Friday, September 12, 2014

Bisexuality and the Real Truth

"Do you have any problems with dating a bisexual?" This is question three, following the ever-popular "Do you want children?" when on a first date with a woman. There's no need to beat around the bush, especially when the answer might be a disqualifying entry. Best to know up front. I'm a blunt person by nature, seeking someone else who speaks the truth without coated by the insincere.

To a woman, they always indicate no. It wouldn't be fair of me to lie on their behalf. This is a particularly sensitive series of inquiries which has caused me considerable pain. I expect honesty from a partner, and though superficially I obtain it, the truth may take longer to work its way to the surface. With all the strides made regarding sexual orientation, women still automatically fear that I might leave them for another man.

At odd moments and in the right circumstance, I find out their true thoughts by sharing my own. At those times, I confess that I have no desire to end up with another man and that I'm quite happy with them as they are. I see them breathe a sign of relief, though I wish they'd never worry about my fidelity. I feel wronged and mistrusted, but being angry doesn't do much good. At best, I try to instruct, to even challenge my partners as to what bisexual really is and how they have nothing about which to worry.

I knew I was bisexual at a very young age.  I realized what I was when I dressed out during middle school gym class. As I prepared to play basketball or whatever creative game the PE teacher had devised, my face was always turned towards my locker, not daring to look around. We only dressed down to our underwear, which was fortunate, because I would have been twice as nervous had everyone stripped down all the way.

By the time I was seventeen, I was open with who I was to almost everyone. Few people were hostile to who I was, but one of my friends was. It had not been his doing. His mother was extremely homophobic and how she found out about me is a mystery. As I've written before, my parents were not particularly accepting, and I spent a summer away from them as punishment. Every time a female partner expressed fear at who I was or what I represented to them, it was like I was reliving the past.

I always believed that tolerance could be reached with enough willful practice and education. It would be easy for to write off my past girlfriends as victims of our still-bigoted culture. I use myself as proof of who LGBTs are and how we're not all that much different from heterosexuals. The behavior and assumptions of past relationship partners were never taken with great offense by me, as I knew their attitudes often took the form of guilt and misunderstanding. Some confused me as homosexual and some weren't sure what to think. Truly cruel behaviors were few and far between. What I mostly received was discomfort.

My mother, upon her recent retirement, has become a cause lady. She observed my struggles with bipolar disorder and has worked with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), speaking to parents with children who have mental illness. In her capacity, she has educated parents who have mentally ill kids, giving them hope that their kids can improve. I am proud of her for transforming her personal pain to give comfort to caregivers. The largest problem in my life has been bipolar disorder first and sexual orientation second.

In my own brutal honesty, the intent is for me to function in much the same way my mother does. What I volunteer to others may be too much too soon, but I know I'm sure that I would make no helpful impact at all if I didn't make an effort to initiate communication. My intent is to share my sexual orientation with someone else with whom I have no desire to keep secrets, regardless of what role they take in my life. I desire a best friend, not a distant partner who has little to no understanding of who I am.

One of the oldest feminist tropes is that it is not the responsibility of the marginalized to educate people of privilege. While I agree with this sentiment on its face, I have found that many people don't take the opportunity unless forced to do so. I may educate, or I may encourage others towards the same direction that I have long understood myself. It may not be wasted time to teach an informal lesson on Bisexuality 101. If that had been the case with the Civil Rights Movement, white people would have gotten it without the need for marches and movements. It would have only been a matter of self-study and simple enlightenment. I'm not sure we're there yet.

Having now been acquainted with of the truth, a real relationship can proceed. Intellectual discussions are hollow and empty, though we may think they have some redeeming benefits. It is too often reconciliation on the cheap. We must risk being wrong, even when those who dare to do so have may speak out of ignorance, though they must keep their tempers in check when questioned. Truth can be jarring, but sanitizing it away does no one much good. I would like to have an honest discussion about bisexuality with an audience who is genuinely uncertain, not trolling to enrage. The same is true for many similar issues, race, class, and wealth being only three.

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