9 Bisexuals on their awakenings, bi icons and the issues bi folks face

BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY HANNAH BUSING

Happy Bisexuality Awareness week! To celebrate, I wanted to check in with various members of the community on the bi-agenda.

What’s your favourite thing about being bi?

Malaika Kegode (she/her): The T-shirts. Just kidding. My favourite thing is the feeling of belonging to something ancient and so much bigger than me. 

Rowan  (she/they): Being bi gave me the room to really be my genuine self. Also our flag is, like, super pretty.

Aiysha Humphreys (they/them): Lots of the people I choose to spend time with also happen to be bi and I love the sense of community that brings. 

Emma De Carvalho (She/they): The fluidity of bisexuality is so exciting. I’m constantly learning new things about myself. 

Kerensa (She/her): The fluidity of it all. Being able to feel things for someone without their gender being a barrier. 

Wilson (they/them): I am free to love who I love and there is not a soul who can stop me.

Layla Benitez-James (she/they): Finding amazing writers who fall into this category!

Emma Bolland (They/she): Feeling happy in my queerness.

Avril (she/her): There’s a certain solidarity I feel with bi people – I love bonding over shared moments of bi panic. Also: women.

What was your bi awakening?

Emma B: No massive thing — just realising anatomy wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

Avril: The scene where Sarah teaches Selma how to kiss in Cruel Intentions.

Wilson: The Mummy was one of my favourite films growing up and I was definitely attracted to everyone in it, even if I didn’t know it at the time! 

Malaika: Being transfixed by certain music videos – in particular the video to Beautiful Liar by Beyonce and Shakira. Their hips! This curiosity led me to watching Babestation previews really late at night, and those bored looking women in their underwear who sat on a bed with a phone making eyes at the camera and saying, “Call me, boys!”

Kerensa: I realised that I didn’t just want to be like certain people I looked up to, but I actually wanted to be with some of them.

Layla: I remember a conversation with a fellow writer where she explained to me what pansexual was, and I thought, that’s me. I now understand that “bisexual” does not have to support the binary and love understanding it as “people who experience attraction beyond gender”.

Who are your bi icons? 

Avril: Karen Walker from Will & Grace. The writers debunked this. But she’ll still be my favourite fictional bisexual.

Aiysha: Megan Fox. I’ve even written a poem about her character in Jennifer’s Body. Also my mate, Chris, who has helped me in so many ways to talk about and be proud of being bi.

Wilson: Is Cary Grant a bi icon? He should be! That scene in The House Boat where he and Sophie Loren nearly kiss, my little queer heart can’t take it! 

Malaika: Sister Rosetta Tharpe! What an icon. I want to write a screenplay for her biopic. 

Rowan: Halsey, I admire her resistance to her bisexuality being erased. I have to give an honourable mention to my mother, who is the epitome of a “can’t sit in chairs right” bicon.

Emma B: Daphne du Maurier and my bezzie mate the writer Jake Arnott. He told me that, “You can’t control where your heart will take you”. 

When it comes to bisexuality, what issues do you feel need to be addressed within the community? 

Emma DC: Racism, transphobia and internalised biphobia are still prevalent in the community. Bi ace people, elderly closeted people and queer people with disabilities, are all groups that get left out of conversations as well. 

Rowan: As bisexuals, we make up the majority of the LGBTQI+ community. I think a lot of us are used to being silenced, but we have a voice. Let’s use it. 

Aiysha: It’s been a struggle to be bi and also non-binary. People within the wider LGBTQI+ community are still very divided, especially when it comes to trans and non-binary people, which is really upsetting. 

Layla: Mental health and erasure go hand in hand. I’m still learning about these things, but it feels difficult not to go “back into the closet” when you are in a straight-presenting relationship or to feel like you need to identify as a lesbian with a capital L when you are in a queer-presenting relationship.

Malaika: There’s been an increase in bisexuality being this quirky personality trait. It’s been enhanced by TikTok (“Bisexuality check! Put a finger down if you have a yellow phone case!” that kind of thing) and that can be really negating for people who don’t fit into those confines. I understand why people are drawn to it. I don’t want them to stop having fun, but be wary of who they could potentially be shutting out by doing so.

Wilson: The whole LGBTQI+ community is seeing a rise in hate crimes against them. There are all sorts of terrible things that we need to figure out. In the community there’s lots of telling people where they can and can’t sit when we should be living happy and free with our queer family

What small ways will you be celebrating your bisexuality this week?

Chloë: I am proud to be a Bisexual Black woman, to love whom I love and to continue to stand in the fullness of myself, today and always.

Malaika: Probably by masturbating. Also by having a chat with my friends about sexuality. But that happens most weeks! So does masturbating, to be honest. I’ll do it all with a hat on.

Wilson: I’m going to kiss my partner and watch The Mummy.

Aiysha: I actually have no idea! I often forget to sit with myself and celebrate who I am, but maybe this will prompt me to do just that!

Layla: I’ll make some carrot cake and read bisexual authors, maybe try to find some new voices I’ve never read before. 

Rowan: I’ll be playing a stupid amount of Hades and taking my usual stealth penalty from my (also bi) Dungeon Master.

Emma B: I foregrounded it on an application for a residency – first time ever.

Emma DC: I usually have a lot of conversations with queer friends about our sexuality and experiences, so I’m looking forward to continuing those conversations this week. 

Kerensa: I exist, and that’s a celebration in itself!

Avril: Reminding myself that I’m valid even if I’m in a straight presenting relationship – and helping other fellow bi people remember the same.

Want to keep tabs on how everyone is getting bi? 

@aiysha_humphreys linktr.ee/Aiyshahumphreys

@avrilamber @avrilamber 

Avril’s music is available on all streaming platforms under Avril Amber.

@emmaZbolland @emma_bolland

Emma has two publications on the cards: 

Inclusion in Best British Short Stories 2021, Salt Publishing, autumn 2021.

Instructions from Light, JOAN Publishing, summer, 2022

@imkerensa  @imkerensa

You can listen to Kerensa’s music on your preferred streaming platform, just look up “Kerensa”  

@laylabenitezjam

@MalaikaKegode

@mal.keg 

@MyNameIsDrWorm 

Check out Wilson’s interactive story about mental health and being trans here

@Rowan_No

For any literary agents who may be interested, Rowan is seeking representation for a fantasy noir novel, featuring a cast of queer characters.

@niccrosara 

DIVA magazine celebrates 27 years in print in 2021. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

linktr.ee/divamagazine

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