I take issue with a few things in your bisexual allyship. So, let’s work together to make that allyship stronger. This is a critical analysis to make the fight for bisexual understanding and acceptance more widespread.
I am repeatedly asked how I can be bisexual without ever having had sex with a girl. I am sick and tired of fielding this question. It is dehumanizing, hypersexualizing, and objectifying. (Also this is a very limited definition of bisexuality. I am attracted to people on an individual play-by-play basis, and do not limit myself based on their sex or gender expression. Essentially, I have the capacity to be attracted to anyone.) The fact that I get this question from so-called “allies” is even more insulting.
My response to this question is typically along the lines of, “How can a straight boy know that he is straight if he has never had sex with a girl?”
Sexual and romantic attraction are broader categories than physical encounters. Don’t we typically experience attaction to others every day of our lives? Prior to sexual encounters? Let me give an example of how ridiculous this “sexual encounter evidence” rule is.
Say I am single and am looking for a hook up. After random selection, I go home with someone and we have sex. After sex, wow I am attracted to this person and all other person with the same gender/sex -- but only after a sexual encounter! Because apparently attraction is only proven to us after we have sex with someone! My selection of this person must have been void of human experience for attraction to not play a part before sex! This is the logic that you use when you declare that I cannot be bisexual because I have not had sex with someone other than a man.
I do not need to have a physical encounter with the same sex or different gender to express my bisexuality. Neither does anyone else!
In fact, being in a relationship with a man is an expression of my bisexuality. Loving a man is an expression of my bisexuality. Having sex with a man is an expression of my bisexuality. Building a life with a man is an expression of my bisexuality. It is not heterosexuality. It is not monosexuality. I am still bisexual. The person I fell in love with just happens to be a cisgender, heterosexual person of the male sex. He gave me courage to step into the queer identity that had always been there. It is because of his love for me that I was able to be myself and I was able to come out as a bisexual woman to my close friends last April. He is straight. I am not. Believe it or not, those relationships exist.
I am queer. And being queer is not just gay pride parades, night clubs, rainbows and neat gardens.
It is fear, depression, anxiety, invisbility, underrepresentation, persecution, hate crimes, violence, suicide, objectification, denial, rejection, and the constant sterilization of your authentic self, among many other dismal things.
As allies, it is important that you refuse to debase the queer experience to just sexual encounters. My queer experience is much larger than who I have sex with. I do not need to prove my bisexuality to you by having sex with every gender that I claim to be attracted to.
These are a few behaviors that you as an ally may or may not be participating in from time to time that makes me question your allyship. I am writing this because I have a right to. My voice and experience matters, and sometimes monosexuals (particularly straight people) need to stay in their lane.
We’re all here to make each other better right? And we’re all fighting the same fight? Here’s some ways to watch yourself so you can fight it better:
Your allyship is hurtful when you do not believe in my relationship or if you do not believe my experience.
Your allyship is hurtful when you think I need to have sexual encounters to be bisexual.
Your allyship is hurtful when you question my sexuality.
Your allyship is hurtful when you think it is “just a phase” or I am “looking for attention.”
Your allyship is hurtful when you do not validate my full person besides my sexuality.
Your allyship is hurtful when you use me as a token bisexual person.
Your allyship is hurtful when you continue to call him my boyfriend when I have asked you to call him my partner. (We have selected partner as a term to describe each other to make room for my queer identity in our labels. To use boyfriend/girlfriend in our situation would be erasing, well, me.)
Your allyship is hurtful when you out me to people I am not out to yet. This counts for people I do not know. I am still in the coming out process and it is a crime for you to take that moment away from me. (If you are talking about my partner and me and someone who does not know us, and they question the use of “partner” simply explain that it is a more egalitarian term than “boyfriend/girlfriend”).
Your allyship is hurtful when you do not validate girl-girl relationships or encounters as bisexual simply because they are girl-girl.
Your allyship is hurtful when you do not validate girl-boy relationships or encounters as bisexual simply because they are girl-boy.
There are many other reasons you may not be acting your part as an ally, but these are the things that have occurred to me in recent memory.
I love my community and my allies, and I appreciate all of the work that you do on my community’s behalf. There are just always things that we can improve and reflect on as a whole.