By guest writer Amy McDonnell
You’d think I’d have known I was bisexual after my first sexual experience with a woman. Or maybe the third.
I just assumed everyone did this. I thought all my female friends would sleep with another woman, given the chance. And if they didn’t, they were just a bit prudish. Not straight, prudish. Then the penny dropped: I was just a bit gay.
Unfortunately, that realisation didn’t come to me until I was already deep into a three-year relationship with my now fiancé.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly, madly, deeply in love with him, but it was quite inconvenient to come to terms with my sexuality without really having the opportunity to explore it. It’s also pretty difficult to identify as bisexual when you’re in a straight relationship as people either think it’s irrelevant, or they invalidate your bisexuality because you’ve ‘chosen’ to be with a man.
However, during a few therapy sessions, I explored my feelings about my bisexuality and discovered how to validate my identity regardless of my relationship status. Below, I’m sharing my advice for owning your bisexuality if you’re in a heterosexual relationship…
Talk to your partner about it
If you haven’t already and you feel safe to do so, tell your partner. Hopefully, they’ll be supportive, and I’d recommend being open and honest because your partner might be self-conscious, worrying you’ll resent them for ‘holding you back’ from something, or that they’re unable to provide something for you.
Be prepared for some potentially uncomfortable conversations.
My partner knew I’d slept with women before we started our relationship, but I didn’t ‘come out’ to him until a few years into our relationship. We didn’t have a serious, sit down chat, I just told him that I think I’m actually bisexual and he fully accepts my sexuality.
I crossed some serious boundaries with my partner by telling him that I felt like I’d missed out on a different life because I’d never had a girlfriend. I was still processing how I felt and it hurt him. Fortunately, we’ve had lots of conversations talking through what’s appropriate to say and maybe what isn’t.
However, remember that it’s not your responsibility to reassure your partner or make them trust you, you just have to be your true self. Be compassionate and kind, but don’t invalidate your experience or undermine your truth to comfort them.
Watch gay porn
I know lots of straight women watch lesbian porn, and it was my go-to genre when I was younger. In hindsight, yet another sign that I wasn’t straight. As I’ve accepted my sexuality, I find exploring via the sexy web is a great way to fulfil any fantasies I have. Initially, I almost felt like I was cheating on my fiancé because it was a desire he physically couldn’t meet, but ultimately, people watch porn far removed from reality all of the time.
Tell people you’re bisexual
I have straight-passing privilege (appearing straight to the outside world), so I didn’t think it was important to tell my friends and family that I’m bisexual because I’m planning to spend my life with a man. But this left me feeling very disconnected from my sexuality, so I told my loved ones because it’s part of my identity, regardless of my chosen partner. I also find it very powerful to mention my bisexuality in casual conversations where appropriate. This way, I challenge preconceptions about sexuality without having a serious “coming out” talk with anyone. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by kind folk, so I haven’t had any issues with their acceptance, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Go to Pride
Many bisexual people (myself included) feel like they don’t deserve a place at Pride. Bi-erasure (when the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality – either in general or regarding an individual – is questioned or denied outright) is real. And both straight and queer people often question the legitimacy of bisexuality making it harder to accept it yourself. It can be even more daunting when you’re in a straight relationship, but it’s LGBTQ+ for a reason and you have a right to be there. Also, if like me, most of your friends and family are straight, it’s even more important to go and find people like you. Pride is a wonderful, empowering place that will validate your feelings and make you feel queer AF.
Disclaimer: We live in a world filled with hateful people, so I acknowledge that coming out as bi when you’re in a heterosexual relationship is so much easier than coming out in a same-sex relationship. I’m a white woman living in Hertfordshire who’s engaged to a cis man, so I know I’ve not faced even a fraction of what too many people in the LGBTQ+ community deal with every single day. This is just my experience of how to feel part of a community that bisexual people are sometimes excluded from, especially when they ‘choose the other side’.