When I was sixteen years old, I never realized just how important things like Pride Month was to me. As a teenager, I was still trying to figure out my sexuality. I knew that I didn’t have feeling that were straight and narrow and I grew up in a family that condemned gay and lesbian relationships. I thought perhaps my feelings were wrong, because I was taught they weren’t “normal”. I thought perhaps my feelings were wrong, because I felt misunderstood. But there was something I couldn’t deny, each and every single time that I looked at a woman. We held each other and there was a loving, tender aspect to it that just got me in my feels. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I started to indeed think perhaps I was bisexual.
While bi people make up 52 percent of the LGBTQ community, you would be surprised to know how excluded I felt from the LGBTQ community. When I was younger, I wanted a place to fit in and each and every single time I tried to date, I felt like I had to explain myself to other people. I kept being told that I was “too femme” or that I presented “too hetero” and that because of my age, I was likely just going through a ‘phase’. It felt as if no matter what I did, I couldn’t be seen. Visiting the Gay Village or going to queer clubs with friends, I was often looked over and seen as the straight friend. I was tired of having to explain myself and my sexuality over and over again.
The media isn’t helpful in this regard, with songs like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” displaying that bisexuality isn’t real or that women only kiss women to turn men on or on the other spectrum, people’s reactions to singer Aaron Carter’s coming out as abnormal. It’s difficult as in media and in pop culture, bisexual people continue to be erased, although surveys of Generation Z in North America, show that fewer and fewer young people are seeing themselves as heterosexual.
A lot has changed since I was sixteen years old and I have grown into a strong, independent woman. Although I am now in a cis-identified relationship (with a man), I now face a different type of erasure. On both ends of the spectrum, I have had straight and queer friends assume I’ve never dated anyone but men because of who I am dating now. This is harmful, because it erasing who I am entirely and stripping away years of relationships and connections, be it romantic, sexual or friendship.
I have felt on multiple occasions that I have had to ‘out’ myself for the sake of ensuring that my identity is clear and present to others. Where exactly do I fit in and why is it this awkward, elephant in the room. It’s not okay for people to assume my gender or my sexual identity under any circumstances. My bisexuality and my queerness is simply more than a romantic relationship, it’s part of my identity.
As I write this, I do so with a lot of privilege. I am a white woman, who is straight passing. Many in the LGBTQ community are dealing with oppression far greater than I ever will. The number of trans woman dying increases each and every year. Discrimination and prejudice against trans and non-binary people is still very real, with lots of activism work still happening. What we need to remember, no matter who we can dealing with, whether it is a bisexual person or a someone else in the LGBTQ spectrum: all genders and sexualities are valid and we all deserve to be life as authentically as possible. Treat all your queer peers with the same respect, support, and visibility as everyone.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ama Scriver)