I’m bisexual. There. I’ve come out to you. That wasn’t so bad, was it? But it’s never that simple. The remainder of this conversation will be about my sex life, regardless of whether or not it is any of your business. I won’t be able to help noticing the assumptions you’ve made about me based on this one personal detail I’ve shared with you. Yes, I’m judging you too.
At first, you’re skeptical. I could just be going through a crazy experimental phase during my college years. Maybe I don’t even know what I am, and “bisexual” is as close to accurate as I’m going to get.
Maybe this is something I’ve been struggling with for years and I’ve only recently taken the introspective journey that led me to be comfortable with my identity. Or maybe one day it just clicked for me, and I realized gender was simply not a deciding factor of attraction for me. You don’t know either way. You don’t ask.
In your defense, you’ve probably only encountered what Urban Dictionary calls the barsexuals – girls who make out with other girls in public places for attention. It’s the Tila Tequilas and Katy Perrys of the world that have turned bisexuality into a fad. Not for me though. I try to limit my public displays of affection with men and women alike, out of respect and common courtesy for those who would have to watch. But you don’t know that. You don’t ask.
OK, perhaps you can see me being bi. With hair as short as mine, I’d have to be a little bit gay, right? But you don’t see what the big deal is. Can’t I just focus on my attraction to men and pretend I’m straight around my homophobic relatives and conservative classmates? If people had any sort of control over whom they fell for, Romeo and Juliet would have died 400 years ago with its author and Stephanie Meyer would be just another unknown housewife in Utah. But when I came out to my family, maybe they were completely supportive. Or maybe it was the last time I spoke to them. You don’t know. You don’t ask.
You do ask me how many women I’ve dated and how many I’ve had sex with. You are surprised by how low the number is and probably can name at least one straight woman who has had more lesbian experiences than me. You’ve confused bisexual with slutty.
You do ask me if I’m allowed to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time. Ignoring how ridiculous the word “allow” is in this context for the moment, I respond by asking if you are allowed to have two boyfriends or two girlfriends at the same time. You’ve confused bisexual with polyamorous.
You do make a comment, half-joking, to the effect of knowing I’m bi makes you uncomfortable around me or uncomfortable having your girlfriend around me. Maybe you think my gayness is contagious and will rub off on you or your girlfriend. Or maybe you just think I’m attracted to every woman I meet. I don’t know, but for your sake, I don’t ask.
When we finally part ways and you go back to reflect on our discussion, you determine that I’m a little defensive about the topic. Sure, you admittedly had some preconceived notions that turned out to be wrong, but it’s not like you were attacking me. And yeah, you’ve got your own opinions about me and my sexual orientation now, but so what? It’s just one person’s opinion, right? Opinions can’t hurt people. You didn’t ask, but I’d still like to share with you now what my mother said, word for word, when I came out to her:
“Well, Jenna, it’s OK for you to be a bisexual now, but once you get married, your husband isn’t going to tolerate that shit.”
Jenna Ray is an English senior and Mustang Daily sex columnist.