Hello, my name is Hannah and I’m bisexual, just so you know.
Before I start, please consider these statistics; a most recent Irish study carried out by Glen and the BeLong group in 2016 found that:
- 1/5 people believe that bisexual people are just confused by their sexuality or have not quite figured it out yet.
- Bisexual and transgender people are more likely to self-harm than lesbian/gay females and males.
- In the study, it was found that 60% of those surveyed had thought about taking their own life because of their sexuality.
- Only 1/3 of those surveyed feel safe holding hands with their partner in public.
- Bi-sexual women are the least likely to be “out” to their family and friends.
I never saw myself writing this article, out of fear, out of fear of discrimination and out of fear of seeing my own words on the page in front of me. Yet, here we are and what a delight it is to be here and to be comfortable in saying what I have to say.
We’re told that we should do the things that scare us. This thought was flicking through my head as I walked towards my first date with a woman. I’m a woman and I’m bisexual. I like women and men. I never thought I would be able to whole-heartedly say it without fear of judgement but there it is, judge me, I’m already over it.
“I’m bi” was something I might declare to my friends when I was drunk or feeling confident in a moment but it was never something I felt comfortable fully exploring because it’s not easy when you have the choice. You possibly/rightfully think that people will judge you for choosing to be different when you can choose to be the same as the majority of people around you.
From a young age, I knew that I was equally attracted to both sexes and I was ashamed of my curiosity. It made me feel uncomfortable and I spent a lot of time wishing I could turn it off.
Learning that there are bits of you that you can’t make go away is an important lesson and it’s one that we will keep learning with each passing day.
People who define themselves as bisexual have been labelled as the “unicorns” of the LGBT community because a lack of understanding exists around their sexuality. I know this is how I felt. I always told people that my sexual awakening was watching Hugh Grant strut around Notting Hill with his floppy hair, but if I was honest, this awakening was compounded by Julia Roberts when Hugh spilled his coffee on her shirt. My confusion was driven my flitting from one crush to the other, constantly. Puberty is perplexing but even more so when you’re not sure of your type especially when there’s a big discrepancy between the two.
Today I fancy Nigella Lawson and Chris O’ Dowd, with a touch of Uma Thurman and a splash of David Gandy. It’s a rollercoaster of oxytocin. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
However, looking back to when I was a tot there was a constant looming fear over my head, in which I believed my friends would think I fancied them. Of course, this isn’t the case. You don’t fancy every man you pass by on the street as a straight woman and if you I don’t know how you get through your day to day bits. That thought, that people will think you’re so different if you like the same sex too, is fear associated with the chance that people may not accept you.
When I was younger, it’s sad to think that all I could bear to predict was that people would think I was a freak for being bi. The only solution was to marry a nice man because I like men too. No one would need to know about this side of me and I would never face judgement, what a shame that would have been, to live like that, to live in the shadows of my own self-doubt.
During a period, young Hannah also became obsessed with the notion that people would think she was being attention-seeking, that people would think it was another attempt to be woke; it would be another label to put on the biography, like being vegan or having tattoos or piercings. I even remember drunkenly telling some guy after he spilled his heart out about his ex-girlfriend going off with another girl. I was drunk and I knew I would never see him again. “I’m bi, loads of people are.” I slurred, to which he replied, “Oh that’s just something girls say for attention, they think it’s a real turn-on for guys.”
There’s 101 things that are wrong with that response but the main one being the hysterical delusion that some males have; that of females doing everything to get their attention. Pleaaaase!
College came and with that, so did a little maturity. A few fumbles in a darkened room and my growing imagination told me that this wasn’t something that I was going to be able to shake and let us rejoice and be glad because what a world I would have missed out on if I decided not to accept myself fully and completely.
Life is full of firsts and I always remember them whether it’s your first time trying rice pudding or your first bad experience with tequila, they stick. Even though I had experiences with women that are still shrouded in mystery and possibly a little shame on both sides, I had never organized and embarked on a date. I changed my Tinder preferences more times than the gals in Rose of Tralee change their dresses. The prospect was quite frankly, terrifying to me but I pursued it because after twenty-three years of being one way, maybe it’s time to experience life another way. It was time to let go of my inhibitions and be the unique creature I was born to be. We get life once and you don’t always feel it slipping through your fingers but it’s not something to waste.
So, I guess I’m approaching my conclusion because it’s not cool to kiss and tell but the date was one of my best ones to date. It wasn’t weird, it was like having your first kiss, once you were there and it was happening, it was as natural as taking your first selfie. My little bit of Valentines advice for you, is to not waste time like this ripe avocado did. When you know, you know, it’s okay to know and it’s okay to not be okay with it but this Valentine’s day, know from me to you that you’re worth every ounce of love, regardless of whether it’s from a girl or a boy. This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of being allowed to fancy who you want.
The study as cited above depicts that, young LGBT people are two times more likely to experience self-harm. They are three times more likely to attempt suicide and they are four times more likely to experience severe anxiety and depression.
If you have been affected by any of the material raised in this issue, please call:
- Cork Lesbian Line
Tel: 1890 929 539 or 021 431 8318
- Dublin Lesbian Line
Tel: 1890 929 539 or 01 872 9911
- Dundalk Outcomers Helpline
Tel: 1890 929 539
- Gay Information Cork
Tel: 1890 929 539 or 021 427 1087
- LGBT Dublin
Tel: 1890 929 539
- LGBT Galway
Tel: 1890 929 539
- Outwest Helpline
Tel: 1890 929 539 or 094 937 2479