By Kim theBwordPoet
As I think about being Out at Work, I typically imagine that all co-workers and customers would have no doubt that I’m part of the LGBT family. I consider myself to be Out at Work because I wear a rainbow bracelet all the time; during Pride Month I wear even more rainbow bracelets, and during the Bisexual Awareness Week I wear bi pride bracelets. However, I am certain that if asked, no one I work with could definitely say, “Yes, we know she’s lesbian/bi/gay.” Sometimes I wish people would just ask me what my rainbow bracelet(s) mean so I can make the knowledge official.
What exactly would I say to people though? In addition to identifying as bi, I also identify as asexual. Though I am a bi person who desires to have more than one romantic relationship at a time, I don’t want to have sex with future partners. There’s no easy way to explain that to people. Why be in a relationship without sex? Why be with someone of my own gender if I don’t want sex from them? Why even come out if I’m not even actively participating?
The intersections between bi and asexual are what hold me back from feeling like I’m truly LGBT. In a lot of people’s minds, identifying politically as LGBT is not enough; they expect you to be sexually LGBT. I’m not sexually LGBT. I’m not sexually anything. I would love to date, have fun with, march in the trenches with, live with, cuddle with, enjoy kisses with, eventually marry and be intimate with a male-bodied person and a person of my own gender. As long as I’m not having sex with them, I’m happy. These facts don’t make it easier for me to feel like I’m really LGBT. It’s one thing to say you are, but actions speak louder than words.
I feel like it’s harder for me to be asexual and bi. Being both feels even more dividing. I feel like I have four identities. Being bi, I find myself constantly drawn to my own gender and male-bodied individuals. Being asexual, I’m constantly wanting romantic connections, but not wanting sexual connections. I fight my own emotions, wishes, hopes, dreams on a regular basis.
Every explanation I imagine comes out as complicated. And the last thing I want is for the professional world to look at me as attention-seeking or weird. I wish I could simply say I’m lesbian or even that I’m bisexual. But neither of those identities fit me. Because of the rainbow bracelets I wear, my co-workers could easily say I’m lesbian. But I want a romantic relationship with a male-bodied individual, so I don’t consider myself lesbian. So, then my co-workers could say I’m bisexual. But I’m not sexual. So, I don’t consider myself bisexual, but rather biromantic. Then I can see the conversation diving into the complexities of how I am asexual yet bi and—oh dear! All the emotional labor I’d be expending! At that point, am I trying to convince them of who I am, or myself? I hate being in a constant state of wanting to be completely Out at Work and simultaneously being terrified of always having to explain my orientation so people don’t mislabel me.
I wish I had a tidy way to end this essay, but alas, I don’t. I am constantly on the quest to find a balance between my identities so I can stop looking at them as a burden. I have no doubt that I will grow into accepting and embracing my asexuality as I did with being bi. Then finding out how they can comfortably coexist. In the meantime, thanks for reading my thoughts while I try to sort it out.
Kimberly is a 39-year-old biromantic, demisexual, cisfemale from Cleveland, Ohio. She runs Bi+ Initiative Ohio, and is a Soror of Alpha Zeta Gamma Sorority, Incorporated, the first sorority with a specific focus on bisexual women.