By Laura Berol
Bisexuality takes myriad forms. Some of us realized early on that our attractions span the gender continuum. Others have been surprised at some point to find ourselves desiring people we never expected to. We previously thought we were gay, or straight… or we didn’t know what to think, until bisexuality made our experience understandable. That was what happened to me, at least.
If sexual identity were defined entirely by attraction, I couldn’t be anything but a lesbian. My first memories of desiring women date back to when I was twelve. The most passionate attachment of my life so far was formed with another woman when I was nineteen. But I clung to my Evangelical faith, and that commitment precluded choosing a woman as a life partner.
If sexual identity were determined entirely by relationships, I couldn’t be anything but straight. At twenty-four, I married a man and never even tested the waters with anyone else. Yet my marriage brought me the strength to step away from my religion and assess for myself what life path would be best for me. I joined lesbian and bisexual social groups; I told my story and heard others’ stories; I flirted with women. When a woman I liked asked me out, I realized how vital my husband was to me and how incredibly attractive any woman would need to be for me to risk my relationship with him for her. I chose to remain monogamous in my marriage, for now, because that emotional bond has become central for me.
And so I embraced a bisexual identity because it allows me to acknowledge and honor all facets of my life, even the conflicting ones. I don’t have to deny any of my longings or condemn any of my choices. I don’t have to pare down the complexity of my loves to make them fit a recognizable pattern. I don’t have to pretend that what I want now is what I have always wanted or what I will always want. What sustains me is changeable because life is change. Bisexuality means accepting myself.
When she isn’t collapsed in a heap from trying to keep up with her three boys, Laura is working to capture the changeability of life in a memoir of bisexuality.