5 Things I've Learned In My Year of Being a Bi Activist
By Lewis Oakley
April 26, 2017
Photo credit: Unsplash/matthew Feeney
A year ago, today, I wrote my very first piece on being bi. It all started innocently enough, I had a raging argument with a stranger in a bar. This stranger had made the assumption that upon knowing me for 10 minutes, he knew more about my sexuality than I did. He insisted that I was gay, not bi, and as a result, he had to listen to a good 45 minutes of me explaining why he was and wrong and how, as a gay man, he should have a little more respect for people with different sexual orientations. He was so impressed by my argument, that he told me I should write up how I felt and put it online.
That's what I did. The overwhelming number of responses I got from other young bi guys all around the world made me realize that there are some serious problems facing the bi community and I needed to find a way to help support it. That's what I've been doing ever since. The truth is, being bi is fantastic, empowering, and just plain fun. Here are some of the things I've learned on my journey fighting for bi acceptance.
1. Don't Fear Being Gay
The reason so many people see bisexuality as a transitional orientation is that such a large number of gay men identify as bi on their way to coming out. It's fine to be gay, it's fine to be bi. Don't be afraid that being bi will suddenly make you gay. Just be okay with your sexuality, whatever it may be.
My first relationship was with a man and lasted two and a half years, whilst I was bi, the world saw me as gay, and that didn't bother me. If I were gay, I'd just embrace it, but that just isn't the way I'm wired. I'm bi! How can you embrace your bisexuality if you are crippled by the fear that you might be gay? Whatever it is, you can't be afraid of your sexuality.
2. Let Go of Bi Guilt
In the early days, I felt weird about thinking about women as being sexually attractive when I was dating men. It felt as though I were in some way cheating or being unfair to my partner. In reality, this is just something that society has made us think. If you're dating a woman and want to watch gay porn, that's fine. It doesn't mean anything other than the obvious fact that you have hormones. Would a straight man feel guilty about watching porn with a brunette woman when he is in fact dating a blonde woman? In a relationship, it completely natural to find other people attractive, it's just that with bi people we can find more than one gender attractive and that's not wrong. And it doesn't mean that you are going to cheat.
3. Listen to Your Inner Bi
Once you stop running from fear and accept your life as bi, you'll gain a new perspective on your attractions. Now that I'm not worried or denying being bi, I can honestly assess my attractions. I've been able to find out what I'm actually attracted to (as opposed to what society thinks I should be attracted to), which has helped me find the perfect partner.
4. Find Your Personal Bi Style
It's so important to break free of stereotypes and also realize that another bi's experience is not going to be your experience. Bisexuality comes in many shades and it's about doing it your way. Bisexuality doesn't mean that you have to have threesomes, can't get married, or even that you have to have had sex with different genders.
Equally, if you want to go around having sex with everyone you meet and having orgies every Friday, that's okay too! Make sure that as a bi person, you aren't living up to a title, listen to yourself, and once you discover what you truly want, don't be afraid to make that life a reality.
5. Own It!
Whether you like it or not, you're bi. It's in the cards you've been dealt and it's as much a part of you as your skin color. Whether that means that you shout it from the rooftops, become a campaigner, or keep it private because you happen to be a private person is up to you. Just please acknowledge your bisexuality instead of avoiding it.
The single most detrimental thing is self-doubt. The practice of embracing your sexuality and finding a way to make it work for you specifically is a skill that can help you in all other aspects of your life too. Learning to accept you for you, and walk with confidence is one of those things that you'll never lose. Embracing my bisexuality has been the most empowering thing I've ever done and it can be the same for you.
Writing, thinking, and fighting for bisexuality for the last year has taught me a lot about my own bisexuality and has allowed me to help others accept theirs. So, thank you, stranger at that bar. If we hadn't had that argument, my feet would never have started down this path.