I am bisexual, and though I have known it for a long time I learned to hide it, even from myself.
When in nightclubs in my late teens I was often asked if I was gay. Maybe these girls had better gaydar than me? I always denied it though as I was scared they might beat me up, or hurt me in some way. I already knew that it was not considered socially acceptable and that I had to hide it or I might get hurt. I was really scared of getting hurt, so I lied.
Actually, I did not lie, as such. I told them I was not gay, which is true, rather than that I do not fancy women which would be a lie. A big fat lie that mostly made me miss out I think. All because I was scared to stand out, or be different, or be marked even more as someone who needed a kicking. I was very scared that would happen.
I first learned to deny it at school. I was already ‘sad’ and ‘a loner’ and a ‘grebo’, I didn’t feel safe adding ‘gay’ and bisexuals were not real – everybody said so. I still remember when one of the boys at school saw into my locker:
“You have stickers of Kylie up because you fancy her” (I did)
“No. She’s just cool” (Confide in Me was an EXCELLENT music video)
“You’re so gay, and you don’t even know it.”
They might have been okay with it. The tone suggested they probably would not have been. That was enough to make me deny it to them, and to myself too.
But I was and am bisexual: I had the option of ‘fitting in’ by dating men so I took it. I was so desperate to fit in and so aware that this was just one more way that I did not. One more way that I was somehow failing socially, so I just hid it, from me, from the world, from everyone. And while I hid it, I stole copies of magazines with pictures of models in and kissed the pages and watched the video for Put Yourself in my Place with furtive glances to check no one in my family could see I was watching it. When they did I said I liked the colours.
So I lied and lied and lied to avoid all that crap and (mostly) I was okay with it. “A triangle trying to fit into a circle” as Missy Higgins might say. I lied about my delusions – I definitely did not see things that were not there. Nope. I definitely did not fancy women. Nope. I learned to try to pass for normal. I was utterly hopeless at it but I tried as so many teenagers do.
The basic messages I got from society were:
Fancying women is wrong
Fancying men is okay but show no sexual agency.
“You’re too much like a boy to ever get a boyfriend, why can’t you wear heels/makeup etc?”
I’m so glad things are changing. I am so glad that there are girls out there growing up loving jeans and t-shirts and boys and girls and who are mentally ill and allowed to be that. Or who feel there is a space for them in the world. I am glad they don’t have to have the added stress of spending their teen years denying facts about their existence.
I’m glad that this mentally ill bisexual woman can finally be herself. I still know there can be judgement and danger when I am dating women, or about my mental health or any of those things, but there is less. And I hope that is a step towards it stopping completely.