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Gareth, 21, shares their experience of realising they were bisexual.
I remember when I first started realising that I wasn’t straight. I remember looking at men, finding them attractive, and thinking “it’s ok if I’m gay, there’s nothing wrong with that”, but as time went on I realised that I still found myself attracted to women as well. This wasn’t so much confusing, as a bit of a novelty. I’d never heard of anyone like this before, I genuinely thought, at thirteen years of age, that maybe I was the only person in the world like this. I had it all figured out as well – I knew what that would be called. I was attracted to both, right? That’s two… I know! Bisexual is the perfect term for this! There was an embarrassingly long period of time during which I thought I had actually invented that word, and that I was the only person like that, such is the impact of isolation on queer youth.
it’s OK if I’m gay, there’s nothing wrong with that”
As time went on I got more and more access to the internet; I was able to google things and find forums, groups, and communities of people just like me. But with that came the reality of the community I was a part of: discrimination, erasure of identity, exclusion from both straight and gay-dominated queer spaces. Even though I was a part of this wonderful community, it was very much a community isolated from others. Not only that, but it was a community that was not represented. I also became more aware of other identities, and how mine had evolved and changed. Bisexual didn’t just mean attraction to men and women, but in fact was an attraction to the same gender and opposite genders. This is the definition used by the community now.
When was the last time you heard of a gay celebrity? Or a gay character in a film or a TV series? While not commonplace, there are surely one or two that you’ve heard of. Now what about a bisexual celebrity, or character? Probably a little bit harder. This lack of representation really does not help the kids growing up and questioning their sexuality. If I had known of a bisexual character or celebrity I probably would not have seen myself the isolated sexuality rebel that I thought I was.
I suppose I’ve told a little white lie; I actually did know of a bisexual celebrity at the time. I probably knew of more than one – you probably do too. The problem is that whenever we heard about them they were either described as gay or straight, or even “doesn’t like labels” (not that there is anything wrong with someone who chooses to describe themselves that way, but when it’s used in media it’s always the bisexual people and is a form of bi-erasure). Take Freddie Mercury for example, who had relationships with both men and women, yet is usually described as gay, or only his relationships with men are shown in the media. This erasure of the identity in the media means representation of the bisexual community is slim-to-none.
It’s important for you to support your bisexual friends and family. So don’t call it “just a phase”, or “experimenting”, or “looking for attention”, (or possibly one of the most bizarre responses I ever got: “you’re actually asexual”). Just accept it on face value; nothing has changed about that person, you just know a little bit more. For me, my friends online were some of the most supportive whenever I was questioning anything, or had issues relating to my bisexuality. It’s important that young people have access to these resources, so they don’t end up even more marginalised than they already might feel.
It’s important for you to support your bisexual friends and family”
Some aspects of my experience will be vastly different to that of someone now – but most of it will be the same, and the young bisexual kid who comes out tomorrow will still face the same biphobia and erasure that I did. There are resources out there, there are communities out there, dedicated to helping you. Just remember, you are not alone.
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