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The process maybe took about two years; I never in that time even considered the option of coming out as bisexual, though. I was in a committed relationship with a woman, we thought we were deeply in love and I thought it was forever.
We talked about forever, and babies, and growing old together. To me, in that place, there was no point in not going all in. What was the point in telling people I was also attracted to men if I had only the intention of living in a lesbian relationship for the rest of my life? I went all in. I got a "lesbian haircut. I marched in pride parades and dyke marches and became a spokesperson in public schools where I told my coming out story to kids.
Living in a lesbian relationship meant that I would be treated like a lesbian for the rest of my life and it mattered that I not live in fear of prejudice and that I use my other class, race and gender privilege to join this battle.
Ironically or tragically, my relationship suffered from the pain of both real and internalized homophobia. For eight years, I almost never enjoyed even simple public affection like hand holding, a light touch or gesture from someone I loved when the moment might have called for it. We never had a romantic slow dance at a wedding or a romantic kiss on a beach at sunset.
Things that give me butterflies, that make me blush, that make me feel blissfully desired and loved. It was a behind-closed-doors relationship and it suffered because of it.
When my relationship did end I am sure you saw that coming! If I date a man, do I need to come out again? What will the gay community think? Will I lose all of my gay friends?
Will I lose my identity? Do I want to lose that identity? How do I explain it to people? It was all about the social and not at all about the personal. When I recently met a wildly lovely man who has made my heart burst out of my chest with passion and vulnerability and kindness and sincerity and intelligence, I resisted. How did this fit with my identity? Reverse coming out felt anxiety-inducing. The first time we walked hand in hand around my neighborhood, my heart was racing.
When we kissed on a busy public street, I felt the heat rise up into my face. Like those who flee the tumults of city life for quieter and less complicated pastures, bisexual women may seem destined, in the eyes of gay women, to trade the grit and hardships of queer life for the suburbs of heteroville. But is this really because we prefer a life of white-picket simplicity and comfort?
Or could it be that, when it comes to romance between queer women, the game has been rigged from the start? Like many stereotypes, the lived experiences of one group have almost certainly colored the perceptions of another, however unfairly or inaccurately. I have since transitioned, and now live as a bisexual woman. My experiences with dating, both before and after transitioning, have magnified the differences in how courtship and sexual pursuit are modeled for both genders.
But they make me feel wanted and desired in a way that very few women ever do. In this situation, if I approach romance even slightly more passively, or deviate from heteronormative standard practice in any way, the momentum between us fizzles out in a hurry. Conversely, my relationships with straight men go haywire the moment I try to take a more active role in romance or courting.
A lot of men say they want that in a woman, but that has certainly not been my experience! My relationships with gay women, on the other hand, have felt much more egalitarian to me. Consider that I was not socialized as a woman from birth; I never learned to expect the heteronormative tropes of romance and showing attraction.
Both parties then go their separate ways, bemoaning what seems like a lost cause. The above point is frequently cited in an attempt to explain why so few bi and lesbian pairs exist. And while the sheer number of available partners may explain some aspect of why bi women partner more frequently with men, the heteronormative socialization described above is almost certainly as responsible, if not more so, for this phenomenon.
For instance, accusations of deceit are leveled at bi women as well as bi men, ostensibly insulting both groups equally: Bi women are actually straight, and bi men are actually gay. But note that while the claims appear to be opposite from one another, the underlying fears are the same: