Pride and Prejudice.

It is a strange feeling to go from certainty to absolute uncertainty about something that you have been so sure of, for such a long time.
At 14 I started hanging around with some new people outside of school. These new friends were confident, free, open and sure of their own sexuality. These were all things I felt I was not. At a considerably confusing time for any teenager anyway, I developed feelings for one of my new friends. I had experienced crushes before but this was different, I had a crush on a girl. She was openly gay and everything about her I adored. I was in complete awe of her.  

For a few weeks, I was in denial. I couldn’t possibly be attracted to a girl? Surely not. I wasn’t a lesbian. She was a lesbian, but I wasn’t. I had no ill feelings towards gay people I was just very sure that I wasn’t gay.

Wrong, so unbelievably wrong. So wrong.

After time, I accepted my predetermined course and embraced it. I was gay! Things didn’t work out between me and my first girl crush, but that was fine. It was better even. We ended up being really good friends and she was possibly one of the most positive influences of my teenage years.

So, I embraced my sexuality. I came out to my family and had a very supportive response from them which gave me a little more confidence, enough to tell a few friends closest to me at school. Unfortunately, I told the wrong person, and to cover up their own sexuality, to stop them being bullied and move the spotlight to someone else, they told the whole year group that I was gay.

I had been outed; and as if school isn’t hard enough, I studied at a Christian school where it was deemed a sin to be anything other than Adam and Eve – didn’t I know it. From the middle of year nine on to the end of school I was bullied for being gay. I didn’t deny it. I accepted it as best as I could and I counted on my closest friends to support me through my school years. I was ready to leave the bullying, betrayal, sadness and shame behind and move on to pastures new.

After school, I enrolled in to college. I stayed in touch with some of my friends from school and identified as a lesbian. I met girls and maintained relationships. When I turned 18 I went to gay bars and started to figure out who I was and the person I wanted to be. As the years went on, I became surer of myself, and much more confident. I was happy with the person I was and was accepted by my peers and within the workplace.  

At the grand old age of 21 I was enjoying life; I’d come out of a long-term relationship the same year with my girlfriend and was finding myself again. I wasn’t looking for anything, I was trying to get on with work. I’d recently moved out too and was learning to not spend all my money on chicken nuggets and clothes and juggle a social life too. Most importantly, I was completely happy with the person I was; I didn’t feel ashamed of who I was, like I had done in previous years, I felt utterly content.

Then, I met a boy.

I’d been with a boy once before and it didn’t work out. At the time, he was funny and nice to me but in hind sight he clearly wasn’t that interested.  

I felt odd for a few weeks and there was a huge sense of denial but mostly, what would people say? What would all of my friends think, most of which were gay? I couldn’t explain what I was feeling so how could I be expected to explain it to anyone else? I didn’t understand and I felt so unsure. I went from knowing exactly who I was and what sort of person I am to not knowing for one second who I was. I was confused.

Now, there is a stigma. When people say bisexual, you think – I know a girl who’s bisexual. The first thing that springs to mind is that girl we all know who is straight the majority of the time until she has a drink. Then she turns into that awful person who leads gay girls on in to thinking they might have a chance by kissing them just to look ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ or whatever else in front of whomever.

I mean, forgive me, there might be that 10% that kiss girls at parties that are actually bisexual and feel unable to come out for whatever reason; However, 9 times out of 10, this girl is not bisexual. This girl is just a crazy drunk. Ultimately, this affects a bisexual’s reputation.

I didn’t want to come out as bisexual. I did not want to admit to myself that this could be the case. I didn’t want to be seen as greedy or promiscuous. Instead, I told myself and whoever asked that Jack was the exception to the rule and that if I had not met him and fallen in love with him, I’d definitely be with a girl. I was far too concerned about what everyone else would think.

Three and a half years later, I am finally coming to grips (once more I hope) with the person I am and my own sexuality. It honestly really doesn’t matter what your sexuality is, but people love to pigeon hole you and put you in a box. In identifying as bisexual, most people don’t care. Most good people couldn’t care less what your sexual preference is, which is how it should be. However, some people, do. They want to know and they want to understand. God knows why?! Fact is, in my own opinion and experiences the most unaccommodating group of people to bisexuals is the LGBTQ+ community themselves.

This year, for the first time in 3 years, I went to pride. I went because I love what it stands for and it has always been a massive part of my life and who I am. I used to go every year until my relationship with my boyfriend, and I stopped going because my old gay friends made me feel incredibly unwelcome, like snow in summer.

This year I went and of course bumped into one of my ex-girlfriends, she asked me what I was doing there. When I challenged her, she said she just didn’t expect to see me here, and I challenged again. She implied that due to me being in a happy ‘straight’ relationship for however long, Pride was no longer a place for me and I had no right to be there. It made me feel like as a bisexual I have no business going to an event like Pride.

Now, woe is me, perhaps this is a projection of my own insecurities. I refuse to accept that I am the only bisexual that feels this prejudice from the LGBT+ community and I’ve spoken to others people who have had a similar prejudice.

One person talked about her view towards gay pride, and how she doesn’t feel the need to belong in a group and that she feels some people get a sense of acceptance from pride events. She also spoke of the pressure she felt when she came out as bisexual, to pick a side – one or the other.

Another talked of the stigma attached to bisexual men from both the gay and straight community. He talked of dating girls, and when they find out he’s bisexual, they’re put off by it. He also talked of being called too camp to be straight, and how people continuously try to put him in a box. People ask personal questions relating to whether he prefers men or women. His gay friends would make a joke of his sexuality and put him down which made him feel as though his sexuality wasn’t as important as theirs.

The last person I spoke to talked about how she was outed at school as bisexual, but actually identified as pansexual. She too, has experienced years of bullying but noted that the most judgemental were her so-called friends from within the LGBTQ+ community. She spoke of the horrendous negativity received from people and how they would say awful things to her once they knew of her pansexuality. She talked of the embarrassment she felt while talking about her sexuality. People would often make fun and would try to get her to choose between her preferred gender.

This brings our attention to just 3 accounts of what other members of the community have encountered regarding their sexuality preferences. People feel threatened by difference and often disrespect what they don’t understand.

In a world where it has taken so much for us to be ourselves it is important that we come together and celebrate everyone’s differences. After all, what do you think the B stands for in LGBTQ+?

Lots of love,

Lilly.

http://www.bicommunitynews.co.uk/

http://lgbt.foundation/get-support/

https://www.supportu.org.uk/

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice

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