In my adult years, I’ve always made sure to curate my spaces, both online and offline. Initially, it was easier to curate my online space—I could simply block someone who was bothering me or report individuals spewing nationalist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic rhetoric, and be done with them. There was no obligation to interact with such individuals in any way. However, curating offline spaces is more challenging, as avoiding conflict without compromising one’s safety or comfort can be difficult, whether it be at school, work, home, or in public.
It’s important to me to have friends with whom I don’t have to feel like I’m constantly defending my identity. Surrounding myself with curious and hopefully non-judgmental people allows me to explore the nuances of our identities. This requires a level of openness about myself when I first meet someone, but it also demands an understanding that not everyone will like me or feel a connection with me, and that’s absolutely okay, even if it’s a little scary.
I purposefully assert my presence in spaces where I might feel diminished specifically because of my bi+ identity, while also recognizing and avoiding spaces where my safety is at risk. In a way, I apply the same principle to my offline spaces as I do to my online spaces, with nuances tailored to the specific requirements of each space.
Having been out as a bi+ woman for almost a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to figure out what works for me. In that time, I’ve been fortunate to find amazing friends and great co-workers, which means I no longer have to censor my identity to live comfortably. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone has different backgrounds and capacities, so not everyone’s experience will mirror mine. I may even be unaware of how fortunate I am for my circumstances.
Ollie is an NGO worker living and working in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is 30 years old, loves talking about LGBTQIA and women’s rights, ecology, sustainable living, and vegan food, and is an avid crocheter.