‘The definition of bisexuality is as follows (according to Wikipedia):
Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity; this latter aspect is sometimes termed pansexuality.
Many of us believe we already know everything that encompasses bisexuality, labeling them as those who are greedy or indecisive, or confused about their sexuality. It actually way more complicated than that, and I had the opportunity to discuss all it encompasses with a friend of mine.
Sheila is a single, African American woman living in the Bronx. She identifies as Bi, and shared with me how she came into her sexuality.
She remembers having urges as young as 17, but tried her best to suppress them. ‘I can remember my first crush, and wanting to stop feeling how I was feeling. She knew I liked her, and the opportunity to explore these feelings came at a sleepover. From then one we were inseparable, and from that point, I realized that I was different.’
Sheila had her first real relationship at age 21, and til this day, proclaims this girl as her first true love. She stated that she was very comfortable with her, and learned a lot about herself and about love in that relationship. Although it ended in heartbreak, she regrets nothing.
She then went on to share with me about dating guys and girls, and in retrospect, did not label herself as bisexual. She felt that she liked what she liked, and didn’t feel the need to categorize herself. Although it was hard to explain to her family members.
‘My sisters would always make jokes about my partners, and say embarrassing, derogatory, comments at family gatherings about my sexuality. I’m lucky though; my parents were fairly accepting. They just knew I was a little different, and always treated whoever I brought home with respect, man or woman.’
It is widely discussed and understood, that anything outside of a heterosexual relationship in the black community is frowned upon. As an ally, the topic of sexuality has been a topic of many arguments amongst my family. Mainly, in light of same sex marriage being legal in almost all 50 states, and the light shed on homosexuality in the black community on popular shows such as Love and Hip Hop as well as Empire. Personally, I think it’s dope. I think it’s important to have those conversations, and I think its important to not assume that we all know what the hell we’re talking about when it comes to sexuality. We, collectively, have a lot to learn.
Sheila discussed battling her faith with wanting to explore her sexuality in full.
‘It’s not a choice to be bisexual. I didn’t choose this lifestyle. It was very hard for me, hard to balance my faith with who I was. I worried about if I was going to go to Hell because of these feelings, and it was definitely depressing at times. ‘
‘Being bisexual, it’s a lonely life. You’ll never be satisfied, always feeling like something may be missing from your life.’It’s a choice to engage in the lifestyle. But once you do, it’s going to be hard to go back, to suppress those feelings. I had to give it up to a degree two years ago go. But at this point, I don’t feel like I should have to hide it. i’m 37 years old, who gives a fuck? Exactly, who gives a fuck.
There’s a bisexual flag? Who knew that?! I definitely did not.
‘The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian), The blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap color purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi).’
‘Most straight people won’t mess with you, once you tell them that you’re bisexual. They don’t like that there’s a possibility of there being someone else.’
Sheila mentions the difficulties of maintaining relationships. ‘ I always let the people I dealt with know that this is who I am, and that it’s never going to change. Some were okay with it, others were not.’
Here’s what I learned:
As a heterosexual female, I never have to explain my sexuality to anyone, it is never questioned, or frowned upon. I think it is important to realize that as a heterosexual female, I don’t know much about the bisexual experience. It wouldn’t hurt us in general to be open minded about sexuality. Sheila opened my eyes into how complicated and misunderstood bisexuality really is.
I hope you learned something!