For all two of you that weren’t aware, I, Liz Zarb, am bisexual.
It’s a shock I know.
Since coming out, I have been incredibly vocal about my sexuality. I have attended multiple pride parades, celebrated many a bisexual visibility day, and I am very, very, very loud when it comes to queer issues, rights, and representation. I have found a family in the queer community that I didn’t even know I was lacking growing up in a predominately heterosexual family. I’ve met other people who do not conform to society’s heteronormative ideals and are exploring sexuality and gender in a way I had always wanted to growing up. I just simply lacked the resources to educate myself.
All of that said and done, I definitely did not have the smoothest time coming out. Aside from one cousin who lived states away and I didn’t see too often, I grew up as the only queer member of my family (that I know of. I don’t want to assume that everyone in my family is straight because they might just not be comfortable talking about it). I had no queer role models, and I remember my parents once stating that they believed bisexuality was just a “phase” and that everyone eventually chose one or the other (this is a mindset that they’ve both, thankfully, moved out of and they now see bisexuality as it is – a completely valid sexuality). I remember wanting to kiss my best friend (a girl) when I was in third grade and truly having no idea what that meant.
While I was figuring out my sexuality, there was one major thought that prevented me from coming out sooner: what if I’m wrong. I was so afraid that I would come out and then a week or a month or a year later go “oops, just kidding! I’m straight everyone!” Even after I came out, I would stay awake at night agonizing on whether or not I’d done the right thing. And I don’t mean that I spent a few weeks immediately after coming out wondering this – I’ve been out for almost five years and I still have moments where I’m unsure about myself. But on the outside, I had to continue my appearance as a very proud queer woman who was confident in who she was. I felt isolated because I felt like a “bad gay.” I only engaged in relationships with guys while staring at girls from afar but never feeling secure enough to enter a relationship with them. Meanwhile, I was being rejected by straight people for not being “straight enough” and gay people for not being “gay enough.” The erasure of bisexual people in the media was taking a dramatic toll on how I saw myself.
But I’ve since come to realize that bisexuality is a lot more complicated than just “attracted to boys and girls.”
For starters, bisexuality also includes nonbinary people and transgender people – something which people tend to forget. The definition of it is actually “the attraction to two or more genders.” This means my love is not just reserved for men and women, but for nonbinary people and people all across the gender spectrum. While this is very similar to pansexuality, I prefer to label myself as bi and will continue to do so.
The other thing that I realized was that it’s okay to have a preference. I am bisexual, but I tend to lean more towards guys/masculine-presenting people. This does not mean that I can’t be attracted to women/femme-presenting people, but rather it’s a little less common. This does not make me any less bisexual. I am not an invalid queer woman because I tend to be in heterosexual relationships. The idea that you have to be completely 50/50 attracted to men and women in order to be bisexual erases entire groups of people who identify as queer.
I do not feel comfortable identifying as straight, which is how I know I am queer. Just because my queerness presents itself in a different way than how the general public perceives bisexual people does not mean that I am any less queer than another person in the LGBTQ+ community.
So am I queer enough? Yes. Because there is no right or wrong way to be queer. I just wish I knew that coming out.