Thursday, June 13, 2024

I’m Bisexual Even If I Don’t Date or Have Sex Personal Essay

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If someone had told me that I’d intentionally go seven years without having sex or dating, I wouldn’t have believed them. And yet, that’s exactly what happened following a difficult breakup in 2016.

The end of that relationship was messy and painful, but it was also the catalyst for a solo journey that I, a bisexual woman and a survivor of sexual violence, didn’t know I needed at the time. Ever since, choosing single living and a solo sex life has been the most liberating thing I’ve ever done for myself.

It all started when I promised I was just going to be single long enough to get my life in order. I was a traumatized mess at the time. I was burnt out from work and perpetually anxious, and my self-esteem was the lowest it had ever been. To top it all off, I’d just started openly talking about my bisexuality, too, which disappointed many conservative family members and unimpressed other queer people.

Fortunately, as a child of the 1990s, I felt seen by queer representation in general, thanks in part to shows like “This Is Us,” “Broad City,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and “Schitt’s Creek.” But at the same time, I felt like I was constantly being gaslit about my sexuality by both heterosexuals and people from the LGBTQ+ community.

“Have you ever had a girlfriend?” they would ask.

“But didn’t you used to say you were straight?”

“Are your preferences for men and women 50/50?”

“Why don’t you just say you’re sexually fluid?”

I felt constant invalidation and tried to prove my bisexuality by continuously talking about my sexual experiences with both women and men, sharing my crushes on Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal, and admitting my first orgasmic dream from Lady Gaga. Since my time being single and sexless, however, I don’t feel the need to prove, well, anything.

I’m still vocal about being bisexual, of course, because bi erasure and biphobia still exist. But if people assume I’m a lesbian, that’s OK. If they think I’m asexual, it’s whatever. And if they think I’m straight, I’m not offended. Why? Because I’m secure enough in my identity now that I don’t need to be appropriately labeled by other people to feel validated.

Choosing single living and a solo sex life has been the most liberating thing I’ve ever done for myself.

Perhaps age plays a role in this growth, but going seven years without sex or a romantic partner has only affirmed my bisexuality. Because by focusing my energy on healing instead of on dating or my partners, I was able to boost my self-esteem and understand my identity more confidently.

I’ve learned in my growth that attraction to men and women doesn’t have to be split evenly for me to call myself bi, and the fact that I used to identify as straight doesn’t make me any less bisexual either.

I’ve spent a lot of the past seven years confronting my own religious trauma and internalized biphobia, researching bisexual icons from history like Josephine Baker, and cultivating relationships with queer people who don’t question my identity — all things I might not have taken the time to do if I hadn’t been super single.

But I’m also at this place of intellectual and emotional freedom simply because being intentionally single and not having sex has given me a lot of time to think my own thoughts and feel my own feelings free of the judgement, influence, and control of a partner.

Plus, not having a romantic or sexual partner(s) to make me feel “queer enough” has pushed me to find that validation within myself, something I often struggled with in previous relationships.

Of course, I’m open to the idea of falling in love again, and I like the thought of growing old with someone. For now, though, I’m happy to receive all my orgasms from sex toys, and I’m satisfied with platonic love. I don’t need a “better half” to feel whole, and I don’t have to rely on romantic partners for a sex life.

Elizabeth “Liz” Enochs is a queer writer from southeast Missouri. She’s the author of the nonfiction prose chapbook “Leaving the House Unlocked.”

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