Disclaimer: this post contains a wee bit of finger pointing)
As a bi/pan/cis-ish woman, I wish that more people both within and outside the lgbtqia+ community understood that bi/pansexual folx are not “undecided” or “ambivalent” or “impure” or “untrustworthy” just because we have the capacity and desire to love many types of people with various kinds of gender expression, bodies and genital configurations sometimes all at the same time. For me, most of the aforementioned negative projections have come from lesbians and, worse, from my lesbian ex-partners.
My longest monogamous relationship with a woman lasted 7 years and for 6 and 1/2 of those we lived together. I adored her but I never felt totally accepted by her or by the circles of cis lesbians that always enthusiastically welcomed her into their folds (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Not only was she amazing at every ball sport that was ever invented, she was a “gold star” to boot! (eye roll). I, being neither athlete nor gold star, spent a lot of time on the sidelines of my partner’s sporting events fixated upon her perfectly muscled legs in action. Inevitably, some “real” lesbian would start hitting on my ex, completely disregarding my loyal but apparently inconsequential presence. I guess I was expected to be fine with my partner constantly being approached by eager lesbians with cool forearm tattoos right in front of me? Meanwhile, the mere idea that I might even seem attracted to a male stranger from a distance made my ex insane with jealousy. It seemed to always came back to this idea that her identity as a lesbian was “legitimate” while my identity as bi a person was not. I was allowed to be attracted to women (but not trans women mind you) because that fell in line with the pure lesbian experience that we could both share.
Eventually, our different orientations became too impossible for us to navigate— and thank goodness for that really. In an attempt to end amicably, we even went to a lesbian couple therapist who deemed me “the more anxious one.” This therapist then continued to see my ex in individual therapy after the breakup (gee no go team lesbian bias happening there). While all of this unraveling was happening, my ex began having a secret relationship with another woman. But, I was the untrustworthy one. Right. Got it. I’m pretty sure they are married now so, whatever, they’re living their legitimate lesbian dream and good for them. It’s been almost 10 years and the whole thing still really hurts my feelings. I deeply internalized the message that lesbians and bi/pan women cannot trust each other so I tend to distance myself from cis lesbians entirely. I feel really mixed about this from the standpoint of social justice advocacy, queer pride, and blah blah blah, but my personal experiences with cis lesbians override my philosophical ideals. So, I just don’t go there.
By the way, if a menstruating cis woman ever tells you that you don’t fully love and appreciate women’s bodies because you don’t want to go down on her while she’s bleeding, that’s not you being a bad lover, that’s her being abusive and confused about all the other people who menstruate who are not women.
Okay deep breaths.
Now, I am in an unmarried, committed, non-monogamous partnership with a cishet man with whom I share a child (there’s a lotta words married mono cishet people never have to say). Life is complicated and great and I have amazing friends that accept me for who I am. My chosen family is growing and it’s really all thanks to my ex. I was excommunicated from the church of lesbian purity and found myself identified with an assortment of colorful weirdos who are too varied to fit under any one label. I am proud of my complexity and while it felt pretty great to come out of the closet, it feels even better to come out of the box (ok I’m really done now).