This year, I came out on Facebook.
My finger hovered over the ‘post’ button for five minutes while I sipped a burnt coffee before I clicked. My chest tightened – I sat sweating at my desk as my phone vibrated consistently and notifications began popping up.
A humorous amount of messages went something like, “uh, yeah?”
Or, “not shocked - it could be the fact that you’ve been banging women for years that gave me an inkling you might not be straight.”
But for people who didn’t know, I received nothing but love and support. I was moved to the point of tears by some of the messages I was sent. However, one thing that I did hear was how lucky I was to come out in a society that was so accepting of all LGBTIQA people.
Sorry, but this is bullshit. LGBTIQA people are still oppressed and homo/bi/transphobia are incredibly real and life threatening problems. Before I speak about my experience, I need to acknowledge that the experience of every LGBTIQA person is very different and, unfortunately, in some cases far worse.
The stats alone are staggering.
A trans woman is murdered every 29 hours.
43% of LGBTIQA youth in Australia alone have contemplated suicide.
75% of LGBTIQA youth experience bullying – either verbal or physical – and this mostly happens during school.
I publicly spoke about my sexuality on Facebook in solidarity of the Safe Schools Story Project – an initiative set up by some of my friends to elevate queer voices during a time of anguish and turmoil in Australian politics and society. Although I mostly received positive messages, I opened each message and notification with trepidation.
I was afraid that I would get the classic “it’s just a phase,” or “you just want attention from guys,” or the biggest eye-roller; “wanna have a threesome with me and my girlfriend?”
In high school, I constantly heard that my sexuality wasn’t valid. And I believed them. As a vulnerable, depressed teen, I had little access resources that told me differently.
I always knew I was attracted to women. Or at least, I knew I wasn’t just attracted to men.
Is it cliché to say my first crush on a girl was Avril Lavigne?
Okay. My first crush on a girl was P!NK. I went to four of her concerts in a row.
When we got to the golden age of ‘gatherings’ in high school, I’d be the first to offer to kiss a girl for a dare, or not ask for a re-spin when spin the bottle pointed to another female. I had no idea what my sexuality was, but I would sheepishly agree when people said I was just being ‘loose’ and experimenting. I was still interested in men, so I assumed I must have been straight.
Being ‘bisexual’ was never discussed or seen as a legitimate sexuality. So I basically grew up feeling nothing more than a slutty straight girl.
Some other comments that were commonplace growing up:
“Homework is so gay.”
“Did you see her hook-up with that chick on Saturday night? She’s such an attention seeker.”
“Her new haircut makes her look like a lesbian.”
Or, the ever classic prank of logging into a mate’s Facebook and changing the status to “I’m gay.”... Because, apparently that’s hilarious.
Questioning my sexuality was difficult enough, let alone in an environment when being called gay or a lesbian was a scathing insult. The first time I slept with a woman, I woke up the next day in cold sweats, hating myself for being so filthy and disgusting. I never told anyone; assuming I would be instantly labelled a slut. I had a disturbing juxtaposition in my head. I felt finally so comfortable, and I was fucking stoked but I was so afraid of peoples’ opinion of me. So I told nobody.
Being bisexual can place you in an awkward in-between place. Feeling too queer for the straight community and too straight for the queer community. Straight people (including boyfriends) have told me that I’m more likely to cheat, that I’ll “have to choose one day” what my preferred gender is and that I’m just confused and haven’t met the right person. I’ve been called a dyke for wearing a button-up and bow tie to a 21st and been called “greedy” for being into more than one gender.
Unfortunately, from one queer woman, I’ve heard; “you’re too straight for me. I can’t be with someone into dudes.”
Biphobia is real and it totally fucking sucks.
My sexual identity is real, valid, and legitimate.
It’s not a stepping stone, a phase, or a party trick to be sexualised. It’s taken me 21 years to get to the point to understand this simple fact. I’m so lucky to have a supportive network of queer friends who have helped me understand and accept myself.
If you’ve been keeping up with the Safe Schools debacle, you’ll see that homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are occurring at a political level. It’s recently resulted in the disintegration of an incredibly essential program that’s sole purpose is to improve the wellbeing of gender and sexually diverse youth.
If Safe Schools had been around in my high school years to open my (and my peers’) eyes to the different types of sexuality and gender identities that should be celebrated, I would have come to terms with my own queerness sooner.
I would have not experienced the homo/biphobia that made me doubt, question and hate who I was for the majority of my adolescent life.
Safe Schools saves lives. It’s as simple as that.