Am I Enough? Thoughts and Venting and Feelings on Bisexuality and Gatekeeping

I’m going to be honest. I’m a little freaked out about this blog post. I’m scared of sounding whiny, of sounding self-indulgent, of sounding a million other things because I have spent years telling myself that this is No Big Deal and Other People Have It Worse So Just Shut Up.

But I need to write about this, and maybe someone else needs to read about it.

I’m bisexual. I’ve been out for ten years, this isn’t something that most people who know me don’t already know. It’s on my Facebook profile, I’ve said it (seemingly) casually in tweets.

I’m bisexual, but most of the time I feel like I can’t own that identity. Sometimes it’s a little confusing just because, well, maybe pansexual is more accurate – I’m not just into cis men and women, I’m into trans men and woman too, and I’ve been attracted to people outside the binary – but that’s a whole other conversation and I’m going to leave it at just saying that for me, bisexual is how I’ve identified for ten years, and it’s the identity that feels right to me, and it’s the one I’m going to talk about.

I feel like I can’t own it because I’ve never been romantically or sexually involved with a woman.

I hear gay men and lesbians talking about the “straight-passing privilege” of bisexuals and think I’m just the poster child for that and I should just shut up.

I didn’t realize until recently how much this hurts me. I didn’t realize the little ways in which I’ve changed myself because of this. I feel like I’m not allowed to identify as LGBTQ+ or queer or bisexual or anything. When conversations about these identities and communities come up, I feel like I have to step back – like I don’t belong there, like I’m not who this conversation is about.

Like I’m an outsider.

I’ve only had relationships with men, and the vast majority of my crushes have been men. Even though I experience romantic and sexual attraction to women, because I’ve never slept with a woman or dated a woman I started to wonder if I was faking. Like, faking so hard that I’d convinced myself. I heard the people who, when I came out at fourteen, said that I was just following along with a trend. That I just wanted attention. I can point back to crushes I’ve had on girls from the time I was a small child (I generally credit Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures as the first but it might be Lola Bunny from Space Jam) but I still wonder if I just jumped on a “trend” when I was fourteen and convinced myself it was real.

I stopped talking about being into women. I stopped thinking that a relationship with a woman was even possible for me. When I talk online about wanting dates and wanting relationships I only talk about guys. And every time I do, this part of me aches, because I know that’s not even true to who I am. I’m someone who craves love and affection and I’d love to find that with anyone, not just cis men.

But I hit tweet and I hit post and I think I’m just not bisexual enough.

On the few occasions that I do say “hey, I’m bisexual” or mention it I’m always scared that someone will look at me like, “Really?”

When I wrote “This is an Essay About a Fat Woman Being Loved and Getting Laid” I only mentioned men, because that’s the only sexual and romantic experience I have. It’s all I can write about it, and I put in this line at the end: “We flirt with another fat girl at the coffee shop.”

It was all I could think to do to acknowledge my sexuality, to show that I’m not straight, that I’ve never been straight.

I’ve had people comment on and criticize the heteronormativity of the essay and I don’t blame them. They don’t know me. They don’t know that as proud of that essay as I am as a fat woman, I have spent so many days thinking that if this is the only experience I have then this is just more proof that I don’t get to say I’m bisexual. That I don’t get to say I’m queer or part of this community.

Yesterday, the LGBTQ+ community got a huge win in marriage equality. It’s not the biggest win or the last win and there’s so much more to do but it was a big win, and I spent the day on this high. I watched reaction videos and proposal videos and coming out videos and sobbed.

I started thinking about my place in this community, in this moment in history.

I came out as bisexual online and to family when I was 14. The people who truly mattered were supportive. But I also dealt with harassment and bullying, with a group of girls I’d known in elementary school (I was homeschooled through middle school) piling on over AIM telling me that I’d never find love, that I’d be beat up in high school, that no one would ever marry me, because I was fat and pagan and bisexual and all of this was gross.

High school wasn’t as bad for me as I predicted. It wasn’t physically unsafe. I was never beat up. I knew other people who identified as things other than straight, and we were generally physically safe.

I can’t say there was no violence against queer kids at my school. I tended to not know what was going on socially and if none of my friends were involved, I wouldn’t have heard. I can’t say it never happened. But I don’t think it was common.

That doesn’t mean we were entirely welcome.

My freshman year of high school was the first time I attempted to be an activist. I wasn’t new to the idea of activism – my mother grew up all over the South with parents who were outspoken in the civil rights movement, who moved around supporting Martin Luther King Jr., who fled towns more than once because their allyship to black activism was not appreciated.

My parents have never been the kind of people who see injustice and sit and let it happen. I wanted to be the same way.

I found out about the Day of Silence and decided that I wanted to do that at my school. I started working on getting it to happen, and high school had been so safe for me as a bisexual student that I never thought organizing this even would be difficult.

I ended up in a meeting with the principal, who was very calm, who smiled, who said that of course all students were welcome, that of course they were supported, but he just didn’t think a Day of Silence was right for the school. He didn’t think that anyone would be served by gay students putting themselves out there and saying they were gay. We had to take baby steps, and this was a giant step, and people would just get hurt.

I would get people hurt.

I would get my friends and peers hurt if I encouraged them to put duct tape over their mouths for a day and tell people that it was for gay rights.

I was 15, and I’d always been a good, rule-abiding kid. I didn’t know how to stand up to authority. I felt that he was wrong, but didn’t know how to express it, didn’t know the right words. I argued some, but when he didn’t bend, I just said okay and left the meeting and went home in tears.

I don’t remember how I got from there to the actual Day of Silence, when I didn’t put duct tape over my mouth because that would draw too much attention, but I did stay silent the entire day. I had cards that explained why and wrote out notes. A few students joined me. It was something. I felt like a failure. But I did it again in other years, and I can’t say it was ever a rousing success, but it was something.

Yesterday, I thought a lot about that 15-year-old girl who went into her principal’s office and stood up for this cause she believed in because it was part of her, who put herself out there and spoke up because it was who she was and who her friends were and she wanted a better world.

I wonder if she would be disappointed in the 24-year-old who only does that activism from the sidelines, through RTs and weblogs, like an ally, not like someone whose own life and happiness depends on it.

My most outspoken form of activism is my fat activism. There is no denying my fatness, no denying that I experience oppression and stigma because of it.

It is too easy for other people to deny my bisexuality, to say that I don’t have any real stakes in this activism and this movement.

Yesterday was part of my future and my rights, but I didn’t feel like I could stand up and say that. I didn’t feel like I was allowed.

I don’t know if this blog post is me saying, “No more,” or trying to shed light on the gatekeeping in the queer community. I’m writing this and I’m crying because I haven’t allowed myself to face up to how much this has been hurting me. Some of the things I wrote in here are things I realized only as I wrote them.

I don’t know what this is for me, or what this is for you, or what this is for anyone. I don’t know if my bisexuality is enough or if my pain is enough to qualify me to write this or post it, but I am, because I need to.

So here it is.

You Know What Sucks? Depression.

TW: self-harm, suicide

Nope, only beds here. Your productive member of society is in another castle.

Nope, only beds here. Your productive member of society is in another castle.

Your  alarm has gone off at least five times. Maybe six, or seven, or maybe you should stop counting. You should get out of bed. You have to get up, go to class, participate, socialize, be a productive member of society. Otherwise, what’s the point of you?

But to do that, you have to get out of bed, and you’re not sure that’s possible. You feel like you’re part of the bed. Maybe you are the bed.

You aren’t the bed, but there are nasty little beasties inside you telling you otherwise. They gnaw at your muscles until you can’t move. They make you feel impossibly heavy. How can you get out of bed when you’re drawn to it by your own personal gravitational force?

They’re in your brain, too. “Worthless,” they say. “Lazy. Incompetent. Failure. You can’t even get out of bed.” They gnaw at your muscles some more.

That’s just how the beasties are when you’re in bed. They’re sleepy. If you get out of bed, well, they’ll be wide awake. They’ll start to work on your appetite. What will it be today? Will you have to force yourself to stomach some yogurt, or will you eat several pieces of leftover pizza, some Easy Mac, and three KitKats before you even start to feel like you can stop eating? They’ll keep gnawing at your muscles, of course, and make you ache. Best yet, they’ll have much more to say.

“Really? Yoga pants and a T-shirt? Did you even shower today? Ugh, slob.”

“You see those people over there, laughing? You know they’re laughing at you, right? They can see you’re worthless. They think it’s funny you even bother when you’re obviously doomed to failure.”

“You skipped your morning class. Your professor probably hates you now. Your classmates are rolling their eyes. ‘Why does she even bother trying?’ they wonder. They can see the failure all over you, too.”

“Oh, you’re thinking of actually going to your next class? Why? You’ll talk too much or too little and they’ll all hate and judge you. What’s the point? They know you aren’t cut out for this.”

“You drop a class or two every semester and you don’t even have a job. If you can’t handle college, how are you going to survive in the real world? You know the answer to that, though. You won’t survive.”

“No, don’t talk to your friends and family about it. Don’t you disappoint them enough as it is?”

“Aw, you’re taking your antidepressants? How cute.”

The voices paralyze you. Maybe you cry uncontrollably, or just stare into space, unable to move. You start thinking of ways to hurt yourself. Maybe just a few cuts would relieve the pressure inside you. Maybe you should take a dozen melatonin and sleep for the next week. Maybe you should just end it all.

“You’d still be a disappointment,” the nasty little beasties say. “Aren’t you supposed to be stronger?”

The worst part is, no one who doesn’t deal with the beasties will understand. They’ll think you’re weak and lazy. “Why don’t you just get over it? Have a more positive attitude! Stop dwelling!” There’s no physical evidence that they can see, so to them it’s not an illness. It’s not a valid reason to miss class or work or to stay in bed all day. It’s not like you’re throwing up or running a fever.

Cutting starts to seem like a good idea again. Maybe they’ll take you seriously if you’re bleeding.

Or maybe you should just stay in bed.

Disclaimer: Since I know there are people who will worry, I’m not presently in danger of harming myself. I am in a safe place. I just felt that to exclude those thoughts would be disingenuous. Mostly I am just a bed.

Lazy Blogger

ImageFirst, some general business.

I haven’t done Just One Thing in a couple weeks. It’s sort of on hiatus until I figure out whether or not I really want it on the blog.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to post about more than writing and book reviews. It’s very important to me to educate people on topics such as body positivity, sex positivity, rape awareness, and suicide awareness. Every blog post that has those more difficult topics will have trigger warnings, so if you’d rather not read about it, you have the choice.

But what do I talk about today? Well, I really have no clue. I have this huge list of ideas for blog posts and it’s actually making me feel overwhelmed. Where the hell do I start? I stare at my list and think, “No, that’s too serious, no, that’s too silly, no, I should talk about that when I have more readers.”

Fellow bloggers, what do you do on days like this? Do you make yourself blog, do you skip a day, do you close your eyes and pick a topic at random?

Well, if I’m not going to blog, I guess I’d better do homework.