I puked … twice. Right in the middle of him going down on me. I had to swiftly pull up my undies, excuse myself, run down the hall and vomit into a toilet, all the while pretending nothing was wrong.
That’s how drunk I had to be in order to first hookup with a guy.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the second week of college, and I was determined to have some form of sexual relations with a man. I wanted — needed — to see if I was gay. People always assumed I was. I was also always able to see the beauty in men but never thought I could be “really gay” because I was so clearly attracted to women.
I figured college was a time for exploration, so why not give it a shot?
I expected that I’d have this big “aha!” moment afterword. Our lips would touch, I’d feel his beard against my cheek and, instantaneously, I would know: I am definitely gay, or I am definitely not.
That’s not what actually happened in real life. The experience didn’t shed any light on my sexuality. The experience was fine. Nothing to brag about. I didn’t really hate it, but I also didn’t really love hooking up with this guy either.
But all throughout college I kept doing it — hooking up with guys, that is. Each time I had to get to a dangerous point of intoxication in order to allow myself to do it, many times blacking out and vomiting.
I wasn’t exactly sure why I was doing it. I loved women. I had been heartbroken by women. I cried for a week straight when my first girlfriend — my first real love — and I broke up.
But I still found myself, hammered, in the arms of many men. I figured I must just be “drunk and horny” and “open-minded.” I thought I could never date a man seriously. I just enjoyed getting off.
The notion that I was bisexual never really registered. I think it came up a couple of times, during my many sleepless nights where I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering, “What the hell am I doing? What am I?”
But immediately I shot the idea down. The thing is, I knew far more men who identified as bisexual, only to identify as gay a month or two after. I hadn’t met any guys in college, or in high school for that matter, who openly identified as bi, at least to my knowledge. I had never, not once, spoken to a guy who said point-blank, “Yeah, I’m bi.” Whereas I had met plenty of men — especially at Vassar, where I want to college — who openly and proudly claimed the gay label.
Many of the gay men I would talk to in college scoffed at the idea that bisexuality existed in men. Even though these guys studied sociology and gender studies; even though they knew, in theory, there’s no reason why bisexuality can’t exist in men.
Their rationale, however, was that they — and many of their gay friends, too — used the bisexual label as a stepping-stone on the way to gaytown. Similarly, there was (still is, but it’s getting better) limited depiction of male bisexuality in the media. Even now, as I’m working on a piece that looks at male celebrities who have proudly embraced the bi label, I’m hard-pressed to find 15 guys. On the other hand, I could easily name 500 male celebrities who proudly claim the gay label.
So when I heard my gay friends in college talk about other cute guys in our class rumored to be bisexual, they would immediately laugh, dismissing the idea altogether. They would take bets when the guy would come out as “fully gay.”
And most of the time, they were right. These guys would come out as gay within three months.
But, and here’s the clincher, there were still plenty of guys who behaved bisexually, who maybe even identified as bisexual. But they weren’t open about it the same way. They didn’t claim the label publicly … just like I didn’t.
And why would we? When the only time you hear bisexuality discussed is with laughter and derision, why would you proudly claim such a label? When the one community that is supposed to accept you doesn’t believe that your sexuality even exists — despite the fact that you are the second letter represented in that community’s acronym — you’re not going to want to go around telling everyone that you’re bisexual. It’s going to be a rough process to accept your (bi)sexuality, and an even rougher process to embrace it.
That’s why today, Bisexuality Visibility Day, is so important. I’m well aware that “visibility” has been deemed a PC buzzword that’s seemingly devoid of concrete meaning. People throw around the word visibility with nearly everything. We need more visibility with this and that.
But when I say visibility, specifically bisexual visibility, it has a concrete end-goal. It’s not visibility merely for the sake of visibility. It’s visibility so that people recognize that what they are is real. Gays and lesbians don’t have to deal with questioning whether their sexuality is indeed legitimate. Of course there are plenty of other struggles gay and lesbian folks face, and I’m by no means trying to diminish the severity of those struggles, but hardly anyone — especially not members of the LGBTQ community — are arguing whether being gay is a “real thing.” Of course it is.
The goal with bisexual visibility is to have the same response. People should no longer be asking the question “Is bisexuality real?” because that question is absolutely absurd. Obviously bisexuality in all genders is real. What type of stupid question is that?
So on this day, I encourage you to come out, be visible and be vocal (if it’s safe for you to do so). That act not only helps yourself but helps the bisexual and larger LGBTQ communities. It helps teenagers who think they’re “confused” because there’s no possible way they could be attracted to multiple genders.
It forces the LGBTQ community to recognize that we exist, we have our own special set of issues and we deserve a seat at the LGBTQ table.
Happy Bisexual Visibility Day!
Featured image by jacoblund via iStock