HAPPY PRIDE 🏳️🌈
Last week, I read an article that stated that only 28% of bisexual persons are out to their loved ones compared to 71% of lesbians and 78% of gay men in America. These numbers when brought closer to home, in Nigeria, are pretty much next to none because how do you explain to your Nigerian parents that you go both ways.
This is not denying the fact that coming out as lesbian or gay isn’t already painfully difficult in a country that criminalises homosexuality and does all it can to erase it. Both realities can exist concurrently, but when you throw bisexuality in the conversation then it becomes something entirely different. It’s wrong, it’s almost selfish and surely you can just stick to men.
The truth is that very few bisexuals ever feel like they belong within the LGBTQ+ community. And that’s probably why it took me so long to accept who I knew I was. I’ve always liked women and this was something I was aware of, before I figured out that I was attracted to men. My first kiss and sexual encounter were with women.
I was drawn to the women I saw on screen, in books, in film and even in real life. I remember a certain year where I made a cut-out book of women I loved. But I don’t think I ever had the right terminology for my feelings so they went unchecked for the better part of my childhood.
I was shamed a lot by my family for my feelings and my sexuality. It’s something I will never forget because till this day, I don’t care much for ‘coming out’ to them (except my loving and supportive siblings). High school was the same. It was catholic and all-girls so I had bare crushes but appearing as a ‘lesbian’ was asking for it. I’m ashamed to say I joined in on demonising the thing I knew I felt on the inside.
It was also in high school that I really began feeling sexual and romantic attraction for men. This led to hyper-sexuality as I tried to ‘belong’ and that to me, meant liking as many boys as I could. Anyone who knew me in highschool (and I mean really knew me) would know that I changed boys like the seasons. There was literally a new guy every time we went on holiday because that’s how I thought I needed to be.
Needless to say my insecurity about my sexuality led to me making all the wrong choices but looking back, I wouldn’t have had my journey any other way.
But I’m still not wholly certain I’ve explored my sexuality or understand it in depth. I mean how could I–I only started using the terminology in the last year. Only the closest people to me know and that’s really all that matters.
To me, labels just don’t cut it. Now while I say I am bisexual, I realise that it may not do justice to the many layers of my personhood. I still have a long way to go to understand me but so far, I have found that I am attracted to all people. I was having a conversation with my friend last week, and we both literally concluded that anyone could get it. Like everyone we find attract could get literally it; whether you’re cishetero, bi, trans, you could all get it (hypothetically speaking because there’s also the fact that I no longer engage in sex when there are no romantic feelings involved).
So maybe I am pan? I’m not sure. I’ll keep exploring my sexuality but in this present moment, I identify as a bisexual woman. Pop culture tells us that bisexuality looks a particular way—a 50/50 split in attraction between men and women. It also tells us that there’s some imaginary scale and bisexuality is the halfway point between queer and heterosexual. But that’s not the case and I’ve never felt like it was a 50/50 split. It’s always been the same level of attraction and perhaps even less so for men.
I still get people who tell me ‘You don’t look bisexual’ (furrows brows). Maybe it’s just me but I still don’t understand how one can look like a particular sexuality. Queer people have been overly stereotyped that there’s only one defining look for a diverse community of persons exploring what it means to take up space in this world. Stop getting all your information about the LGBTQI+ community from drag race. There’s so much to learn and unlearn, if only you’re willing to listen and learn from the lived experiences of queer people around you.
Though, this is also an avenue for me to also recognise my privilege. I may not be the target of harassment and violence because I do not fit the stereotypes of queerness but I can always use my platform to advocate for those who are more likely to get harassed, violated and worse–killed. And that indeed I do and I will continue to do, because no one deserves to bargain their survival or humanity. Cisgender heterosexuals are NOT God!
Pride Month is almost over, and it’s my first year celebrating pride in Nigeria (since realising my sexuality). There’s not much to celebrate because the country barely recognises the symbolic month; there are no pride marches or colourful fits or insane amounts of alcohol being consumed or even that sense of community. It’s all very lacking.
But this month, I am grateful for friends. I truly am blessed with the most understanding set of people, many of who are queer themselves. Pride to me, isn’t fitting into your box or definition of queer. It isn’t about always telling people I am bi, because I just am and your privilege as a heterosexual makes you assume that everyone you come across is straight. It’s about living unapologetically as the self I was called to be. It’s about loving who I love and who loves me. It’s about constantly changing and being accountable for those I’ve hurt. It’s about you and I, and how we relate to people in our community radically different from us. It’s about love.
Image credits: E Serwah (@esx.art on Instagram)
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