I remember being fascinated by the concept. But I also remember clearly getting the impression from it that bisexuality was something incredibly rare. I don't remember if my 12 year old self had any inkling that I might not be straight. I do remember thinking that if it was that rare, I had nothing to worry about.
The next thing I remember was a couple of years later. I can't recall the context, but I have this memory of me, awake through the night terrified that I might be gay. I guess I must have been about fourteen or fifteen? But I shoved that feeling right back down - I knew I had crushes on guys, and bisexuality was really rare, wasn't it? So it must not be me. Being anything other than straight felt impossibly scary to me.
Are you out as a bi+ person?
I sure am!
It's weird, though. I'm not sure how it's possible to be more out than I am - especially after I said "I'm Aoife, and I'm bisexual" in front of how many thousands of people at Dublin Pride? But when I'm in lesbian spaces, people still assume I'm gay all the time. And I still don't correct them most of the time, because I feel a lot like that means I have to be a perfect bi person and sometimes I just want to drink a lot of gin and dance badly (like really badly) and not have to defend myself, you know?
I feel badly about that. I put myself under a lot of pressure to be out. I feel so lucky - my family and friends love me just as I am. I work in a company I cofounded where most of my coworkers are queer women. I have a ton of privileges that so many other bi+ people lack. If I can't be out everywhere, then who can be?!
I often wish that there was a way that I could simply be out, without having to repeat it all the time. I feel like there are ways that people can signal to the world that they're gay, that are pretty much understood. They aren't ideal for everyone, but they exist. But there isn't really a way that you can be that leads to people assuming that you're bi+. You have to say it over and over again, and you have to defend it constantly. You don't get to just come out and be done with it. That's exhausting.
When have you felt the most accepted as a bi+ person? The least accepted?
As for feeling least accepted?
I hated the pressure during the marriage referendum campaign for bi+ people to keep relatively quiet about our orientations. That time was incredibly difficult for all LGBTQ+ people, of course. But every time I saw the phrase "equal marriage for gay and lesbian people", or heard about how this was going to be so important for gay and lesbian people, my stomach lurched. Because it felt like, just as much as the No side was against me, even the Yes side wanted to shove people like me under the carpet. Like many people, I worked hard during the campaign - knocking on doors, talking to everyone I could, writing articles, even sending handwritten notes to everyone in our apartment complex to ask them to vote for our rights. It hurt a lot to know that the campaign that meant so much to me wouldn't even admit that it was fighting for equal marriage for bi people as well. It felt like we were too shameful to put on a poster.
That still hurts, if I'm honest.
What is something no one asks you about being bi+ that you wish they would, and what would you want to tell them?
I wish they'd ask what it is actually like being bi+ in the world, and that they'd listen without preconceptions.
We get asked the same questions all the time, you know? Normally trying to put us into a "really" gay or "really" straight category. And then we get told the same things- either that we're really one or the other, or that we're privileged 'cause we can be in both gay and straight spaces.
I wish people would ask what it's like to have to spend your life being assumed to be something you're not, no matter where you go. I wish they'd listen to how it feels less like a privilege, than being continually shoved into one closet or another, over and over again. How stifling it feels to have different aspects of your self dismissed, and how the small bi+ spaces that we create feel like breathing fresh air for the very first time, every time.
I wish they'd ask what it's like to always have to worry about coming out to the person who you fancy and who fancies you back. To have to handle insecurities and misconceptions about your orientation from your partner. To have the person you love see your sexuality- the very thing that drew you to them in the first place- as an obstacle to get over and not something important and good about you.
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Bi+ Ireland is a network of people who fit somewhere under the bi+ umbrella, and who have close ties to Ireland. We are community group run by volunteers. You can reach us at email@example.com.