Issue 12: Judge Me Not Bi The Company I Keep 👫

Tales from straight-passing bisexuals and Twitch.

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Hello angels!

I’m writing this on a Sunday and while I’m excited to chit-chat with y’all, I’m wondering when the f*cking f*ck I’ll get to take a weekend off again. I’ve been doing so much book launch prep and day job stuff this weekend (yes, I had two work meetings on a Sunday 🙄), but I desperately wanna lay in bed and ignore all my texts and have someone (cough Brinley cough) make pancakes for meeee.

No one tells you this, but launching a book is ridiculously stressful! Actually everyone tells you this, but no one tells you how seriously you should take it. In my case, the real problem is that my actual career is in marketing, so I’m putting loads of pressure on myself to do even the book marketing right. But it’s funny—the reason I wrote this book on such a tight turnaround is because we wanted to launch it around Bi Visibility Week, but now that BVW is almost here, I’m far too exhausted to write op-eds / make content / do the myriad press appearances that would be necessary for that timing to mean anything. Smh.

I am thrilled to have written a book, but honestly I can’t wait until this is all over and I can start my newsletters with something other than exhaustion.

Things I’m grateful for right now:

  • An upcoming trip to LA for LDW. I was able to use leftover points + an upgrade certificate to book Brinley and I both Delta One (if we left at 7am on a Wednesday, lol). 😎 I’ll be getting us carbon offsets but other than that, I’m not trying to unpack this privilege too much and just let it be.

  • The ability to partner with the fabulous Unbound Babes on some fun upcoming stuff for my book launch. I’m so grateful for their support that I’d love you to support them! (Use code JENEROUS10 for 10% off, works on everything but subscriptions)

  • Reading! As the world remains one large stress ball, often leaving me with so little stamina that I can barely even watch TV, I’m grateful for spare moments spent curled up with a book. Here are a few I’ve been loving (and/or looking forward to):

    1. Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So. Gorgeous posthumous collection of short stories by a talent who was taken from us far too soon — he died at age 28, and according to his Instagram bio was “working on a novel.” You can read the first story from Afterparties in The New Yorker. I feel honored to have been on this list in his presence.

    2. Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang (pre-order, comes out 9/5). I’ve plugged this before and I’ll plug it again—pre-order this book! You will want it in your hands on launch day, considering everyone you know will be talking about it. One reason to read: Because it is, in Publishers Weekly’s words, “extraordinary”—nearly impossible to put down. Another reason to read: Because I can vouch for Julie as an incredibly cool person. I met her through a mutual friend (Edwin Poché, another talented writer whose own memoir is already long overdue) and she’s been so incredibly supportive.

    3. Open by Rachel Krantz (preorder, comes out 1/25). Literally cannot wait for this book to exist in the world. I started reading the galley last night (because I’m a person who reads galleys now 💁🏻‍♀️) and I’m already loving it. Rachel is another author whose character I can personally vouch for (we met via the First Time Authors group that Julie so graciously invited me to), and she shot me a message noting how much the content of our books overlapped. Rachel’s begins with a moment of queer lust, and I must admit that moments after reading that, I hastily skipped ahead to check out a mid-book chapter called “Am I Bisexual?”

    4. Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kalsuke. I’m so pumped for this book to arrive at my house. If you haven’t guessed from the title, it’s a novel told entirely via Slack messages. I’m a sucker for a gimmick, and I’m thrilled about this one—especially because Carmen Maria Machado called it, “An absurd, hilarious romp through the haunted house of late-stage capitalism.”

  • Solar Power by Lorde. I’m basic, so sue me.

  • Taksim, my new favorite delivery place for Turkish food in BK.

  • Mutated daisies.

  • The two beautiful weddings I attended last month.

  • My friends Joe and Darin, who just celebrated their Adoption Finalization for their beautiful baby Blair! Also grateful for the fact that I get to meet Blair very soon, thus witness firsthand the [highly enviable] effects of Trixie & Katya on infants.

  • This tweet.

  • The Other Two on HBO. (“Marry You At Recess” is stuck in my head forever.

  • My new hobby making beaded bracelets.

  • You, for pre-ordering Greedy. Because you have pre-ordered Greedy . . . right?

Are You Afraid of Erasure?

Stories from bi people in “straight-passing” relationships.

A week and a half ago I posted a question sticker to my Instagram story. The prompt was threefold:

  1. Are you bisexual and in a “straight-passing” relationship?

  2. Has that influenced your coming out / sexuality journey?

  3. How has your partner supported you—or not?

I usually get between 30-300 responses to a question sticker. This time I got thousands. They weren’t just run-of-the-mill responses, either—so many people were sending stream of consciousness messages, baring their souls, and DMing me lengthy tomes so they could avoid the question sticker’s character count.

I was quite literally flabbergasted by this response (you know shit is real when you use the word “flabbergasted” and mean it). I knew this subject had been under-reported, but I had no idea how starved we all were to unload our closeted stories, share our bi struggles, and be seen in this context.

At first, I got defensive about the amount of emotional labor I’d have to do in reading these replies. Is no one in therapy anymore? I wondered. But then I thought back to my own therapy sessions before I was out—how I’d tried bringing up my bisexuality in several different sessions, only to have my therapist dismiss it or get uncomfortable and change the subject. Even when bi people do all the right things (like seek professional support for our mental health), it can still be hard for us to be taken seriously.

After reading through your responses and comments on this post (which took the full week and a half—and I’m not even sure I’m done yet), I decided the purest thing for me to do was to share some of those testimonies in their original form.

Below you’ll see stories and anecdotes from bi people in various types of relationships. All are anonymous, tied to a single initial. I tried to sort them and organize as best I could to give y’all some concrete takeaways, but if this is still a mess—hey, so are we.

Being bi in “straight-passing” relationships tends to bring up complex feelings around monogamy.

  • “My partner is supportive and asked lots of qs. But he isn’t open to opening the relationship at all, which I’m okay with for now.” — H.

  • “I’ve really struggled with this. My straight ex tried to be supportive but always ended up insecure and jealous.” — K.

  • “My partner is understanding, but I often feel like I’m missing out on something by being with a man. I only had one relationship with a woman. Before that I had been in love with my best friend in HS. Actually just last year she reached out to me and I can’t stop thinking about her.” — A.

  • “My ex was a gay woman, and she was not supportive. She said ‘You will leave me for men.’ It hurt.” — C.

  • “Married 10+ years. Started swinging. Realized I’m bi.” — N.

  • “I had a breakup because of this! I mentioned it off-hand because it was nbd to me, and he got all weird and said ‘then you should explore that side of you.’ I said, ‘thanks, I have, I don’t need tour permission?’ He just handled it poorly — super confused and threatened.” — E.

  • “I didn’t realize I was bi until I was married! Now we’re monogamous but I haven’t told either of our families. If I say I’m bi, most people go ‘awww but you’re married and don’t get to explore that”—then if I elaborate, it involves me sharing details from my partner/husband’s sex life that he might not want me to share.” — R.

Often these relationships make us second-guess ourselves, or hide our process of self-discovery.

  • “I’m terrified of my identity being erased when we decide to have a baby.” — T.

  • “My BF is ‘super supportive’ of me, but my bisexuality just doesn’t ever really come up now? I find that odd.” — F.

  • “I started questioning my sexuality while having a boyfriend (I’m a gal) and for a while I felt I had to hide my questioning/confusion because I didn’t know for sure.” — P.

  • “For me, coming out while in a monogamous (and ‘straight presenting’) relationship exacerbated a lot of the stereotypes bi people face everyday. After I publicly came out as bi, both my partner and I received an onslaught of questions, mostly along the lines of ‘Does this mean you guys broke up?’ etc. These intrusions basically took the stereotype that bi people are hypersexual one step further, implying that I was going to cheat on my partner or didn’t want to be monogamous with him anymore. What people didn’t understand is that I had been bisexual the whole time I was dating this person, just not publicly; nothing about our relationship was going to change just because I made the choice to come out. It’s a shame that the validity of a relationship comes into question just because someone feels comfortable expressing their sexuality, which shows how harmful these stereotypes can be.” — M.

And having a “straight-passing” history feeds our impostor syndrome.

  • “I was already deep into my hetero relationship when I came to terms with openly admitting I’m bisexual. I’d always hinted at it but began confessing to myself and my close friends before ‘officially’ telling him. He was supportive and it affirmed our relationship, but I do feel like a poser since I’ve always been in heteronormative relationships. Like how can I come out as bi when I have nothing to show for it?” — L.

  • “The hard part is that I feel like people don’t take me seriously when I tell them I’m bi because they know that I (identifying a woman) am in a relationship with a man.” — M.

  • “I’ve left cis men in the past because the relationship interfered with my self-perception.” — A.

  • “I feel like I have to ‘prove’ I’m bi by talking about wanting women more.” — J.

  • “Sometimes I feel I have to be louder about my sexuality so people see me as queer and don’t think I’m a straight chick trying to invade queer spaces.” — S.

  • “I came out to my husband a few years ago. Now we’re always assumed monogamous—it’s harder to say I’m polyamorous than bi.” — K.

It’s common to experience bi erasure and stereotyping from partners and people we love most.

  • “In my younger days I countered a LOT of bi erasure from partners.” — A.

  • “First partner constantly said I was ‘straight now’ and other sly digs. I never wanted to come out until I had ‘proof’ (WLW partner) but that’s shitty.” — P.

  • Partner was totally fine with it, but his mother freaked out and it ruined my relationship with her a little bit.” — M.

  • “Lol my ex bf’s dad told me that calling myself queer is an insult to ~real~ gay people.” — M.

  • “When I got into a straight-passing relationship, everyone immediately assumed I just ‘stopped’ being bisexual and liking girls. It felt like coming out again.” — I.

  • “I feel defensive of my queerness CONSTANTLY. I try to queer code myself to feel valid.” — K.

  • “My ex (cis male) regularly forgot that all my exes were women…selective memory af.” — M.

But sometimes straight-passing partners can be the best allies.

  • “I realized why I was asking my partner if he was ghey all the time…because I was, lol.” — J.

  • “TL;DR: I feel like a poser. But my BF is rad and open about being in a queer relationship.” — A.

  • “My partner is great! Hating being perceived as straight helped me realize I’m nonbinary.” — M.

  • “My bf sends me thirst trap lesbian TikToks and idk, it feels super supportive to me.” — K.

  • “Dating a bi guy for the first time and his unapologetic bi openness has finally given me the space/safety to use the term for myself. 💜” — R.

Sometimes they even join us.

  • “I thought about never telling anyone. I thought maybe if my husband died before me I’d wish I had, then I ended up telling him one night and he said he was bi too! It brought us closer together.” — C.

  • “A few years after my coming out, my partner now is also bi/pan. Couldn’t be happier, more supported, or in love.” — P.

At least that way, the erasure only comes from other people. 🙄

  • “In a bi relationship, me and partner are bi. Constantly told we’re a straight couple. Queer spaces see us as tourists. Queer people constantly presume we’re both straight. If we try to talk about the erasure queer people say we don’t have it so bad because of straight passing privilege.” — M.

  • “My husband and I are both bi. We feel invisible outside of our relationship.” —B.

  • “I’m a bi cis man and my partner is a pan cis woman. We have only come out to each other.” — A.

That’s hardly even the tip of the iceberg so I’ll be sharing more of these responses on my story this week. If you liked this type of content, let me know! If you have requests for others, drop a comment! Reply to this email! DM me! This is a dialogue, baby!

Follow This Bisexual: @BlizzB3ear

This section of the newsletter was written & compiled by my amazing intern, Macy Harder! Macy (she/her) is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota—not to mention another bisexual you should follow!

Blizz (he/him) is a Black bisexual content creator who focuses on creating a safe space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ folks. You might know Blizz from his Twitch streams, where he plays video games and hosts the coziest of chat sessions. Or maybe you’ve seen his tweets, which bring positivity to any timeline. He’s also an advocate for bisexual men and a self-proclaimed “visible bi.”

Read on to learn more about Blizz and the online community he’s created.

When you started streaming on Twitch, what was your overall vision for the space that you wanted to create?

I wanted to find a sense of community with some queer and BIPOC gaming spaces, since I lacked that in my own life. I considered myself lonely because I didn’t have the opportunity to meet folks who had similar experiences as me, and I also wanted a comfortable space. I started streaming during COVID, when it seemed like the world was constantly on fire. I wanted a space where I could come into and breathe for a couple of hours. 

Can you tell us more about the term “visible bi”—what it means and its importance to you?

A lot of the time, us folks who don’t fit into the gay or lesbian label feel like we don’t exist, even within our own community. There are a lot of times I have told folks I was bisexual, only to be told “it’s just a phase” or “that’s not really a thing.” So adding [“visible bi”] to my bio online is basically a big “f-you” to the people who don’t wanna believe I exist. I am aggressively bisexual and I will make sure you’re aware of it.

What do you think is the impact of being a "visible bi" in the streaming world?

B: I think in media in general, you only see representation for folks who identify as gay or lesbian. Even then, those folks aren’t represented fairly and are given horrible stereotypes. I think the impact of being a visible bi is that it finally helps people feel seen. They are able to see a bisexual person attempt to live their best life. Also, having that bisexual person encourage them to live their best life as well! We exist and we deserve a space on every platform.

What's your all-time favorite game?

I love Stardew Valley! It is the game that made my career and I still play it every Sunday to this day!

Thank you so much for reading and subscribing to The Bi Monthly! I love you and I’m so grateful you’re here!

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