Pride Voices: Why do so many misconceptions about bisexuality still exist?

Pride: Bisexuality | Soho House

Writer and curator, Anastasiia Fedorova, reflects on blending in, coming out, and navigating the queer spaces in between

01 July 2022     By Anastasiia Fedorova    Photography by Anya Gorkova

In celebration of this year’s Pride, we're showcasing a special series – Pride Voices – to explore the many sides of LGBTQIA+ life and queer culture today, as told by people from the community.
I remember very clearly when I almost made my therapist laugh. ‘If I’m having a very bad day,’ I said towards the end of my session, ‘I just tell myself, well, at least I will never wake up straight again.’ I saw how hard they tried to suppress the laughter. I found the therapist through an LGBTQIA+ charity, which means that on some level they might relate. That little glimpse of joy and solidarity in their eyes is a hard drug, a precious experience for any queer. As a bisexual, I searched for it within and outside the boundaries of queer communities – and it has taught me that belonging as a bisexual is a very precarious concept. 
Not every bisexual person is haunted by straightness the way I am. I grew up in a very conservative country, without actually meeting any queer people until I stepped into a gay bar in my late teens. I could always blend into the straight world – but I could feel something in my life was missing, something that made me feel alienated and different. I allow myself to make jokes about straight people sometimes, because I lived as one for 28 years. Straightness itself is not the problem – but compulsory heterosexuality is. In a society where it is a default option, it is too easy to dismiss, suppress, and brush off your true desires and true self. 
When I came out at 28, I understood that queerness is not just an identity; it changes how you move through the world on an emotional, sensual, and physical level. It’s that feeling, as you still smell someone on your skin, that everything is suddenly more full-bodied and radiant. At the time, I thought of coming out as a vector – that perhaps I would simply become gay. A year later, I realised that wasn’t the case and had to come out once again – this time to my queer community. 

Pride: Bisexuality | Soho House

In the queer context, I struggled with internalised biphobia even more. For ages, I would think of my attraction to men as something my friends wouldn’t understand; something from my previous deeply unfulfilling life; something you fantasise about but don’t make part of your political identity. It took me a couple of years to get over this – that’s why I still tell myself, regardless of the gender of the person I’m making out with at Pride, that I’ll never wake up straight again. 
I identify as both bisexual and queer. I hold on to the bisexual label not only because it feels right, but also because it feels good to make new meanings for it. Moreover, it feels necessary to do so with all the lingering stigma that’s especially harsh for bisexual trans and non-binary people, bisexual men, and all the people on the cusp of their first (perhaps of many) coming out.  
The term ‘bisexuality’ is cursed by the concept of duality – as if you are 50% gay and 50% straight. As if there are two worlds for you to jump between and two genders to fall in love with. These days we know that the worlds are multiple and so are the genders – and that sexuality is fluid and changing. I believe that choosing ‘either or’ is ultimately a very straight concept. Why choose if you can have not only both, but everything? 
Bisexuality for me meant deciding which spaces to bring which parts of me to. These days I allow myself to arrive the way I am – with my privileges, all the complexity of my sexual preferences, and multiple drinks. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen all the memes about bisexuals with multiple drinks? If you rock up to a function juggling an iced coffee, a water and a seltzer, perhaps it’s time to reconsider whether you’re one of us. 
Jokes aside, I am grateful for people who accept me for who I am as part of their community. Bisexuality erasure is painful. But there is a bit of unlikely pleasure in it too – you are free to define what it means for you in the shifting landscape of queer culture. 

Interested in becoming a member?