Members of the Leeds LGBTQ community talked to Features Editor Brigitte Phillips about living with their identities, and their misunderstandings and misrepresentations that come with it.
People often assume that bisexuality is essentially a camouflage for promiscuity, or greed, or simply a ‘transition’ period before coming out as gay. ‘Queer’ is a term that allows for self-definition, you can adapt the phrase to suit your own sexual identity.
My relationship with my sexuality has been a volatile, confusing and quite frankly exhausting part of my young adult life. I think one of the most frustrating elements of any queer person’s day-to-day life is having to justify or explain repeatedly a core part of yourself to others in a way which heterosexual or ‘straight’ people don’t have to. The very notion of homosexuality is still an ‘event’ in even the most modern of cultures, an excuse to invade and marvel at people’s private affairs purely because they may differ ever so slightly from the ‘norm.’ Personally, I think that kind of reaction belongs somewhere in the realms of the 20th century. Where there’s any number of things to be astounded by, homosexuality should cease to be a subject of such bewilderment. I knew from the age of twelve that I had some interest in people of the same sex that differed slightly from other girls my age. I felt compelled to keep quiet about my feelings for years, convinced by a girl that I was involved with that we would receive abuse and rejection on a large scale if we told anyone how we felt. When, aged sixteen, I eventually came out as bisexual, the reaction could not have differed any more from what I had anticipated. Most people were adamant that it was just a ‘phase’, despite my insistence that this wasn’t the case. My recent decision to identify as ‘queer’ as opposed to ‘bisexual’ has stemmed from years of battling artificial myths regarding bisexuality. People often assume that bisexuality is essentially a camouflage for promiscuity, or greed, or simply a ‘transition’ period before coming out as gay. ‘Queer’ is a term that allows for self-definition, you can adapt the phrase to suit your own sexual identity. You are in control of defining your own identification, whereas with bisexuality society often does this for you, and usually inaccurately. The room for manoeuvre with the term ‘queer’ personally provides me with a much more relaxed and refreshing approach to expressing my sexuality. However, the societal obsession with labelling and penning people into different categories is a convention that should not necessarily apply to sexual identity. Sexuality is not a fixed anomaly; it is a journey that is fluid and shaped through a person’s growth and experience. I think it’s unhealthy to assume that one person has to be one identifiable ‘something’ when human beings are made up of so many parts. Speaking personally, my sexual identity has evolved through several different stages of being, and I believe it’s probably time we stopped herding people into different groups and just let people be who they are.
Photographs: Sam Broadley and Ruby Lott-Lavigna