In Dame Magazine’s article entitled Why Don’t People Take Bisexuality Seriously Rachel Kramer Bussel describes the pros and cons of labels:
It’s ironic to me that [discussions on similar gendered attractions] has been less about sex, and more about labels, yet it also makes sense. Labels can help us form community and learn about ourselves, but when they come with so much baggage attached, they can also confuse us and, instead of being liberating, they can feel constricting, especially if we feel we have to hold ourselves up as an example of “what a bisexual person should look like.”
[Bussel] was reminded of this especially by this anecdote of Emmerton’s: “I had a really terrible time in university when I was dating a straight guy but had these desires to sleep with all the people, in all the ways, all the time. Part of me thought I was a terrible slut who could never be loved, the other part thought I was just having some trouble dealing with being bi, but I could not, at the time, reconcile myself to living the stereotype of being bi and poly. I did not want to be the person pointed to when someone said ‘look, you can’t be bi and monogamous, it’s impossible.’” To me, this is where labels can backfire; in trying to make ourselves “look good”—which is, frankly, a lose-lose situation because there will always be someone out there judging your sexual decision-making—we give in to the haters, and thereby give them power over us.
What strikes me is why as humans it is hard to function in our world without labels on some level? By having a label and feeling good about it we somehow know ourselves better and love ourselves better. Isn’t that bizarre? I mean I do not think it is so much about what label we CHOOSE as it is that the PROCESS by which we discover and learn about how to love who we are. As I have said before, we are multifaceted. Our sexual orientation is a core part of us but it is not all of us. When it is an issue we are struggling with it is something that seems to be in the driver’s seat of our lives. It is all consuming because we have not found acceptance yet. What makes it worse is by staying stuck in our heads trying to figure out what label we are we miss out on getting into our bodies and listening to what it is trying to tell us. We try to push away the feelings our body is asking us to let out. This is due to fear. This is because we internalize the messages from our environment that tell us that being attracted to a similar gender to our own is wrong. We feel shame and fear and that manifests within our bodies and blocks us from our hearts. When we are emotionally disconnected like that it shuts us down to ourselves and prevents love from coming in. Then in that process of disconnect we look for quick fixes to make ourselves feel better like externalizing our misery through blaming others, getting angry, feeling resentment, etc. etc. To sugarcoat the shame and fear we look for ways to lift ourselves out of it. For some of us, that short term search for happiness can come in the form of addiction (whether it is drugs, sex, staying stuck in our heads, shopping, gambling, you name it). Anything that consistently takes you away from your body and allows you to remain disconnected is an addiction. It takes over your body and your power and keeps you stuck in a self-destructive cycle.
As a bisexual woman my process has been a long and arduous one where I still am racked with uncertainty at times and still doubt myself at times. I choose to breathe into this uncertainty and doubt and understand that it is rooted in the fear based part of my self that chooses to protect me from the hurt and pain that comes with living in a society that does not accept us. Having community support to normalize our experiences of being bisexual is essential to our finding self-acceptance. It is essential that we have other people who empathize with us and who let us know it is OK to be bisexual and it is ok if one person’s experience of bisexuality does not line up with another person’s.
The other thing I find people doing all over a variety of blogs or forums is assessing a variety of attractions they have to multiple genders in an attempt to place themselves in a monosexual category. I am pained to watch people go through this similar struggle in their lives that I have found myself in during the early years of my questioning. No matter what age you are it seems vital for people to know where they fit. This tells only furthers the point of Kramer Bussel’s article which is “people do not take bisexuality seriously.” This is why I am so grateful to this community and want to continue to spread my love and blessings to all of you in letting you know that you are precious just being you. You deserve to love you and all the parts of yourself. Sometimes there is no simple answer and sometimes being out to yourself as “bisexual” does not feel good or right. How can it be when everywhere you look people are so hung up defining what bisexuality means or is along with just about every other sexual minority label like “gay, lesbian, butch, femme, bear, stud, queer, dyke, asexual, etc.” I am all for people having the right to express themselves the way they feel it is right. No one has the right to do that but you. I am not advocating people choose bisexual as a label but I am advocating that people learn to accept all parts of themselves including those nonexclusive gender attractions that seems to indicate nothing more than you are a natural and normal human being regardless of what way you swing. That, in its base form, is all we have to learn. To accept and love ourselves and everything else that comes up for us.
We are all unique and the beauty of bisexuality is it is an umbrella term for all fluid, free identifying individuals who do not experience exclusive romantic and/or sexual attractions to one gender. If you are equally attracted to more than one gender you belong here. If you have a preference for a certain gender over another you belong here. If you are mostly attracted to one gender but had some attraction(s) to another gender at some point in your life you belong here. If you have fluid shifts (over any span of time) in your attractions moving from one gender to another gender you belong here. If you prefer one gender for one type of attraction and another gender for another type of attraction you belong here. If your attractions for one gender generally take longer to blossom than your attractions for another gender, you belong here.
- If you are a monosexual spouse/partner you belong here.
- If you are a polyamorous partner you belong here.
- If you are an ally you belong here.
All are welcome to wave the bisexual flag or any other flag of your liking. We are an inclusive group that respects each person’s freedom to be who they are with no boundaries and limitations. We won’t impose any kind of “notion” of what your sexuality means or should be because that is your choice. We are here to empower you. That is the joy of community and may be one of the only places where you find support.
-Mercedes Jet, Contributing Author