I'm bisexual but I'm in a straight relationship
Just over a year ago, I came to terms with my bisexuality: a solid three on the Kinsey scale. It was a realisation that came with much soul-searching and a great sense of relief. Everything suddenly made sense. But in doing so, I became somewhat of a strange breed: a bisexual woman in a monogamous relationship with a straight man. And that gave me a whole lot more to make sense of.
Once I was sure I was bi, I wondered whether I had to come out. Granted, no one is obligated to come out regardless of orientation, but my situation was quite novel. On the surface, nothing had changed. My attraction to women would have no direct impact on my life. All was going well with my other half, so I had no interest in declaring this piece of news. I told some close friends and moved on. The whole experience was somewhat of a non-issue, and I could pass as straight and go about my life as per usual. I could still get married, bring my other half to formal and show affection in public without apprehension.
The concept of “passing” as straight may seem like a more pain-free position in the LGBT community, but it comes with its own set of prejudices and exclusions, both from the general public and within the LGBT community itself. The general consensus when it comes to sexuality is that people are either gay or straight, and this dichotomy makes navigating everyday life tricky.
Bel, Deakin University’s Pride and Queer Society’s Secretary, noticed how people’s attitudes change depending on the gender of her partner.
“I'm used to colleagues avoiding me or just stopping speaking to me if I have told them about my same-sex partner or sexuality [and yet] people are generally far more at ease when I have dated opposite sex partners,” she says.
I'm used to colleagues avoiding me or just stopping speaking to me if I have told them about my same-sex partner or sexuality [and yet] people are generally far more at ease when I have dated opposite sex partners.
This change in attitude operates on the assumption that one’s sexuality is based on their partner; that your attraction to the other sex disappears when you’re in a relationship. This as a result perpetuates bi-erasure, and can make those in opposite sex relationships feels somewhat isolated due to their sexuality always being delegitimised.
In discovering my sexuality, I started perusing different LGBT websites. All the activities looked so fun: Pride, Mardi Gras, and same-sex formals filled with same-sex couples celebrating themselves and each other. But I saw no place for me. Do you ever see pictures of a man and woman kissing at Mardi Gras?
Due to the straight privilege I’m afforded by my partner, I haven’t experienced discrimination or ridicule for my relationship. Does that make my voice a less legitimate one than that of a gay person or lesbian? To some, it seems so.
Bel also experienced exclusion at a Pride March due to her opposite-sex partner. “It’s not about you, it’s about people who are actually oppressed,” someone remarked to her. But it is about us. There is a part of us that the Australian Government seems adamant about denying rights to. And while that part may be invisible on the surface, it still exists. Why is it that LGBT events, which are supposed to be a safe and accepting place for the queer community, makes a portion of that community feel unwelcome? Surely the LGBT community, of all people, should understand that we can’t control who we fall in love with.
Let me say this for the record: the world is not split into gay and straight. There are areas of grey, and it can be quite alienating for those of us who fall into those categories and are made to feel illegitimate because of who we’re dating. “Passing” as straight does not mean that we are straight. And by definition, our place at LGBT events is as legitimate as those in same-sex relationships. That’s still something I’m trying to make peace with. Maybe one day you’ll see me at Pride, standing tall with my boyfriend in tow. Because I’m proud of him, proud of us and proud of the fact that we can check out girls together. And if that’s not gay enough, I don’t know what is.
Kim is an Arts(Journalism)/Law Student at Deakin University and deals primarily in memes.