My name is Violet Fawkes and I’m bisexual. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Gosh, that felt good to say.

I have celebrated Pride as an ally many times and many ways with a wide and colourful group of people over the years. Pride was never a priority in my families while I was growing up, but we did go to the parade in our city. It was a celebration and a spectacle that was fun and different and I was always impressed by how the city embraced it. It was fine to not be straight in my family, but we had no ‘out’ folks and there was no information or education on how and why Pride started or what it meant, beyond “live and let live”.

When I was a teenager, trying desperately to figure out life and love and sex, I asked my mother what her reaction would be if any of my siblings or I were gay (back then gay was the only word I knew). I remember it clearly: she sipped her tea and flicked the ash off the tip of her cigarette and let out a sigh.

I could never love you any less
Her words were clear, natural, not calculated, and as with everything she said, she spoke with quiet conviction:

“I could never love any of you any less, nothing could make that happen. But I would be afraid for you, because the world is cruel to people who seem ‘different’ in any way. There’s no way for a parent to protect their child from everything, so I suppose all I could do is arm you with my love and be brave alongside you.”

‘Arm you with my love’ is the part I remember most clearly, and the part that catches most in my throat when I think of it. The rest I’ve paraphrased (it was 20+ years ago) but that is very close to what she said, and the sentiment is still captured. I recall feeling unsurprised by her answer, and heartened, but not enough to tell her that I had kissed and cuddled and touched other girls, not enough to tell her I was ‘different’ too. When she died a few years later, she died not knowing fully who I am. I will always regret that.

Lies of Omission
Until late 2019, I was “straight”. I had always dated men, I married a man, all my polyam partners had been male, and although I didn’t deny the multiple and significant experiences I’d had with women (my first 3 consensual sexual experiences were all with girls and they were dotted throughout my history) I never felt bisexual enough to use that term. I maintained for years that although I was unashamed of those experiences, even talked about them fairly openly, that I had never claimed the label because I simply didn’t feel like I was bi ‘enough’. It felt like a trespass to the LGBTQIA+ community to use a word that didn’t feel like mine, especially when I had never once come under fire for my sexuality. I didn’t want to be seen as one of those girls that kisses other girls at the bar to get free drinks. My bisexuality was never performative, but still I feared it would be perceived that way. I withheld that part of myself for fear of not being taken seriously or being misunderstood.

Then I fell in love with a woman
It’s hard to maintain that you’re straight when you’re a cis woman dating a cis woman. As readers and members of the NSFW writing community on Twitter, you may know her as Gemma. She’s brilliant. Beautiful inside and out, she is intelligent and deeply good with a ferociously loving heart and a mind that turns me on in so may ways. We were long-time friendly online acquaintances who finally admitted our mutual crush and the rest, as they say, is herstory. She is the reason behind me finding my words and asserting my bisexuality. She has helped me make sense of a lifetime of denial and confusion and has been the single most supportive and encouraging voice in this journey. I am so proud to be her girlfriend. This is the first time I have proudly, openly shared about our relationship here, despite weaving her into fiction pieces for a long time. The timing feels right. She’s a huge inspiration to me in many ways and the depth of our closeness and the uniqueness of our connection is very dear to me.

Bi erasure is real and it hurts
If being bi had seemed even a little bit legitimate, my life would have been completely different. When I was first looking at my sexuality, I didn’t have the language or support to define it, let alone understand that it was fluid and would change and mean different things to me with time. I was never so tortured by questions surrounding my sexuality that it caused issues in my life, (thanks straight privilege!) but I do know that without a doubt it would have been better if I had felt like I could express all sides of myself and explore that in a more open and transparent way. Making out with other girls, secretly, silently, at sleep overs, or getting fingered in risky, filthy public spaces could have been a choice instead of a necessity. I could have experienced not strictly dating straight guys that made toxic masculinity look like appealing ‘alpha’ behaviour. I might have developed a totally different sense of self. Would it have been better? I think so, but here I am, years later, and I’m doing alright. So what if I’m nearly forty and just finally seeing the pieces fall into place?

Still so much to learn
I have much to still learn about myself and how I fit into queer and LGBTQIA+ spaces. It’s all so new that I genuinely still consider myself more an ally than a community member because I haven’t developed the confidence to take up space in the hetero-normative world I know so well, through this new and significant lens. Even “coming out bi” felt indulgent (for me, no judgment to others) and like I was going to step on toes. I need to figure out how to do that and how to reconcile my mostly straight-seeming life with the broader truth of bisexuality. I also grapple with bi vs. pan because at the end of the day, I love people and I love people’s bodies and I don’t care about their gender expression. But, baby steps, right? Perhaps in time, my self definitions will be even more broad and less stuck on the semantics of terms and how it all fits together. It’s a big, sexy, fun world out there, and it’s so much more enjoyable when you can be yourself.

One last thing
My wish, my ask, for my first ‘out’ Pride is that you make time for yourself to reflect on your own sense of Pride: talk about Pride as a protest not just a party, make a donation to a responsible cause, or take other community action in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Thank you.

Love, Violet xo

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Bi Erasure and other reasons it took me 37 years to accept my sexuality”

  1. So glad you decided to write this! Just as you are wavering on embracing the term pansexual vs bi , I am going through the same with whether I identify as Queer in addition to pansexual

    1. Queer is a word I’m really unsure of too, again because it feels (for me) like appropriation. Maybe in some time it won’t ?

      1. Maybe by the end of Pride month? lol As I think about what it will be like when I start dating again I’m starting to lean more towards the word queer. Pansexual vs bisexual is so hard to explain to some people. If I end up dating a cishet male again the word bisexual just doesn’t seem to be taken seriously. It doesn’t just mean I like threesomes, lol

  2. Oh Violet this really resonated with me. This part in particular is absolutely my experience

    If being bi had seemed even a little bit legitimate, my life would have been completely different. When I was first looking at my sexuality, I didn’t have the language or support to define it, let alone understand that it was fluid and would change and mean different things to me with time

    It has taken me until my late 40’s to understand and embrace that i am a queer bi-sexual woman and like you I have felt like I am too straight presenting to be part of the LBGBTQ+ community but recently having spent a lot more time talking it through with a friend I have realised that is actually a form of my own bi-erasure and bi-phobia that society as taught me

    Molly

    1. Yes! All of this! I’d love to you more about this! “Queer” trips me up and trips me up and doesn’t feel right (yet?) and I’d be interested to hear your feelings on it.

      1. I too find queer ‘trips’ me up. I’ve written nothing lately but I’m always pleased to read your words. I am less inclined towards identifying with any particular gender / sexuality group although I do like power exchange identities like; ‘sub’. Sometimes I feel we are limiting our own potential by categorising our identity. I can understand that the fear of being open has caused many of us to seek solidarity and support and that being ‘something’ helps us find each other.

        Thank you for helping me think and I hope offer something that points towards celebrating some open fearless expression of whichever swathe of a continuum we occupy or hope to be free in.

  3. This is fabulous Violet, I am so happy for you and Gemma, I saw her tweet sharing this post and you are both adorable. I was a teenager when I realised there was a word for my sexuality and that word was bisexual (other options were yet to become available), but what bisexual meant for me then, was the assumption I was half gay and half straight, just having a phase or testing girls out before I went straight. Biphobia and bierasure has always been noticeable and it is why despite identifying as queer I also hold on tight to being bisexual too, because I love that more of us are proud and able to say that is part of who we are xxx

  4. I love this post Violet. You’ve encapsulated so many of my thoughts, and it’s a relief to see that i am not alone.
    This is my first time celebrating pride as a self accepting bisexual woman. (Yes, reading your post has given me the strength to label myself openly.. Thank you!) xx

  5. Good, warm post. So it’s all about understanding yourself. At least once in a while. Of course, I’d like to be as early as possible. But, as they say, better late than never.
    Take care and be happy with Gemma 🙂

  6. I totally teared up reading your words about Gemma. Your love for her really comes through so genuinely in this piece, and I’m SO happy for you both. And yay on coming out more! That’s super exciting!

    Also, fuck yeah you’re bi “enough”! Gatekeeping is toxic garbage and anyone who makes you feel like you have to meet subjective, arbitrary standards for queer inclusion is full of shit. You’re always welcome in my community <3

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