A Bifurcated State of Being
I’m an in-between person.
I hear about ways to fit in but don’t practically understand much about it. In most of my dealings, I never lean too hard to one extreme or the other. When I’m with people of average height, they usually delight in pointing out how short I am; but when I’m among short people, I’m the queen of reaching tall cabinets and often hear that I’m not actually short. Compared to them, I don’t have it so bad. It’s the same with my weight — I’m not particularly thin or particularly thick but instead of small and large parts that mesh together. I don’t have a consistent style and tend to oscillate rapidly between masculine and feminine.
Being bisexual, then, is just another part of being in-between. A slightly less innocuous one though, for even as rights move forward and gay relationships are legitimized, people are still trying to put people in boxes marked “straight” and “gay.”
The middle ground is a scary place. People who standing on one side of the other fear it. It’s too much like compromise. Instead of being a positive, a way to expand understanding, others tend to feel it’s disingenuous and inauthentic. It seems hard to believe that you can’t settle on one side or the other. Walking between places has become natural to me. Everything is open to interpretation and needs exploration, study. Meanings can go in different directions and sorting out all of them leads to a better understanding. The constant challenge is exhausting. But there’s freedom in the flexibility.
I always feel like I’m not quite queer. I get very close, scrape up against the edges of it but always fall short. I know this is silly, sometimes. The things that I feel are real, even if some people want to imagine that they aren’t. But I can tuck my proclivities away, blend seamlessly if I really try. I seem to have options, though. I can be in love without the stigma—isn’t that the difference? If you don’t have to live with the daily struggles, how can you take up a seat at the table?
Some people realize that being straight isn’t going to work for them at a very young age. More of us, I think, start to feel these things but try to imagine them as something else until the moment that they’re overtaken by them. That time was middle school for me. A beautiful girl caught my eye and suddenly made her way into the center of my affections. I started noticing other girls all around me. So many of them were so beautiful. When I finally got to kiss a girl, it was as warm and soft and sweet as I had ever imagined it with anyone.
Most of my romantic life has been spent with men. For one thing, I often find my general shyness creates problems in flirting with women. Men also seem to just materialize, which makes things easier but frequently also grosser. They appear from nowhere and ask for threesomes. Sometimes, they introduce themselves, sometimes they go straight for the heart of the matter. There seems to be a core group of dating app users just canvassing bi women for group sex. Plenty of people enjoy it but it does strike me as a bad opener. The oddities aren’t just sexual. Once, after conversation had been going well, a man felt compelled to mention that most of his exes “went gay” after seeing him. I could have mentioned that isn’t really a thing, that people usually don’t “go gay” in any sense of vengeance but instead can’t hold it down any longer. Instead, I tell him I’m bi—like a joke, a punch line on the end of his own silly sentiment. He was excited, pleased he couldn’t “do any more damage.” The conversation fizzled shortly thereafter.
He asked to be educated. I just wanted to be dated.
There is an unbearably deep resignation in realizing the ignorance of people, wishing desperately that they had been able to get this piece of the puzzle right. Before this, there’s a glimmer of hope—before I know for sure what their leanings are, before the illusion that I might be understood is shattered. At the end of the day, that’s all I’m looking for. Even if they don’t ever want to meet me or see me, even if they aren’t interested in being my friend, even if they think I’m terrible, just having someone who understands is tremendous. The stealth of bisexuality often means seeing the other side of people, the quiet bigotry I look like I could support. Homophobia is everywhere. They say things that make me worry. They say things that tell me my life goes behind closed doors. I used to shrink back and hide behind whatever I could. I’m more likely to talk about things though, to interject. I won’t always cite myself, even though I always know the reason why. There is no way to get close to the people who aren’t willing to afford me decency though.
There are two ways to know me. There’s a lot of overlap between these two but they are ultimately starkly separate. They get closer to merging little by little every year. One of me tries to downplay the oddness, all of my aberrant tendencies, to inhabit the version of me that fits into the boxes the world draws. Align myself with the visions of those around me. But the other side hasn’t disappeared for trying to ignore it. This end delights in strange happenings and pretends not to hear the dismissive rumbling about weird people. I can’t bring myself to stand within the lines drawn by other people when it comes to something as complex as emotion. I don’t have to measure my sexuality on a sliding scale in order to be recognized.
It’s not so much that I’m interested in men or interested in women; it’s not so reductive as to exclude any gender identity. I’m interested in people who make me laugh. I’m interested in kind people, in honest people, and in smart people. I’m interested in people who care enough to try and understand. Finding someone who brings in joy and enriches my life will always be more important than gender. And being that person for each other? That’s all love has ever been.