Case Study: Gemma


The first time I came out as bisexual to anyone I was 17, at the time I was in high school. I felt unable to talk to my peers, friends or family about my sexuality. There was a sense of stigma I felt surrounding this thing that I thought was completely natural. I was made to feel wrong for feeling attracted to people of any gender. I remained quiet about my sexuality for a very long time till I came out as transgender. I grew as a person and in confidence after that and eventually I felt confident and proud to say that I was bi. I’ve flicked between using pansexual and bisexual as labels to describe myself, and still remain quite fluid in my self-labelling. A lot of my understanding of sexuality came from talking to other queer individuals, reading about people online and in books. I feel it was a good experience to see people’s differing perspectives on sexuality. Being bisexual is great fun!

I’ve had discriminatory reactions, from institutions or medical practices, after coming out as bi and trans. Friends have distanced themselves from me, treat me differently and have ignored me. Quite often I’ll not mention that I have a boyfriend/girlfriend (whatever-friend) in order to stop awkward questions or funny looks. What does annoy me is people’s assumptions about my identity. I don’t present as the most stereotypical woman ever, and I’m very open about my identity. I view it as something that I should be happy about, just as much as anyone else. This acts like a bit of a shield against negative comments or opinions of people. Interactions in the street, in public places or dealing with staff of companies still carry a feeling of ‘if I come out to them are they going to react negatively?’ as the default. However I now see this as a something that other people have the issues with, not me.

Bi- Erasure (would be an amazing band name) is a problem that still exists. There are very specific stigma and phobic attitudes towards bi, pansexual and non-monosexual people. We’re seen as being unclear, confused or greedy with our preferences and who we’re attracted to. In Queer spaces it’s difficult to come out as bisexual if you have say an opposite sex partner, there’s a pressure to prove that you’re bisexual or ‘gay enough’ to fit in. However in recent times more emphasis has been put on the awareness of these issues and attitudes are changing. I’ve seen a great many new words, and ways to identity in recent years thanks to the internet and communities online promoting positive role models.

I would like to see more awareness of the issues facing bisexual people, promotion of positive role models like celebrities, local champions and groups for bi- people. I would love to see people talk about bisexuality more, it’s a great topic of discussion, challenges the heteronormative bias in society to its core with intersecting issues such as gender and sexuality, along with what it means to be attracted to someone.

Gemma, Sessional Worker

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