the lip crew on bisexuality
“You’re either gay, straight, or lying”, right? The Lip Crew begs to differ.
“As a bisexual woman I have experienced discrimination from both the gay and straight communities. I’ve had lesbians not want to pursue a romantic relationship with me due to an irrational fear that I will cheat, while straight girl friends o’ mine prefer to tell me that bisexuality isn’t real and that I should ‘pick a side’. I’ve had straight men harass me with questions like ‘have you been with heaps of girls?’ after hearing I’m bi, and ‘how far have you been with a girl?’ This offensive line of questioning is unfortunately quite common due to negative stereotypes surrounding my sexuality and gender.
Growing up I rarely felt comfortable about my sexuality because I didn’t fully understand bisexuality and as a result became confused, embarrassed and occasionally sad. There was little to no representation of bisexuality within the media I consumed, I went to a Catholic school, which meant I was never educated on sexuality (among other things *coughs* consent) and that girls were bullied for being attracted to other girls. I didn’t even know bisexuality was a real thing but rather thought it was more experimental, which is what I told myself when I first became physically intimate with other girls.
I think bisexuality is often dismissed as a legitimate sexuality due to a lack of representation and/or rather poor representation within film and television, and a lack of discussion surrounding sexuality in general. Without representation we are being erased and with poor representation, we are having unflattering stereotypes of our sexuality reinforced. Without discussion in our classrooms and in our work places on sexuality, a lot of bisexual people like myself can feel isolated which can lead to depression. It’s important all bisexuals have better representation and that positive conversations can be generated about bisexuality.” Peta Halverson, Writer
“I don’t think much about my sexual identity anymore. I finally settled on the label for me – bisexual – when I was in my early 20s, and once I had an answer to the question, I no longer had to spend hours agonising over how to define myself.
My sexuality has never been a non-issue, however. I first realised I was a bisexual when I was 13 years old – I even wrote a diary entry, decorated in blue and purple hearts, dedicated to this self-discovery – before quickly rejecting this realisation. I didn’t want to be a bisexual, because I bought into the lies I was being fed about what this label meant. Dirty, slutty, indecisive, greedy. I wanted to be straight – I had a boyfriend, so I must be straight, right? – and then I wanted to be a lesbian, because I wanted to hit on girls in bars and I didn’t want them to be put off when I told them I liked boys too. I thought it would be simpler to be one or the other. I did not want ambiguity.
It’s hard to think of my sexual identity as a feminist issue when it is such a personal thing for me, and it took a long time for me to accept myself for what I was and to learn how to ignore and reject what others were saying about me – me and all the other bi folk out there.
But it’s this very dilemma that makes bisexuality – and all other sexual identities – inextricably connected to feminism. We need defending – defending from the patriarchal system that told 13-year-old me that I had to be one or the other, and, if I thought I could choose, could I choose straight please. The patriarchal system that thinks of bisexual women as existing for the titillation of straight men; that tells bisexual women they have to form their identity around how they relate, sexually, to men. I’m grateful that feminism gives me the tools to see exactly how destructive society’s attitude towards bisexual people really is – and hopefully, the tools to help me change it.” Lauren Strickland, Film Editor
“I’ve never felt comfortable identifying as bisexual, even though that’s the box I’d most likely tick if you were to ask me where I sit on the spectrum, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out why. If I’m honest, despite heading towards my thirties and having spent most of my twenties considering it, I’m still not entirely sure why I find it so difficult. I think it’s less about the way I feel about love or lust or any of those murky feelings in between, and more about the way I think the term will define me; how others might see me: indecisive, confused, and whatever other stereotypes exist to delegitimise the feelings of people whose sexual proclivities don’t fit neatly into the box of ‘straight’ or ‘gay’. I think part of the reason I’ve never been confident owning the term is because I’ve never officially “come out” as bisexual. My relationships with women haven’t been serious enough to warrant it, and my long-term relationships have only been with men. And I do acknowledge that privilege – of being able to move around the world as straight, as “understood”, but I look forward to the day that sexual preference isn’t thought about as anything more than a preference as impertinent as, I don’t know, favourite pizza toppings or whatever.” – Grace Highsmith, Writer
“I was 16 when I figured out I was bisexual. At the time, it really hadn’t even occurred to me that I was anything but straight, as I’d spent my life up until then being attracted to boys. After my best friend, who was female, grabbed my face and kissed me full on the mouth (for teenage fun reasons) it was as if someone flicked a switch in my brain. It was exciting and terrifying all at once.
As time went on, I realised some not so great things about being bisexual. Firstly, that mentioning it in front of certain men would illicit a “that’s so hot!” response, or an invitation for a threesome with them and their girlfriend. It also meant that I didn’t feel quite comfortable in the queer community, especially if I had a male partner at the time. I often felt resented, and have had gay women tell me bisexual women are untrustworthy, and that if I had a male partner I was obviously straight.
The “straight passing” privilege concept is really upsetting, because even though I may obtain privilege from dating a cisgendered man, the fact that it erases my sexuality feels incredibly awful. Unlike gay women or men, my sexuality can’t be identified by the gender of my partner. So it would be equally upsetting if I were to date a woman and it was assumed I was gay.
The thing I try to emphasise when I talk to people about sexuality is that a person’s sexuality and/or romantic preference doesn’t always line up with their sexual/romantic conduct. It is difficult for most people to grasp, but it’s extremely important in order to not erase sexualities that are not monosexual. I’m always bisexual, regardless of who I’m with.” Ruth Scott – Writer
“The label ‘bisexual’ has become harder for me, and I think the LGBTQIA community at large, to define as of late. With the term ‘pansexual’ coming into existence, does ‘bisexual’ need to be re-examined?
Originally defined as ‘sexual attraction to both sexes’, this definition of bisexuality seems out-of-date and honestly, a bit of offensive, as it fails to recognise the wide range of sexes and gender identities. Pansexual, on the other hand, is generally accepted to mean ‘equal attraction to all or any gender or sex’. While bisexuality’s definition may be out-of-date, being bisexual is not necessarily a thing of the past.
Many self-identifying bisexuals, while being attracted to more than one gender, have a preference for some genders or one gender over the others. Some are only attracted to the two binary genders, female and male, while other bisexuals would say they’re attracted to the whole spectrum of gender.
What I am trying to say is, the bisexual label has never been an easy one to wear. It can feel stifling as you are constantly told you’re not doing it right, whatever ‘it’ is. There has never been one way to be bisexual and as the LGBTQIA community becomes more welcoming of other identities, it’s maybe not surprising that bisexuality continues to be on the outs.
Now, if you’re looking for a definition of bisexual, you might come across a few different ones. One is ‘sexual attraction to two or more genders’. Another is ‘attraction to one’s own gender and other genders’. I think I like the first one better, but honestly and maybe more importantly, I wish people would just mind their own business.” Cin Peeler – Writer
*Some names have been changed