Editors' Picks, Identity, Life

When my sexual identity shifted, I learned why Spirit Day is vital to LGBTQ+ communities

People who identify as bisexual face discrimination too - even within the LGBTQ community

Though Pride Week has become a worldwide celebration, September and October are also special months to celebrate queer communities. On September 23, Bi-Visibility Day kicks off Bisexual Awareness Week which recognizes the bisexual community. Coming Out Day takes place on October 11 and honors the day that members of the LGBTQ+ community came out. It also is a day that’s dedicated to raising awareness of LGBTQ+ civil rights. Spirit Day, in support of queer youth against bullying, is October 18. However you choose to celebrate, there are many ways to do so.

While it’s important to celebrate the entire LGBTQ+ community, events like Bi Visibility Day are especially important because of the frequent discrimination those who identify as bisexual face, not only from the outside, but often within the community itself. In fact, 85% of bisexuals report facing bullying.

Some of the most frequent misconceptions about bisexuals are they only date cis men and women (non-binary people can also identify as bi), bisexuals are more likely to cheat, they are more open to being into polyamory or threesomes, they’re going through a phase, or are really just gay but not “out” yet, or if they’re in a “straight relationship” (read: opposite genders), they are no longer bi.

But, after reading and watching many bisexual people talk about their experiences, I’m left with no doubt - people who identify as bisexual face their own unique discrimination. Click To Tweet

I have always considered myself to be a queer ally, but I never imagined myself to be a part of the community – that is until I got to my mid-twenties. In the past, I’ve identified as a cis straight female but as of late, I’ve begun to question whether I actually belong to that category or am a little more fluid myself. I’m not sure what triggered these thoughts.

Maybe it was the rush of initial attraction I had on meeting a new female friend, from her warm smile with deep dimples, bright colorful skirts (bought during Peace Corps in Malawi), or her intelligent, feminist soul. Maybe it was seeing Janelle Monáe as she danced her way across the screen in transparent rose-embellished jeans, owning her sexuality. Maybe it was recalling thoughts in middle school like wondering whether girls in my class looked the same as me when they were naked or having a sort-of-maybe crush on my best friend in high school for the first year I knew her.

When I was young, I didn’t know anyone else who was gay or bisexual, I didn’t know it was a possibility. Maybe if I had, I would have realized I was bisexual earlier on in my life. Whatever it was, exploring my sexuality has been a fun and confusing time for me. Letting myself admit that I find people attractive besides straight hetero males is freeing. It feels like I was in a room that was stuffy until I threw open a window, allowing cool air to kiss my face.

When I was young, I didn’t know anyone else who was gay or bisexual, I didn’t know it was a possibility. Maybe if I had, I would have realized I was bisexual earlier on in my life. Click To Tweet

The interesting part is that I’m in a long-term relationship and have been for six years. I absolutely love my partner and we are a great fit for each other. When I opened up about my feelings to him, he was very understanding and willing to listen. Nothing has changed much. The fact that we are in such a solid place in our relationship means we can now point out attractive people to each other (men and women) without either one of feeling distrustful about it. I may never date a woman or non-cis male but the fact that I’m open to it feels freeing to me.

Having a day devoted to honoring LGBTQIA youth is so important to a community that is still often overlooked, bullied, harassed, and persecuted simply for trying to be themselves. Click To Tweet

Having a day devoted to honoring LGBTQIA youth is so important to a community that is still often overlooked, bullied, harassed, and persecuted simply for trying to be themselves. I now look forward to celebrating Spirit Day and Bi Visibility Day, where I can show up and celebrate, out and proud, and I invite you to do the same.