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Seeing Clearly: Discovering Bisexuality

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Seeing Clearly: Discovering Bisexuality

11.2.16

This was written by guest contributor Emma Walsh about her experience as a bisexual woman.

Let’s be honest for a second: having no community sucks. I was going to try and make that sound more eloquent and literary, but I think the bluntness of it gets across what I mean more than any metaphor could. It sucks.

Having no community, no representation, no support, no clue about bisexuality (my own or otherwise) is what caused me so much angst and anxiety when I was closeted. I was closeted for years without even knowing that I was because I didn’t know that bisexual was a thing you could be. Being closeted, but not knowing you’re closeted, is one of the strangest feelings.

It was like looking in the mirror with no glasses on; everything was always blurry and out of focus. There is something there that is making me uncomfortable, but it’s unidentifiable and therefore cannot be dealt with. I was always anxious and confused about the indistinguishable part of me I couldn’t see. And it became normal to see myself that way; I didn’t have anyone there to tell me that it’s not normal to see yourself as a fuzzy blob. No community and no support meant no way for me to even identify what was making me so anxious all the time, which resulted in a lot of headaches, stumbling, and confusion. For years.

Television and media, however, I could see crystal-clear. But, I only saw it in black and white. I saw gay people, gay characters, gay culture, straight people, and straight characters. There’s straight or gay. That’s it. I knew that I wasn’t gay. But if I wasn’t either of those, then what was I? "Is there something wrong with me?" became an everyday thought.

I was searching through everything I could to find something else I could be, but the ‘B’ of LGBT wasn’t really there. It’s like when you have a TV antenna and no matter how much you move it around or adjust it, that damn channel just ain’t going to work. I just didn’t know about bisexuality because I never saw it or heard it.

"I’m straight because I’m not a lesbian," I thought to myself, while simultaneously fantasizing about dating both Emma Watson and Patrick Dempsey. As you could guess, it was the golden era of Grey’s Anatomy and Harry Potter.

Where was a community -- my community -- to slap some sense into me? To inform me that the world is a rainbow of colors and not just the black and white we see on our television screens or in our newspapers?

Apparently for me it was on the Internet. I saved up for my first computer for years, mostly because I really wanted to be able to play Sims 3. Once I discovered that computers can do more than just play super sick games like Sims and Club Penguin, I was absolutely hooked. I proudly embodied the millennial stereotype: I would constantly write things on my blog and post politically-charged articles on my Facebook, all while sitting in a coffee shop wearing a beanie and Birkenstocks.

But it was when I discovered YouTube that things really changed for me. Suddenly, I had found media that was made by every kind of person you could possibly imagine. There were videos about everything: how to do laundry, what being "vegan" means, someone making weird sounds for 15 minutes, people playing video games, political discussions, news reports, how to pierce your own bellybutton, and millions more. The people on YouTube weren’t just the people that advertising companies want shown in movies and shows. They weren’t the people on TV or in the paper. They were real people. Diverse people.

And, boy, were there queer people. I found this genre of video called “coming out” videos, where people literally make a video of themselves coming out. At first, I wasn’t sure why I liked “coming out” videos so much. "Thank god I’ll never have to do that," I would think, laughing nervously as I watched the YouTuber named nowthisisliving come out as gay.

It was when I watched a bisexual coming out video that my world literally changed.

"You can like more than one gender???" I thought. "That’s something that other people feel?"

Then, I watched another bisexual coming out video. And another. And another. And soon it was 4 AM and I had watched every single coming out video that had ever been posted to YouTube (or so it seemed).

I began commenting on the videos. I would ask a lot of questions: "Who can be bisexual?" "What does it mean to be bisexual?" "Is it normal to be bisexual?"

And people actually replied. They were nicer, more informative and more supportive than anyone or anything I had experienced before. In the span of 12 hours, I had been shown bisexual representation, I learned what bisexuality was, I learned it was normal, and I learned there were people out there waiting to welcome other bisexuals with open arms into their group. I might not have entirely accepted my own sexuality that night, but I was seeing myself more clearly than I ever had before. I was seeing myself in others, and seeing that there was a community of people out there for me.

It took another couple of months for me to come out to myself and then to others. But without seeing myself clearly, without seeing others like me, without having support from a community, I have no idea where I would be today. The LGBTQ+ community is an amazing one. But what I so desperately needed when I was unknowingly closeted was to see bi+ representation clearly and separately in order to identify and understand myself. In order to see and be proud of the rainbow that we all make, we each need our own color to be proud of.