'I suppose I saw myself as a gay bisexual'
Pink Dandelion, 22
I see my story as primarily one of guilt. This feeling has in turn affected my whole life and I suppose my bisexuality is the major undercurrent determining where I live, with whom I live and how I live.
I don't think I ever doubted my capacity to love wimmin. I used to have fantasies about both sexes, but the opposite sex was threateningly mysterious and unobtainable. I wasn't a 'real man' and hated the role-playing involved in courting. All my infatuations, then, were with men. I think I also saw love between two men as superior because it was love between equals, each independent, each assertive. Whilst at school I don't remember being attracted by a wumun's mind. In the straight world I was living in, it seemed I was only infatuated with people of the wrong sex.
Nevertheless my bisexuality was undoubtedly with me all the time. It's very difficult to plot. At each stage of my life, I remember feeling things for wimmin and yet, especially after school, my whole world was becoming more and more orientated towards homosexuality. At college in the first term, I started sleeping with men and came out, first to the wumun next door, who I 'fancied', then to 'the world'.
Having sex with men was very important. It rid me of my inferiority complex and later, when my first sexual contact with a wumun was disastrous, it didn't really seem to matter.
I came out as gay (i.e. homosexual), but to my friends and family I was quite open about my bisexuality. With the exception of my mother, I didn't see it or use it as a cop-out statement, just a position of honesty.
My bisexuality was generally very undercover though and I became more and more politicised into a gay culture and gay politics. There were lots and lots of men and it was still very rare for me to meet a wumun I was attracted to. All seemed hung up on make-up and stereotype role-playing.
Of course this changed when I met lesbians within the Lesbian and Gay Movement. So, after three infatuations with men-friends at school, I became infatuated with a lesbian. Instead of saying all my loves were of the wrong sex, I now said 'all were of the wrong sexuality'. Even in infatuation though, I didn't see myself having sex with wimmin except in my mind. So I suppose my bisexuality was defined on thinking things, emotional and sexual, for both sexes, but not actual sexual activity.
I gave up college after a year but was a union officer and was still very much into the student world and student politics. It was at this time that I met a bisexual lesbian, i.e. someone whose culture and identity was lesbian, but who did feel something for some men. I suppose I saw myself as a gay bisexual. The relationship with Robyn was to prove extremely significant in the short term, and indeed up to two years after our three month spell together.
I feel it was the first caring relationship I had: she was the first person who had shown me any love. Through her I was able to feel strong enough to hug people, to stick by my politics and principles, to start becoming a more whole person, and start looking at my maleness and sexism. Then it all ended.
At the start we had had the ideal of loving people, the sex of the person didn't matter. Our relationship was based on independence, honesty, care, no assumptions (except that we wouldn't refuse each other a hug) and we were very open about it. As a result I had a lot of hassle from some gay men. I argued that you could be gay AND bisexual. I was more worried about Robyn in that there seemed to be more of a lesbian community and I didn't want her to be excluded from it. She felt I had more to lose.
Maybe I did. She stayed within the lesbian community, I felt excluded by many of the men I had been close to, just at the time I needed their support. I wondered why I was being a threat. I'd never seen myself as heterosexual or behaving in a heterosexual way. But I didn't know anyone in my position. While it hadn't been any trouble being gay, I wondered if I was the only bisexual in my shoes.
Being in 'my shoes' involved not only being gay-identified but also, having been made so aware of sexism and male domination, of pledging not to sleep with wimmin, or as my confidence increased, 'move in' on wimmin, as I had done in the past with men. (Seeing a man I liked, I would target him and would work hard for him to get to know me well and to become a good friend and hopefully a lover).
Eventually I sold out. I felt really miserable and guilty for doing so. Another lesbian, Sue, who I had felt for even before I had met Robyn, indicated a mutual feeling and pitifully, I took up the chance of a relationship and went round to see her. In fact a relationship didn't happen but having sold out once, the gates were open and a couple of months later there were as many wimmin as men in my non-monogamous world.
I felt guilty that I was oppressing wimmin – hindering them along their path of liberation. In my mind I could see Robyn disapproving. The wimmin I slept with were assertive and independent. I felt they were doing what they wanted to, therefore I couldn't be totally blamed. If they were lesbian as well (usually) then my guilt was reduced a second time cos I knew they were aware of the options. But I still didn't trust myself not to oppress wimmin at all and continually made efforts to exclude wimmin from my bed-life. The only problem was that I was feeling more and more for more and more wimmin. There were great battles going on in my head – my love of wimmin versus Robyn's separatism, my recognition of my sexism, of not wanting to sell out, not wanting to be seen to sell out.
I was also, within the Lesbian and Gay Movement, very closeted about my bisexuality. I didn't want to be seen as halfheterosexual, as a threat to lesbians, as reinforcing the system that oppresses us all as lesbians and gays. In London bisexuals were called 'bicycles' and teased. When I wanted to move south, I knew I wouldn't be able to take this abuse constantly so I came to Brighton instead. I was still frightened of rejection from the only community I felt a part of, the lesbian and gay one. Yet more and more I came to terms internally with my own bisexuality and although family and friends wished I would make up my mind one way or the other, I knew that was unlikely to happen.
Two groups then helped me a great deal. One was the Quakers, and in particular FHF, their lesbian and gay group, which offered me the support of lesbian and gay pacifists (something else I had been since school). The second was the setting up of the Radical Lesbian and Gay Identified Bisexual Network, which was ME. Also there were ten other wimmin and men. At last I had found people to relate to. We were very much together as people, working within the Lesbian and Gay Movement, who had received hassle from our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers and who wanted to combat their bigotry, yet stay within the Movement.
I suppose this was my position for some time really, although I wondered whether I was trying to cop-out of my bisexuality hassle by saying, 'Oh, but I'm gay-identified,' and by hiding within the Movement. It seemed a more radical move to try and form a Bisexual Movement, a bisexual community, to be separate. I think that needs a greater degree of strength and awareness because of the way society is at the moment, categorising, labelling, assuming, indoctrinating.
My guilt put me in a quandary. I still didn't feel OK about relationships with wimmin. I let them take charge, would be scared to show affection in the street, even hold a wumun s hand. Yet I believed so strongly in the bisexual ideal of finding the potential of being able to love everyone, and hopefully realising that as well. This fitted in with my Quakerism and my Anarchism and the world I wanted to move towards and work towards politically: one where the full potential of bisexuality was realised.
I saw that it was simply a question of alternatives. First I could try and rid myself of two layers of guilt. One was for my copping out as a bisexual, all too often being closeted about my true feelings and hiding in the Lesbian and Gay Movement; the second was the guilt I felt about sleeping with wimmin – maybe using them and draining them emotionally (and more, breaking my earlier pledge). Most of this guilt and fear came from the present set-up of society. Lesbians and gays are oppressed by the system which says heterosexuality is the norm. Wimmin are oppressed by men – used, raped, beaten – and men attempt to control their sexuality and their lives.
The second alternative was to help move society towards a state of equality, of sharing, of peace and freedom where we could take control of our own lives and rid ourselves of the restrictive labels foisted on us by others. I guessed that maybe I should be trying for both.
In fact my guilt was to last for two years and ended only when I had moved out of the midst of the Lesbian and Gay Movement, which had so often censored the other side to my sexuality. Guilt had split me into two – mental ideal and bodily want. It hampered my movement towards wholeness and urged me to destroy relationships with wimmin, which I did. I knew what I felt bad about but was frightened just to let go and follow 'be yourself' ideals, put forward by contemporaries.
Then it was suggested to me that guilt could be creative, and perhaps temporary; that we feel guilt when we stray from our true intention, so in a guilty state we can discover our true intention, and act on it, and be content in our convincement. I looked at my guilt and in fact saw that it was my actions, not my ideas, which were closer to my true intention. I didn't in fact want to love wimmin as well as men. I also saw that my original ideals had been based on trying to impress ONE wumun, Robyn, – i.e. I had been saying, 'I must not get close to wimmin,' in the hope I could get close to one! – not on trying to live out my gut ideology.
So now I say I am guilt-free. I have discovered my true intentions, feel good about that, don't dislike part of me anymore, listen to body as well as mind, can give more love, and see men and wimmin as equal which is much healthier. It's like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now I am outwardly proud of my bisexuality!