Being a Bisexual Person in a Straight Presenting Relationship
Something that needs addressing
If you were to see me just walking around town with my boyfriend, most people would assume I was straight. My relationship is clearly 'straight presenting.' Unless I am wearing something that clearly labels me as bisexual, I am assumed straight. I wish this wasn't true, but I know it's to be expected in everyday life.
However, I hate this assumption in LGBTQ+ spaces. I know no LGBTQ+ person enjoys straight people invading their spaces for fun. It's annoying, and I myself dislike it for a variety of reasons. However, this mentality can be especially hurtful for those of the community in what many call 'straight presenting' relationships. Bisexual+ identities are characterized as straight when we are with people of the opposite gender, and gay when we are with the same gender or non-binary people.
This is especially hurtful during Pride month events. We go to celebrate our sexuality, but see nothing, or hardly anything, that affirms our sexuality. The most I see at my own local pride is people wearing their bisexual gear to label them as such. Hardly any organizations that are explicitly welcoming of bisexual+ people are around. The other organizations that are there are normally only there to serve monosexual identities or those in a same-gender relationship. They don't understand how to help bi+ people, and make no effort to learn. It makes it extremely difficult to be a part of the community while simultaneously feeling as though we are constantly getting pushed out of it or invalidated.
It gets to be a lonely existence without the support of a community behind you. The only validation I get is from online communities and activists on Twitter, such as Heron Greensmith (linked below) or Louis Shearing (@LouisShearing on Twitter). They are working to help the bi+ community, no matter sexual or romantic history.
We can see a lot of evidence about how we treat bisexual people by looking at bisexual celebrities. Lady Gaga is an example of this. Recently, Lady Gaga showed up at Stonewall for a performance, and a moving speech showing her support for the lgbtq+ community. In her speech though, she mentions feeling excluded from the community, even though she "likes girls sometimes." That should mean she is a clear part of the community, as she has been talking about being bisexual since 2009, right? Apparently not, as she is almost always perceived as straight. Why is this? Probably because she has only dated men publicly. She is judged on her dating history, even though that has nothing to do with her sexuality.
Freddie Mercury is one that is constantly assumed to be gay, even though he dated both men and women publicly. Many dismiss his relationships with women, but they are definitely valid. He declared Mary Austin was 'the love of his life' and actually left most of his estate to her when he passed away. While he never discussed his sexuality openly with the public, it's clear from what we know about him that he is not a monosexual. Yet, he is only seen as a gay man. Society has discarded the truth about his attractions in favor of putting him in a monosexual box.
Halsey is another bisexual celebrity that criticism has been aimed at. Many have accused her of being straight due to her dating men previously, even though many of her songs use she/her pronouns. She's extremely vocal about being bisexual, and yet people still erase her experiences. She's even joked that the only way to be seen as truly bi is to date two people at once. I wish I could say she was wrong, but honestly she's not wrong.
The biggest reason we see relationships this way is that, just from what I observe, we still see sexuality as binary instead of fluid. We still think of someone in monosexual terms, like gay or straight, when this simply isn't correct. We need to expand our view of what relationships mean about a person's sexuality. Their partner isn't what defines their sexuality. The person themselves is the only one that defines their sexuality.
Bisexual people in opposite-gender relationships should be seen as valid within the lgbtq+ community. We are just as much a part of it as anyone else. We deserve representation and resources no matter who we are dating at the moment.