Every year September 23rd marks Bisexuality Awareness Day. The major reasons for marking this day is to recognise, celebrate and ‘visibilise’ the bisexual identity. Celebrated writer and poet Vikram Seth penned down the trials and tribulations of being bisexual in his celebrated poem Dubious where he asks his readers:
I’m glad I like them both but still
I wonder if this is freewheeling
In the strict ranks of Gay and Straight
What is my status: Stray? Or Great?
This Bisexuality Awareness Day let me try and shed some more like on the ‘B’ of LGBTQIA+ spectrum and this time from personal experience.
What is Bisexuality?
I have spent a major part of my adulthood convinced I was straight. Then M came and things changed. M and I have been friends for over six years now. Our friends often observed that we were a “little too close”. It did not bother either of us and we laughed it off. We were friends who were deeply interested in questions of philosophy, reading and writing bad poetry that we read to each other. One day both of us woke up to the realisation that there is an undeniable attraction. For the first time we looked at each other and said the word bisexual out loud. We both were discovering our sexuality. Slowly we started saying the word more often so it felt like home.
Bisexuality is used to describe a person who is attracted to more than one gender. The attraction can be sexual, emotional or romantic. Hence, as a woman if I am attracted to both men and women, emotionally, sexually and/or romantically then I am a bisexual person. Now the common myth associated with this attraction is that a bisexual person is attracted equally to both the genders. This may not always be true.
Bisexuality, like most sexual orientations, is a spectrum. There are various shades and degrees in which people experience bisexuality. As a bi-asexual woman I am emotionally and romantically attracted to both men and women but I do not feel any sexual attraction towards either. However, a bi-sexual person who wished to remain anonymous describes his bisexuality as, “I am sexually attracted to men but I feel romantically more connected to women”. Exploring the various shades of bisexuality spectrum is largely a journey which becomes clearer to individuals as they keep exploring and discovering.
Also Read: Asexuality Explained: All Your Questions Answered
No, It is Not a Phase.
Every queer person, irrespective of their sexual orientation has faced the “it is a phase” remark. This remark comes from deep rooted notions of “right” desire which is desire for the opposite gender. Anything that counters this norm is then termed as a phase, which will pass and then “normal” desire will be restored. Even today, well meaning friends have often told me to experience bi-asexuality as a phase because I have not met the right person. Such a statement is naïve because it denies an individual the agency of their sexual orientation. Sexuality is fluid and so is sexual orientation.
A lot of queer folx understand that sexualities shift very fast and who we are is never cast in stone. So yours, mine or anyone’s queerness is not a phase but shades of sexual orientation that we experience in our quest for self discovery. In my personal experience of bi-asexuality, I have experience attraction to both men and women while also experiencing the marked lack of sexual desire for either. I know this is not a phase rather a part of my identity.
Also Read: Bullying, Homophobia, Conversion Therapy: What Is Pushing Queer People To Suicide?
Bi-erasure, Bi-phobia and Validating your Bisexual Identity
Bi-erasure is the phenomenon of erasing the bisexual identity by labelling bisexual folx as “confused”. this labelling of bisexual folx as “confused” comes from within the queer community and even outside it. Bisexual individuals are sometimes portrayed as people who are confused about whether they are straight/lesbian/gay. This leads to the invisibilisation of bisexual people who remain absent from conversation around queerness and sexual identities simply because a nuanced understanding of their identity is missing or remain absent.
The bi-erasure leads to bi-phobia which is hate or prejudice that is directed towards bisexual people because of their identity. Often bi-individuals are told they are not “queer enough” if they are dating someone from the opposite gender. Since the confused tag is so strongly associated with bisexuals, the prejudice associated with it is that they don’t know which side of the fence they stand on.
Also Read: Understanding Queer Affirmative Therapy: Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Why It Matters?
Being a bi-asexual woman in a world that only validates only kind of sexual orientation- straight, is sometimes outright scary. If bisexuality was not hard enough to explain the layer of asexuality makes things more complicated. In our culture love, sex and intimacy are all intertwined and enmeshed in each other. To imagine ways of loving, living and being queer in a straight world requires affirming from support systems and even from one’s self. This Bisexuality Awareness Day I just want to end by saying, what you feel and who you are attracted to is valid. Despite what the straightness obsessed world might want you to believe. You matter, I matter, we all do we are all queer and bisexual enough to not have to explain our identity. At the end of the day, queerness is not about who you date or sleep with, it is about who or what makes you feel closest to your authentic self.