The Gryphon talks to students, Emma and Joe, about bisexual acceptance at university, gender roles, and gender-blindness.
When I came out as a bisexual woman at the age of thirteen, I did not realise how much it would shape me. Even though the LGBTQ* community is generally more accepted in today’s society, particularly in the university environment, there is often a stigma against bisexuals which stems from a lack of understanding about this sexual orientation. Bisexual celebrities are misrepresented in the media, underrepresented in television shows and movies, and repeatedly stereotyped. These stereotypes can often afflict relationships, with partners having difficulties with trust, sexual satisfaction, and the lingering notion that perhaps one day their lover will either realise their bisexuality was a phase or merely a gateway to homosexuality.
Joe came out as a bisexual man at the age of fifteen. He and I are in an exclusive heterosexual relationship. Having been with members of both sexes, in purely sexual and fully committed relationships alike, Joe originally felt that he would not be able to connect to a woman on the same level as he could with a man. However, we share a deep understanding, perhaps through both coming to terms with being outside the heteronormative, ‘coming out of the closet’, and experiencing this attraction to both sexes. Our connection is strengthened by finding someone who fully embraces both their own and their partner’s sexuality within the relationship and it has taught me that nobody should dismiss or suppress a part of themselves, whether that be their sexual orientation or otherwise. Waiting for the person who understands, relates, and embraces this part of your personality should be a priority for anyone looking for love.
For us, we have embraced our mutual sexuality through disregarding traditional gender roles. Since we have both been in same-sex relationships, where there was no member of the opposite sex to take on the stereotypically ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ attributes, there is no expectation for either one of us to be ‘the man’ or ‘the woman’. This can be as simple as Joe elegantly crossing his legs whilst I sit, legs apart, resting my elbows on my knees to as complex as the extent to which men and women are expected to express their deeper emotions. ‘I never feel awkward doing something that stereotypically the girl would do in a heterosexual relationship,’ Joe says, ‘I see myself as having masculine and feminine qualities and Emma balances that pretty perfectly’. In previous relationships, I have been called cold, distant, and lacking in emotional vulnerability. Joe’s femininity counterbalances my masculinity so naturally that I never struggle to discuss my feelings. There is always this balance between us and it allows Joe especially to express himself in ways that perhaps would make some partners uncomfortable, such as cross-dressing or experimenting with makeup. Even though we both identify with the sex we were assigned at birth, we acknowledge our genders to be somewhat fluid, and each other’s bisexuality lends itself to a safe environment to explore this gender spectrum. I am essentially gender-blind: I do not care if you are cis or trans, androgynous, gender fluid, or agender, and, because I am bisexual, sex is never an issue. Joe and I once remarked how it would not matter if one of us came out as transgender; we love the person on the inside.
Some bisexuals say that they could not be in an exclusive relationship, homo, or hetero. Joe and I used to feel this way. He acknowledges that ‘sex is a huge part of our relationship’ and I would agree, but what surprised us is that we are both sexually satisfied. We have been asked if we felt that in the future we would require a threesome in order to feel sexually complete and Joe argues that ‘having a threesome with Emma is definitely not a necessity’. Likewise, I have no desire or need to actively seek a second sexual partner. Instead, we embrace each other’s sexuality within our sex lives without awkwardness or restraint, with honest communication. If you are a bisexual, I would urge you to believe that as long as you are able to freely discuss your sexual preferences, then there is no reason why your sexual satisfaction, and your relationship as a whole, would be compromised in a monogamous relationship. In a similar vein, if you are dating a bisexual, do not fear that you will be forever unable to have a complete relationship: love can transcend all sexual boundaries.
Emma Hooker & Joe Reeves
Image: Peter Salanki