Taking pride in being bi, pan or queer

This weekend just gone should have been the annual Pride in London and UK Black Pride events, but the current situation means that things have taken a different shape this year with Pride returning to its protest roots. Online events have sprung up too; last weekend I attended Bi Pride UK’s excellent online Bi-Fi Festival and could relate to so much of what was said in the discussion panels regarding the struggle to realise you are bi or pan, and the ongoing battle for acceptance in queer spaces. As a cis woman married to a cis man, I often feel I have to shout about my bisexuality a bit in order to prove that I belong in spaces which should be welcoming. In fact, sometimes I wonder if a lot of gay and lesbian folk have yet to realise what the B stands for in the acronym they know so well (and also the T… and the Q)!

I knew I was attracted to women when I started my art foundation course aged 18, way back in 1993, and became a tiny bit obsessed with a gorgeous goth girl in my group. In week two of the course, I realised that I didn’t just want to be her friend and that was when I felt the penny drop. But then I spent my 20s thinking that I couldn’t possibly be bi because I hadn’t actually dated any women. Like there was some kind of magical attraction and dating ratio that I had to fulfil before becoming a member of the club. Took me a long time to fully embrace it as a part of my identity and I realise now that was due to endless bi erasure and stereotyping in the media, and probably a lot of internalised biphobia too. Unlearning this stuff is hard, but I’m still working on it.

My 20s saw me question a lot of things around me, and I never felt like I quite fit the narrow category of ‘woman’ that mainstream media portrayed as acceptable. I have only recently realised that this unsettling feeling stems, in part, from being bi. Because when you’re bi/pan/queer the problem isn’t just with not fitting into straight culture, it’s about not fitting into LGBTQ+ culture either. People forget we exist, don’t want us in their gang, and keep referring to us as a kind of diet version of queer. I’ve followed a lot of fantastic bi and pan people on Twitter recently who have been shouting about this kind of stuff and, well… I’ll just embed a few tweets here to help illustrate my point.

At least I now feel 100% certain of who I am, and know that publicly acknowledging that I am bi is not only important for my own wellbeing but also for bi visibility. Although we may have joked in the past that invisibility is our super power, in actual fact we’d much rather be seen, heard and accepted than constantly fly under the radar.

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