Life

Do You See a Fence?

We are taught to think in binary.  Either/ Or.  Check the box.  Black or white?  Male or female?  Old or young?  Single or Married?  Parent or Childless?  Of course, these binary relationships don’t encompass everything or everyone, but we, as a society, try so hard to force people into this box or that.

Bi is also so much more.  Binational, of two nations.  Biannual, twice a year.  Bilateral, between two countries.  Bisexual.

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Photo: Cathleen Tarawhiti

My experience as a bisexual woman has been that the outside world sees me as one or the other.  If I date a man, I am straight.  If I date a women, I am lesbian.  The world wants me to take sides.  Frankly, my lesbian and gay friends want me to take sides just as much as my straight ones do.  I am either confusing or confused.  I am sick of defending my place in the queer world when dating a man or coming out in reverse when dating a woman!

We talk about bisexuals as being “on the fence.”  As if, from my vantage at the top of the fence I can survey everyone and then jump to one side or the other.  Perhaps, even, I can hop back and forth, first dating women, then men, then back again.  Hippity-hop, hippity-hop like a rabbit.

When I married a man, I did not hear a sigh of relief from those around me– those close enough for me to care embrace my sexuality.  However, I did hear mumblings that so-and-so (an old friend from Chile) said she was happy I had finally chosen men.  Another so-and-so (American friend in Cambodia) told a mutual acquaitance that she “always know Clare wasn’t really one of us.”  To some extent, I feel like invites from new lesbian friends dissipate when they find out my partner is male.

For me, there is no fence.  Binary does not mean one or the other.  It is both.  I am both.  I don’t identify as lesbian.  I don’t identify as straight.  Despite a heterosexual marriage and all the unearned privilege that goes along with it, I identify as bisexual and feel strongly connected to the queer community.  There are some in both queer and straight communities that accept me as I am, however, we have a ways to go.  I hope we can get there together.

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One Comment

  1. Well said. Bisexuality sounds so fluid theoretically but the reality can be the experience of being “other” in all camps. What is a committed bi to do? I like your approach of keeping the conversation going, regardless of your current status.

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