Tamára Lunardo

Author & Editor

Friday

25

September 2015

7

COMMENTS

#BiWeek Confession: I’ve been complicit in bi erasure, and I’m #StillBiSexual

Written by , Posted in life

It’s Bi Visibility Week, that time of year when all my sexual certainties are yanked uncomfortably into question. I’ve been thinking a lot for a long time about the obnoxious need for labeling and about my obnoxious need to find just the right one despite my lifelong aversion to labels, molds, and boxes of any kind (well, not any kind). And what I’ve come to is this: No matter what I might call myself, I have been complicit for too long in bi erasure.

It’s called “bi visibility” because so often you can’t see us. And so often that’s because we don’t want to be seen.

I began wondering around age 13 whether I might be bisexual; by the time I was 17 I had admitted to a handful of people that I was. But then my best guy friend wanted to know if I’d have a threesome with him, and my best girl friend wanted to know why I wasn’t attracted to her. So I tucked that messy idea away for over a decade. I married a man, and I forgot almost all about it for a while. Almost. For a while.

When it resurfaced—this thing about myself, this fluid yet permanent thing—I kept it to a small handful again. I didn’t want to open up my then-husband to the possibility of others’ judgment; I didn’t want to expose myself. So many years later, I haven’t wanted to make my soon-to-be wife feel insecure; I haven’t wanted to not belong.

But I was bisexual when I was married to a man, and I will still be bisexual when I am married to a woman.  Yet the world will never see me the way I see myself unless I make a point to say so. So I’m saying it: Yes, I’m bisexual, and I’m more than that too.

Human labels frustrate me because they can be far too limiting for a species that is so complex. But not being understood frustrates me more, and “bisexual with a current preference for women and an enduring love for one woman in particular” is a mouthful.

So for now, I say I’m a bisexual lesbian. I used to be a bisexual straight woman. For me, these things can change. I realize this isn’t convenient for any number of long-held narratives, but I’m not interested in agendas; I’m interested in the truth.

Why not just say “bisexual?” Because, for me, it’s not specific enough to convey how I feel. It’s part of the truth—an important part, which I’ve been remiss in sharing—and it’s not the whole truth. With the phrase “bisexual lesbian,” I can affirm the fluid and focused, valid sexuality that is an integral part of me and that my fiancée and I love very much.

Ever since I can remember, I have felt attracted to men and women, but the strength of those attractions has changed over time. For a long time, I had a preference for men. I had some attraction to women, but “straight” resonated with me and felt true. Then my attractions shifted focus, my feelings for women increased, and “bisexual”—as I understood it, right in the middle of the sexuality spectrum, equally as gay as straight—made sense. Then my preference became women. I have some attraction to men, but “lesbian” resonates with me and feels true.

Still, just a few weeks away from marrying an incredible woman, I realize that saying only “lesbian” will do damage. It will keep me cloaked, as I was for so long. It will just be a coat of different colors. When the world sees me with my wife, they will make an assumption about me, one that sometimes I rather enjoy—I love being on the gay side of the spectrum.

But my wise friend Caleb Wilde says, “Storytelling isn’t a privilege, but a communal necessity.” If I had known at 13 that what I was questioning was not a phase, but a real sexual orientation, maybe I would have understood myself sooner. If I had known at 17 that what I was feeling was not a tool for others’ gratification, but an indicator of my own heart, maybe I wouldn’t have accepted gross substitutes for love. But I didn’t know because I couldn’t see. The bisexual-visibility index for the last few decades was very low indeed.

So I’ll speak the truth, even as my understanding of it continues to evolve. And I really hope you’ll share your story too. Because we all need to see.

  • Alise

    My oldest is pansexual, and sometimes it’s hard to understand that because yes, we tend to see people strictly as gay or straight and someone who is kind of both feels…unfair maybe? I don’t know. What I do know is that pan and bi people have much higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide than plain old gay people, and pan and bi kids are more likely to experience bullying than even their gay and lesbian peers, partly because their sexuality is so misunderstood, even by themselves.

    So all that to say I’m glad you’re saying who you are. Even if the label doesn’t really matter when it comes to who you love, it helps people who haven’t found their “the one” know that they’re not alone.

    • http://tamaralunardo.com/ Tamára Lunardo

      You’re exactly right about the bullying, even if it’s covert. A lot of the messages we get about bisexuality boil down to “it’s not real”; ergo, “you’re not real.” Let me tell you, that will fuck with a kid. Or an adult.

  • Stacy

    Thank you for sharing this. I have always thought that we fall in love with people not genitals. I have been happily married to a man for nearly 25 years. He is my best friend and I love him deeply. But I still find myself attracted to women. Sexual fluidity happens in some of us. I think how easy it would have been to end up in a same sex relationship if the “right” woman had come into my life. Again, I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share about the messy stuff in your life.

    • http://tamaralunardo.com/ Tamára Lunardo

      Stacy, thank you so much for adding your story. I feel like each one is an added voice, like Horton’s Whos, saying, “We are here, we are here!” until, finally, the world gets that we’re real.

  • Rae Warde

    THIS!!! <3

  • Sunbrellas

    Another bi erasure thing that I have seen very little about is homelessness… 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ but with bi/pan/other it’s usually not quite the simple, easy-to-explain case of “oh I’m gay and my parents are super-conservative and hate gay people”. I’m young & bi & kinda homeless right now. My sexuality has played a big part in being unwilling to go back to an abusive home but it’s harder to explain (plus the fact that it’s not JUST homo/bi-phobia keeping me away)

  • Dan McMonagle

    Hey you! Congrats on your recent nuptials…. Hope all is going well for you.

    Late commenting here… (I was swamped at work when this post first came by.)

    It’s kind of funny – we don’t always see things about ourselves that others pick up on, and if we try to deny it, our friends will say “what are you talking about?” This post makes sense, and it surprises me much less than when you came out of the closet a while back.

    I remember when you first came out in a blog post, I was completely caught off guard. It made no sense to me, not because you couldn’t be attracted to women, but because you were so obviously attracted to men. “Tamara isn’t attracted to men? Whaaaat????” (I actually had the line from Christmas Vacation pop in my head — “If I woke up tomorrow with my face sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”) Your historical body of writing, your podcast with Alise and Sharideth… your content was never pornographic at all, but it was pretty clear that you enjoyed sex with your husband (at least that was the image/facade that seemed apparent.)

    Anyhow, this new “coming out” of sorts makes a lot more sense. I read this post, and I come away with a more complete view of who you are as a person, and it integrates with the history that we’ve seen from you in prior posts and discussions, etc. I guess what I’m saying is, when you’re completely honest about something, people can tell you’re being truthful — the “caption” and the “picture” actually go together to the casual observer. (ie, this post wasn’t ‘photoshopped’!)

    Take care of yourself, my friend. I hope all is well and life is good for you and yours!

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