Mayhem in the middle

Erin Roof

I would never walk up to a lesbian and tell her she couldn’t possibly be gay because homosexuality does not exist.

I could never say to a straight person, “Quit lying to yourself. You’re not a heterosexual. There is no such thing.”

Yet this is exactly what happened to me last week. I was enjoying myself — perhaps a little too much — at a bar Thursday night, when a lesbian approached me and decided to attack my bisexuality. She proceeded to tell me bisexuality is not a valid sexual orientation. I must be either straight or gay, she hissed, and I needed to figure it out.

I was crushed.

It is difficult to be anything but heterosexual in our society. If people are not straight, they can expect a life of persecution. The problem with being bisexual is that the persecution comes from both ends. Some straight people hate bisexuals because they are not wholly heterosexual, and some gay people don’t like bisexuals because they are not wholly homosexual. Bisexuals get stuck in the middle.

What hurt the most was that this woman was a member of the LGBT community, just like me. Undoubtedly, she had been called names before and had been the victim of gay-bashing. It is nearly impossible never to have experienced it. She knew how this felt, and she chose to treat me the same way. Persecution from heterosexuals is just ignorant — but persecution from homosexuals is plain hypocrisy.

Many people view bisexuals as being greedy fence-sitters, sexually obsessed or merely confused. Worse yet, some people think bisexuals are just trying to be trendy. No, that’s why I wear skinny jeans, not why I am attracted to women. Bisexuality is a very difficult line to tow, and I don’t know anyone who would endure my Thursday night experience just to look hip.

Fortunately, most gays and lesbians are more open-minded. I talked to Amanda Boyd, the president of PRIDE!Kent, the next day, and she assured me the organization will not stand for that kind of abuse. This is the group’s Coming Out Week. Anyone, gay or bi, who is still in the closet should consider attending their festivities and get support in coming out.

It’s not easy. Understanding one’s bisexuality and coming out as bi can be more difficult in some ways.

I have known since I was in fifth grade that I am attracted to women. I really liked my friend Tammy, but I gave my “special friend” valentine to John. Through the rest of my school years, I would check out girls, but go after the boys. This was mostly because I grew up learning homosexuality was sinful. But, also, I didn’t realize I could like both boys and girls. I thought I had to pick one.

It wasn’t until a few years into adulthood that I came to terms with and embraced my bisexuality. I realized, yes, it does exist and it is OK. Mostly, it was important to be honest and true to myself, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. She’s got her mother in a whirl because she’s not sure if she’s a boy or a girl. Contact her at [email protected].