Ever since I was little, I have known that I am not only attracted to guys but also to girls. I was told by my teachers and peers that I was confusing feelings of platonic friendship with those of actual love. Somehow, the concept of attraction to two genders was difficult for most to grasp, including the 12-year-old me. I didn’t know that being bisexual was a possibility until later on, when one of my mom’s friends explained to me that it was completely normal.
What I was doing then and what others do on a daily basis is called bisexual erasure. This is the questioning or denial of the existence and legitimacy of bisexuality. For example, if a girl were to go out with a girl, both girls would be labeled as homosexuals by others. If one of those girls were to go out with a boy later on, she would then be seen as heterosexual. Others perceive bisexuality as a “half gay, half straight” identity, which is completely wrong. Bisexuality is a beautiful spectrum and individuals can fall everywhere along it. For instance, I like girls, but not as strongly as I like boys.
Liking more than one gender does not mean that I will automatically develop a crush on anyone. In middle school, I came out to my closest friend, hoping that she would understand. Instead, she immediately told me that she would be uncomfortable remaining friends because she thought I was in love with her. This hurt me more than anything else because it had taken a lot of trust on my part to confide in her. I only saw her as a friend, and the fact that she thought my bisexuality meant an immediate attraction to every single person was absurd.
That one experience changed my outlook on my sexuality. It caused hesitation when coming out to my classmates, for fear that they too would shun me. It meant not coming out to my best friends even though I knew they’d accept and love me as they did our other gay friends. It was a mental barrier, a struggle to completely accept who I was. It didn’t help that on all the TV shows I watched I couldn’t find even one openly bisexual character to identify with. Before the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to marry my soulmate if she were a girl; and I didn’t feel queer enough for the LGBTQIA+ community, strange as it may sound. There were always those people who would say that I was “confused” or “going through a phase,” and that made me mad. My existence, and my identity as a person, could instantly be invalidated by others. Although I eventually learned to ignore those people, the thing that still upsets me is that there are many more little 12-year-old girls out there who are just like me. One day they’ll be told that their feelings are a joke and that they are not “normal.”
And that is what scares me the most.