Healthy lives for young people
Sexuality

Realising I was bisexual: Pippa’s story

Read Pippa’s story, it includes some great advice for anyone who is struggling with their sexuality and addresses some of the myths and misconceptions about being bisexual.

So, I’m Pippa, and I’m bisexual. Hi!

I didn’t realise I was bisexual for a long time. I’d always been friends with girls, but as a kid I never thought about girls in a romantic way… whereas I had ‘crushes’ on boys, who I obsessed over, and who I wanted to kiss and hold hands with and be with foreeeever. But the first time I watched a film or tv show and felt sexually attracted to the person on the screen, it was a woman – a scene in American Pie, I think! I assumed the feelings were because I wanted to “be” as attractive and sexy as the woman on screen, so I didn’t think too much about it!

It wasn’t until I was 18 that I properly started having sexual fantasies and desires, and more than half of them were about women. I was freaked out, but I was in denial and firmly convinced myself that the thoughts about women were just a phase, or just something I found sexually exciting because it’s a bit ‘different’.

But by the time I was 21 I realised I was unhappy, that being in denial about my sexuality was affecting my relationships and that I couldn’t ignore it or make it go away. I realised that, contrary to what I’d thought all my life, I wasn’t the same as everyone else.

Accepting the fact that I wasn’t “straight” was really hard. It was made harder by not fitting properly into the categories people try and put us all in – “gay” or “straight”. So I had two things to worry about!

  1. The fact that I was probably bisexual
  2. The possibility that I was “confused” or “undecided” and that I was actually gay

I distanced myself from my friends and I couldn’t stop thinking negative thoughts about myself. I spent nights lying awake, thinking things like this:

  • “What if I’m gay?”
    You’re not gay, you’re bi, but that’s not a problem!
  • “I don’t want to be gay”
    You aren’t, but you are bi, and there’s no reason not to want it either way. It isn’t something that defines you as a person, it’s honestly absolutely fine, and you will be OK.
  • “What if being bi means I’m never happy in my relationships, whether it’s with a man OR a woman? I like men in a different way than I like women, maybe I’ll never fall in love and be happy!”
    You will be happy in a relationship, I promise – very soon you’ll wonder why you ever thought this was a problem!
  • “What if this means I can’t have a family, have children, do all of the things I want to do in my life?”
    It doesn’t mean that at all. There are still ways of having the life you imagined when you thought you were straight so don’t worry, but you will be so much happier, having accepted your sexuality, that the life you imagine for yourself will become so much richer!
  • “Why am I bi, or gay? It doesn’t make sense biologically. Is it because there’s something wrong with me?”
    There is NOT anything wrong with you – society is to blame for making you think that. Love is love, between whoever, and it’s all completely normal. There are species of animals which have gay relationships even, google it – it’s really not ‘weird’ like people think it is.

What if I’m gay?”

At the time though, I didn’t have these answers. I felt lonely and bottled everything up. The thoughts about how I didn’t want to be bi or gay and about how terrible everything was spiralled out of control and I became anxious and depressed – I can see now, looking back on it, just how dangerous it was!

I decided that the only thing that would make it better was to talk about it. But how??

Coming out (repeatedly)

The first time I tried to tell a friend seriously that I was bi, they didn’t take me seriously and thought I was joking…

So the second, third and fourth times I told people, they were complete strangers. I knew I needed to talk to someone before my mental state hit a dangerous low and I was too scared of what my friends and family would think, so I found other ways to talk about it.

I joined an LGBT-friendly (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) website where people offer each other informal support. I then joined my university’s LGBT social group. They kept their social media groups and everything very secret because they understand how hard it can be, so I felt safe knowing no one would find out. There was also a nearby LGBT charity with a youth group so I contacted them and asked if there was anyone I could talk to about this. It all helped. Telling these people, who I didn’t have any social or family connections with, how I was feeling, helped me get used to talking about something I’d been denying and suppressing for three years… without worrying that I’d be gossiped about or laughed at, or that I’d ‘come out’ and be unable to ‘come’ back ‘in’. And meeting people who were L, G, B or T helped me realise that there’s no reason you can’t be happy and fulfilled as a bisexual person – it’s not the experience I assumed I would have, but it can be just as fun!

The third time I told someone was a text, sent to a friend, on Christmas day, from the bathroom of my family home. I hid in there for half an hour with the door locked, thinking about whether to press send or not. He wasn’t a friend I’d known for a long time, but I instinctively knew he was someone I could trust him not to react inappropriately or speak to anyone else about it. His lovely, genuine response was along the lines of “I’m glad you were able to tell me, I’m sorry if you’re struggling, but I don’t think being bi is a problem and I don’t think it means you can’t be happy.” It seems simple, but getting that kind of response from someone really helped.

Then I came out to my brother… and then to my parents… and to a few friends… and gradually, I realised that if they are the right people for me to be around, they’ll love me and care about me enough to accept me for who I am. So coming out became much easier (although I still have to remind myself to ignore the opinions of bigots and ignorant people and that sometimes, it’s alright NOT to tell people if I don’t want to). There were definitely awkward moments, strange conversations, and decisions I would make differently if I could re-do them, but every time I told a family member or close friend, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted!

I realised that if they are the right people…they’ll care about enough to accept me for who I am”

Now, I don’t even “come out” to anyone. I just mention things about my past or present relationships, or talk about my life in a way which doesn’t disguise my sexuality, freely in conversation – just as I would if I was straight. It’s just like telling someone I like salsa dancing, or I’m allergic to peanuts, or any other random detail. I still worry whether they’re judging me sometimes, especially with new people, but it’s less and less of an issue – usually no one is judging me and I’m just being paranoid. Mean people will always find things to judge you for, so trying not to care what they think is a useful life skill for everyone, whatever their sexuality.

Being bisexual (the bad bits)

Some (ridiculous) people think the fact I’m bisexual means I’m:

Slutty
Firstly, what on earth does slutty mean, it’s a free country and everybody should do whatever they want sexually so long as it’s consensual, without judgment! But some people think being bisexual means you’ll have more sexual partners, because you’re attracted to more people. That’s just not true – if you’re straight, it doesn’t mean you want to, or decide to, sleep with EVERYONE of the opposite gender!

Confused / unsure / undecided / can’t make up my mind
Preeeeetty sure I know more about my own feelings than anyone else does. If I say I’m attracted to both genders, I probably am. Although sexuality is fluid, and that means anybody’s sexuality and preferences can change over time, if I say I’m bi, I’m just bi, not confused!

Trying to get male attention
Um, really? This is so annoying. The porn industry has a lot to answer for, I swear… Lesbian and bisexual women are lesbian and bisexual not because they want male attention, but because they’re far more interested in, or also interested in, FEMALE attention. Duh!

Non-existent
Some people don’t think I exist. No really, they think bisexuality is a myth and they think if I date a man, I become straight, and then if I date a woman I miraculously become gay again… rather than, you know, thinking I might just like men AND women? Seems obvious, right?

Being bisexual (the good bits)

Being bi is pretty much fine, now I’ve accepted it and figured out how to tell people about it! I’m in a happy relationship with an amazing woman, I’ve got a great job, and I don’t feel the need to treat or see my sexuality as any more of an issue than I would if I was straight, but it has taken me a long time and a lot of courage to get to a happy place with it.

Also, being different is great! People spend so much energy trying to fit in with everyone else, but actually, what makes someone interesting, exciting and so great is the ways they’re different to most other people. I sometimes try and think of being bi as having a funky taste in music or being really passionate about Italian cheese – people may be surprised and intrigued when you tell them, but not in a bad way, and if they turn their noses up, they’re the weird ones.

I feel like being bi gives you the opportunity to get away from the idea that people’s value depends on their bodies and depends on how the opposite sex thinks they look. It also helps us stop thinking about the world in categories and judging people based on certain characteristics – girl/boy, woman/man, gay/straight… they’re all just words we use to describe PEOPLE, who are so much more than those words.

If you think you’re bisexual

There are some things I’d do differently if I could do them over again. I’d ignore all advice given to me by well-meaning friends and family members about when and how to come out to other friends and family members, because it causes far more hassle than it’s worth – I think you need to accept yourself and come out on your terms, but others might not understand that. Claim the freedom to make important decisions about your life for yourself.

Don’t compromise or put up with it if people are being unfair or hurtful – even if they are doing it by accident!

Ignore the haters (and that includes anybody who gossips, is rude, or doesn’t respect you and your sexuality). They aren’t worth a second of your time. If your old friends aren’t supportive, make a clean break and find new friends – I’ve done this a couple of times in my life and it has always helped, even though it’s scary.

STAY POSITIVE

If you feel bad about your own sexuality, TALK about it, in the way that suits you most, with someone understanding and trustworthy. And keep your chin up – it will get better, promise!

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