“Bi, But Not Bisexual”: Being Ace and Biromantic

4764139612_315492e571_bAssumptions based on perception are problematic for all members of the LGBTQ+ community, and maybe especially for individuals who are attracted to multiple genders. We’re often automatically categorized in the eyes of acquaintances or even friends as gay or straight, based only on our clothing choices or mannerisms. Trans people face assumptions about their gender, filed into the not-always-correct categories of male or female because of how they present.

Pansexuals/romantics, bisexuals/romantics, and asexuals/romantics are considered, jokingly to be members of the “invisible triumvirate,” inevitably skipped over in a lot of LGBTQ+ discourse. Polysexuals/romantics are so invisible, they’re not even included in the triumvirate. As I write this, the words “pansexual,” “polysexual,” and “asexual” have been marked as spelled incorrectly, not because they are, but because they aren’t included in the software’s dictionary.

These experiences impact my life quite a bit, given that I, a biromantic asexual, consider myself 2/3 of the triumvirate. When one of my friends ask about the massive collection of bracelets on my left wrist, I inevitably have to explain the blue, purple, and pink one that reads ”bi.” Once, one of my friends spotted it and exclaimed, “Yay! Bisexual Pride!” forcing me to respond uncomfortably, “Yeah, I’m . . . not bisexual.”

She apologized profusely, but I still find myself uncomfortable with the label “bisexual” even though it technically includes biromanticism. The suffix “sexual” implies sexual attraction so strongly that I don’t feel comfortable attaching it to myself. I even prefer “ace” over “asexual” for that reason. Just “bi” is better, but even it implies bisexuality rather than just biromanticism.

The fact is that my preferences and experiences are unique, and so far from those of bisexuals and aromatics it’s laughable. I fawn over the cute girl in English class or the funny boy in French while my aro/ace friends stare confusedly. The allosexual girl I sit next to in homeroom talks about a first date where she went to see the new Star Wars and spent half the movie making out in the back row. I, on the other hand, move through life in a romantic haze, nurturing intense crushes and simultaneously recoiling from the sexual nature of romance according to society. They are seen as one and the same, each a prerequisite for the other. A woman who has sex outside of a relationship is painted with the words slut and whore, but one in a relationship who refuses to “put out” is considered a prude.

This isn’t helped, of course, by the hypersexualization of MGA women in society. We are stereotyped as serial cheaters, greedy when it comes to sex, always in search of a threesome. It’s one of the main obstacles faced by those who list their sexual orientation on dating sites: uncalled for demands, dismissals, or criticisms from complete strangers based only on the inclusion of the word “bisexual” in their profile.

heartsickness-428103_1920

“Aces are often seen as broken…”

Aces, however, are often seen as hypo or under-sexualized to the point of damage. We are considered broken. Coming out as ace often results in comparisons to plants or suggestions that we “just haven’t met the right person yet.” I still remember the sick weight in my stomach the first time I came out of someone, only to have them respond with a wink and, “I could fix that,” as if I am a broken clock in need of repair, stuck in the past in the meantime.

Although I never have been before, being confronted with some sort of combination of these two is one of my biggest fears. It’s the reason I refuse to join dating sites or apps and it’s part of the reason I’ve never been able to work up the confidence to ask anyone out or even allow a relationship to develop. Instead I stew in longing, unable to see myself as attractive or even desirable.

Luckily, the convergence of bi- and acephobia is something I haven’t had to experience. Yet. I am still in high school, only barely an adult in the eyes of the law. I have never been in or even seriously pursued a romantic relationship. But I want to, eventually. And because of that I know I will eventually have to face, not just biphobia, or acephobia, but also a nasty combination of the two.

I don’t want to live in a world where I am afraid to come out to a potential partner. I don’t want to live in the world where claiming I’m bi leads to undeserved sexualisation or stating that I’m ace leads to accusations of confusion, innocence, or fear. There is nothing worse than laughing off a comment of “Oh, I could fix that,” after coming out, only to have dread and panic settle in your stomach half a minute later.

I want to live in a world where I’m not only accepted, but where I’m allowed to choose my role in society, as a romantic or sexual partner, or as a woman, without fear of retaliation for what I can’t control. I want to build a world where I’m comfortable identifying as just bi or just ace, without naming the other, because neither of those labels lead to stereotypes which contradict the other. I want to live in a world where I can define myself.

Erin Moriarty is a high school student in Colorado.

 

Main photo © Peter O’Connor/Anemone Projectors, licensed for use under Creative Commons

3 Responses to “Bi, But Not Bisexual”: Being Ace and Biromantic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *