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All bi myself

By Rose Cooper - posted Monday, 22 August 2011


Let's just say right from the kick-off that I'm not a fan of labels. But people in general seem to take great comfort in using them. More often than not, the subject of marriage equality is referred to as 'Gay Marriage' rather than the more accurate term 'Same Sex Marriage'. Society wants to push us into corners, rather than let us move freely about the room. The equal marriage rights debate seems to highlight relational misconceptions further still – and to be honest, I'm really quite over it. So I have decided to make a grand gesture and wave my pink, blue and purple flag - publicly declaring myself 'bisexual' – in lieu of a better word.

Why bother?

For starters, I'm sick of feeling repressed and misunderstood. Even in this day and age, the bisexual tag is burdened with myths and expectations and is still sometimes met with hostility and derision from persons residing resolutely on either side of The Fence. We are the red-headed step-children of the sexual spectrum. Coming out as bi is still surprisingly difficult. Young people who experiment sexually these days are accused of jumping on the bandwagon of a fashion trend or succumbing to peer-group pressure to perform daring party tricks, rather than following their own innate predilections. People need to put us in pigeonholes – in order to definethemselves with greater resolve.

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I keep waiting for more frank, open and candid conversation about bisexuality in the media. Support groups are finally sprouting up on the internet, but the groundswell has yet to reach the mainstream. As a person involved in the arts, I often find myself overhearing speculative conversations about peoples' sexuality. "Do you think he/she's gay?" You virtually never hear anyone ask, "Do you think he/she is bi"? Bisexuality, particularly in young men, is mostly seen as the air-lock chamber between straight and gay; a mere whistle stop on the way to Homo-ville. Sometimes this is true, but not always.

It's frustrating. Bisexuality has a ridiculously low profile. Think of all the gay role models out there – now try and think of any bi role-models, either in true life or in fiction that haven't also been portrayed as 'predatory' or 'eccentric' and most significantly – not to be trusted. People can be so judgemental. Just once in all those seasons of Sex and the City, I wanted Carrie Bradshaw to say:

"So I wondered…does anyone who is not bisexual, really understand what bisexuality means?"

How many people even dare to 'come out' as bi? And when they do, are they really taken seriously? Some folks even seem to view their own closeted bisexuality as an insignificant, secret addendum to their gayness or heterosexuality. It's a grey area not worth mentioning (read: not legitimate). Everyone thinks being bi is about percentages and unless you are having full on relationships with both sexes, all the time, then you aren't really bi. I've even had a male friend tell me I am not bi 'because I have never had a long term relationship with a woman'.

I could only counter: "That does not mean I have never wanted to"…

I cannot turn back the clock, but I know my romantic history would have been vastly different if I'd been born 20 years ago, instead of 50. My first instinctive attraction was to females. I vividly recall those early compelling stirrings, which were triggered by seeing saucy cartoons, photos, 1970s TV soapies – anything - which featured naked breasts. I would often hide in Dad's wardrobe, (I can still recall the pungent aroma of his shoes) looking at his dirty magazines and feeling a mysterious aching delight wash over me while gazing at these forbidden images of naughty ladies who chose to bare their boobs for fun and profit - Gawd bless 'em!

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My sexuality was up for grabs back then. My childhood friends and I were always mucking around having pretend make-out sessions as far back as primary school.

The first time I properly kissed a boy was around the same time I also pashed a girl. I was 13. The boy was just a boy I knew…I think we were playing Spin the Bottle and I wasn't really into him. The girl was my best friend and it happened during a sleep-over at her house. The former experience was inept and awkward; the latter was sensual and rather full-on. No need to highlight which experience felt the most natural. Alas it was a one-off. I was all for taking our friendship to the next level, but she had a crush on a boy and had to let me down gently. Meanwhile our other friends at school found out about our tryst (possibly due to the huge rash of love-bites on her neck) and teased me and called me a 'leso'. I felt ostracised, so into the closet I scrambled. Sure, we can call it childish experimentation I suppose, but this doesn't negate the fact that throughout my teen years I was often quite jealous of friends' boyfriends and vicariously fantasised about taking their place. I suppressed this urge and remained in denial about it for over a decade. Having said that, there were times when I did try to steal a kiss here and there (especially after a few drinks) much to their surprise. A few times I was even brave enough to broach the subject while stone-cold sober…"say, have you ever wanted to…" But the answer was always no.

I was the only bi in my very small village.

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This article was first published on Inside Rose on August 17, 2011.



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About the Author

Rose Cooper is a freelance writer and actor who has contributed to many national publications over the past 20 years. She was Australian Women's Forum Magazine's most prolific contributor as well as their Sex Advice Columnist. Her areas of expertise include comedy, women's health and sexuality issues, relationships, theatre and pop culture. For more of Rose's articles visit: www.insiderose.com

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