I’ve definitely internalised shame and homophobia throughout my life (without meaning to, obviously) and it affects my confidence levels all the time when it comes to coming out to different people or talking about my experiences as a bisexual/pansexual (totally up for a discussion about these labels too – maybe in another thread if anyone is keen). I generally find people in my community on social media, and seek out youtube videos to feel that sense of belonging I crave – inevitably increasing my confidence. As it’s Pride month, my feeds have exploded with all things queer so I’ve been feeling particularly confident in my own sexuality, it’s been so great.
How do you feel confident in your own sexuality?
Great topic @sextronaut! That internalized bisexual erasure is strong with me. It took me such a long time to accept my identity, even now I still struggle with owning the label. That said though, not everyone needs or likes to have a label, which is totally fine too! The internet definitely made me feel better about my sexuality – actually before the internet, I had no idea you COULD be anything other than straight!! There was just never any queer people in my community who were out that I knew of, so I didn’t really know any better. Looking back, it would have been nice to know the reason I didn’t like boys so much in high school like all of my friends was because I never had to in the first place! (I mean, I still like them, I just like girls a whole lot more)!
@tea I’ve had exactly the same experience! Thank god for the internet for making me feel normal!
This one is tricky for me because I’ve only ever been with boys but I feel like I am open to dating anyone. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship and have only dated a couple of boys so I feel like my sexuality is still something that I’m figuring out, which is ok too!
Hey @sextronaut! Thanks for sharing your post.
I’m also someone who suffers with a lot of internal homophobia (a lot less than before) as I grew up in a small town.
I was very confident in wanting to come out, and did at age 13 to friends, then 16 with family and school. Reflecting on all of this now I always said that it wasn’t too bad and I didn’t have many issues (no bullying and a lot of acceptance) but it’s mostly because I hid a lot of my true self, hid femininity, shunned other gays and lived a mostly hetero normative life. I remember hearing things like “oh you’re straight acting, so you’re OK” and those things used to make me feel accepted. Now I can see how it’s shaped how I present and negatively see myself today.
When I moved to Sydney I was able to understand a lot better how I was pushing a lot of things back and trying to just ‘conform’ which I guess is really just survival sometimes in a small town. I am a lot better now but I still find dating and friendships with gay men really tough as well, and I put this down to having such a hetero normative upbringing that I struggle to find common interests with other gay men and that most my straight friends won’t do “gay things” with me, like going to Gay clubs.
I’m always so happy for younger people now, seeing them embrace their fem side/queerness and that Rupaul is exploding into mainstream. No matter how much I do express my out and proud gay self, I know there is still an amount inhibited and I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% confident.
@tea, great share! I think Bi-phobia is extremely prevalent in our community and can be hurtful. There is plenty more work needed not just in straight communities but the LGBTIQA+ as well as to increase awareness and positively for Bi people.
I do identify as Platinum gay (google it… lol), but I’ve always said I wish I was Bi (trust me, I’ve tried, still a platinum gay 🙂 ).
I did a 12 week group session years ago with ACON (acon.org.au) on working on your internal homophobia and improving your relationships. It was amazing. I’m not sure they offer it anymore, but worth a look.
Great topic people!
Thank you so much for sharing your story @will! I’m glad you were able to find a better place within yourself to be more ‘you’ even if that can take some time. That group session sounds so good!! I’ll have to have a look into that – I’m sure there are spaces like Twenty10 who would run something similar, but not too sure. I’ll look into it some more and get back to everyone if I find anything!
On another note, I think using terms like ‘platinum gay’ and ‘gold star lesbian’ can actually be quite harmful terms to use. It excludes the trans community from these spaces and can come across as transphobic. I think moving away from terms like these helps create safer spaces for everyone and makes it easier to view sexuality as a spectrum, where you don’t need to be a b c to fit in. Let me know what you think about that though!
I’m the same as @tea – I didn’t know that you could be gay (or bi for that matter) until I saw it represented on television. Funnily enough, the Simpsons episode with John Waters (zzzzzzap!) was my introduction to it.
Negative representation of bisexuality really affected me in my teen years – it seemed like so many representations of female/female love and sex were skewed for a male audience, or were framed in a way that positioned bisexuality as ‘fake’ and a tool to attract men. Yuck!
I haven’t really had to confront my sexuality per se, as I’ve been in a long term relationship with a man, but the more positive representations of bisexuality I feel, the more I realise how strongly I’ve felt about women before, or how I actually had crushes on women growing up.
I’m actually a bit afraid of being confident in my sexuality, because of the nagging feeling in the back of my head that asks if I don’t actually like girls, because I’ve never dated a woman.
Hearing about other prideful people who own their bisexuality in male/female relationships makes me feel really comfortable, as does hearing about bisexuality as a spectrum, rather than a black and white category.
I’m still figuring it out, but seeing other people being so confident is really really heartening and helpful.
Oh wow was an amazing thread this has turned into!! Thanks for sharing your story, everyone! I’m so happy to hear we’re all on our own journey of self discovery.
@will that group session sounds amazing! What was the best thing you took away from it?
Also, I have to agree with @tea. Terms like ‘gold star lesbian’/’platinum gay’ were really hurtful to me during my coming out process – as people were often rejecting me on the basis of me being bisexual because it would ruin their ‘streak’ because I’d had relationships with people of the opposite sex. It could also be harmful to people that have come out later in their life who may have gone through heterosexual relationships previously because they’ve followed he heteronormative narrative that society lives under. I know these terms are never intended to harm people but I think unpacking their meaning is really important! 🙂
And oh man @aunt_flo, we’re in this together. I’ve always been in heterosexual presenting relationships, and am currently in one long-term. The contradicting thoughts are so confusing, and spiral me into a sexuality panic too often. It’s all that internalised bi-erasure and reminding myself that bisexuality is real and valid is vital to my mental health. No one ever has to ‘pick a side’!
How wonderful to everyone’s stories.
Another bi-sexual woman here who struggles with internalised homophobia and bi-erasure.
I really resonated with what you said @sextronaut about confidence levels when it comes to coming out. I have been dating in a heterosexual capacity lately, which has made me feel totally weird about my identity. I come out so rarely these days that I’ve almost forgotten how to?!
I also don’t have as many queer friends as I used to, so I think that plays a role in feeling removed.
It’s so lovely to feel connected to you all through this experience.
TV is such a good exposure to bisexuality @aunt_flo – except when they hypersexualise that demographic! Yeah, really hate that ‘fake’ view of bisexuality too tbh! Hmm, I totally relate with not being confident in knowing your sexuality though. I was in a relationship with a man for such a long time and then decided that actually, I liked women too! But people said there’s no way I could be bisexual if I’ve never had SEX with one?!! Can you believe that?? Honestly, if that were the case – how would anyone know they were straight without ever having sex??
@sextronaut YEAH!!! Bisexuality IS real and valid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
@earthmama I totally relate to the forgetting how to come out thing! I’m in a non-heteronormative relationship rn, so everyone assumes I’m a lesbian!!! Aaahhh, do I correct them? Laugh and leave it? I never know.
Good point about different friend groups too – I suppose that has such a huge impact on how you identify yourself or even tell others how you identify.
After posting in what is pansexual I had raised the question am I queer enough?
Thank you so much @sextronaut for starting this thread and I really feel all of your comments here. I feel like because I am in a ‘straight’ relationship that I am not queer enough. I realise that this is part preference or programming and despite having relationships with people of different genders (mostly secretly – I was closeted) I don’t feel like I should have to justify my pansexuality but I kind of feel like some LGBTQ people I know would say ‘but you’ve only had/mostly had boyfriends’ so you aren’t really pansexual you are just a bit hetero-flexible or something along those lines.
To be honest I haven’t really come out to any of my friends because I am scared that they won’t take me seriously or just laugh it off…
I think there’s always going to be people who are a bit ignorant, or who think they know your sexuality better than you do, @stephaniaaaah. It sucks that their opinion can hurt so much, even though it’s your sexuality, and you know yourself best!
I was scared for quite a while that people would think I was being silly, or seeking attention by coming out as bi, given that I’m in a long-term relationship with a man. I ended up telling two of my closest friends on separate occasions – both said it was wonderful, that they were grateful that I trusted them, and that was pretty much that.
Coming out didn’t really change anything for my situation right now, but it felt SO good and SO right to tell me friends, and it was sort of validating for me to feel such positive emotions after saying it aloud to someone.
Take your time in telling people that you trust. I would really hope your friends don’t laugh you off. Even though it might not change your current dating situation, it’s still a big deal to muster the courage to come out!
And I hope you feel proud, regardless of if you tell anyone. Realising that you’re pan is a big deal in and of itself.
100% love this @aunt_flo and think that I am experiencing many of the same thought you did in that ‘being silly’ or ‘attention seeking’
The reality is like you say is that when I came out to my boyfriend he was like that’s rad, I am happy for you and nothing changes for us and it felt SO DAMN RIGHT AND GOOD AND MADE SENSE!!! Just to vocalise it and to not be dismissive of my sexuality but to own it.
I’m glad to hear your friends were so supportive – I hope my friends do the same. I don’t plan on telling anyone soon aside from my partner and my ex (who came out to me when we were together so I know he’d be stoked for me) and my cousin who came out last year too. So choosing carefully with the people who I know will take me seriously and be so happy for me. Nothing changes for me, I just feel a little more complete and whole. Gosh it’s so weird living your life as a straight lady and then being like ‘tah-dah’ I’m queer!!! Give’s me SO much empathy for everyone who’s worked through this before and into the future.
And for the support here, incredible x
I love this post so much!
I really resonate with what you are saying @stephaniaaaah and @aunt_flo, especially where you said: “I’m actually a bit afraid of being confident in my sexuality, because of the nagging feeling in the back of my head that asks if I don’t actually like girls, because I’ve never dated a woman.”
I feel like it is clear in my first post in this thread that I really wasn’t confident in my sexuality at the time and I have come a long way since. I’ve recently seen a lot of TikTok videos from girls saying they’ve had the same struggles which has helped me to feel more normal and be accepting of who I am without having to ‘prove’ anything just because I’ve predominately only had sexual and romantic relationships with the opposite sex, along with the support here on the forum 🙂