Dear UnAmerika’s Sweetheart: Orientation, Identity, Behavior (oh my!)

Today’s entry comes in the form of an advice column.  Please feel free to write in with your own questions:, or fill out the anonymous form below.

This week we’re tackling the idea of Bisexuality – Kinky, you ask?  Well, it is to a lot of people, and I’m happy to talk on this subject, so close to my own heart (I personally identify as “Sexual”).  I think the conversation below is a great jumping off point that intersects with issues any-type-of-queer-person asks themselves at some point: “am I gay enough, bi enough, kinky enough, trans enough…  to fit in with the community that I need/want around me?”


Dear UnAmerika’s Sweetheart,  

I’m having trouble fitting in with my bisexuality because I “act like a straight girl.”

  The only lady I’ve been involved with sort of came with the man involved.  
I’ve always known I was bisexual, at least attracted to men and women both, but I tend to lean heavily toward men, particularly because of how I enjoy sexual pleasure.  
I had a girlfriend only once and we were both 11 years old, so one might say that “didn’t count”  I’ve been involved with a few ladies since then, only one of which I actually had sex with, and she was sort of “part and parcel.”  She was a part of a married couple (very good friends of mine), they are swingers so they usually party with ladies.

I feel like I’m not living up to my bisexuality
.  I’d like to have an ongoing sexual relationship with another woman, but I’ve got, like, zero game.  And then we get into other issues with my gender and sexuality that I’ve been pondering lately

.  I’m thinking about re-identifying as bi-gendered
.  There are a multitude of moral quandaries that go with that
.  Maybe I’m just heterosexual twice over
.  Like, maybe I’m both a straight girl AND a straight boy.  I think this because I have never identified as “lesbian” or “queer” but I can accept “gay” just fine.  And I think part of what is keeping me out of gay clubs (to find other partners) is that I don’t feel “authentically” gay.  I feel like I’m being rude to someone else’s experience by being there.  I struggle with these questions all the time.

If I’m bisexual, why don’t I feel like I’m part of the community?  I claim to be bisexual but I’ve only had boyfriends for over 10 years, I primarily prefer men, I delight in the male sexuality of a girl-girl kiss, and so I’ve been made to think I *claim* to be bisexual for attention.  Why does LGBT feel like a “they” when it should feel like an “us”?  In a weird way, I’ve been made to feel like I’m lying about it.

~ How to Own My Identity (Mantua, Italy)


Life's confusing sometimes, but struggle through – you're worth it!

Life’s confusing sometimes, but struggle through – you’re worth it!


First off, I want to say these are pretty normal questions to be having identity crisis over.  Sometimes bisexual women who are “acting like a lesbian” have the same exact issues with their identity that you are describing too!  The fact is, whomever we’re playing around with or find ourselves loving, those people are going to have a gender and a sexual preference, so feeling grounded about your own bisexual identity can be easily and often challenged.  Especially when you feel you’re spending most of your time with only one of the genders you are attracted to.
  You don’t have to be a 50/50 (or a 33/33/33…) bisexual to remain completely and perfectly bisexual!  All that matters is the truth you carry in your head, heart, and pants.  The current behavior you are engaging in is just that, your current behavior.

So lets talk a little about behavior vs. identity.  Identity is the word we attach to ourselves when talking about “who we are” and how we feel about who we are.  It is a word that has behavioral connotations, but also emotional leanings, and it’s a “big picture” word.  Because it’s a big picture word, you probably want to talk in more detail to the people you’re actually involved with about what that identity means to you, because most people do “X Identity” somewhat differently, and it is in our assumptions of what words mean to one another than end up biting us in the ass most times (I find).  Here’s where we get into the importance of “behavior”!  Behavior is just that, what you’re actually doing and who you’re doing it with.  It has nothing to do with how you “feel” about your big picture identity, it’s the actual score board of life that you experience on the day to day.  So, someone might identify as a Lesbian, but every now and again enjoy casual sex with men she has no romantic or relationship strings attached with.  Is she less of a “Lesbian” for behaving this way?  No.  The way she feels about and defends her identity is her choice, her struggle, her POV about herself based in her experiences and feelings about who she is.  Someone with the same exact pattern of behavior might identify as Bisexual/Pansexual/Omnisexual/Sexual/what have you…  So, you see the importance of talking with your partner about what their identity means to them!

Now in your instance, should your current/longtime pattern of behaviors lead you to feel that you’re missing out on a part of your identity, I suggest meditating on that.  Maybe you’ll find you want to go out to a gay (or straight) club sometime to shake up your current background scene and meet new people, or take time to write about/think about/notice/flirt with people who are not in your current romantic focus.  If you are single or in an open relationship (or one that supports you having individual experiences) allowing yourself to explore newer and/or other opportunities might help you feel more balanced in your day to day life and behaviorally more in synch with your big picture identity.

I’d like to mention here that there’s nothing wrong with having a “sexual bucket list” too.  
By putting yourself out there (in your case by going to lesbian nights, queer clubs, or events where girls who like girls are hanging out) you’re more likely to find or develop that “game” you think you have none of.  The more you show up in the community of people you wish to feel a part of, the more comfortable you’ll feel in that community, and the more people in that community will have a chance to find you and accept you as you are

.  Go as an “ally” if you can’t find it in yourself to go as “legitimately gay”, or go as “curious”, or as someone who just wants to be there to meet and be around those “legitimately queer” folk.  And go with friends, people who will support you while you’re all nervous about approaching the object of your desire, or who will make sure you get by the gay police when you get carded at the door.  You are allowed to be who you are!  If someone’s going to judge you for being you, that’s on them; It makes them a dick, not you, and it’s probably a good sign you don’t want to hang out with them anyhow.

I want to address your thoughts about gender here too.  Identity is a really fun box to play around in and only you can define yourself accurately at any given moment in time because only you know what your deepest desires, attractions, and happy places are.  The more you think about it, play with words, ask others how they view their own sexualities and genders and why, the clearer things will become – and remember identity can be a shifty mistress, should you let her be – so have fun figuring it all out.  No one else’s measure will make you more or less right to use the words you use, desire the people you desire, nor should they limit you in finding the things that make you happy.  You aren’t wrong to identify the way you feel you are – even experience be damned.  Is a heterosexual virgin any less heterosexual because they haven’t “gone all the way” yet?  Of course not.  Same applies to you.  Every Genderqueer person has struggled with their identity and their legitimacy as that identity at some point on their journey too.

As for feeling a part of the GLBTQI community, when it comes to bisexuality there’s a TON of bisexual erasure in our communities – both GLBT and Straight.  I believe this is because people tend to like things to be neat and easy.  Being “both” fucks that up for people who feel safer or freer identifying as one or the other (especially people who don’t want to look at the parts of themselves that may also be “both”).  
And practically, bisexuals are just kind of invisible to the world most of the time.  Most bi people “look” gay or straight depending on who they’re involved with if they’re monogamous (and many are), so it’s easy for people to make assumptions based on one singular relationship rather than hold space for a history of varying attractions.  And as easy as it is, it’s still wrong to do.

I just performed in a show entitled “Bilicious“.  This is the second year I’ve done it, and that show each year reminds me there IS a legitimate bisexual community out there, and they’re hungry.  My bisexual audience is extraordinary and it is diverse!  This reality is in direct competition to what the media would have you believe.  For example every time a celebrity comes out in the media as “Gay or Lesbian”, somewhere in me I feel my bisexual rage well up, wanting to scream:

Really?!  Because they’re dating someone of the same gender now it doesn’t matter who they dated or loved before?  Come on!

Obviously there are people for whom this is not the case, they’re just publicly outing their Gay/Lesbian orientation, but the media loves to report on people who’ve “switched sides” rather than incorporated new experiences into their ever evolving identities.  So, as an invisible group within a minority class we have to make ourselves feel a part.  I think a great way to do this is to consider yourself an “and”…  I am gay AND straight
 AND everything in between, AND one word can not encompass my three dimensional reality when it comes to loving and attraction

.  It is easy to limit ourselves, thinking about “my last 3 partners were the same gender, therefore I’m “less” bisexual than I was before”.  It’s hard to remember and feel confident that that’s just not true.
  You get to own your life, your experiences, your meaning making, and your identity.  Other people will always judge, but those judgements aren’t yours to take on.  Even if you never had another same sex experience, would you be any less of who you were/are/will be?  It’s legitimate to fluidly live our lives.

In Conclusion:  Don’t be afraid to be whole the way YOU are whole.  Is an orgasm less of an orgasm because it was given by a hand or a dick or a dildo or a vibrator or by a fantasy or by yourself or another person or five people?  You get to ENJOY your orgasms the way YOU enjoy them.  (Don’t) Fuck anyone who tells you otherwise.  Repression is NOT sex positive or helpful.  You are worth ALL the things that make you happy, so don’t cross things off your list because someone else told you you couldn’t/shouldn’t have them.  Follow the things that make you feel good (keeping in mind consent and not hurting others), and it’s best to find people you’re compatible with on those journeys – people who aren’t going to trigger you, people who you can grow and explore with and be honest around.

It is fear that keeps people limited in their explorations.  You can go beyond your teachings to find your own truth
, one that makes you feel happier/safer/more whole
.  Identify exactly as what feels right to you right now.  You are allowed to do that and you deserve to do that.

  You are processing your truth, and that’s a really healthy way to be in the world.

  Love and be kind to yourself so that you may love and be kind to others.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

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