LGBT History Month - Bi-Blog
I am a bisexual female. I've known I was attracted to some men and some women since I was a young teenager. Growing up in the early 90's, "BISEXUAL" wasn't a term I was familiar with. I came from a secular and open-minded family but even so, I had only really heard of being either 'straight' or 'gay'. I didn't really acknowledge any attraction to other females, despite having physical experiences; which I put down to sexual exploration. When I was 15, I met some other bisexual females, around the same age. We didn't talk about my thoughts and feelings but through listening to them, I quickly realised that 'bisexuality' was a sexuality in its own right and this was what I was. I felt like I understood myself better and mentally, I accepted myself however... Coming out has always been a different matter.
I am in my late 30's, a serving police officer and I would say at this stage I am neither out nor in - I'm somewhere in between. Close friends know. My mother knows. I would think that my father probably could guess but it has never really come up. The reason for this is all of my significant relationships have been with men .This isn't a rule of mine, it just happens to be a coincidence. Because of this there has never been a time where I have felt that it was relevant to sit down with my family and tell them "what I am". Now that I am married to a man and I am mother, there seems even less reason to bring it up. Sexuality is a highly personal thing. I genuinely don't think my family would judge me but I think there could be confusion. As to social media, I am quite outspoken and am generally known as pretty liberal in my views so the question of whether other friends and acquaintances know or could hazard a guess I would say is quite likely. I don't hide who I am so if someone asked me then I would happily and emphatically tell them I am bisexual.
In other employment, I suppose, my sexuality has been more common knowledge, possibly as I was employed in these positions before I was married. Although, I have happily declared my sexuality on my personnel files throughout my police service, I am not open about my sexuality. Police Scotland is an inclusive employer, I do believe this. I believe they mean to support diversity and in the main they do it well, however I don't feel that bisexuality is widely accepted nor understood in the force - but this is a reflection on society, not individual to those who work for Police Scotland. Again, I feel that the media have a lot to answer for this as bisexuality is rarely covered and when it is, it's not covered particularly accurately to my mind. Many members of the public, in my experience, both 'straight' and 'gay' subscribe to the point of view that 'bisexuality' purely means 'not fussy' - I've even heard bisexuality described as 'predatory' which is incredibly alarming to me and I'm sure to other bisexual people. This is absolutely NOT the case, for me nor any other bisexual person I have ever met. Just as straight people are rarely attracted to the entirety of the opposite sex and 'gay' people are rarely attracted to the entirety of their own sex, neither are 'bisexual' people attracted to now pursue everyone. Attraction depends on the appeal of certain traits, looks, behaviours and personality and is deeply complicated. The difference with bisexuality is that this does not have any reference to gender - that is all.
Bisexual people find themselves often, in my experience, in the unhappy position of being misunderstood by both 'straight' and 'homosexual' people and this is quite hard to deal with. I have never wanted to needlessly impact my career by coming out openly when I don't think that my situation would be either appreciated or understood by many of my colleagues. I don't want colleagues to feel uncomfortable when I make efforts to get to know them as friends, as to my motives. I don't want speculation about the validity or status of my marriage and have to answer awkward questions about monogamy and personal preference. I don't want to be treated like a 'novelty' for other people to get gratification from discussing what they imagine my experiences to have been (this has happened before in other employment). Another concern in 'coming out' would be that, since I have been in a 'straight marriage' since joining, there would be a possibility that I may be tarred with the 'attention seeking' or 'using a protected characteristic to get ahead' brush. Now anyone that knows me, knows that largely, I couldn't give a stuff about what others think of me.... however, it's not just me that affects........
Interestingly, although I know of many 'homosexual colleagues, I am yet to meet any other person that identifies as bisexual. I know there will be some, maybe many but I don't know anyone who has felt comfortable enough to say they are. This affirms to me that I am not the only person with reservations as to how coming out would affect me in the workplace. I wrestle with the above. I value my integrity more than anything and I feel that, in not being forthcoming about my sexuality, I am betraying a part of myself. Equally however, I value my privacy and my right to make a living without having to fight to be understood. I am not in the position where I can currently reconcile these two points of view easily. I do hope that, through time, the concept of 'bisexuality' can be better understood by the wider community. I know things are better now than they've ever been but we still have a long way to go. My advice to everyone is take everyone as you find them and don't judge anyone based on what you think you know of them or any stereotypes. I just hope that things get better still for my child's generation and those who follow.