When Are You Old Enough to Know Your Sexuality?

Neon Signs
Neon Signs

I recently met up with a gay man who insisted bisexuality does not exist. In fact, he said, "I don't believe in that shit." When I did my best to persuade him that yes, bisexuality is real, he didn't believe me. I even attempted to prove my bisexuality to him. Something I'm typically opposed to, because it's no one's business but my own. But for whatever the reason, I told him about the men and women I've dated, my sexual history, my urges, desires, porn habits, everything. Still, he didn't believe me. At first I was furious, but the more I thought about it, the more I was fascinated by his stubbornness. How, after everything I said, could he still be so ignorant?

In hindsight, the reason he didn't believe me was simple: my age. Right after he said he thinks bisexuality is a sham, he asked me how old I was. When I replied, "24" he nodded, as if to say, "Oh... that explains everything." He is, evidently, a much more mature gay man, at the wise old age of 28.

Everything I subsequently said after my age was dismissed because I was 24, which according to him, meant only two things:

1. I have raging sexual hormones; can only think about sex; and must but a proponent of the philosophy, "a hole is a hole."
2. I am still figuring things out, sexuality included, because as a queer man in his early twenties, there's no comprehensible way I fully grasp my sexual identity.

Therefore, nothing remotely logical or valid could come from my lips because what could I possibly know with any certainty at the green age of 24? An age, apparently, that finds anything with a hole attractive. Best keep those glazed donuts and sesame bagels away from me...

As early as elementary school, my sexuality eluded me. I thought I might be gay but would soon be thrown off by my female crushes. It took over a decade of grappling with my sexuality to finally come to terms with who I am: a proud bisexual. It took therapy, alcohol and a hell of a lot of soul-searching to feel comfortable and confident in my identity. Within seconds, I had my years on introspection ripped away from me, simply because of my youth.

Clearly, this type of biphobia is rooted in ageism -- the idea that young folk (including people in their twenties) are naive and incapable of making decisions for themselves. Consequently bisexuality is just like any other weird habits kids grow out of -- like mixing all the drinks at the soda fountain to create one disgusting, sugary elixir.

There's no real way to combat the argument against ageism without sounding like a temperamental child upset over his early bedtime. My argument, in essence, is the same as his. He's old enough to decide what time he goes to bed, just like I'm old enough to know my sexual identity. But what else is there to say? I am old enough.

There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way society views the sexuality of millennials (especially those who fall somewhere on the sexuality spectrum). Yes, sexuality is fluid. Yes, it can change, but that doesn't mean that what we're experiencing now is any less valid. Trivializing our thoughts at a young age only increases the already arduous process of discovering who we are, both sexually and nonsexually.

Ageism extends further than sexuality. Even as self-sufficient adults in our twenties, millennials are constantly deemed incapable of making our own decisions. This isn't anything new. Older generations have always looked down on younger ones, believing that until we are completely "settled," our identity is in flux. The necessary conditions for being "settled" including:

1. Having a stable job that can be deemed a "career"
2. Married with a life partner
3. Having children
4. Living in a city permanently

Only once these conditions are fully met, is a millennial considered settled, and thus an "adult." And only then, is he capable of "knowing" himself.

That's what makes bisexuality seem "childish" or naïve. I will never be "settled" on a single gender. Even if I decide to marry someone and end up in a monogamous relationship (and for the record, I hope that I do), I will still be bisexual. I will have settled with one person, but my bisexuality remains intact. I will always identify as bisexual because it's who I am.

So let's do some young folks a favor. Give them the benefit of the doubt and see where it takes them. Besides, the journey is more important than the final destination, especially since some of us will never be settled. Some of us will never stick with one job or stay in one city. Some of us will always be in transition. Some of us will always like more than one gender. That doesn't make us any less knowledgeable about our identities. If anything, after experiencing so much, we have a better sense of who we are, and who we want to become.