'Bisexuality …. the one place i can box myself for society, and leave off the lid'
I used to feel that i was a pretty untypical bisexual when listening to the bad experiences some people had been put through by heterosexuals and by lesbians and gay men. As of Sunday 9th June 1985, and the 2nd Extraordinary General Meeting of the London Lesbian and Gay Centre, i have been in the firing line of a lot of angry lesbians and gay men. I have had glares, snide remarks, and even open hostility from people there, mainly women. It seems that by standing, up as a bisexual man, by saying that i belong to the centre, by simply existing as i am, i have alienated some, possibly many, women from the place. This was not my intention, and it hurts very deeply that lesbians who knew me to be a bisexual man before the 9th, and accepted me, now reject me, even treat me quite hostilely, or are just pure and simply embarrassed to know me. I used to feel guilty because i was a man, mainly because of the well-aired myth that all men are the same. I now feel an enormous amount of resentment to those who accept this myth, those who box me as a man oppressor. I do not belong to the world of men; i rejected the world of 'real' men long ago, negated my manhood, and men in general rejected me.
At the age of 16 i was raped by a man i trusted. Rape is often given in feminist circles as a typical example of women's oppression, but rarely is it acknowledged that men go through this experience too. So little thought is given to the rape of boys that unless the police and the establishment mental health workers become involved, there is nowhere to turn. Especially when one is out, and one realises that if the police become involved the man would go to jail, not for rape, but for having sex with a minor.
I couldn't reconcile this, so i said nothing to anyone. The first time i spoke about it was at 21, to a man i was seeing at the time. I still haven't dealt with it. As a man i couldn't ring a rape helpline and ask for help. I am, however, in the process of joining a gay men's consciousness-raising group, so who knows, perhaps the time has come.
About a year and a half after my rape i met the man of my dreams. Our relationship lasted for three years, and in honesty ended like a nightmare. Looking back on it now i can see why. At 18 i was extremely naive. I allowed myself to play the role of wife, to become an ornament, to become a mere extension. I lost myself completely. When our relationship ended i had one friend, the only one of my friends i had kept contact with. My lover didn't like even this one, but somehow we remained friends, even though in three years we only saw each other three times, secretly. When i was given back my independence, i had no idea what to do with it. I didn't even know what i enjoyed doing, and it took longer than a couple of years for me to get a hold on my life and stop doing things we used to do habitually, even though i didn't enjoy them.
It seems it is easier for people to box all classifications separately and distinctly. Therefore in a lot of feminist literature there are references to 'all men', but men are not all the same.
A few months after i had split with this lover i met a woman who found me attractive. The fact that i found her attractive too scared me out of my wits, so i ran away from her, and my bisexuality, telling myself it was because i was on the rebound. I wasn't, and a few months later there came another situation which again i ran from. I didn't want to be bisexual; i d listened to feminists and knew from experience around me that it was impossible for a man and a woman to have an equal relationship. I was still naive enough to believe equality was possible in same sex relationships. So i carried on seeing men, but i knew it wasn't the answer.
It is very difficult to escape one's conditioning, but i am changing. I'm learning to accept people on their terms, to challenge oppressive behaviour in myself and others, especially men. It seems to me that the Radical Men's Movement, what there is of it, is beginning to grow up. Some men are even taking on the responsibility of male problems, trying to help other men to live in a new way and share experiences. We've got a long way to go, but then we are a very new movement compared with the Feminist Movement.
It has taken me five years to come to terms with my bisexuality, to get to the stage where i think i am capable of having a relationship with certain women. I do not search for sex with women, but if within a relationship i have with a woman, she makes the first move, towards sex then it becomes a possibility. I do not fuck women or men, because i don't want that much inequality in a relationship i'm having with someone. I feel that men have been brought up to do what we want sexually, but women have been socialised into giving. One way is to allow a man to penetrate her. So when that happens is it equal or is she doing something that is seen as giving herself to the man as opposed to sharing a sexual experience? This creates an imbalance in the relationship because neither of them really knows what is going on. They are seeing it from different angles. I have once had intercourse because the woman i was with was in control of the sex, was on top and decided that that was what she wanted it, do, not because of her socialisation, but because she enjoyed being in control of that particular sex act.
Having spoken to friends about my bisexuality there seems to be one very contentious issue: I see myself as gay and bisexual, they say this cannot be. However, my lifestyle having developed over the last 10 years as an 'out' gay man, i am not going into the closet. I am still gay. If i have relationships with women they will be nearer to gay relationships with women than heterosexist ones.
Many gay men, and for all i know lesbians, have the occasional sexual relationships with a member of the opposite sex. I've watched gay men use their homosexuality to keep women they've had sex with at arm's length. I may never have many female lovers, but i am not going to negate the contribution they make to me as a person, or pretend they mean nothing to me. I can have sex with a man and never see him again, but i can't do this with a woman, because before we make love we have already become friends.
One of the things i was asked to do when writing this was to define my bisexuality. All i can say is that i see it as a non-label, as the one place i can box myself for society, and leave off the lid. I don't have any defined role, and can play a different one each day.
On a very positive level, coming out as bisexual has enabled me to talk about my feelings with other bisexuals, with heterosexuals, and with lesbians and gay men. Not all the response to me has been negative, and i have realised where my real friends are. I'm also making new friends. I can relax in the knowledge that i'm being true to myself, and honest with others. I attend the London Bisexual Group meetings and have found great amounts of support there. I think overall the quality of my life has actually improved, especially on a very personal level because i am not trying to suppress my feelings.