[trigger warning: mentions of Bi and transphobia and rape]
I remember the very first time I ever heard the word bisexual. I was maybe 6-7 years old and riding home in the backseat of our blue minivan. The Michael Jackson song “Tabloid Junkie” was playing over the radio. We coasted to a stop at the light.
“Or see it on the TV screen
Don’t make it factual, actual
She’s blonde and she’s bisexual”
” Mommy? What’s bisexual?” I knew what a homosexual was. I knew God hated them. I knew my mother hated them.
” A bisexual is like a homosexual but they date people who are the opposite gender too.”
The light was green. The blue van crossed through and over the train tracks, badump dump bump. I looked over the little bridge and into the water. A fat catfish swam by.
” oh. Then I’m a bisexual” I said now turning to pick up my sisters dropped pacifier.
” No you are not!” She shot back.
” Yes I am! I would date girls and even marry one! “I snapped back handing the pacifier back to my sister.
The van was picking up speed,houses whizzed by fast. She was mad.She always drove faster when she was mad. But I was just as mad. I liked this new word. It felt right. Like a lightbulb had shone into a dark room that was always there, but I just missed it.A blind spot.
We were going really fast at this point.I was getting scared.
” Fine! I’ll only date and marry boys. That way god will love me and I can go to heaven! But I’m still bisexual.” I was clinging tight to the word and my sisters hand.
The car kept speeding up. My mother’s voice got louder and angrier.She told me about how gross bisexuals were. They carried AIDS, always cheated on people. They broke up happy families. It didn’t matter that a bisexual only dated opposite sex people. They would always cheat or try and break up good happy families.And doing those things got you sent to hell.
” OK. You’re right…I wouldn’t ever do those things. Those are just mean. I’m not mean like that so I must not be bisexual.” I lied. The car started slowing down. I let go of the breath I was holding.We got home and as I put the groceries away I felt this mix of joy and fear.
I had a word that described me. But I wasn’t a bad person. But I was with out a doubt a bisexual.
Later on in bed that night I reasoned it out in my mind. I would try and only date boys. I would also never ever be like those other bisexuals my mother mentioned. I knew that no matter what it was true.I was bisexual and just for that I was going to hell.
I prayed my last prayer for several decades. While cleaning I found what I had written in a old diary.
” Dear God,
I’m sorry but I am bisexual. I know this means that I am going to hell. I don’t know why I am bisexual but I’m sure I am. I’m really sorry to disappoint you. I’m not going to give people sick or cheat or break up families. I don’t know if only dating boys will mean I can go to heaven.Mom says no. So I’m going to hell. I guess I’ll have a long time to get used to the idea. Sorry.”
I spent the next few prepubescent years learning to accept that no matter what else I did or prayed, I was going to hell. By the time puberty had started and we had moved to the other side of the country I had given up trying to suppress and pray away my bisexual desires.I was going to hell anyway right? Why waste time and energy denying things.
At 12 I had my first real crush on a girl in my class. We kissed at a sleep over while watching “Gattaca” and talked in hushed giggles at how dreamy Ethan Hawke was and how we wanted to kiss Uma Thurman.
By 15 I had converted to Buddhism and found a religion that did not condemned me to endless suffering because I had kissed a classmate. I was still terrified that secretly God was out there and angry.
” if so I’m going to hell already for being bi. I can’t go to like extra super secret hell on top of that for being Buddhist.” I rationalized.
At 16 I fell in love with a wonderful smart,beautiful girl.She was from a hyper christian family.We would hold hands secretly at movies and talk about how we were just like the bisexual protagonists of our favorite anime series “Revolutionary Girl Utena”. Every time her screen name popped up on my AOL instant messenger I would grin and my stomach would flutter. We were both Bi and loved chatting about who we found attractive of any gender. We were both going to hell we thought. We had planned that as soon as we were both 18 we would meet in San Francisco. We were going to then move to Berkeley and go to school there. Then get married when it was legal and then live together until we died and then meet back up in hell.
Her parents found out about us and pulled her from public school to go to a special school, an Evangelical Christian boarding school where she would be ” cured”. The ” cure” killed her.
I was cleaning out some old things and I found her last note to me. It was on a small crumpled piece of paper.Passed between friends of friends until it reached me. She told me she loved me and that I should be happy and work on changing the world. Just like Utena in the anime.
At 17 I had moved again. But now wore all black. I hated everyone. I was angry and hurting.I was still bisexual. If asked about it I would tell people I was. I dated men then for the first time since 7th grade. My feelings and attractions to all genders never changed. I was still bisexual.
I went to college. I dated one guy then another all while developing feelings for my roommate.
Eventually after much self searching I came out on Facebook. I had no problem telling friends and new acquaintance that I was bisexual. I was proud standing there in my pirate shoes and flame red hair. I was Bi. I was exploring my gender for the first time with freedom.
I was raped by a friend for committing the sins of being a good friend, drunk and Bi.
After all bisexuals are always wanting sex.
Suddenly I was back in that van whizzing by mailboxes hearing those words. Echoing my mothers voice joined by my attacker, then rape counselors. Then friends.Then the world. It slammed me down for the next 3 years.
I would still tell others I was Bi.But it was in a small voice now.
I came out as trans* and bisexual again 3 1/2 years ago. I was attacked for it. Told by what I thought were life friends that I was an “attention whore” they joined the other voices.
I found the term pansexual on tumblr .It seemed just like bisexual! Only better! Or so all the graphics said. It was better. It was stigma free! It was hearts not parts! I tried it on. I searched around but there didn’t seem to be much community or history. Most of what I saw was pansexuals talking about how much better they were then bisexuals. But on the bisexual sites I only ever say attempts at including pansexuals. It wasn’t just Bi Net is for Bi’s but for pansexuals, fluid and queer. I remembered how much it hurt to be told being Bi was awful.
I sat down and thought about it all. I remembered the catfish,the song,kissing during Gattaca” holding hands and crying. I found so much hurt and power and strength there. The strength to be OK with going to hell possibly. I had found the Bi community. Full of challenges and beauty and intelligence. Working to change the world. To make it better. Not just patting each other on the back about how much better they were. Really working hard and against have odds.
I took up the label,sewed it onto my heart and joined in the fight.
I am bisexual because I have always been so. I’ve laughed and cried with and over that word.Fought over and for it. I’ve loved, lost and bled for it.
I have learned and fought and been joyous with the Bi community now for 3 and 1/2 years. I have gone to the white house because of this word and community.Had all kinds of amazing experiences and met great people because of it.
While it might not be perfect,it might get attacked by etymology wankers and dictionary thumpers for its Latin prefix this word is mine.
Bisexual. Now until death and into the next life or into hell after all I don’t care.
I am Bisexual and that is my word and my truth.