I remember agreeing with some of the girls in primary school about how cute our mutual friend's older brother was. I hadn't even thought twice about what I was saying but suddenly I was being ridiculed. It was almost another 10 years before I told anyone that I was open to dating any gender. I think the first time I realised that other people did feel like this and that they identified as bisexual was actually while watching "Desperate Housewives" one night with my mam when I was about 15. I don't remember the character's name but I do remember him clearly articulating that he was bi and finding that exciting because it seemed to fit my own experience.
Still, seeing no LGBT+ people in the town where I grew up, and the lack of acceptance for those thought to not be straight resulted in many years of convincing myself that it was best to stay in the closet. My sexuality became a source of significant anxiety for me, though nobody else would realise this. Later, in my final year of college, a drunken confession to a gay friend led to my first time kissing a guy. It was only then that I really knew that I wanted to embrace my sexuality for what it was. It wasn't easy, it took more years, but I began to come out and to explore my identity and our community. Getting involved in LGBT+ activism really helped this process!
Are you out as a bi+ person?
I am lucky enough to be out to my family, friends and colleagues. However, coming out took a long time. For several years, it was just a few close friends and my girlfriend at the time who knew, and I barely ever talked about it. It is only since the months after the Marriage Equality referendum that this has been the case though. This campaign gave me the chance to participate in LGBT+ spaces without fear of being outed or of feeling like an outsider. I met many fantastic people during this, including my first boyfriend. This gave me the confidence to come out, and this was the most liberating thing I have ever done. It wasn't easy, and it was particularly difficult to ensure that people understood my bi identity, but I'm fortunate to have friends and family who support me and the LGBT+ community.
When have you felt the most accepted as a bi+ person? The least accepted?
Most accepted - I've immersed myself in the local LGBT community since coming out and in activism more broadly. I feel a tremendous sense of belonging in these spaces, but my bi identity is often not known or forgotten about. I'm usually assumed to be straight or gay depending on where I am and who I'm with. The most accepted I've ever felt as a bi person was the first time I met the other coordinators from Bi+ Ireland. We shared our stories, much like this, and it was refreshing to have the usual interest and acceptance to be accompanied by real understanding.
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 people would simply ask what the best aspects of being bi are instead of making the usual assumptions. I would tell them that it is liberating to be part of, and learn from, a group embraces true diversity, practices radical inclusion and combats oppression of all forms.