Let’s talk about bisexuality today, from the point of view of a gay man.
I had always thought of bisexuals as a ‘privileged’ class, I mean, you get to fool around with ‘both’ genders and also have the ‘choice’ to marry and have kids and live a ‘normal’ life? It just seemed horribly unfair to me.
Here was I, a closeted gay man, deep in denial, and desperate to change my orientation, scared of upsetting my parents, scared of never being able to have a family, scared of being stuck in a loveless marriage and being responsible for ruining another life. If I would be able to feel even the slightest attraction to a girl, I would readily marry and settle with her and count myself lucky. So, if bisexuals have that option available why the hell would they not avail it?
I read so many stories of gay men marrying for the sake of their parents or society and sticking to it just to save face that I naturally assumed that all bisexual people must be doing it too. It seemed the most natural choice in the whole world. I never thought of bisexuals as discriminated against, but in fact was extremely envious of their ‘privileges’.
In fact, I had initially come out as a ‘bisexual’ to my best friend. Only because it felt like it would still keep my options open. That the fact I could feel even a tiny bit of attraction to women would somehow protect my ‘manliness’ and that it might save me from losing all respect from my friend. That fear was entirely unfounded though.
The first time it ever occurred to me that bisexuals too could be discriminated was quite a long time after I had come out to my sister. We were on the topic of sexuality, and she outright claimed that she hated bisexuals as they were extremely ‘greedy’ and ‘selfish’. This had shocked me completely, because my sister, who was straight, happened to be a very liberal and non-judgmental person. When I asked her why? Her response actually made me think a lot on the concept of ‘acceptance’ and ‘choice’.
She thought that being gay was ‘OK’, because I did not have any ‘choice’, because I ‘could not’ marry or have a family. For her, me being ‘allowed’ to live with a boy as my life-partner was like giving a child the consolation prize for losing the race of ‘sexuality’. So to her, the child who had won the fucking trophy (read: able to get happily married) dabbling with people of the same gender appeared ‘greedy’ and ‘selfish’. And that’s when I realized that I too had been thinking on the same lines for so long.
Do you see what the problem is with the way we perceive bisexuality??
It is: The Illusion Of Choice
As a gay man, the hardest part was realizing and accepting the fact that my sexual and romantic feelings were ‘different’ and ‘unconventional’. Even as the world shouted it at my face. Every movie, story, cartoon, every text book of biology screamed at my face that I am a ‘freak’, that I am not growing ‘normally’, that I am supposed to feel things differently.
For me, it was clearly marked in bold that I am different and yet it took years of struggle to accept that my sexuality was not an ‘abnormality’.
But think how a person would feel growing up bisexual!
They would identify with all the mushy Bollywood love stories,they would fap to straight porn, and they would have crushes on the opposite gender. Even if they were to feel the occasional attraction or crush on another guy, it would take them some time to realise that it’s not ‘normal’ or ‘common’ to be attracted to both genders. And when they did, they too would be burdened by the same shame and desperation that a gay guy would be in their situation. EXCEPT, this time they would also be blessed/burdened by ‘The illusion of choice’.
The illusion of choice is that we believe bisexual people can ‘choose’ to settle with the opposite sex and hence lead a normal life. This is where all the ‘biphobia’ stems from. But they are not able to control who they are able to fall in love with or attracted to, any more than us. Just because we believe they have the choice does not make it easier for them to ‘choose’.
Yes, for sure a lot of bisexuals choose to settle down with a member of the opposite sex and yes it is a selfish decision, but not all of them are marriages full of love and happiness, many of them are compromises similar to what the gay men who chose to marry have made. Just being able to have sex does not make any marriage successful and happy
And the reason that there are more bisexual men who choose to settle and marry is that they too believe that they ‘can choose’. Because they won’t be given the benefit of doubt by the society. They can’t explain why they should be allowed to settle with someone of the same gender just because they are in love. Because ‘acceptance’ in our society is still doled out as ‘pity’ for those who believe don’t have any ‘choice’. And if you happen to have a ‘choice’ then you are just throwing away your life and deliberately ‘hurting’ your society and your parents by ‘choosing’ differently.
Given the conditions and environment are same for a gay and a bisexual person, I believe it would be much harder for a bisexual person to accept their own sexuality and even harder to ‘come out’. For a gay person, their lack of ‘choice’ would be quite evident to them from their experiences, while it would be much more confusing for a bisexual person and much harder to explain why they would ever even ‘choose ‘to be deliberately different.
A bisexual person deserves just as much as the benefit of doubt as every other person. To outright judge the entire personality of a person based on their sexual orientation is just plain discriminatory and the last thing that a gay person should do, especially.
As long as ‘acceptance’ will be subject to the lack of ‘choice’, what we will always be getting is ‘pity’ and ‘sympathy’ instead of true acceptance.