"The impossibility of okay": When "allies" let us down

person-598312_1280As you pass me in the hallway you ask, “Are you okay?” I cannot give you the answer you want to hear. I know you hope I’m okay with you. You wish that I would accept your sad decision and embrace you. I simply can’t. Your poor decision makes this impossible. You claim to support the LGBT community, but deep down, we make you squirm. While you said one thing, you did another. You chose to acquiesce to the status quo because it was safe for you.

You claim we need to compromise. Why can’t you see that I’m not able to support your position of “compromise?” It isn’t compromise when one side is completely shut out of the conversation. How can I support this position? I am bisexual, not merely someone who joined a cause. You can walk away, as you did when it mattered most. You can go home from discussions, meetings, luncheons, marches, rallies, fundraisers. You go home and pat yourself on the back for a job well done, letting it slip from your mind, as just another one of many causes you choose to support.

You may be able to settle for less than full equality, but because I am bisexual, this isn’t an option. It is a core part of who I am. When I’m at home, I am bisexual. When I go to work, I am bisexual. When I take my kids to school, I am bisexual. When I make love to my husband, yes, even then, I am bisexual. I am bisexual when I eat, sleep, bathe, and breathe. I am always bisexual. I will always be bisexual. It is who I am! I am not a cause or movement! I am bisexual!

As a bisexual woman, I can’t put inequality out of my mind. I stay up at night worrying about if I should have ever come out. Lying awake, I worry if I will be accepted or ostracised, if my family will be ostracised, if I will have a job or a home the next day. I worry about what will happen if my neighbours find out, if someone will take my girls away. I worry quite often. Every time I meet a new person, I think about how to come out to them. I worry about telling a new boss, therapist, doctor, or the parents of my daughter’s newest friend.

Adding you to the long list of “friends” who have broken my trust, I worry if I can ever again trust anyone who claims to be a friend. I welcomed you as the “ally” you pretended to be. Now, however, I consider what you really mean when you say, “Oh, I think we should welcome them,” or when you shout, “It shouldn’t matter!” You pretend to be accepting; meanwhile, what you really mean by “it shouldn’t matter” is that LGBT equality bothers you so much that you don’t want to discuss it at all. You want to be seen as progressive, but truthfully, the idea of our queerness makes your stomach turn.

That word: “Them.” I should’ve heard it. I didn’t. It is how you see me, isn’t it? I’m one of “them”, one of “those people.” I should have recognised this sentiment in the questions you asked, all while pretending to be interested in me as a human being. I should have recognised it but didn’t, choosing instead to believe I had an ally and a friend in you.

When the time came to support us, you caved. You folded. Through your inaction, you sided with those who are like you, instead of standing with us for equality. You were supporting a cause merely for sake of appearances. You did nothing, said nothing, while hope for meaningful change nearly slipped away.

What could I have done? What could I have said to you? Was there anything? I go through my mind, trying to think of what I left unsaid, undone. I listened, begged, pleaded, and talked to the point of exhaustion! Is it because I’m bisexual and not a lesbian? Am I not gay enough for you? Do I not carry enough weight? If that’s the case, do you realise you pretty much shut out those whom you see as the “real gays,” too? Being “gay enough” wouldn’t have changed a thing, pretty sure.

Untitled-1It wasn’t enough that you didn’t stand with me when it mattered. Now you look at me for a smile, but not for forgiveness. No, you actually want me to accept your position. You want me to swallow it whole. If I don’t, then you will see me as the problem: the stubborn bisexual woman with an agenda. You’ll add me to your small collection of stereotypes right next to your one gay friend. He’s the one who had the alcohol problem, the one who slept around. You tell his story over and over again. In your small mind he represents the true nature of all LGBT people, a community you have never actually bothered to truly engage.

When I smile, it isn’t because I agree with you. I haven’t accepted anything. It is only because I am so glad to have seen you for who you truly are. I am pleased to detach from you with my dignity intact. I will no longer speak to you as if you were a supporter of LGBT rights. In fact, there can no longer be any discussions of substance with you. Painting us as the “other”, you have exposed yourself as the bigot you truly are.

I may have lost this battle, but it has only furthered my resolve. I will keep fighting. I have to keep fighting. There is nothing else I can do. I am bisexual. It doesn’t matter to me if I don’t fit your stereotype, if I’m not “gay enough” for you, if you think I have an agenda, or if I make you uncomfortable. This is who I am. I have to fight for others like me, and for future generations. We deserve to be heard. We deserve nothing less than true equality. I can’t go back into the closet. I won’t go back!

I know you want me to be okay. However, as long as we LGBT people continue to be treated as inferiors, because standing with us is just too difficult for you, I cannot be okay.

I am a proud bisexual woman. As such, it is impossible for me to ever settle for “okay”.

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Elizabeth Mecham

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