“Online my sexuality is there for all to see – this doesn’t translate to life offline”
BY RACHEL CHARLTON-DAILEY
Rachel – 30, bisexual, spoonie, Doctor Who nerd. This is how easy it is for me to come out online. By including that one word in my Twitter profile everyone instantly knows my sexuality.
I am a bisexual person. From this, I’ve made a name for myself as a writer – a bisexual writer – and, on Twitter especially, as an advocate for bisexual visibility and against biphobia.
As I’m quite an open person, my followers also know that I’m in a relationship with a man and have been for a few of years now. But I am still very much bisexual.
My sexuality may not be accepted by all online but it is there for all to see. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate to life offline. On days like Bisexual Day Of Visibility, I share my experiences of being bi online by reposting articles, amplifying other voices and celebrating who I am, but once I close the apps? That all disappears again.
This isn’t my choice. My sexuality is something I’m proud of; I’m not hiding it. But it never comes up and being married to a man means that I’m just automatically seen as straight.
I’m just a girl, holding a boy’s hand going about her ‘straight’ life.
I came out to those closest to me years ago now, but since then, I’ve been in two longterm relationships with straight men. When the first ended, everyone seemingly had forgotten that I’d ever declared myself as “not straight” in the first place.
I was told, “You cant be, you’ve been with a man for four years,” and the more typical, “Oh, we thought that was just a phase at university.” After that I was more vocal, reminding those I felt it was safe to. Slipping in my love of women around elderly relatives and waiting to see if anyone noticed (I’ll never forget a great auntie swallowing back the words, “Well, that’s nice.” )
Don’t make assumptions
On the internet I can say boldly that I’m bisexual and be accepted when talking about LGBTQI issues but in real life – being perceived as ‘the typical, feminine straight girl’ means that I’m dismissed by both heterosexual people and the LGBTQI community.
When I speak about the issues gay people face, whether that’s conversion therapy or homophobia, I am accused of being doing what straight, white feminists so often do – speak for people. People see me as owning someone else’s experience.
This isn’t, however, the case when people think its okay to make “greedy bisexual” jokes in front of me. Or when people insist bisexual women are “only doing it for the attention it affords them from straight men” while sitting opposite me at dinner.
I am bisexual, still
I am very happy with my husband. In fact, I plan on sticking with him for as long as he’ll have me. But this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t upset me when being with him makes me sexuality invisible.
There are still people in my life who don’t know my sexuality simply because it’s never come up in conversation. In two years, it’s never been questioned that I was anything but straight, and there’s never a moment for me to go – “Well, actually I’m bi” – and somewhat ashamedly, I wouldn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable by bringing it up out of the blue.
To conclude, I am and I will always be bisexual. It’s a huge part of my identity. But equally, I know now that no matter how hard I try, I won’t always be visible…
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