Living With Invisible Bisexuality When You Look Hetero
I never really got how bisexual people could be viewed or view themselves as invisible, before. Since my awareness of being bisexual, in my teen years, I was simply happy to have recognised my sexuality and even happier to explore it. Now a little later on in life, and settled with my partner, I’m coming to understand the frustrations invisible bisexuality can bring.
It’s not that I ever lessened the struggle of others, whatever their sexuality. More that I didn’t understand what those struggles were, how they manifested. As I’ve learned more about the LGBTQ+ world, my admiration for all involved has grown exponentially. Not just the courage to ‘come out’ and stand up and be recognised, but to help raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, and educate the world so that perhaps one day that courage won’t be needed. You won’t have to be ‘brave’ in order to state you’re a different sexuality than hetero, or a different gender than cis or binary.
In the light of the above, my own frustrations seem petty and minimal. Not really struggles; not compared to what others deal with. Persecution, pigeon-holing, subtle through to vocal and even physical prejudice and harassment.
Still, there’s a B right there in that LGBTQ+ acronym; B for Bisexual. And that’s what I am.
So what’s the problem?
Like I say, it’s more a frustration. Many people have recognised that bisexuality can seem an invisible sexuality at times (or even all the time). There’s a bivisibility day and everything. Without displays of physical affection in the street, there’s no way really of telling whether a person is bisexual or hetero. There’s not really any way of telling whether someone is lesbian, gay, cis or binary either – but people do like to think they can identify ‘tells’. Many of which are incredibly insulting, I hasten to add.
I’m a bisexual woman, so if I’m walking down the street with another woman people automatically assume we’re friends. Platonic friends, I mean. I don’t want to say ‘just’ friends, because friendship isn’t something ‘less’ than a romantic relationship – it’s a beautiful relationship in its own right. More on that topic next week.
Why do people assume no romantic attachment if I’m out with another woman? Because still, right now in 2017, heterosexual is seen as the default sexuality. The ‘norm’. People assume that most if not all people they come across or see are heterosexual, with exception of those who are (to their eyes) quite obviously gay.
There are even more issues relating to the trans and queer parts of the LGBTQ+ acronym, but I’ll focus on the sexuality rather than gender elements today.
So, say I’m not walking down the street with a woman who is my friend, but who is a romantic and/or sexual partner instead. There’s really no way to show it (as proud as I may feel) without some sort of display of romantic affection. And for some reason, it still feels awkward to do that. Mainly as:
1) I shouldn’t feel that I need to announce my sexuality through some forced display of affection
2) I shouldn’t feel that said display of affection will upset the folk around me because (gasp) it’s not a hetero display of affection, it’s (gasp) two women.
3) I don’t feel I want to show romantic or sexual affection to a woman I’m with in public all that much, due to the negative attention it brings from men (“fuck, look at them coupla lezzers, cor, go on love”) or from judgmental types with their huffing and tutting and covering their children’s eyes (“won’t SOMEBODY think of the children?!”)
Therefore, I/we keep on walking down the road, looking all platonic/hetero, with our invisible bisexuality.
In my case, the invisible bisexuality is even more keenly felt. I’m not a single woman, I have a longterm male partner. We have children. We’re a man and woman living together with kids. Cosy house in a cute village with a car on the drive and a good size garden out back.
We look like the epitome of the traditional heterosexual couple. I haven’t quite got the roses round the door and a dog in front of a fire, but you get my point.
In reality, we’re about as far from traditional and hetero as you can imagine. You see, it’s not just me that’s bisexual – my male partner is too. So we’re a bisexual couple who can have sex with others of the same gender as ourselves (cheating for us is another ‘opposite gender’ relationship), we’re incredibly kinky (ageplay and breathplay anyone) yet look like the most hetero couple going. Ok, a pretty goth couple, but hetero nevertheless.
This is quite annoying when it comes to growing our social circle. Yeah, I’ll admit, the invisible bisexuality is pretty handy in formal situations (especially with children) where the situation is involved enough (schools, doctors etc) without having to deal with the almost tangible confusion and possible judgements of those around you due to your chosen relationship.
And I feel guilty over that inward sigh of relief, because noone should have to feel life is easier because they look hetero, as this just proves how far the world yet has to go when it comes to not only accepting those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, but welcoming them and viewing them as normal. I mean really, is that too much to ask? For many, sadly, it seems to be.
But with new friends, or getting to know others a little deeper and opening up our real selves to them, we always come across surprise when it comes to our sexuality. And it always is a surprise, because it’s not like we announce it in the first conversation we have with folk (er, inappropriate/irrelevant much) but also because we look so fucking heterosexual. It ticks me off. I feel like I need to explain yeah. I know. I look so straight! I mean I had kids and have a fiance and everything. But I like women too! Yep, like that.
What hurts the most about invisible bisexuality, for me, is the thoughts I see dancing behind the eyes of those I tell – when it becomes appropriate to add it to the conversation. With men there’s usually either an “oh right, cool” welcoming acceptance (with decent guys) or the typical lecherous, hopeful, “adding this to the wank bank” glint from the rest.
Women can be quite hurtful without realising it, though. I still worry when it comes to telling women I’m bisexual, even though I know it shouldn’t be a bother. Then I feel guilty that it bothers me. But I feel awkward telling them (unless they already know me from online, where let’s face it, it’s bloody obvious), because of all the times I’ve seen that look. The one which goes from shock (“but you look so hetero, I mean you have a man“) to nervousness (“oh god, do you fancy me? I mean, I’m a woman too”) to either a heightened awareness yet acceptance (in the case of the cool ones) or standoffishness from that point on (from judgemental types).
So, what can be done about this invisible bisexuality and related issues?
Hmm, not so much, I guess. Thanks for listening as I vent. I mean, there’s small things I could do – wear a bisexual flag about my person, like a pin badge or some other identifying tag. But that would rely on people knowing what the bisexual flag even looks like then making the connection as to why I’m wearing it.
People who read my blog and follow my social media know, because I write about the facets of my bisexuality – in posts like this and in other opinion pieces, erotica & stories plus experience write-ups (which have been consented to).
As I’ve mentioned, in light of the persecution and prejudice that others on the LGBTQ+ spectrum face, I feel slightly ashamed to even be raising my own issues with invisible bisexuality. They’re an annoyance to me, but they don’t stop me living my life. They don’t make my life any more difficult or painful, really. Simply an annoyance.
But still, it’s an annoyance I wish I could somehow eradicate. I wish people didn’t assume everyone was hetero – but I imagine it’s difficult to think otherwise when a woman is living with her male partner and children. Just remember that bisexuality does exist; the world isn’t black and white, and it’s not simply gay or hetero either.
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