I’m bisexual - stop asking me to ‘pick a side’

I’m so over people asking me to pick whether I like men or women more.

12/4/2021 6:20:00 PM

'I’m so over people asking me to pick whether I like men or women more'

I’m so over people asking me to pick whether I like men or women more.

and there were two particularly sexy femmes on a date with each other.At the point where they licked chocolate mousse off each other’s spoons I felt something stirring in my nether regions… This feeling wasn’t new to me – it was similar to the feeling I had in Year 10 when new girl Dawn* joined our school.

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But at an all-girls school in 2005, even a liberal inner city state school, one of the worst things you could be was a lesbian. Plus, I knew Ireallyfancied Lottie Wright’s* older brother so I couldn’tpossiblybe one.No one had ever told me there was the option of being sexually attracted to boys

andgirls. But by 2016, and through watching First Dates (with my then-boyfriend), my horizons had expanded.I googled: ‘I think I’m bisexual’ the following day, devouring the results as my understanding of myself shifted and unfurled. Reading about others discovering their fluid attraction I felt excited and a little scared about the new possibilities before me. headtopics.com

Initially, my understanding ofbisexualitywas that it meant ‘attraction to men and women’. So, when I first got asked the question: ‘do you prefer men or women?’ – usually by cisgender (identifying as the gender they were born as) men or women who I was on a date with –

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I used to agonise over the answer. I was only recently out, a ‘Baby Bi’, by which I meanI was in a ‘heterosexual’ relationship and hadn’t had any sexual or romantic relationships with women.Did I have to say I preferred men just because they dominated the tally of previous partners? Was I a

properbisexual if I hadn’t had any same-gender relationships?I used to stutter out answers like: ‘I suppose I tend to date more men’ and: ‘I don’t really know’ and leave these conversations feeling ashamed. Like a ‘bad’ bisexual. Like I was faking it. Like my non-heterosexual attractions weren’t real.

I went to my first Pride event as an out bisexual in 2018, three bi friendsand Ibought wristbands to march with the first ever official bi+ community float (Picture: Sadie Clark/Beth Watson)I went to my first Pride event as an out bisexual in 2018; three bi friends headtopics.com

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and I bought wristbands to march with the first ever official bi+ community float. It was an amazing feeling joining the community I’d found online for this momentous occasion. It was also the year that Get the L Out hijacked the front of the march, which left a sour taste in all our mouths.

By this time my understanding of gender, attraction and bisexuality had flourished thanks to finding this brilliant bi+ community online and a group of bisexual and Queer friends.Later that night, I went to a Pride after party. I vividly remember watching someone across the room dancing who didn’t seem to fit a binary idea of gender. I had no idea what genitals this person had and it didn’t matter: I was intensely attracted to them.

I thought about that question: ‘do you prefer men or women’ and how it bulldozes through the concept of gender beyond the binary, and attraction beyond gender. Which is actually a well-known definition of bisexuality I now use.It’s a question that asks me to ‘prove’ my bisexuality. It’s a question rooted in monosexism, forcing bisexuals to ‘pick a side’, attempting to box us back into monosexual attraction. In the eyes of the questioner, if I say I ‘prefer’ men I become heterosexual and if I say I ‘prefer’ women I become homosexual.

It’s a question that erases what bisexuality is to me and erases many trans, non-binary and gender fluid identities in the process.Fewer bisexual people are out than their lesbian/gay peers, we experience higher rates of discrimination within theLGBTQ+ headtopics.com

community and higher rates of sexual and intimate partner violence. I believe this is because our fluid attraction is seen as a threat: it undermines the importance of the binary camps we’ve been divided into.Being bisexual does in some respects then feel like a radically defiant act, one that rejects gender divisions and instead welcomes fluidity.

One thing I’ve learnt (as a regularly unsuccessful dater…) is there are all sorts of reasons you might not be attracted to someone.If we’re going to focus on the physical, perhaps their jawline is too harsh – you like softer features; maybe their voice just inexplicably turns you off; their frame is too slender and you prefer a chunkier physique; or the genitals they have don’t arouse you… all fair enough. But I wish we’d stop ascribing certain features as definitively belonging to one gender or the other.

Pigeon-holing what makes a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’, rejecting anything that doesn’t ‘fit’, dismissing anyone who rejects the ‘rules’. It’s the result of a cisheteropatriarchal society (the combination of male, cis gender and heterosexual dominance in our socio-political systems) obsessed with drawing straight and opposing lines between two binary genders as a means of oppression.

If there are hard and fast rules on what it is to be ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ then we can be kept confined by those expectations – it’s a way of restricting people and it’s damaging to all genders.

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