It has been a slow boat for me to get here. But I’m here now. Any curtailing of the mention of my arrival would be classified as regression. And so, I write.
It’s not that I didn’t know I was bisexual. Like all the proper media clips say, it really isn’t a choice. I believe now that it was a societal issue for me. And clearly, a social maturity issue as well.
Every time someone thought I was gay and every time I was attracted to a female body, I would question my ‘gayness’ or my ‘straightness’. And when things got really tough for me I would just avoid social contact, hide behind my art or my marriage, and get through my days by imagining my life with the X-Men (the 80s comic, not the movies).
Before I was married, before I was even an adult, I lived my life with the super-heroes I read about. First DC Silver Age, but eventually Marvel’s X-Men. To avoid further psychological damage from my mother I would hide in my room with a text book open, and pace. And I would talk to my ‘friends’. These friends: Wolverine, Storm, Bruce Wayne; they helped me through difficult times. And eventually, I wore a path in my bedroom carpet. A matted line running diagonally through my bedroom served as the blatant evidence of the neuroses and deprivation of my teenage years that my family was unable to acknowledge.
A glorious metaphor for my life was developed there. I would walk from the open doors of my closet to the shuttered blinds of my window and back again. Occasionally, I would look out the window. Also occasionally I would sit in my closet. If my mother came for me I would jump into my chair and tell her I was studying. Pretending to do schoolwork was the only thing that ever gave me privacy from her terror.
And really, my identity was so stunted that my sexuality was never something I consciously questioned. I thought about it a lot but questioning took up precious energy. It just was not a priority. And being in love with boys and men anyway, I believed I didn’t have to think about it. In my teens and twenties my sex life was about my own desires to be seen and heard more than about my need for sexual awareness and a knowing of my own body. I was confusing contact for connection. For these purposes men did just fine, even when they hurt me.
And I realize, ruminating, that I developed a binary way of thinking. Though I became open to all ways of life for others, I was fairly certain there was only one way for me. This was my scapegoat mindset, another gift from my mother. Compound this with the fact that I was not a fan of the seemingly sexless women in my life and female attraction was few and far between for me.
There were some girls who drew my attention from great distances. I stayed away from them. I was free in my own mind but I was afraid of the people who were free around me. Afraid they had the power to ‘out’ me to myself and I kept my distance from them too. Still, I was often drawn to butch girls as friends. Like all adolescent life, contradictions abounded in me. I had the added obstacle of personality disordered parents. I had some friends and I had some fun but I didn’t understand the deep, intimate friendships people had where feelings were shared and touch was platonic, soft and meaningful. I didn’t know I was doing it but as a bystander I was sexualizing other people’s touch and it sent me further away from the very intimacy I was looking for. Well into my twenties, I was too enmeshed in my mother’s belief systems to risk a relationship, even a proper friendship, with anyone outside my immediate family of emotionally locked down, damaged survivors.
Picture a 23 year old green-eyed, brunette bombshell, that’s me, fresh from uncomfortably fucking a guy who would eventually drug and rape me, sitting at a wedding reception across from my mother. And I am avoiding her questions of where I just came from. So my mother looks at me the way Draco Malfoy looks at Harry Potter and spits out the words “Are you gay?”. My immediate verbal response was no. But my mind was blank. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think I was straight. Knowing the word bisexual didn’t help me identify. And I still knew I was not gay.
But I wasn’t sure. Sex with this guy sure wasn’t what I wanted it to be. But there were others I liked.
None of my thoughts mattered. Damage done, my infantile survival mechanism told me that to be loved by my mother I had to be straight. Like I said, I was very lonely, I was underdeveloped emotionally and wanted my mother to love me so much. Once would be enough, but she never would. I ‘went straight’ anyway. I denied a part of myself in a moment of my life where, as a young adult I would have been best suited to explore it.
I can’t think of a greater parenting crime than making your child miss out on their own life.
And that brings me to today. My own children are approaching the age of defining themselves by their own terms in a public sphere. I support all forms of anything they want to be. We talk openly. Gendered or gender fluid, loving anyone who hopefully loves them in return anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, all are acceptable and mom and dad are here for you, no matter what. Yet can I really say I support them when I feel that I am in the closet myself?
In the past year or two I have told some close friends, almost in passing, that I am a bisexual woman. My husband knows and is comfortable with who I am and who our children may be. One sister and I have discussed sexuality a lot in our quest for identity. We are both married to men and have children. Independently of each other my sister and I agreed that it doesn’t matter what we are as long as we are true to ourselves in the moment. Also, we both feel responsibility to our children as our prime directive and all consuming. So why rock the boat? There is still truth to this belief. But our childhood was so fucked up who can say what our truth is anyway, right?
. . .Well. . . I’m thinking, not right. Not right at all. It’s too late to experiment sexually if my husband feels it would be a betrayal. I am committed to monogamy but I won’t deny myself my reality anymore. I won’t hide.
If I believe representation is important then to be true to myself I must represent myself as I am.
If I am trying to live a whole-hearted, authentic life then I should no longer publicly deny who I am or pretend I can hide.
Also, this feels good to say:
I am a bi-sexual woman. This is not my choice.
My bisexuality is not a product of confusion. I have always been bisexual, I am absolutely certain. Writing about my bisexuality is a product of my clarity. This clarity is leading me to right myself in my own eyes. I often wear clothes that are my own style which I know can be interpreted as lesbian or outside the female gender norm. I dress like this because I like it but without a clear identity marker doubt creeps in and I wonder if I am appropriating something that doesn’t belong to me. A Canadian icon, author and married gay
woman/spokesperson was for a time a parent at my children’s school and it was more than once that I started hyperventilating when I spoke to her on the sidewalk. I completely embarrassed myself and she seemed okay about it but naturally, wary. I love her work but I have met some of my real-life heroes before. This behaviour of mine was an anomaly. Wondering why this happened is part of what catalyzed me to write this blog. I wanted the strength that came with her identity but I’m pretty sure she believes I wanted her. I’m okay with that but I’m hoping to clear it up with her one day.
Being in a mainstream conforming, heterosexual relationship with all the bells and whistles of children, house, cars and dog, I really don’t have to talk about this publicly at all. I am choosing to talk about it publicly for exactly that reason. Patrick Stewart has a quote floating around the interweb that says something about no one listening to anyone but white males, therefore as a white male he is making a point to talk about women’s safety. I am paraphrasing. And I am making the same point.
I could not be in a safer position than the supportive, open-minded relationship I am in right now. But that teenager I was has been pacing in my head again and peeking out the window. It is not sexual frustration trying to get out. I am not looking for a reason to have an affair or change the boundaries of my marriage.
I am looking for my freedom.
I don’t have to tell you this, but I will.
I am bisexual. I have always been bisexual. I have never been gay and I have never been ‘straight’. Thank you for listening.
May my clarity guide anyone else who needs it.