Bringing it Back to Basics: Love, Acceptance and Community

Feb 1, 2017 | 2017 Winter - Bi+ Spaces

By Iyanna James-Stephenson

I never actively go out and search for a community that aligns with my sexuality, but I always end up finding one. If I think that I have found a close friend, I find it important to elicit the fact that I identify as a queer woman, and more specifically, as bisexual. Admitting this to people around me helps others more fully know who I am. I find that I am able to have conversations surrounding these facts, which shows me a lot about how others see my sexuality and view themselves in relation to it. These conversations lead me to gauge whether or not these people are here to support me or degrade me – those clues help me build a community for myself in the spaces where I live, work and spend the majority of my time.

I often feel like I get the most support and affirmation from individuals who identify like I do. When I say that I like genders that are the same and different from my own, I feel like I am understood by people who immediately say, “Me too!” It makes me feel comfortable to then have a more in-depth conversation about my sexuality. But I also find similar connections and community amongst allies. I have many friends who consider themselves closer to “straight” on the sexuality spectrum and I can still have confident, comfortable conversations with them about my sexuality. I have found that if people are accepting of my sexuality, it does not matter if their sexuality is different from my own.

The more that I travel and live in different places, the more I find that having a community and a friend group that supports my queerness is essential. Having straight male partners who understand and support the LGBTQ+ community has also become a requirement of mine to engage in any meaningful relationship. Without the expression of my sexuality I feel like less of myself. I feel like I am living in the closet, where I am not out, open or free; I feel stifled, and I hate that feeling! I must have a group of people and friends who support me because only then do I feel safe to express myself and live life as an autonomous human being.

I am all for a general open queer community, but every identity should have a space for recognition and expression. One reason there is still a need for bi+ allies and advocates is because bisexual individuals already get lost in “our own community.” There are stereotypes, ignorance and disbelief about bisexual individuals, and, unfortunately, these attitudes still largely come from other queer individuals. Like any community that engages in intersectionality or sheer identity differences, we need to have specific safe spaces for bi+ identity to be magnified and celebrated.

The bisexual identity does not need to be made the center of every space, but it is pertinent that we have our own space in addition to being accepted into everyone else’s.

The advancement of bi+ identity is indeed a necessary precursor to living in a safer, more accepting society – both in and out of the queer community.

Iyanna James-Stephenson is a 23-yearold graduate from Mt. Holyoke College. She is a writer, actress, blogger, model and traveler who has visited eight different countries and currently lives between the United States and South Korea.

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