"Bi Ace... is that a thing?"
For a while, I thought I was exclusively into men. Then, for two years, I thought I was only into women. Fast forward a bit, I discover that I’m into no one physically, but I do like the way certain faces look, both male and female. And that was confusing at first. We’re conditioned to associate the acknowledgment of a nice face to sexual attraction. It’s a part of heteronormativity that is taught to us and projected onto us from the time we are born until we die. I’m still working on convincing my friends and family that you can like someone’s face and never want them to be anywhere near you. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Bisexuality in its own right is a complicated sexuality that’s often misunderstood and misrepresented. For a long time, society believed that if you claimed to like both men and women you were just a greedy, promiscuous person. Even now, bisexual people have been painted as confused or a traitor to one sexuality. And, when we do get represented in the media and/or pop culture, it’s almost never accurate. If we end up deciding on a partner in the story, our sexuality label is shifted to fit the narrative. When a bisexual girl ends up with a male partner, she’s suddenly deemed straight and if she ends up with a girl, her label is changed to a lesbian. Usually, these changes aren’t made by the person they apply to but by the people who are uncomfortable with their bisexual label. I never truly understood why bisexuality makes some people uncomfortable nor the assumptions placed on people who identified this way. It was hurtful to hear from a girl that she wouldn’t date me because there was the apparent chance I could leave her for a guy. I found it strange she didn’t worry about me leaving her for another girl. And when it comes to men, I was disgusted to find they automatically assume that a bisexual girl is into threesomes, as if all we’re good for is kissing on another girl in front of them.
Now, to add another label onto my bisexuality, one in which representation is almost nonexistent, seems like I'm just asking for punishment. However, at this point in my life, I identify more with being asexual than I do with my bisexuality. Meaning, for now, my bisexuality is just me recognizing that both men and women are beautiful, while my asexuality is the one that gets more of my attention. I’m more asexual than bisexual, but that’s only because so many conversations end up revolving around sex. Usually, when asked, I will tell someone I’m asexual or ace before I say that I’m bisexual. Not because I’m ashamed or anything, but because stating that I’m bisexual gives the impression that I’m interested in sex with both men and women when I’m absolutely not. When asked, if I come right out and say I’m ace it can avoid having to explain, usually in great detail, that I like someone’s face but I don’t want to sleep with them.
In addition to asexuality not really being believed still, it’s also nearly unheard of for black women to be asexual. We are out there, I’ve been meeting more and more online recently, but society as a whole and the media have only ever looked at black women as hypersexualized creatures. So, for those of us who want nothing to do with sex at all, it can be even more challenging to get our point across. I’ve been told by men, both in and out of my family, that my asexuality was the result of a “who hurt you” situation. And while someone did hurt me and traumatized me, one of the reasons he did it was because I wasn’t into sex in the first place. He had been hypersexualizing me for so long that when I finally got the courage to speak up and say no, my words fell on deaf ears.
These days, when I allow someone to become a friend and I acknowledge liking the way a person’s face looks I undoubtedly get asked the ultimate question: “Wait, aren’t you asexual?”
And with that question comes the doubts and assumptions. You can see it on people’s faces when you’re trying to explain it to them, which in turn makes me clam up and not want to say anything at all. That comes off as suspicious to the other person and now they are on a downward spiral questioning whether asexuality is real and if it's possible to be both asexual and bisexual at the same time. It’s a conversation I’ve had more times than I’d like to admit, more times than I ever should have tolerated. Back when I was just starting to wrap my mind around the term asexuality, it used to embarrass me to have to explain what it meant to people. To be given that dead stare and have regret bubble up from my stomach as I tried to quickly explain what the word meant as a whole and what it meant (and still means) for me personally.
It’s hard to identify as either sexuality honestly. It’s something that I’ve been giving serious thought to for the better half of three years. I’ve worked through several confusing situations and conversations. I’ve discussed it over and over both with myself and other people. I’ve thought about it and I’ve cried about it. I constantly think whether or not being both asexual and bisexual is a valid thing since it can be argued that bisexuality is being sexually attracted to two genders. I think though, that with the way sexuality fluctuates and changes, sexualities cannot have just one permanent meaning anymore. Everyone is different, everyone feels things differently, and they shouldn’t be confined or made to stick with a socially accepted definition. Barriers can be set around the definition, sure, but to tell someone they aren’t valid because they don’t fully feel something the way you way feel it is ridiculous and obnoxious to me.
In the midst of this, there is a label called "Ace Biromantic," and I’m sure after posting this I’ll get asked why I don’t identify with that. To be honest, before it’s all said and done I probably will, but I don’t know enough about it just yet to be comfortable with placing that label on myself. I know that biromantic means someone who may be romantically involved with someone but not sexually. So it's a kind of asexuality, really. However, I’m not entirely sure I even want to deal with someone romantically. I’m comfortable with being by myself in all corners. I don’t particularly like romance: I find most romantic gestures corny and embarrassing. So, while biromantic is something I’ve considered and am still considering, right now it’s not for me.
I’m past the point of explaining myself to others. I’m over it. In today’s society where so many of us are different, I shouldn’t have to explain why the way I feel is valid. Straight people never have to explain why they are straight. So I’ve decided to try and adopt that type of confidence for myself. My feelings about my sexuality are valid, I don’t need outside approval on this. For too long I thought I did and in seeking that approval I was only hurting myself. My need to have strangers look at me and say “you’re valid” was causing damage to my mind. That constant question of "is the way I feel okay?" made life suffocating, and I don’t want to ever feel like that again. So I’ve decided I’m not going to.
Saying is always easier than doing, but when it comes to this, it’s something I’ve really done my best to follow through on. I can’t waste time arguing over labels or whether something is valid or not. I don’t want my life to revolve around my sexuality. Even now when I write about it, I hope to enlighten and create a safe space for myself, but I never want it to be the only safe space I have. There’s so much more to life than who you choose to have in your bed and what you choose to do with them there. So I’m actively doing my best to know when to draw the line.
I don’t mind questions. I don’t mind conversations. But usually, people think that because you’ve answered one question you will answer them all. They think that because your sexuality is different from theirs that they can discuss it like they’re studying for a school test. It’s weird.
And it’s rude.