BY BETH WATSON
It’s a question nearly all queer women have been asked. You’re out for a drink with your straight girl friend (let’s call her Rebecca) and after a couple of beverages, Rebecca gets this look in her eyes…
Rebecca: “Can I ask you a question?”
You begrudgingly oblige.
Rebecca: “How do I know if I’m bi?”
Me: “Do you find women attractive?”
Rebecca: “Yes, but how do I know?”
Now, as someone who’s friends with a lot of Rebeccas, I get asked these kinds of questions rather frequently. In fact, last month, I was asked this question a grand total of four times. Four times, that’s once a week! Which got me thinking, why are the baby bis of this world walking around with so much self-doubt? And why do they see me as the ultimate judge of all things queer? I’m not, by the way, I didn’t even finish watching The L Word.
I think (as usual) the media is partly to blame. While bisexuality often crops up in TV and film, it’s very rarely called as such. Take Piper Chapman in Orange is the New Black. Arguably one of the most prominent bisexual on TV in recent times, and based on a real-life vocally bi woman. Is she ever called bisexual in the show? No. So, it’s not surprising that baby bis are navigating the world feeling hella confused. Our bisexuality is being used as a plot-line and yet still being erased at the same time, which is pretty confusing!
There also seems to be this idea that you have to have sex with someone of your same gender to “prove” you’re bisexual. Not in the gay community but online as well. If you put “How do I know if I’m bi” into Google, you’re hit with over a million search results, including many quizzes with questions like “Have you ever kissed someone of the same sex?” and “Have you have ever had sex with someone the same gender as you?”
Now, although doing a Buzzfeed-style quiz might seem like a simple solution to the problem, these questions are still pretty unhelpful. First of all, because your identity is not determined by your sex life. You do not need to have sex with someone the same gender to prove that you’re bisexual. We never question a straight person’s straightness, even if they’re a virgin. I think this is why so many people struggle to know if they’re bi.
This idea that your sex life ‘proves’ your identity is only made worse by the discourse in the gay lady dating scene. One time, I was once on a date with a girl who referred to me as “not really bisexual” because I’d only had sex with two women. Of course, people are going to be nervous about identifying as bi if we are setting these strange gay sex targets to be able to join the club! Have we forgotten that the best part of being queer is being able to self-identify? Whether you’ve just changed your Tinder profile from “Men” to “Men and Women” or you’ve been in a same-sex relationship for 10 years, if you feel like you might be bisexual, you probably are! And you don’t have to prove anything to anyone or get it confirmed by your token gay friend.
So, when trying to figure out how to ‘know’ if you’re bisexual, ignore the silly online quizzes and ask yourself these questions instead.
Would being with someone of the same gender make you happy?
Would you like to start dating or sleeping with someone of the same gender one day?
If the answer to either of those questions is yes, you’re probably bisexual.