Graphic by Carmen Ngo
I am more than someone to someone else-and so are you.
For decades, the bisexual community has struggled to define itself in a cis-heterocentric world, especially regarding the significance of dating and relationships. In having our humanity recognized, we have had to fight for our relationships to be visible and recognized as equal to our heterosexual counterparts in everyday life. This emphasis has made me ponder my place in our community, as I am very single but still very queer. Is my identity as a bisexual person less valid if I am not actively romantically or sexually involved with other queer people?
While not a novel question, it is one that actively plagues the bisexual community and makes us reevaluate how we view our community members. As some of us have the capability to be attracted to heterosexual people outside of the community (such as a bisexual woman being attracted to a heterosexual man), our allegiance is often questioned and ridiculed. I have been told many a time that if I end up with a man (a idea which also reinforces the ideal of marriage as the ultimate goal of relationships), I no longer am an active member of Team Bisexuality. It seems that we care more about the image of two women being together than the actual happiness of our members who may not visually fit the traditional model of what queer looks like.
Well guess what? We don’t exist for cutesy Instagram posts that glorify the aesthetic of queer relationships; we are real people living authentic lives, and we may not fit your expectations. As of 2013, 84% of bisexual people end up in opposite-sex relationships, whilst only 9% are in same-sex relationships. Are those 84% of bi people less valid as bisexuals for following their hearts? When are we going to start supporting the choices of our community even if they don’t conform to our expectations of queerness?
Which brings me to my next question: why do we actively define the humans of our community by who they’re dating/involved with? Doesn’t that defeat the point of departing from cis-hetero expectations of identity? Moreover, from a modern feminist lens, aren’t we so much more than the people that we’re dating? The pressure to be involved with someone redefines queerness as a relationship status rather than an intrinsic identity of self. Someone’s first question upon hearing that I’m queer shouldn’t be “Oh, so who are you dating?” I want to be asked about my activism in the community, and my ardent platonic relationships with our community members, and my personal strides towards self-acceptance and self-love rather than my romantic ties to others.
How do we redefine our community as one of individuals rather than a collective of romantically-involved persons? It all starts with how we want to be regarded to the outside world. I want to see myself as a person who is more than her ties to others. I don’t want the first words describing me to be “girlfriend” or “wife” or “partner.” I want it to be “activist” or “future lawyer” or “freaking human being of the earth.” It also begins with how we see each other. I have decided to make a conscious effort to delay my question of “Are you involved with anyone?” when meeting someone new (within the community or not) out of respect to their individuality. I want others to know that they matter more as a human being to me than one-half of a hetero-idealized monogamous relationship. If we can begin to redefine our identities in relation to one other to one of singular characters of the world, we may be able to garner a new sense of respect and admiration for one another.