for me”. By default, people are assumed to be straight – and whether you agree with that assumption or not, it doesn’t change the way most of the world thinks.
Her past is technically not your business.
If your girlfriend tells you something you didn’t particularly want to hear, you need to understand that she did it so there were no secrets. She didn’t have to tell you. In fact, many women won’t tell someone, because of the prevalence of biphobia, even toward women who identify as lesbians. If she didn’t tell you, and instead you heard about it from someone else, it’s probably because she assumed you’d react badly – so don’t prove her right. She is under no obligation to tell you about things that happened before you two got together.
She is not your cheating ex.
I get it – I’ve dated girls who cheated on me with guys, too. It sucks. I don’t know why it’s so much more painful than being cheated on with another woman, but it is for so many of us. But if you’re still stuck on the pain from your previous relationship, it’s not your girlfriend who has a problem – it’s you. If you can’t get over the pain that someone else caused, and it’s severe enough that you’re blaming a completely unrelated party, you’re not ready to be in a relationship.
An identity is just a word (or a few words).
The choice of labels and identity, while largely agreed upon by the large portion of the community, are not set-in-stone definitions. As such, it’s not up to you to decide whether someone’s identity is valid, or if it implies anything about them. (It doesn’t.) She can be a lesbian now, even if she previously identified as straight. And, in all honesty, it could go both ways – you may someday realize that you’re not gay anymore. (I’m not saying that you’re not really gay now – but things can change, due to factors outside our control.)
Curiosity is completely normal.
It’s human nature to wonder what’s on the other side of the fence. Some of us skip past the sexual curiosity, but that doesn’t mean that the curiosity invalidates the eventual conclusion. In my own life, my curiosity went the opposite direction that most people’s did. Do I regret it? Well, yes – but only because of the hateful people who think that I’m not really gay because I’ve got a past that reads otherwise. But, just as a straight woman can experiment with women and, at the end of the day, understand that she really is straight… So can I experiment with men and come to understand that I really am gay. For those who took the more “traditional” exploration path, it’s no different.
Bisexuality doesn’t imply infidelity.
I really don’t understand the assumption that bisexuals (or those mislabeled as bisexuals) are more likely to cheat. Most people are pretty selective with their partners, whether they consider gender a deciding factor or not. The people who are less selective typically tend to get attached easier, making them less likely to cheat, too. Moreover, with the seeds of acceptance for polyamorous culture starting to sprout, more and more poly people are being honest with their partners that they’d rather not be monogamous – giving you the opportunity to decide whether that’s important to you or not.
Our past doesn’t define our future.
If someone used to have sex with men, but now chooses to have sex with you, that means she’s with you. If she had sex with a minor, when she was still a minor, but now she’s an adult, does that make her a pedophile? No – not unless she’s still having sex with minors, right? Granted, heterosexual sex is not nearly the same thing as pedophilia, but I’m hoping my drastic comparison helps to settle the confusion. Who you used to be is not necessarily who you are now.
Because there are a million reasons, and all are perfectly valid.
There are so many reasons a woman might have had sex with a man before. Maybe she wanted to conceive a child naturally (I’ve known women like that). Maybe she was hiding her sexuality from family members (I’ve known women like that, too). Maybe she just doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people think of her life – I applaud women like that! Whatever her reason was, I assure you she had one, and whether you agree with it or not, she shouldn’t have to live up to your arbitrary standards of she “should” be. Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time.