Nia Clark is a Final Year English Language and Linguistics Student. Featured image by Nia Clark.
*Names and identifying information have been redacted for anonymity*
“The number of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual in the UK has increased by more than a third in four years, figures show.” This quote was taken from The Guardian in 2020. With more and more people feeling comfortable coming out, the subject of sexuality is more prevalent than ever. Bisexuality is often misunderstood and debated, with some people arguing it doesn’t even exist as a stand-alone identity. To give me a better insight, I interviewed someone who identifies as bisexual, to hear about their own experiences.
How do you identify?
I identify as a cisgender woman with bisexual and pansexual labels; I look past gender and don’t see it as black and white. I’ve found I’m attracted to people. I usually say I’m bi as there’s more understanding and awareness of it, so there’s less to explain but I actually identify with both. There’s different things I’m attracted to about different people, it’s not as simple as saying ‘I like men 70% of the time and women 30%’ because that’s not the case.
How old were you when realised you were bisexual?
I was… actually that’s a hard question. I started questioning my sexuality probably from the age of 10, but it wasn’t until I was 13 where I confirmed it to myself and began telling people. I was incredibly lucky that I was surrounded by supporting people as well as being a part of an understanding community where I could be open and honest about who I was without having to worry about judgement or rejection.
How did your parents react?
My parents both reacted incredibly well initially, I think I was about 13 or 14 when I told them. However, there were some biases and stereotypes from their upbringing that I had to challenge that surprised me considering my mum’s liberal nature. It ended up being a positive thing for our relationship though, as it gave us a chance to open up about personal things we hadn’t spoken about before but at the time it was still pretty hard to go through. It kind of feels like you have to justify your existence to the person that’s meant to know you the most.
Have you experienced discrimination because of your sexuality?
The thing that surprised me about coming out was that discrimination doesn’t just come outside of the LGBTQ+ community, there is also discrimination within the community itself. I’ve seen lesbian women discriminate against bisexual women, invalidating their sexuality, acting as if its just a stepping stone or a phase until you finally come out as a lesbian. There’s this idea that you’re not ‘gay enough’ to be fully accepted.
How do you feel when people say being attracted to the same gender is a choice?
I feel that that point of view is so narrow minded; it’s believing that your identity and experience of the world is the only identity or experience, therefore it is the only one that is valid or exists. And that’s just not true. Diversity creates a strong society, having a society of all identities and cultures makes for a more happy place. Imagine living in a society where everyone thought the exact same all the time, boring!
What’s a misconception about bisexuality that frustrates you the most?
The idea that being bisexual means you’re greedy and selfish and that you should ‘make your mind up’. It’s not half way between gay and straight, it is its own identity that’s deserves recognition and deserves to stand on its own. Being bisexual doesn’t affect my morals; it doesn’t make me more likely to cheat on someone or more likely to break someone’s heart or more likely to sleep around, it just means I don’t focus on gender. I still have a ‘type’ – I still have preferences. Being bisexual doesn’t affect my sex drive, you can be asexual and still be bi.
Is there anything you would like to say to people questioning their sexual orientation?
Don’t put pressure on yourself to find the perfect specific label that fits you. Spend time discovering who you like and how to treat people right. Don’t feel that you’re less worthy because you don’t fully fit into a category. I’ve been out for a long time and I still have questioning moments. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. At the same time, don’t feel the pressure to come out if you don’t feel you’re in a safe environment. It’s a completely personal moment for you and don’t let anyone force you to do something you’re not comfortable with.