The process of coming out and realizing one’s own truth is different for everybody. For some, it’s been a cut and dry issue since pre-school. For others, it’s been a long and confusing journey. I fell somewhere in between, but as a young bisexual woman, I not only had to overcome internalized biphobia but misogyny as well. Over the years, there were small and large signs here and there of my non-conforming sexuality, but each was met with a kind of obstacle that kept me from seeing the situation for what it was. These signs started popping up when I was six. My favorite band was The Hex Girls, an all-female punk rock band from the Scooby Doo cartoon with vampire and witch-themed songs. I listened to the Scooby Doo CD constantly just to skip to their songs. Despite just being cartoon characters, I thought their outfits made them look pretty. Throughout my elementary years, I held many female TV characters in high regard for the same reasons. Every little girl has their fashion heroes, right?
When I was thirteen, everyone in eighth grade had to read the Diary of Anne Frank. A lot of the boys made fun of the passage where Anne describes her attraction toward women and her wish to explore her friend’s body. They liked to joke about how Anne was a lesbian. I thought the boys were horribly insensitive because I knew exactly how Anne felt, but that was not something I allowed myself to think about. Curiosity about the same sex was simply off-limits for me. I would’ve rather thought about how excited I got when that one guy I liked put his arm around me when we were watching a movie at his house. I didn’t want to lose that last shred of girlish normalcy I was gripping to. Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else?
When I was fifteen, I kissed a girl. She was a very good friend of mine. It was my first kiss, and I was terrified. What if this was some trick? Some joke? Thankfully, it wasn’t. I knew from that moment on that I was bisexual. I only came out to two people for nearly a year. I could still live as a straight person if nobody knew what had happened. I didn’t want my other friends thinking I was a “slut” because I made out with a girl. The last thing I wanted was for people to feel uncomfortable around me.
When I was sixteen, I got my first boyfriend. Even though only a handful of my friends and family knew, I decided to tell him I was bisexual, for the sake of full disclosure. Things between us slowed down for a few days after I came out. He later told me that he’d thought that I was trying to tell him I wasn’t interested in him. Did he not understand the immense amount of trust I’d put in him? Did he not realize what being bisexual really meant? Or did it just make him uncomfortable? If people didn’t understand, maybe the plan to stay quiet would be best for everyone, but that was getting harder each day.
When I was seventeen, I publicly came out. I was lucky to be met with nothing but love. I’d been resolved to come out for a while, but I kept on chickening out. I’d type something up only to delete it again. It was a post on Facebook, full of little jokes. Because if I was too serious, people might just write me off as a crazy social justice warrior or that I was doing this for attention. After all, isn’t that what everyone thinks of high school girls who come out as bi? They’re either in their “experimentation phase” or fishing for likes and retweets. But I wasn’t.
I am now eighteen. Even though I’m out and proud, I still seem to face the same problems. “Passing privilege” means that because I have long hair and a boyfriend (a different one), I still live as a straight woman in the eyes of most the world.
This is my experience. An easy one compared to so many others who lack the kind of privilege I have, but it’s why my feminist values are so closely tied with my bisexuality. As a bisexual woman, I’m met with stigma concerning my loyalty, my sexual prowess, and my truthfulness. I’m a feminist because I know my journey isn’t over.