It's Okay to be a "Messy" Bi Person

By Damian Emba

April 04, 2017



Photo credit: Unsplash/Steve Johnson

Being a part of the LGBT community, for many of us, feels kind of revolutionary. But not everyone is comfortable with that. Some LGBT people feel more at home living a “normal” life, with monogamy, marriage, children, etc. Others, such as myself, prefer fully embracing that nonconforming spirit, practicing polyamory, choosing not to marry, and choosing not to have children. Both avenues are open to us, and both are okay.

Those who choose the latter route are often derided by our more normie LGBT peers for being too "messy" — for rocking the boat. But of course, LGBT people are diverse, just like straight people. And we should all have the right to conform to the status quo or to live outside of it. It's okay to be a "messy" bi person.

Damian smiling taking a selfie and wearing a purple shirt.

I wasn't always as sexually free as I am today. I grew up a Jehovah's Witness, my behavior was constrained by the fear that my family and religious community would disapprove. The sex-negativity of this environment made me incredibly insecure, and there was no one I could turn to with questions regarding sexuality. It was taboo to talk about sex, let alone express anything outside heteronormativity. My religious background not only kept me in fear of my same-sex attractions, but of my sexuality in general.

This narrative isn't uncommon among LGBT people. Many of us can relate to the process of growing up in a less permissive culture than the ones to which we migrate once we come out. Merely accepting our sexual orientation feels like a revolutionary rejection of core values held by large segments of society. Even in relatively tolerant Western cultures, traditionalist values around sexuality and relationships are still common. So, being LGBT automatically puts many of us at odds with the beliefs of our parents, teachers, employers, etc.

Of course, for some LGBT people, coming out doesn't feel so revolutionary. Those are the lucky ones. I wasn't so fortunate. I was a very curious child. I became an avid reader to kill my boredom. My grandmother bought me an encyclopedia, which was great because I could look up the topics I couldn't discuss with adults. When I was about eight years old, I encountered the entry on “sexuality.” I was so enthralled that I remember finishing the section in just one sitting. From that moment on, I had an interest in human sexuality and a desire to learn as much as I could.

I suspect this is something universally human. Everyone is curious about sexuality, not just budding young bi guys like myself. Between the ages of 11 and 14, I sought insight from my peers at school, from the internet, books, and even sex shops. Despite all this research, I didn't really discover enough information to understand and accept my bisexuality until I was 17. And it wasn't until I was 19 that I stopped feeling guilty about sex, masturbation, and porn. No doubt, some people spend their entire adult lives crippled by that guilt, so I feel fortunate to be free of it now.

Damian smiling confidently against a brick background.

Although I know this isn't everyone's experience, for me, it was leaving my religion that allowed me to understand that sex is completely natural and human. The indoctrination I went through was so severe that only a clean break could help me salvage my sense of self-worth. Self-loathing had become synonymous with my religious upbringing — the two were inseparable because prohibitions about sex (and even gender roles) played such a fundamental role in my religious upbringing.

Looking back now, it all seems absurd to me. Why should we brainwash people to fear their sexuality, which is such a profound part of the human condition? After all, we’re all here because of sex, an act that can be as pleasurable and spiritual as anything in life.

Today, I am polyamorous (which means I believe it’s possible and even healthy to give myself the freedom to love multiple people). In addition, I sometimes enjoy casual sex with friends. These facts about me no doubt threaten the ingrained prudishness of many people, but having worked so hard to free myself from sex-negativity, I’m not about to let anyone put me back into the cage of guilt.

A shirtless guy stands in the middle of a white line on pavement with his arms up in the air.
Unsplash/Virgil Cayasa

I am honest with my partners, practice safe sex, get regularly tested, and I try my best to be a good, loving, reliable partner and friend to everyone I meet. In my mind, that's what makes me a good person. I don't have to be monogamous to be good; and there are plenty of monogamous people who are pretty shitty to their partners and friends. So, in the grand scheme of things, I feel like I'm doing pretty well on the morality front.

Since I'm also bi, I have to deal with the fact that by being as sexually open and free as I am, I can be perceived as reinforcing stereotypes about bi people. The best I can do is just remind folks that not all bi people are polyamorous or as sexually active as I am. You'd think it'd be obvious that bi people, just like gay and straight people, are a diverse group of people. We don't all relate to people in the same way. Many bi people are monogamous. Some are even celibate. And, yes, some of us are polyamorous and sexually active. So what?

It's my life. I shouldn't have to live in a restricted way just to satisfy the priggish. In my case, the stereotype is true. Oh well. There's more than one way to be bi. I'm just one person. Slut-shame me all you want — I have nothing to hide. Ask me a question, and I will reply. I am happy to say that I am a bi poly guy with no desire to settle down and build a family. I'm an open book. And I'm proud.


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