Are You Sexually Confused... or Scared?

Definition of bisexual
Definition of bisexual

"It doesn't sound like you're confused," My therapist told me on our third session. "It sounds like you know."

"I mean, my sexuality is the main reason I'm here," I replied defensively." I feel like the moment I think I know what I am, something happens that makes me question everything that's come before. So I would say I'm confused."

"Zach, would you say you like women?"

"Yes."

"And you just told me you like men, although haven't fallen in love with one yet."

"Correct."

"So you like men and women."

"Yes."

"You're bisexual."

There was such simplicity to it. I'm bisexual. That's it. That's who I am.

Deep down, I knew this. Not even that far down. He felt comfortable stating it so bluntly, as opposed to letting me come to the epiphany on my own volition, because my sexual identity realization was right on the surface, bursting to get out. I just needed a little push. So he gave me one.

I had complicated my sexuality for years. Labeling myself as both straight and gay. Then not doing labels at all. Declaring that I'm only physically attracted to men but not emotionally attracted. I told myself I just love the attention from gay men. I convinced myself I love gay culture and wanted so desperately to be a part of it that I was sleeping with men without actually being queer. I told myself I was just drunk and horny. I told myself many things -- except that I was bisexual. I think that was largely in part to the stigma and society's de-legitimization of bisexual men. Additionally, the only bi men I met in college came out as gay shortly after. So I didn't think bisexuality was an option, at least in the beginning. By the end, I knew it was a valid sexuality, but still, something was holding me back. The label seemed more daunting than identifying as gay or frankly anything else.

I wasn't confused. I was terrified.

Don't get me wrong. Sexuality is confusing as all hell. Doesn't matter how you do or do not identify: Straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, transgender, genderqueer, agender, demisexual, omnisexual, polysexual, heteroflexible, sapiosexual, homoflexible, the list goes on and on. Even with all the labels out there, there are still many of us who feel as if we defy labels. Since we don't neatly fit into any label, we identify as queer, or don't identify as anything at all.

Society's binary perspective of sexuality and gender, which is shoved down our throats from the day we're born, makes it confusing. Even before children are born, parents are deciding which color clothing to buy for the baby and which toys to get them. Of course, blue is for boys and pink is for girls, just like trucks are for boys and dolls for girls. And with all the heteronormativity that not only floods the media, but the way that we speak, we're constantly reinforced with a strict code of behavior. Being a genderqueer asexual isn't part of that code, and it's not depicted, well... pretty much anywhere.

So yes, it's very confusing, especially for those of us who don't fit neatly on the sexual binary.

But let's not let fear mask itself as confusion.

Once we're past the point of confusion, many of us continue to call ourselves confused as a defense mechanism. If we're confused, we can't label ourselves, and if we can't label ourselves, then we're not X, which is good, because the idea of being X is too much to bear.

My goal isn't to force people to come out sooner than they feel comfortable or to force people to indentify with something that they don't feel accurately represents them. I know that some parts of our sexuality we may never know fully. Some parts will constantly be in flux. Some parts of our sexual identity will forever remain elusive and ineffable. That's fine. That's life.

But that's why it's so important to claim the things we can know. The few things in our complicated lives that have clarity, ground us. They keep us sane.

I could have easily kept doing what I was doing. Not labeling or relabeling myself on a weekly basis. But once I was able to recognize my fear of labeling for what it was, fear and not confusion, I was able to approach my fears head-on and eventually overcome (some of) them. I cannot tell you how much happier I am for it. There wasn't a night for five years when I didn't obsessed over my sexuality. Over "what I am."

Masquerading my fear as confusion also inhibited me from making deep connections. I was too anxious. Too focused on myself to care for someone else the way I should. So my connections, while they were meaningful, weren't complete. They weren't honest.

Once I admitted to myself I was bi, and labeled myself as such, I was able to tackle my biggest fear, which I realized was not being straight or gay. Feeling like an outsider from both communities. And yes, when I came out, I had dates turn me down, or worse, ghost me because I'm bisexual. My fear was based in reality. Biphobia is very much real. I'm constantly invalidated by new people I meet. Constantly questioned. I don't have a community to call my own. (Although, side note, I've been more involved with the polyamorous community. Many poly people are bisexual, and are supportive and understanding of bisexuality, which is probably why I've been drawn to the community.)

While it's terrible that I experience biphobia, I know, with certainty, I am bisexual. I can say it confidently, and I'm much happier because of it.

So the question is no longer: What is it about your sexuality that's confusing? The questions become: What about your sexuality scares you? How do you overcome it to become happier with you are?