Sitting down to type this, I wonder about the consequences. For so many people saying ‘I exist’ can look like attention seeking and making a fuss, to those on the outside. I remember when I felt the same way about flagging up my Pagan-ness or talking about mental health issues, but I’ve had more practice on those fronts.
I have been told that being invisible is a privilege that will keep you safer than the visible folk. I don’t buy it. If safety lies in your invisibility, then what you get, from day to day, is the fear of being outed, and then punished, and really, that’s not so very different from the fear of being punished, and the same consequences are available. In the meantime, invisibility means that who you are does not have a reality in the eyes of people you deal with. Maybe even people you’re close to. All the time. Not a risk, but an every day thing. This is as true for invisible illness, for any invisible problem or difference that impacts on you but is not self announcing. Invisibility is lonely, alienating, isolating, and that certainly offsets any possible advantages in most circumstances.
To the casual gaze I look straight. I have a husband and a child. I have an overtly female body, which does not reflect the androgynous heart on the inside. Sometimes I think of myself as a non-gendered pansexual life form and sometimes I think of myself as bisexual female, and sometimes I don’t really think about it at all. Anything I did to ‘better express’ my inner self on the gender front would be about making more visual sense to observers, and I’m not really into that. In theory, the hair and the breasts could go and this would flag up my androgyny to anyone looking. I like breasts and long hair – mine and other people’s.
From my first tentative crushes it was obvious to me that I fall in love with certain kinds of people. I fall in love with passion, creativity, intensity, high cheek bones, expressive eyes, gentle hands, warm voices. Body shape and genital configurations don’t really make the list. If I fall in love with someone there is a fair chance I will, as a consequence, find them sexually attractive, but it’s definitely that way round.
In the early days of the internet I was pretty ‘out’ – I wrote erotica, including a lot of bisexual and lesbian erotica, and I still read in those genres. Back then people I knew in ‘real’ life weren’t online so much, and it was less complicated to be me. I’m not currently doing anything that makes me visible, but because I look straight, if I don’t speak up, an important part of who I am disappears. At college, lesbian fiction expanded my world, but outside of erotica, bisexual characters are not numerous. For a long time as a kid I didn’t have a word to explain what I was, and I didn’t know it was ok to feel the way I felt. I had no idea what it meant, or that I wasn’t alone. Where there is visibility, there is affirmation, and the scope for being acceptable. There can be solidarity, support, and all manner of good things.
There are people who will offer me any kind of explanation that denies who and how I am in preference to accepting that this is who I am. I love people. Certain people. Fiercely. If the freedom to love is to be a meaningful idea, it has to include the freedom not to be defined by other people’s beliefs about what’s real, and what’s possible. I am possible, and to deny a person their reality is a cruel thing indeed.