“I feel tolerated, but very rarely more than that” – Being Bi on the Scene

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Bisexual people were very nearly edged out of the Pride parade all together; a Guardian columnist (who can tell Divine Gender Identity without asking, even in dimly-lit London clubs) told a group of self-identified bisexual and queer people to stop dancing and kissing so aggressively in a gay space, before writing about it in the national media. 

Exclusion is an experience that is ubiquitous among the bisexual community. As well as the obvious exclusion same-gender attracted people face from heterosexual society, bisexuals often can’t find refuge within LGBTQ created partly by and for them.

Although this phenomena is widely written about in the bisexual community, as is the imbalance of the effects being excluded from society has over being excluded from the feeble resources allotted to the LGBTQ community, it’s important that when these kind of incidents happen we take the time reflect on the prejudices we still face in our own community.

Biscuit caught up with a few members of the global bisexual community to talk about time when they’ve faced rejected for being bisexual. Here’s what they had to say.

Jess, from Liverpool:

“[Being rejected for being bi] has happened to me a couple of times. Ironically, once was at my lesbian friend’s wedding. One of the bridesmaids was hitting on me, then accused me of being a “liar” and “not a real gay” and told me to “stop wasting time” and “go back to men” when she found out I was bisexual. It left me feeling like I couldn’t be myself in public”.

Anonymous, from Warrington:

“I’ve been told quite a few times that het-partnered bi or pan cis people (and even nb people) shouldn’t take their partner to pride and if you want to go you should go alone.

“Discussing biphobia within the community is practically forbidden because people consider community biphobes outliers instead of an actual problem alongside straight biphobia. When you bring up lesbian reactions to bisexual women you’re accused of lesbophobia, despite just talking about your lived experiences. It feels like there’s no space to talk about intracommunity biphobia.”  

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Emily, from Oxford:

“When I’d just come out as bi and was way too scared to go to Pride, I’d never enjoyed a LGBT+ event before and just wanted to stay in my room and pretend it wasn’t happening.

“My cis-het boyfriend put loads of effort into reading about Pride and LGBT+ history and said he’d come with me if it helped me feel braver about going. I wound up having a great time, my boyfriend loved it too, until I ran into a white gay guy from my university who literally gasped at me having gone with my boyfriend even though I explained that my anxiety was so bad I needed him there to support me or I couldn’t have managed to go.

“He snapped at me for trying to ‘make pride into a learning experience for straight people’ and completely stopped being friends with me. Since then I’ve only been to one LGBT+ event in 3 years, with a female friend so I could pretend I was in a lesbian couple if I got challenged. I pretty much have panic attacks whenever I’m in LGBT+ spaces now, I don’t think I’d ever go to Pride again.”

I don’t think I’ll ever go to Pride again.

Anonymous, from Oxford

“When I came out, I came out to my openly gay friend, where he was accepting, but it also led to an awkward dynamic between the two of us. He was attracted to me, but it wasn’t mutual and it built up tension.

“He was often biphobic, telling me that I should want to sleep with him, or that I was really straight etc. I told him that I wanted to go to Pride, because it would be a way for me to cement my identity, and perhaps connect with new people.

“He told me repeatedly that it wasn’t a good idea and that I wouldn’t be welcome because I wasn’t “really queer” and because he was the only queer person I knew, I believed him.

“I never went, and I’ve never been, four years later. Despite coming out to more friends, I never met any other queer people and I had nobody to connect with once I went to University. It was only this year that I reconnected into the queer community by joining a bi society.”

C, from London:

There’s a ton of small biphobic things that are said and done, and I feel expected to just let those things happen as the price for being ‘allowed’ into these spaces.

“I went to a therapist who I’d been told was LGBT friendly (she herself was straight though), who brought up my bisexuality as a problem to be solved. She kept trying to bring it up as a topic of conversation, and because I shut that ‘debate’ down repeatedly, she ended up discharging me despite the fact I still needed therapy.

“In terms of (cis) gay/LGBT spaces I feel tolerated as a bi trans man, but very rarely more than that. I feel like my presence is treated as a quirk. There’s rarely any outright hostility, and when it occurs it’s due to my trans status more than my bisexuality. But at the same time, there’s a ton of small biphobic things that are said and done, and I feel expected to just let those things happen as the price for being ‘allowed’ into these spaces.”

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Lois Shearing

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