I’ve always viewed bisexuality as the overlap of a Venn diagram. On one side, you have the blue of heterosexuality: a girl wanting a boy’s fuzzy chest to lay her head on, a girl wanting a boy’s manly man things like grunts and hockey fandom and tinkering in a garage, a girl wanting a boy’s sweatpants boner…and then on the other side, the red of homosexuality: a girl wanting a girl to spoon with and whine about her menstrual cramps in solidarity, a girl wanting a girl to walk in silence with in the woods, a girl wanting a girl to wedge a Hitachi Magic Wand on top of as they scissor their way into another night of multiple orgasms and shared pints of gelato…The purple ellipse between the two being bisexuality. A union of amazing sexual and emotional dynamics, a blending of the best, and occasional worst, of both possible worlds.
Unfortunately, in real life, it’s far less an overlap, more like a game of Pong. On one side, I’m straight but weird, a girl with short hair, tattoos, and a penchant for wielding muscle and curses like a tiny, female midget pirate. Then I’m the gay girl, the not-quite-butch/not-quite-femme lesbian with hair too long for either category, and a demurring smile that seems to hint of something, like my love of skullfucking. All of this is fine, and not my problem, until there’s a juncture where one or the other side of my identity needs to be revealed.
This is less of an issue with men who, by and large, seem to value bisexuality as a kind of cool party trick for their girl to bust out. After all, a bisexual girl is just a girl-on-girl threesome waiting to happen to most guys. But for lesbians, my bisexuality is often viewed as less of a glittering example of my uniqueness, and more of an unsavory detail, much like a lack of faith in evolution, Creed fandom, or an STD. (Those last two might be the same.)
So what’s a bisexual girl to do, other than feel proud that they’re part of the 13%? Do I lie to the ladies, keeping my love of guysweat a secret? Do I trot out my queerness with a degree of self-resignation or shame? Or do I pretend that the percentage of my lesbianism outweighs my percentage of heteronormalcy somehow, as though the results have come back and I’m 65% gay, 45% straight?
Instead I usually wind up keeping it a secret, staying quiet when men are brought up or any man-bashing takes place (which is less often than most straight men would think.) Recently there’s been a bit of a predicament, however. I’ve started working for a venue that is run by two very pretty, very intelligent women who happen to be both gay and in a relationship. And while I allow them to think that my unfortunate haircut and tattoos of naked pin-up girls on my arms put me in the center of Dyke March every year, one of them initiated a line of questioning recently that sent a shiver of fear into my tiny, LGBT-supporting heart…
Her: Did you ever know a girl named Ana X?
Me: Um, where?
Her: And a gap between her front teeth.
Me: An Ani DiFranco “Righteous Babe” tattoo on her ankle?
Her: Left ankle.
Me: (remembering Ana X doing GHB and making out with me on a lawn at Sarah Lawrence College on a night during the beginning of spring semester of freshman year) …maybe.
Her: That was my roommate in Brooklyn!
Me: (recalling a drunken night, meeting up with Ana X and a long-haired girl with glasses at Meow Mix two years later and making out with both of them, at separate times, in the bathroom line) Oh. Wow. Yeah.
Her: We could have made out!
Me: No, no, no, I mean, maybe, I mean, no, I mean, I haven’t seen her in so long, I don’t think I met you…
Her: You never know. The lesbian community is so small.
Me: Yeah. Us lesbians. Real small. Heh.
But, while I was a lesbian back then, I lost my boy-to-girl virginity five years later, when I realized – also drunkenly – that I was bisexual and not gay. (Interesting statistic, most bisexual people won’t tell anyone about their orientation until they’re twenty years old, but most likely that isn’t a gay person telling someone they’re actually bi, as opposed to a presumably straight person coming out as bi. Still, worth noting.)
Ever since then I’ve been an equal-opportunity whore, viewing bodies as bodies and people as people and respecting all forms of identity while never pigeonholing my own. But what of people, especially lesbians, who knew me as “one of their kind” way back when? Do I come out as a bisexual? Or stay closeted in my rainbow closet of gay? Moreover, is it my responsibility to do so, as some sort of representative of the ‘other’ end of the queer spectrum?
Worse yet, if I did, would I lose my job?
Needless to say, there might not be a so-called right answer. But it’s definitely something that’s been sitting its heavy ass at the foot of my bed. Considering that bisexuals are only ‘tolerated’ a little bit more than IV drug users in a 2009 survey of self-identifying straight people, I have a feeling that, while my personal predicament is less common, I’m not the only one wrestling with this. But I might be the only one who has made out with her boss, and boss’ former roommate.