So, I'm bisexual. On the spectrum of "gay to straight" (it's not categorical, hope that is not news to you!) I am far more gay than I am straight. *Throws confetti*. Really, it's a great time. I've dated wonderful men and women, have come out to most of my family, and try to be as transparent about things as possible. This peacefulness and genuine pride I have about who I am, I will admit, has evolved from the days of high school and just beyond when I was mocked mercilessly for the sexuality other people just assumed (though I had not yet "admitted" it). It was years of feeling as though my whole world was caving in around me when someone would ask: "Are you like, a lesbian?" until I finally responded: "That's not how I identify, but so what if it was?" Sounds simple, but it was revelatory: The idea that the problem wasn't who I was, but how other people thought I was.
Cut to 2015, and I am in a relationship with a man. A wonderful man. A man so absolutely incredible I still don't think I deserve him. It's pretty serious, and the more serious it gets, and the more we announce our plans for the future to friends and family (though not officially yet, cough cough), the more I've been finding I'm getting strange and off-putting comments about my sexuality. The biggest thing I've had to keep explaining is that I'm still bisexual. That hasn't changed. That is never going to change unless I wake up one day and realize that I identify differently. It's my call, not someone else's judgment based on what they perceive of my life. My relationships with women, even if they had to be a little more under the radar for the sake of not living in a prejudiced hell-hole, were not any less real just because everybody didn't know about them.
What it all really comes back down to is the idea that sexuality is what you see. If you're with a man, you're "straight now." If you've only been public with your other-gender relationships, that's all you amount to — and it's not just limiting, it's false. And it's frustrating. And it makes you feel like all the identity you've worked so hard to own and embrace is getting squished. So here, all the (mild to moderate to kinda severe) struggles of being a bisexual woman in a heterosexual relationship (in a world that probably doesn't understand how either of those things work, to be honest):
Everyone Assumes You're "Straight Again" — Which Would Be Fine, If "Everyone" Didn't Also Include The Relatives You've Already Come Out To
I don't need anybody to know what my sexuality is, not anybody I don't tell explicitly. I do, however, kind of need the people I do tell to respect me enough to understand that sexuality is not something that shifts with your relationships — it's a part of who you are (especially after I've taken the time to explain it in those terms). I don't care what you think of my relationships or my dating life, but I do care very much whether or not you fully see and accept me for who I am beyond what you can perceive.
You Get Comments Such As "I Always Knew You'd Choose Boys"
I'm not even sure where I should begin with this one, but I guess I'll sum it up with this: bisexuality is not the gateway drug to realizing men are the superior partner choice. It seems that people frequently assume bisexual guys are gay and bisexual woman are "sluts" that will eventually marry men, which is hugely problematic and very misrepresentative of what bisexuality actually is. I didn't "choose boys." I fell in love with someone who happens to be a man. That's it.
People Ask If You've "Told Them [Your Partner]" Of Your Sexuality, As Though It's A Wildly Off-Putting Flaw They Must Deal With
To be honest, I did this for a while. In my past few relationships, I gingerly "confessed" my sexuality as though it were a shameful sin that someone had to deal with, and repeatedly found that every single person responded the same way: essentially, "That's cool. Want to order dinner?" In summary, nobody cared. Not even a little. And it took a little introspection to fully understand why I did, and it was because so many people had asked whether or not so-and-so was "OK" with it, as though a) it's something to "be OK" with, and b) it's only "OK" if someone else says so. (Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.)
Some Real Winners Wink, High Five Your S.O., And Inquire As To How Many Threesomes You've Had
Polygamy and bisexuality are not the same thing. Not even a little. If we're into threesomes it's not because of anybody's sexuality, it's just because that's what we want to do. That's it.
You Realize That Your Partner Is (Theoretically) More Threatened By Your Old Boyfriends Than Your Old Girlfriends
This does not happen with every relationship, and it's often (or always) subconscious, but it becomes apparent that most people don't take lesbian relationships "seriously," especially not when you've been with a man before. This dawned on me while discussing the ins-and-outs (ha) of potentially having an open relationship, and my then-partner essentially said: "I don't mind if you do it with girls, but I do mind if you see other guys." Shockingly, this didn't work out.
"But I Thought You Were Gay?"
I came out and told you that I am bisexual. I am still bisexual. I was never "gay." I explained this to you. I explained what it was to you, and how I identify with it. I was never gay. You just still believe that relationships define sexuality, not the other way around.
You Feel Completely Erased From The Spectrum, At Least In Many Other People's Eyes
And honestly, it's not about being "seen" all the time — it's about being able to own the identity you've fought so hard to accept. I don't care if people don't immediately understand that I'm not straight, but I do care very much when I become invisible to the point that this aspect of who I am that is very beautiful and was very hard to accept can just be washed away like that. I'm not going to wear a "I play for both teams" t-shirt, but I am going to say something, as kindly as possible, when someone I love and trust fails to see me for the person I tell them I am, because that's a kind of respect everybody deserves.
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