Some of you have expressed your concerns to me about possibly being “gay” and not “bi.” The idea of bisexuality being a stop on the way to “gay-town” has been a common way for monosexuals to delegitimize the experiences of bisexuals. I understand the apprehension. If you change your label from “bisexual” to “homosexual,” you’re worried you are reinforcing bad stereotypes about bisexuals and contributing to homophobia or even conversion therapy.
First, it’s understandable why you would feel that way. Second, it is not your responsibility alone to bear the burden of monosexual ignorance, biphobia, and homophobia.
Sometimes exclusive homosexuals may tell us that we are “really” one of them through an imposed monosexual assignment. It may feel like they are trying to assign or control our orientation through ignorant remarks. However, they don’t get to control you. You get to decide. Not being authentic about your experience, fluid or fixed, is just another way of letting them marginalize your experience.
On the flip side, sometimes exclusive heterosexuals may tell us that if our sexual orientation isn’t fixed and etched in stone from birth that it’s not a legitimate or “real” experience. They may look at bisexuality as a “phase.” However, they don’t get to control you either. Even if you change your sexual orientation label from “bi” to “gay” your “phase” was a real and legitimate experience. Your sexual orientation doesn’t have to be “fixed” to be “real.”
Others will try to use us as an example of how “sexual orientation can be changed” in order to promote the harmful practice of conversation therapy. They might suggest that because you’re not “born that way” then you must live a heterosexual existence to appease appeals to heterosexual morality. This also is not your burden to bear. You don’t have to pretend your sexual orientation, feelings, inclinations, or experiences are fixed to combat ignorance, homophobia, or conversion therapy.
One of my favorite things about being bi is the fluidity. Preferences can and do change. There have been times in my life I thought I was a lesbian and other times I thought I was exclusively straight. For me personally, I stick with the label “queer” because it best encompasses my gender, biology, anatomy, and sexual orientation—that may or may not change in the future.
So far as I’m concerned, bisexuality is a community where you can come and go as you please. You are welcome with me regardless of your identity labels and their fluidity. Your experience is just as legitimate as anyone else’s, and “bi” and “gay” are labels that don’t have be etched in stone to uphold the “born that way” narrative that has helped a lot of homosexuals, but in some ways hurt bisexuals and other sexually fluid orientations. It’s a catchy phrase that served a practical purpose, but “born that way” doesn’t mean “forever that way.”
In a world trying to delegitimize your experience, I’m here to tell you, you get to honor your fluidity. You get to honor all the diverse labels you’ve worn throughout your life and you still get to write your own future. If bisexuality was your stop on the way to “gay-town” you get to decide. You know your experience better than anyone else, and I will honor that choice with you.
Sincerely, a queer Mormon sister