This is what it’s like telling straight guys you’re bisexual
‘It’s OK — that’s hot’
The start of every relationship is unquestionably the most thrilling, albeit awkward, stretch of time you share with a new romantic interest. Evenings spent patiently revealing all of those fundamental facts that made you into the ‘adult’ you are today: the towns you each grew up in, names of brothers and sisters, “what was your major again?”, the fact that you’ve recently become vegetarian (pescetarian, if we’re being honest). Most of this is learned through the predictable “tell me about yourself” prompt not so smoothly inflicted upon those first few dates.
But when you’re a woman dating a man, there is one question that is almost certainly never brought up during these chats: “What’s your sexuality?”
It’s shocking to me that in 2017, with increasing awareness of sexual fluidity and assumed familiarity with the Kinsey scale (or the more recent ‘Purple-Red’ scale), we’re still functioning on the assumption of gay vs. straight. That being said, it seems for the foreseeable future I’ll be continuing to seek out conversational windows in which to bring up my bisexuality.
Finding the right moment
Without fail, the information comes as a surprise to the men I date. They stare at me, dumbfounded, rotating color wheels spinning in their eyes as they try to process my traditionally feminine appearance: long brown hair, check, cute dress, check; and understand how I am not (gasp) straight?
As much as I want to say this reaction doesn’t affect me, (who cares what anyone else thinks?) it’s a bit exhausting for your identity to be misconstrued, or met with shock, every single time. It causes me to dwell on my lead in, how can I tell him I’m bi while ensuring he actually gets what I’m saying? Trying to casually mention a story about a past girl I dated is often misinterpreted as, “some college experimenting.” On the contrary, if I try and explain my identity in depth, I can be left feeling like I just blurted out an ultra personal 6th grade diary entry this still near-acquaintance wasn’t ready to hear.
Once the bi-bomb has been dropped
Some men take the news more calmly than others. I think the best reaction I ever received was from a guy who remained completely unfazed and practically non-responsive. He simply said, “I mean, yeah, you work in theatre.” (ha ha, touché)
Another notable moment occurred with a guy who basically tried to over identify, and ultimately one-up my experience. Once I’d shared about my identity, he replied, “I’ve kind of gone through the same thing. Even though I’m straight, I was never really into sports, and I always liked feminine stuff. It has been really hard for me.” Lol k, yup, tooooootally the same thing.
But the most common response, and my personal favorite, is this classic, *male approved* stamp of recognition: ‘It’s OK, that’s hot’
I’m sorry, ladies – did you hear this? I for one am shook. Yes, the day has finally come when I have learned that a.) who I am is OK because b.) a man thinks it is hot. Incredible. Revolutionary. If this isn’t progress, I don’t know what is. Toss aside those painful years of discovery and concentrated efforts to learn self-love, who knew this was the reassurance I needed all along?!!
But I digress.
OK fine, maybe some of these guys think that by calling my sexual identity “hot,” they are supporting me. Showing me that they truly do accept me, they aren’t bigoted, that they are indeed, “woke men” (lol). The good ones.
Yet it seems that it’s often our generation of evolved, socially conscious, liberal-thinking men who prove to be just as problematic as the misogynistic, homophobic men of yore.
See, if these guys really wanted to assure me that they accepted me, there are many ways to do so without objectifying me. Some responses I’d suggest are: “thank you for telling me,” or, “I’m glad to get to know you better” or “I fully support that.” For less verbose folk, even a simple, “OK” works perfectly! See? Easy!
But no, the sexual objectification that women all too often face is only continued and exacerbated here, with enlightened remarks such as, “It’d be so sexy to watch you make out with another girl,” or “are you down for a threesome?” Because that’s definitely what I was saying.
Dude, this isn’t about you
Women do not exist to be your fantasy. My entire life does not center upon my hope of turning a man on, or attracting his attention. If our generation of men truly wants to prove how progressive they are, they can begin by accepting that our bodies and our identities do not revolve around them.
By sexualizing my identity, these men are desperately attempting to control it. To insert themselves in the narrative, by insisting any sexual relationship that doesn’t involve them is still somehow for them: their lust, their approval.
Newsflash, it’s not.