By Neelima Prabhala
“Straight and experimenting.” “Gay and in denial.” “Flat-out confused.” These are all responses I’ve heard to my bisexual identity. I never really know how to go about explaining my sexual orientation to people—How can you reason with someone who claims that bisexuality doesn’t even exist? I’m reminded of a Chinese proverb that says, “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
We live in a world that likes to put people in boxes and say that people are one thing or the other: Black or white; yes or no; gay or straight. But reality is not that simple. There are shades of grey, for people who identify as bisexual as well as for those who identify as gay or straight or anything else. There are those who are attracted to the person, and regardless of their sex. There are those who are more attracted to men than women, and vice versa. And there are those of us who are simply attracted to all sexes. But a person who identifies as anything other than straight often has the displeasure of dealing with a world that is not accepting. Unfortunately, that is just how it is (even though that doesn’t mean we cannot try to change it).
That’s not what bothers me most, though. What bothers me most is the intolerance that still exists within the gay community. You would think that people who know what it’s like to be discriminated against, left out, and treated like less than they are on the basis of their sexual orientation would be more accepting and more aware of the bisexuals in their midst. I was at a BAGLY [Boston Area LGBTQ Youth] meeting a while ago and the leader just assumed that everyone present was gay, and then corrected himself to include any straight allies in the room. I felt so excluded, which is completely counter to the point of a group like BAGLY. Many GLBT events fail to acknowledge the presence of the “B” in GLBT. It’s difficult enough to not be accepted by the larger society, but not being accepted in a place designed to be a safe haven for people of all sexual orientations is truly a travesty.
Neelima lives in Boston and is an entering freshman at the University of Connecticut-Storrs. Her hobbies include photography, martial arts and sports.