Dear internalized biphobia,
We’ve never had a healthy relationship and I’m glad to say we are drifting apart. It’s been a long time since you showed up at age eleven. When I went to Mass, the priest said birth control and abortions and homosexuality were all equally bad. At that point I knew I liked boys and everyone said that was okay, but I was just starting to figure out I liked girls too. That feeling I got when I liked a boy was the same feeling I got when I really wanted to be a girl’s friend. Like her best best friend. That’s when I started praying at night that I would wake up and my bisexuality would be gone. But it never worked and my bisexuality and you, biphobia, remain part of me.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. By the time I was thirteen I had reasoned that I was only half gay. I still had the option to squash my feelings for girls and I was thankful I liked boys at all. Thankful that I could, at least, openly experience part of my sexuality… I did think boys were hella hot. Well, some of them. Often they were the girlie ones. With big pretty eyes and full mouths and long hair. The sweet shy ones who would let me do anything to them (like dress them up in my clothes) and who would do anything for me (like steal hair dye and lipstick for us both or submit to marching around town in my thigh high stockings and lacy underthings). I told my first boyfriend that I was bisexual and later he confided in me that he was also bisexual.
A few girls came out as bi when I was in high school but everyone laughed and talked about them behind their backs, and I did too. I remember my best friend said, “They do it to get attention.” That it was ‘trendy’ — the ultimate insult among my group of outcasts and theater freaks. I wanted to tell her so badly that I was bisexual. There was nothing fun or exciting about believing you were going to burn in hell for all of eternity. I was afraid to say anything. She already refused to undress in front of me, perhaps because I could never stop looking at her boobs.
I went to high school in a mostly Latino rural farming community, and I had two secret girlfriends during the time. We were so secret; we were secret from each other. We would spend the night at each others’ houses and lie tense and quiet before becoming overwhelmed with teenage lust — groping each other, humping and kissing and fucking quietly and sloppily all while pretending to be asleep. Which, if you’ve never tried to pretend to be asleep while fucking, it is sort of like pretending to be a zombie while fucking; it’s hard to do and not very sustainable. It also makes you a bad fuck by default. We didn’t hold hands or kiss in public. We just waited until it was time to sleep and then fucked in the dark and pretended like it never happened the next day.
By the time I was seventeen I was firmly convinced I was a lesbian and no longer bisexual. Until I met a boy, well, actually a man on the Internet. I told him I was a lesbian and his acceptance validated my queerness for the first time. He was deeply flattered to be my grand exception. I agreed to move to Southern California but only if I could date girls too. Around the same time I began to learn about feminism and I realized what a misogynist asshole my new boyfriend was. I moved out of our apartment and into an environmentalist co-operative. I swore to all the hippies that I was a lesbian, although I would still bed men in secret.
I started dating a butch woman who asked me casually on our first date “When was the last time you had sex with a guy?” I felt my queerness under attack. I was threatened; it had been about two days. “Two years!” I lied, not knowing if that was long enough, my heart beat fast but I relaxed when she smiled. “Oh, cool. I’m gold star, myself,” she grinned, bragging. I pretended I knew what that meant.
Only my roommates at the hippie co-op knew my shameful bisexual secret (they saw the parade of men who came in and out of my room) and eventually they confronted my gold-star girlfriend about it. “We’re poly.” She snorted. “And it’s not like she fucks every single guy who comes over!” But fucking was pretty much all I was doing with those guys. Afterward, I’d throw their clothes at them and growl and snarl and swear that if they ever told anyone they’d never get to fuck me again. It worked. My secret was safe–for a time.
One thing remains constant: I like to fuck hot people. It’s only been a few years since I have begun feeling all right about calling myself a bisexual. I’m not sorry to see you go, internalized biphobia. We’ve fought long and hard, like two lovers locked in a struggle who become too tired to keep fighting or just realize how much they love each other. Yet I wonder if you’ll ever be gone completely, biphobia. I wonder what it would be like to live without you, ever again.
With love and forgiveness,
Manuel Sebastia translated my essay “Dear Internalized Biphbobia” into Spanish. Thank you so much Manuel!