As a bisexual, I face the prejudices of the lesbian community

In queer ‘safe’ spaces, on dating apps, bisexual women are rejected for being who we are (Photo: Mishti Ali)

I have known I was queer to some extent since I started high school.

At the onset of puberty, a ball of hormones and nerves, it is not uncommon to be sensitive to frivolous crushes. But as my friends laughed at the fluffy mustache boys at our brother’s school, I found myself staring across the boardroom at some of the other girls in my year.

When I was 15, I created a secret Tumblr account. Late that night and into the morning, reassured by my mother’s gentle breaths and my father’s snores as they slept in the next room, I paraded for hours, vicariously living the tender items of WLW members blog. (women loving women).

Examine images of lesbian couples draped in rainbow flags or bisexual women with their non-binary partners covered in colorful sequins at Pride Marches, I found myself a potential future in their happiness. This is how I wanted to live my life.

It was through these blogs that I discovered who I am – a bisexual. It was liberating to know that there was a label for who I am, and a whole community that goes with it. It wasn’t something to frown upon; it was a new place of belonging.

Unfortunately, this discovery of identity did not come as a happy surprise to my family. The summer I turned 18, I packed my bags and left home never to see them again.

Away from home and now out of the closet, I have sought solace and support from the LGBTQ + community. Years later, the memory of the support of foreign blogs that allowed me to discover myself has remained etched in me. In-person interactions were awkward and mostly white. With the onset of the pandemic, I found myself scrolling through Twitter accounts with the Pride flag in their bio: a sign of safety.

So when I found myself confronted with the deep-rooted biphobia that plagues the WLW community, I was shocked.

This happened on a lockdown morning, as I logged into Twitter my timeline was a weird and hostile space. Plated on the site, there was a tweet that read: ‘I like girls who love ONLY GIRLS. Respectfully.’

At first I was confused. What was wrong with girls who liked girls and people of other genders? After all, I was one of them. Then it hit me: it was I who was attacked. There was something wrong with me, or so they argued.

My friends, people I trusted and came to first, loved him. Was this how they saw me? Obviously, for the tweet to appear in my timeline, there had been a fair amount of engagement from the people I had allowed in as I organized my “safe space” (or, at least , what I had believed to be sure).

Suddenly I was consumed by this overwhelming feeling of betrayal. I had been the victim of all manner of abuse and homophobic slurs from outside the community before, but overall when they condemned me, it wasn’t specifically my bisexuality that was under attack – more , my daring to be something other than strictly heterosexual.

For many of these outsiders, the LGBTQ + community was a monolith. The idea, then, that the people I looked to for comfort and advice were the ones who rejected me, overwhelmed me.

As I feverishly scanned the responses, I came across critic after criticism of bisexual women, all from other members of the WLW community.

Somehow, being drawn to multiple genres, I was now inherently promiscuous and susceptible to cheating. Suddenly, by being attracted to men, I ‘centered’ them. My sexuality was now inherently opposed to my values ​​as a boisterous feminist.

Apparently I was a self-loathing lesbian, caught in an unholy patriarchal purgatory; I was trapped between total homosexuality and “compulsory heterosexuality” – the idea that in a homophobic and patriarchal society, heterosexuality is promoted as the natural state of all individuals, and can therefore be adopted. .

In other words, for them, I adopted a sexuality that was not mine in order to make myself more acceptable to society.

More than that, I sort of actively took advantage of the closeness to heterosexuality. I looked straight so I was less of a target.

If I had shouted that I was bisexual, would that ever have stopped their attacks? No – I’m part of the LGBTQ + community, whatever some biphobes say

While some people chose to denounce the original tweets in their posts, soon more people were writing defenses, arguing that I was untrustworthy. Every few weeks since, I have noticed that the same discussion rears its ugly head.

For months, I was consumed by this inner struggle. Although my instinct was to stand up for myself, there was a voice inside that continued to bring me down.

After all, weren’t those people who criticized bisexual women yet part of the same community as me? And weren’t they using the political language of liberation and mistrust that I had become familiar with on my journey to discover my identity?

As a feminist, wasn’t it right that I looked for internalized misogyny within myself? I was in a cycle of introspection, never bringing up my concerns with others, for fear of finding myself and my identity stuck.

Yet all the times I’ve dated obviously gay friends and found ourselves at the mercy of homophobic abuse, have our abusers ever stopped to ask if we also have an attraction for men?

If I had shouted that I was bisexual, would that ever have stopped their attacks? No – I am part of the LGBTQ + community, regardless of what some biphobes with Internet access may say.

But Twitter is not the only space where I have experienced such comments. In “safe” queer spaces, on dating apps, bisexual women are rejected for being who we are. It is not a rare experience.

In chatting with lesbian friends, in casual conversations with people I trusted, I found that they refused bisexual women just like the women who had started my spiral months before. But they couldn’t be biphobic – after all, they had a bisexual friend, right?

On dating apps, I spoke to women who first showed interest. We were compatible in terms of looks; we shared interests; our conversation flowed freely and was witty.

On one occasion, we even planned to go out in the park together. We both liked the same kind of wine, and my stomach was a caterpillar hole, which made me impatient every time we spoke.

I mentioned, a few days before our date, that this would be my very first date with a woman. “Aren’t you a lesbian?” ” she asked. Of course, I wasn’t. We didn’t end up getting out.

According to Stonewall, more than one in four bi women have experienced discrimination within the LGBTQ + community because of their bisexuality, compared to less than 10% of lesbians.

Likewise, nearly one in 10 bi women say that they cannot talk openly about their sexuality with their friends, compared to 1% of lesbians.

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. I hope that more and more women-loving women will begin to realize that dressing up prejudice in pseudo-progressive language is an insidious trend; a trend that causes us to lose more than we gain.

Until we can openly discuss these issues within the community in a constructive manner, we will not be able to keep moving forward in a meaningful way. This conversation begins by addressing the fact that romantic and sexual “preferences” are often rooted in prejudices.

Rather than sit down and think internally, as I have done, all women in the WLW community have a responsibility to protect themselves and to feel comfortable.

When we face so much hatred from the outside world, solidarity at home is key.

I am happy with who I am. I know things can change: after all, sexuality is a spectrum, just like gender, and self-discovery is a process.

For now, I remember that I have endured a lot in the struggle to live my truth, and no one’s claims to the contrary will ever change that.

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