Well, I hated being bisexual…but I love being biromantic! Besides, there’s a good chance you, my dear reader, know I’m asexual, but not that I’m bi too. Well…demibiro ace to be more specific, but this personal essay is not a vocabulary lesson and if you’re reading this, it means you have access to Google, so…see you back here in five minutes?
Just a heads up, this post is about to get personal, so if you’d rather not know certain things about me, now is a great time to go back to Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, whatever.
The first time I fully felt comfortable being bi, I was on the subway with my friend Cody, talking about nothing because I ramble when I’m nervous and anxious, which is approximately 97% of the time. Please just tell me to shut up when you’re with me. It’s much more effective. Anyway, we’re traveling on an uptown train and I’m talking about how it sucks being bi and how wanting to have biological kids with my partner is important to me and he laughs and shakes his head, “You’re going to fall in love with a girl and it’s going to be such a disaster.”
Now I’m laughing too and half the subway car is probably staring at us, but I don’t care. This is the first time I’ve openly talked about my sexuality in public without feeling ashamed of myself.
Being me means laughing on a subway with someone I care about and knowing they don’t judge me for who I am, letting the slimy self-consciousness I usually swim around in slide off my skin. The perpetual knot of anxiety untying in my chest, I’m free to fall in love 500 times a day like I always do, with whoever I want, not restricted to a single gender.
Growing up sucked. I was always the weird kid, in so many ways, but it wasn’t until sixth grade that that weirdness coalesced into feelings…about girls, or those who are more feminine more broadly. At the same time, I knew I still really liked boys, or those are more masculine more broadly. And I freaked the fuck out.
I cried. A lot. I read a lot of sex education books at the library, begging the pages to just tell me who the fuck I was. To give me a word that felt right. But I didn’t find it. I shoved all my feelings deep down inside of myself.
When I was eleven, being bisexual meant feeling lost, like I was running through the woods five minutes before dusk and I had strayed off the path and couldn’t find my way back home.
I found my way home in college, in a lot of ways. Looking back, I become an adult in college and in grad school, I learned what I really cared about in life, like in an existential sense. Leaving high school behind, I reached an uneasy truth with the bisexual label like you do with a pair of boots that don’t fit quite right, but they get you where you’re going well enough. I got around well enough, but my feet–well, my heart, it hurt. After all, my boyfriend basically broke up with me because I told him I didn’t want to have sex with him.
I didn’t know why I said it? Well, because it was true. Because I froze and my brain took over and the words slipped out of my mouth. Then, I was like “Oh shit.” And I forgot about it, because the rest of my senior year thoroughly went to shit after that. So I identified as bisexual, even though it didn’t really fit? And I knew I didn’t want to have sex? This was one stop on the train line of “How did Tay not know she was ace?” but I didn’t know that at the time (Dear reader, I have no idea), so full steam ahead.
I found a lot of queer friends in college. We formed a tight crew of gay misfits that all hung out in The Drew Acorn office. I had three friends who were bisexual…and they all seemed so different. In college, being bisexual means finding my community…and yet, still feeling like I don’t belong. I felt so loved, so whole and yet so damn empty all at the same time.
The first time I almost came out to someone, I was hanging out in my best friend’s basement, the two of us sprawled out over the floor with a pile of Lego’s. I forgot what I said, but my best friend looked me in the eye and said, “Taylor, do you have something to tell me?” Reader, I remember wanting to tell him so badly but the weight of my own shame pushing the words back down my throat and I shook my head no.
I shoved the thoughts down deep, but they came crawling back up a year later in seventh grade. I was awkward. I was chubby. I was always emotional. And then that same best friend assaulted me in his room and again, everything went to shit. I self-harmed. I hated myself. And part of that hate was from knowing I was bi—that I was queer. And I hated myself for it. I thought it made me not normal. That it made me a freak. That I would go to Hell for it.
I also had the worst crush on one of my friends in our toxic girlish middle school clique. I’m all for girl love now and love my female friendships, but look, we just weren’t meant to be friends and we were all assholes to each other. No one was innocent.
Still, I was young and naive so they were the first people I came out to in seventh grade. At first, I said I was “bi-curious,” reluctant to commit to a full-time label. Like I was testing the waters, dipping my toe in the queer pool to check the temperature. Oh, the labels that existed in the early 2000s. What a time. My friends teased me and called me “Bi-Curious George” to my face even though I said that nickname hurt me. They wouldn’t stop. My queer pain was an entertaining game to them, because I was the only semi-out person in our middle school. I was probably the first queer kid they ever met, and they taunted me.
Then I came out to them as bisexual. When we had a falling out, as hormonal middle school friends do, that’s when shit hit the fan.
Look, despite everything I’ve been through, I’m an innately trusting person. It sucks. I trusted my friends to keep my sexuality a secret. They didn’t. Sometime in eighth grade, they told people who told people who told people. Soon, I started hated coming to school because I was called a slut, a whore, a freak and a lesbian. There was no room for nuance in the halls of my middle school. Absolutely zero.
It became a common occurrence that when people were alone with me, they would bring it up.
An awkward silence would fall over the conversation.
And then they would say something like, “So I heard you were a lesbian or bi or something. Is that true?” I stopped hanging out with people outside of school.
I had a Facebook account for forty-eight hours. I hadn’t even learned how to use my wall or whatever the fuck you call it because kids from school sent me deeply personal or deeply hateful messages about my bisexuality. So I deleted it. I can navigate Facebook well enough, but I honestly have NO IDEA how it works.
I made an excruciating choice. I forced my way back into the closet. I denied it. Everywhere I went. “You must be mistaken,” I said. “No, I’m straight”, I said, “That’s just gossip.” I became an empty, shameful shell, unable to accept myself.
Back then, being bisexual meant being an outcast and having to be ashamed of who you were, performing the daily ritual of self-doubt and self-hatred wherein I didn’t know there was any other option but feeling this shitty about myself.
Sophomore year of college, I decided to stop identifying as bisexual. I kicked those boots off and ran through life barefoot. It was a freeing choice, but also painful and disorienting. I swore off labels. I’ll just identify as nothing, it’s fine. I don’t need labels.
Not being bisexual means feeling lost and not really understanding who I am.
I’m in the car with my mom and we’re on the way home one night. My mom asks me, as she does from time to time, if I’m straight as if to check to make sure. Tonight she says, “You know I think you’re bi but you won’t tell me because you think I’d be mad, which I would be.”
I don’t respond because I’m choking back tears, but it’s dark so she can’t see me.
“Being gay is just so hard. It’s a hard life and I don’t want you to have that.”
I don’t tell her it’s not a choice. I don’t tell her it’s because of her attitude and people like her that life is harder for queer people. It’s not worth the fight.
Being bisexual means always having an emotional brick wall between my family, wondering when it’s going to topple over and I’m going to be buried in bricks.
The night my boyfriend asks me out when we’re seniors in high school, I decide to tell him I’m bisexual because I panic and worry about not telling him, becoming emotionally attached and then having him dump me.
I tell him…and he says, “Oh that’s hot…so that means you’re into threesomes?”
I’m happy he takes it well. But we’re also seventeen, and I don’t yet know how to explain the difference between bisexuality and polyamory, so I chalk it off as a win and move on.
Being bisexual means feeling pressured to have to explain who you are, even when it doesn’t feel right, even when you’re not totally ready. And it means being misunderstood, all the time, in so many little ways.
When I discover the word asexual, everything clicks into place.
I’m twenty-years-old and I’m sitting on my bed…and I feel…at peace with myself. I just stumbled upon the word that I wish I’d known about eight years ago. A weight I’ve been carrying around on my chest for years has been lifted.
It really was that easy. Once you’ve spent nearly half your life hating yourself because you’ve been using the wrong word to label yourself, dear reader, things get pretty rosy once you’ve found the right one.
But then I remembered something. Being ace didn’t account for all of the feelings I had about people. Then, I found out being “demibiromantic” was a thing, and that was that.
Just a note: being biromantic is just as valid as being bisexual. It still makes you part of the bi community, and if you ever feel excluded, I’m sorry. You matter. I promise.
Anyway, I mean, it was all probably a little more complicated than that, but some simple googling and I was done. That much is true.
Being Tay means being demibiromantic asexual. It means using this label to describe myself, because that’s what fits and no one can tell me it’s wrong, invalid or a “made-up tumblr identity.” And being me means laughing so hard sometimes I snort, being clumsy af and always trying to be a kind person. And being demibiro ace feels like my favorite boots once I’ve slipped them on and zipped them up. These words are going to take me where I need to go, supporting me the whole way.
These labels don’t limit me. Instead they help me get around as a person in the world.