Being Bisexual: Coming to Terms with Playing for Both Teams
by Molly Thompson
As a kid I always chose sweet and salty things when given the option. I’m an extrovert and an introvert, I like books and films, snow and sunshine, men and women. Why reduce yourself to a section of the buffet when you could have access to it all? I know that’s a simplistic view of something as complicated as sexuality and of course it’s not something we can choose. But to me it just makes sense. The way I feel attraction, the way I’ve felt it my whole life is bigger than me. Attraction encompasses so many things, not just physical and sexual but attraction to humour, intelligence, the way someone makes you feel and the way they speak.
For me, gender just doesn’t seem more important than any of that. I wasn’t always as accepting of my own identity as I seem now, for many years I felt conflicted, embarrassed and frustrated. But as much as I may have pretended to the world to be something else, I sort of knew all along that I was bisexual. I just never knew how to say it.
Sometimes, as a teenager I felt like I wasn’t the right kind of bisexual person. I had friends who’d come out, friends who’d dated loads of people across all genders and who seemed very bisexual. I was worried about telling people and having nobody believe me. Worried that I didn’t look gay enough or straight enough. That I wouldn’t fit into the community or that my years of goggling at men on TV or in rugby games would somehow act as proof that I was lying. As if upon coming out I would have to prove to people that I really did fancy men and women, like some sort of court case with powerpoint slides and expert witnesses.
The thing is, a lot of my attraction to men had been public like a performance. I’d made it very clear that I liked men that it was never in any doubt. However the way I felt about women was private, it was whispered or kept inside. I felt ashamed, the way I would feel watching Princess Jasmine or Carmen Electra in that one episode of Baywatch I watched after I’d gone to bed. It was muted and kept to myself. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there and it wasn’t strong. I just got better at hiding it. I’d see my brothers checking girls out and I’d be doing the same in my head, maybe even audibly complimenting her, except nobody noticed.
Our society is so heteronormative, we assume everyone is straight until proved wrong. Attraction to men is all a part of a performance women do, contributing to the patriarchy. The male gaze is so ingrained in our minds, appealing to and performing for men becomes something we don’t even realise we’re doing. So my need to prove my attraction to men stemmed from this. Sprinkle in some internalised misogyny that I was projecting in my teen years and this all contributed to a very special performance I was putting on called ‘Molly is straight’ now in cinemas everywhere.
I am, of course, attracted to men, quite frequently in fact. However one thing I never wanted people to ask me, upon telling them I’m bisexual was ‘so is it mainly men and sometimes women?’ Because first of all, that question is bi-phobic and it’s just really annoying. But also because I could never in my right mind answer it. I can’t tally up the attraction I feel and tell you through a diagram how often I wanna shag men versus women. It’s not as simple as that. It’s this umbrella, this vast thing that encompasses so much within it. If I wake each day with the possibility of being attracted to every person, that means every person. It’s not split into neat palatable sections of men versus women, 50/50. My sexuality isn’t temporary, it’s permanent and real.
One of the main reasons I was scared to come out for so long was because of these nasty and
damaging stereotypes. One stereotypical thing I would hear really often is that people who are bisexual are just confused. First of all I am confused about a lot of things like time zones or leap years, but my sexuality is something I understand just fine.
A common stigma of bisexuality is this idea of being unfaithful. This angers me so much, as infidelity is subject to the person in the situation who is choosing to cheat or lie, it’s not about their sexual orientation. Being bisexual doesn’t mean you sleep around, have multiple partners or can’t control your urges. Being bisexual just means you have the ability, the possibility to be attracted to more than one gender. If you cheat it’s about you, your situation and your choices and most certainly not about your sexuality.
I find it amazing that my attraction goes beyond gender, I may fall in love with somebody who is transgender, non-binary or maybe even a straight man. The point is that in my lifetime, I’m going to love a lot of people and isn’t that really the point?