What Are You?
‘What are you?’
A question which can be related to many topics; What is your career? What religion do you practise? Are you an alien sent to Earth to destroy us all? It is not a question that you expect upon taking your first few steps into a room however. A demand to reduce yourself to an inadequate label purely for someone else’s convenience.
With Pride approaching it’s important to recognise that many within the queer community will at some point struggle with this question. It therefore came as a shock to me that sometimes it is that queer community itself which insists on posing it.
I came to the conclusion that I identified as bisexual when I was around 11 years old. What followed was many years in which I fluctuated between convincing myself that it was all ‘just a stage’ and absolute determination that it was intrinsically me. At 20 years old I can confidently say that the latter is the truth.
Perhaps it was naivety that led me to believe that I would be welcomed with open arms into the LGBTQ+ community. As a result, you can only imagine the anticipation I had as I eagerly awaited my first LGBT event.
The reality was slightly different to what was expected. Upon entering a ‘safe space’, I was confronted with ‘what are you?’. For me, this wasn’t a particularly dreaded question at the time, but I was surprised by the importance the answer seemed to hold. Was this not supposed to be an all accepting community? The question came like an attack – a warning that here still was a place you might not fit in.
The response to my answer was perhaps the most shocking part of the exchange - upon hearing my shy ‘bisexual’, the man laughed, shook his head and muttered about how I would ‘admit the truth to myself one day’. And just like that my excitement about attending the event was immediately extinguished.
It is important for me to note here that I have since had some amazing and loving experiences within the community. It is however, also important to note that this was definitely not a one off occasion.
I can only speak from personal experience when I say how bisexuality is often met with stereotypes; many presume I’m promiscuous purely because of my sexual identity, many think I’m straight but trying to impress men, and many think I’m really gay but just not willing to admit it.
I can be immediately judged due to a label that really only defines one small part of me. The marginalisation of certain identities has always been a large issue, and progress has been made, there is still a large lack of awareness as to what these groups face.
I’m asking for all of you to actively seek out information about another sexuality or gender. Even if only in the most simplistic form – educating ourselves and others is the biggest tool we have against prejudice. I’m only describing one small problem that exists, there is a whole lot more we should be turning our attention to.
The LGBTQ+ community has made leaps and bounds in recent years, but that isn’t to say that there is nothing left to be done, especially within the community itself. So, get dressed up to the nines, apply your glitter make-up, and wave your obnoxiously large (but brilliant) rainbow flags. Enjoy yourself, but remember it’s a protest as well as a party.