Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Random - Bisexuality

Alright, this post is not going to be a cheerful fluffy one, and it is not one that is easy for me to write. This particular subject is one I have a hard time talking to about. It's something that, until the past year, I had never even been able to begin talking about.

I'm bi-sexual.

I think.

Let me explain. I have always gotten along better with men then women. Ever since I was a little kid. I like (yes, present tense) dinosaurs and lasers and robots and sci-fi and fantasy and video games and things that are often considered "male". I still did the pretty princess thing, despite my tastes I was never a proper Tom-Boy and to this day I'd rather wear a cute skirt then a pair of jeans (though that may tie into what an impossible task finding jeans that fit right for me is). It always put me in a strange place with the other kids, and the boys tended to be less freaked out that a Pretty Princess wanted to go and slay the dragon, too, then the other Princesses. So I tended to hang out with the boys more then the other girls, and as I got older, just more, period. So I've always gotten along better with men. We have more in common. I HAVE female friends, just not as many. This was the case back in high school, and college. You know, the times in my life before I was engaged. I never gave it much thought in high school. I was geeky and cute, and so there were a bunch of geeky cute boys who would sometimes ask if I maybe wanted to go see a movie some time? There just weren't a lot of gay or bisexual women around me in those days, and the few that were just weren't my type/never approached me anyways. Even in high school I couldn't get a crush going unless I thought the person was the right mix of funny/smart/goofy/nice/interesting, and the particular mix that I was into isn't one you find terribly often in teenage girls. Girls don't usually want to be "goofy" for some reason.

I never thought anything of being able to say "Man, that girl is pretty/cute/sexy" because hey, it's easy to appreciate the female body! Lots of women do! It's totally normal! Later on in life I realized I wasn't looking at these women like art, I was looking at them the same way I looked at a man I found attractive.The opportunity for me to be with a woman has never come up, though. Through the tail end of high school and all of college (the times I was starting to realize that I might be bi) I was in a serious relationship. I only dated a little bit after that relationship before I started dating my now fiancee. Since I have never been with a woman, I'm afraid to talk about being bisexual. Though there are a lot of other reasons I'm scared to talk about it, that's one of the biggest.

Bisexuals will often hear some awful things.
"You're just saying that for attention" which I wouldn't know how to face because hey, I HAVEN'T been with women, so CLEARLY despite the fact that I'm happily engaged and monogamous I'm still trying to get me some of that sweet male-gaze fueled validation!
"Pick one or the other, both is just greedy."
"Pics or it didn't happen"
"Bisexuality is just a stop on the train to Gay-Town"
And a friend having an imaginary conversation with his own Mother. "Mom, what would you do if I was gay?" "Nothing. You're my son and I love you anyways." "What would you do if I was bi?" "Disown you. No son of mine will be a whore."
"If you like both, why not just be straight?" This, I almost feel, is essentially what I've done, though not on purpose. Which brings me into a whole OTHER slew of anxiety I face when talking about it. I know one of the first things people will ask me is "Well, how do you KNOW? Other women think women are pretty all the time. Doesn't make them gay/bi!" I'm well aware of that, but trust me, imaginary person who just said that, my feelings go beyond "oh she's pretty". How did you know you were heterosexual before you started dating? You just do.

I've waffled on how to define me sexuality. I've always been attracted to women, but for a long time I thought it was the same way all women are attracted to women in that "Oh she's pretty" and I am DEFINITELY into men. I KNEW I was into men. I also had bisexuality explained to me as the preference was even. You liked men as much as you liked girls. It has been about a year since I stopped trying to talk myself out of identifying as bisexual. In the year since I became comfortable enough to identify as bi to myself, I've spent most it not sure if I should talk about it at all. To anyone. Up until earlier this week, I had out right told two people. My fiancee (who shrugged and said "I figured. It doesn't matter. Well, I mean, it matters but is doesn't change anything." <3) and another friend of mine who has come into my life within the past year and didn't already just assume I was heterosexual. It made it easier to say it.

So while I've waffled over if I should post this, and tried to write it about seven different times, I managed to just... Bring it up. A friend of mine was going on as many people do about how bisexuality is just a stop on the way to homosexuality. He wasn't being malicious or cruel, he was just... Talking. It was topical at the time, but he noticed I was very deliberately not looking at him and frowned, "Am I upsetting you with this?" he asked, confused. I found it funny that he knew me well enough to know that was a sign of me being upset, but not that I liked girls.

And then I did something that I've been debating how to, or if I even should, for a year. I brought it up. "So, you know I'm bi, right?" my stomach was in a knot as I said it, and I felt anxious, and, to be honest, guilty for saying it after. He didn't know, he didn't mean any harm, and I just made him feel like a huge douche-canoe! He even apologized, once as a knee-jerk "I was being insensitive shit" and then again later in a "No, really, that was shitty, my bad." He hadn't known, and he hadn't meant any harm, but I realized that was what made it more important for me to speak up. People don't know. And they never mean any harm, but I wonder how many closeted bisexuals are out there just being functionally heterosexual because they're afraid to speak up? How many of us just keep quiet while people go on about how there's no REAL such thing as a bisexual because we're scared to face their judgement and questions?

So I'm speaking up. I am done with being scared to talk about such a huge part about myself. I am terrified, I am anxious, and I don't think I'm the right person to be a spokesperson, but I'm doing it. Because this is important. Because someone has to. People are entitled to their privacy and have every right to keep their sexuality to themselves, but I feel that this is a narrative that we need more of.

My name is Erika, and I'm bisexual. I'm not desperate for attention because I'm unloved by my parents/significant other. I'm not just trying to hook up with anything that moves. I'm not "on my way to gay town" and I am not "confused". It is a legitimate sexual orientation, and anyone who tries to say it isn't in the comments of this blog will be promptly banned.

So, thanks for reading, and I hope none of you stop because of this, because honestly? It doesn't change a thing. Back to the norm of fisting jokes and heavy drinking Tuesday.

30 comments:

  1. So I was going to just say something that would describe a particular physical gesture, that being the single closed hand raised as a salute of power and solidarity and all of that. I was imagining one of those touching yet hardcore moments in a movie where the team must stand together in the night against improbable odds and there is probably 80s-esque rock playing. I tried to come up with the most succinct way of expressing this that I could. Unfortunately, the phrase that I got was 'power fist'.

    That's probably not optimal.

    Maybe we could just do a slow-motion high-five.

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  2. Holy shit. This is EXACTLY the dilemma I've been kicking around in my head for years. I've always known I liked men and appreciated the female body, but when I was a teenager I realized the same thing you did. I kept it to myself since I grew up in an ultra-conservative town and it was much easier to keep playing straight, and in college opportunities to experiment never came up. I'm dreadfully lazy when it comes to the dating game regardless, but the few people I've been with have only been male.

    Every time I find myself wondering if I can honestly call myself bisexual or step back to the more ambiguous "bi-curious," I just remind myself that sexuality is a spectrum and it's very rare that anyone falls completely on one side or the other. Even my "straight" parents admit they have the occasional "gay dream" that they attribute to that tiny bit of their bisexuality manifesting itself, but they have no real-life desire to act on it so they identify as straight. If I find a lesbian or bisexual woman with whom I'm mutually attracted I'm more than happy to act on my desires! When I think of it that way, I see no problems identifying myself as bi.

    Sorry for the self-indulgent gush, but this post really hit home for me. There's still so many shitty ideas floating around about bisexuality even among those who accept the GLBT community. It takes a lot of guts to come out when there's the potential of facing that shit-storm. I salute you, and join Will in a slow-motion high-five. Also a high-five to your fiancee for his response. What a wonderful guy!

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  3. @ Will - Can we be riding dinosaurs and do it in mid-air with an explosion in the back-ground?!

    @ Anon - I'm glad you shared your own thoughts and story here. Please don't be even a little sorry. I was terrified to post this and knowing that my speaking up resounded with even one other person and there's someone else out there who's in the same boat as me (even though logically I knew there was) makes me feel that I made the right call. So thank you for sharing :)

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  4. I was lucky to be introduced during university (I mean, I knew about non-hetero folk before, but had only ever known/been close with one uncloseted gay man before going away to school) to bisexuality as one of the many points on the amazingly huge scatter-plot of human sexuality (thanks, awesomely open and varied population of my little arts-focused residence...all your various forms of queerness made me a better person!).

    My current friends group is such a mix of sexualities it always reminds me when I hear people say ignorant things or read terrible news stories that there is so, so much more to do when it comes to acceptance and sexual education.

    Basically, what I'm saying is I am glad you made this post, it was wonderfully written and is IMPORTANT. Also, next time we see each other in person, remind me that I have an interesting bisexuality-related story for you. Ok?

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  5. I'm another one of those girls who feels more comfortable around guys than girls. For the most part, though, I felt/feel fairly gender-less. However, I've always had long hair since I was 9 or 10 (maybe partially because I would miss it if it were gone), and every once in a while I do feel feminine and want to dress femininely.
    On the sexuality scale, I feel that I fall just on the hetero side of asexual. I know I'm not a true asexual, but my sex drive seems pretty low, and I just don't see many people as sexual beings, or at least sexual beings in context to me.
    And since I'm done with the "ME ME ME" section, I'll say it's my policy to not really give a damn what people of various sexualities do as long as it's all consensual and not rape-y. I come from a very conservative, religious background, but as I've met gay and bi people, I find that although I'm not used to it and it makes me a little uneasy, I don't actually want to "correct" them. I don't really want it in my face, but I don't want anyone else's sexuality in my face, either.
    I'm not sure if I've managed to explain myself without sounding like a judgey asshole, but there it is.

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  6. A cogent and wonderful post that should be spread to all who need a boost or some advice.

    There's always the Kinsey scale if you want something numerical to use to express where you are on the het-bi-LG spectrum.

    Another slow-mo high five, with explosions, but riding dragons, from me.

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  7. @ Jess - Alright, but remind me to remind you to tell me, okay? And thanks :)

    @ silver - Now I wanna ride a dragon :( I've heard of the Kinsey scale before but the thought of compressing sexuality into numbers is not one my brain can wrap its self around. Also, again, thank you.

    @ Other Anonymous (you guys seriously need to start making up names) - I may be mus-reading your comment(I'm interpreting it as "What goes on behind closed doors goes on behind closed doors. It's no one's business but your own") but assuming I got it right, I wouldn't say judgey asshole at all. Just a different stance then I have. I feel everyone should be able to talk about what ever their sexuality entails without fear of judgement or back lash, but at the same time I understand that can be TMI sometimes. No one wants to hear Uncle Joe talk about how he and Aunt Nancy picked up a third at the bar last night.

    @ Everyone - Should anyone want to re-blog/link/what not this post, please feel free to, just make sure you link back to the OP.

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  8. Yea. I see it as one of those things that only matters because you feel you can`t say it - once you've said it, it doesn't matter so much anymore. I felt that about about telling people what my religion was. It didn't change anyone's opinion of me in the end (and I'm guessing most of your readers are pretty open-minded people, so it shouldn't change anything for you), but it mattered a lot to me that I wasn't carrying around a secret.

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  9. Intentionally obfuscating anonymityAugust 21, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    @YMMV: That's much the same way I think I feel right now - I've been trying to decide how much I want to talk about my orientation, and on one level I really don't, because I don't think it should matter to people, but on another level I do, because I feel like I'm carrying a secret that I shouldn't have to (even though no one has given me any indication that they'd be hostile).

    @Anonymous (the second one): Normally when people say 'I just don't want it in my face' about same-sex affections/etc, I default to dismissing them as a bigot, but I have my asexual tendencies as well, and I know the feeling of "Will everyone please stop obsessing over the feng shui of their junk and try focusing on some other things please?" So that doesn't necessarily sound like you're a terrible person - you're allowed to be intensely disinterested in other people's sex lives.

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  10. Hey, it could be more complicated. I'm pretty much asexual (and somewhere in genderqueer land), but I'm attracted to both sexes in my vague asexual sort of way. If I weren't asexual, I'd be bisexual, basically. (Or I'm a person attracted to people, but I've misplaced my sex drive. Or something.)

    So I can definitely relate to being reluctant to share one's sexuality.

    But it is important to do so, for a whole heck of a lot of reasons. Even - or especially - when one doesn't fit the nice tidy boxes.

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  11. a) On the real, your fiance sounds totally boss.
    b) The Kinsey scale is a little tricky because it applies numbers to something that is fluid, but to be honest, it made me feel a lot better about my own sexuality. It was sort of a like an invitation to acknowledge that sexuality isn't a binary thing.
    c) A few years ago, I noticed that I was having a physical response to a girl that worked at a record store I used to frequent. I had no idea what the fuck was going on because I identified/identify as straight. It genuinely scared me. I very slowly introduced the issue to a friend of mine, and she was so frank, "Oh, you have a crush on her. Yeah, that happens." That was the extent of it. Like, it didn't mean that I was all of the sudden a lesbian and that I had this entirely new sexual orientation; it was just something new. I've never had a physical relationship with a woman, but I still have that capacity to see women as crushable, and I don't feel like I have to censor or castigate myself for it. I am so grateful to my roommate for how she responded to my concern. Her nonchalance was absolutely the perfect antidote to the shitstorm that was brewing in my head.
    d) I am really amused by the oft-held belief that bisexuality equates wanting to bone everyone in sight.

    Erika, I don't know you personally, but I hear my own voice in your words sometimes, so it stands to reason that I see things through a similar lens, so let me share something with you: writing about it, thinking about it, having a dialogue about it HELPS. Own that shit. Celebrate it. If nothing else, you're allowing other people to do the same and that is a righteous cause.

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  12. That was a really great post. Thank you so much for sharing, so much of what you say, a lot of the time, echos with me, you know? You have an amazingly smart mind and I love the way you debate the serious and sensitive stuff. You, definitively have all the tools to be a great author. Find your story and we'll line up to buy it :)

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  13. Drifting in from the Slacktiverse:

    This sounds a LOT like me maybe four or five years ago. Especially the "how do I KNOW I'm really into girls?!" and "but I still like boys--but some days I like girls better--but some days I don't like girls at all--I AM CONFUSED" parts. It took me a while to start identifying as bisexual because of the part where my sexuality really *is* fluid. Having a big sister who's pretty damn straight (and married to the same man for 25 years) but really lovely and gently accepting helped a whole lot, as did reading the stories of random people on the Internets. It turns out I'm not so strange or unusual after all.

    I'm currently dating an amazing woman (after dating a trans woman whom I thought was a boy at the time, a guy in college and a girl for whom I was her first--and possibly last--girlfriend), and despite loving her and having a great time in bed I still have days when I wonder if I'm doing this thing right. But it does get easier, the longer I live with the concept of my sexuality as including both men and women. What I call it changes and what I feel about it changes, but that's okay. Hey, some people are hot! This is a cool thing! And it's a *lot* of fun to talk about hot people with another bisexual, because they don't look at you strangely for saying "dayumn, Captain America's biceps" and "can Cate Blanchett tie me up please?" in the same breath. :P

    Anyway--hey, welcome to out bisexuality. It's fun. :D

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  14. Good for you! The first time is tough, isn't it? This year is the first time I've come out on Facebook, and I was a little worried my Knit Night gals might be weird about it, but everyone either missed it or is totally cool about it.

    It is weird coming out as bi when you're in a het relationship, I agree (I've been married 24 years, after all, monogamously). I worry that people won't take me seriously -- either way. (Quote from Shelley in the inimitable "Omaha the Cat Dancer" comic book: "Bisexual. That means everyone thinks you're a pervert.") But, dammit, I know what I like, and there's nothing wrong with that, and fuck 'em all if they can't take a joke, right?

    Be proud. Be loud. Be what you are.

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  15. There's an Agatha Christie novel called Death on the Nile. One of her more famous novels. There's a film adaption (and it's not this one, because it was in colour). And there's an actress who plays the character Jacqueline de Bellefort. And I'm pretty sure she's the only woman I've ever had a crush on.

    Which is odd.

    Greta Christina has a good post about the old myth that everyone is basically bisexual. I like the way she thinks.

    TRiG.

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  16. I know how it feels to be afraid to tell your friends and loved ones that you are bisexual. I have known I liked both girls and boys ever since I was about 10 (yes I found some of my best girl friend very very attractive at ten years old) but would never tell any one about it out of the fear that they would judge and wouldn't except me the way I was. Up until like two years ago, nobody had any idea that I felt that way. So yes I was a closet bisexual for years. But one day when I had to sit through one of my best friends bad mouth gays and bi people. So I got angry and stormed out of the room we were in. She walked up to me and asked why I got so upset, so I told her. I told her that I'm bi and she was really shocked. I mean it is kind of Shocking if you are a Christian and have been raised in the church like we both were and I'm sitting her admitting to liking chicks. She kept apologizing to me and like your friend she felt like a total asshole.

    Ever since telling her that I'm bi, I'm no longer afraid to tell people that I'm bi. Well except for my family because, well, they're Christians. But to everyone else, I am bi. So yeah, I'm bi and I'm fucking proud. WELCOME TO THE CLUB ERIKA! Oh and my name is Jasmine just in case you wanted to know who I am since it says anonymous.

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  17. The fact that you didn't (or maybe still don't) know how to identify yourself isn't uncommon. Since grade six, I have been FAR more sexually attracted to females than I have males- yet males make up most of my dating life and my only sexual life. Sexuality is fluid, and the dating is just circumstance.
    But a late welcome to a freer life. <3

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  18. Bisexuality isn't really 50/50, Laci Green explains it very well in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmwi-475VIM It's great that you are speaking up, I think more people should. =)

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  19. My comment didn't show up, hope, you'll see it, I sent you a link.

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  20. And this is why we need to start using terms like homoromantic and heteroromantic more (obviously biromantic is in there as well). I mean, I am both omnisexual and omniromantic, but I sexually prefer men yet romantically prefer women (to the point where I am pretty much heteroromantic).

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  21. I'm so glad you posted this. Let me start by saying I think it's really brave, and I admire you for coming out so publicly. Truth is, I think I may be bisexual. I'm still a bit confused, because I've always known I'm not homosexual, and I've always identified as 'straight'. But I'm starting to wonder if I'm not sexually attracted to men AND women. I'm still young and inexperienced, so I'm honestly not too sure how to differentiate between thoughts like "that person is attractive" and "I'm attracted to that person". I just really don't think about the gender or sex of a person; it doesn't even enter my mind most of the time. I'm beginning to be able to picture myself in a relationship with a man OR a woman, and I feel as if the body of a person shouldn't matter. We love people for who they are, not for what they look like. Shouldn't that extend to whether or not they have a penis? I mean, really. I think it's normal to be confused, because society makes us want to default to heterosexual relationships (I'm not saying this is right- in fact, I STRONGLY disagree with this- but it is unfortunately the way we're raised) so for people who are bisexual, I think it's common for feelings for members of the same sex to become a bit buried. I think that's what happened to me, and I am very decidedly pro-gay-marriage. This comment is kind of pointless and rambling, but I just wanted to say that it IS important, and we need more people like you to step up and stop being scared.

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  22. Thank you for the comment :) I ask because you mention your own inexperience and I didn't encounter the term until after college, but are you familiar with pansexuality? Pansexual basically means gender doesn't enter into your attraction. Discovering it isn't a 50/50 split helped me parse through my own feelings, and some of what you say above sounds a little like pan. Maybe try looking into pansexual and see if that rings any bells?

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  23. You're right in assuming I've never heard that term before, but thank you for bringing it to my attention. I didn't know this was a "thing", but from what I've gathered it does seem a lot more like what I am. I'm personally a bit against labels, because I think it's a bit pretentious at times to assume people follow rules when it comes to love. This seems more like an indifference to gender and looking at people for what they're like and not what sexual orientation they identify with. I normally don't get that feeling that people talk about where they look at someone for the first time and think "I want to have sex with that!" (*cough Ana cough*), because I love and am sexually attracted to people, not bodies. As I've said, I'm still really confused and struggling to figure myself out, and in a year or two I may decide "Nope, I'm pretty sure I'm straight". But your comment genuinely helped a bit, so thank you. :)

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  24. I came here for the 50 Shades snark, and then i stumbled across this. THANK YOU!! I'm another bisexual who's been in a long het relationship until recently. And now I'm freaking out about it because suddenly it MATTERS. Hearing from another non-"proved" bi woman really loosens that stomach knot.
    I'm often speaking up myself for the same reasons as you (my first out was identical to your described friend), and I think you're so right about its importance. Thank you.

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  25. Hey, so this is rather late, but I was reading through your 50 Shades recaps due to a link from another blog, and somehow found my way here. Anyway, I think it's great you managed to stand up for bisexual people. I've had similar things happen, and I have to admit I mainly let it go.

    I actually went the opposite way of you, though. I've identified as a lesbian since about...9th or 10th grade, and I'm currently in 12th. I'm still coming to terms with the fact I'm probably a bit bi (well more like pansexual, if you're familiar with the term). I mainly like women, but occasionally I'll be interested in a guy. I've yet to have a relationship with a guy, except one person who is still a bit unsure of their gender identity and did not present as male at the time, so I haven't really felt people would believe me either.


    Wish I would have seen this yesterday so I could have wished you a happy bisexual pride day. As it is, hope any future arguments/coming outs have gone okay since you posted this!

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  26. Wow, this sounds like something I could've written - right down to the love of dinosaurs and nerd culture, while also being fairly girly and finding women attractive since my childhood. I applaud you for speaking up, I know it isn't easy to put such personal feelings out there. It is definitely a legitimate sexual orientation, though I've fought with myself about it too. In my youth, it meant that you wanted the same kind of personal relationship with either/both sex, aside from the act of sex itself, which isn't really what I wanted.
    I wanted to be with a man as a life partner, and have been with my fiance for nearly 11 years now, but I was (and still am occasionally) attracted to women in a sexual way. I've since had the opportunity to explore that part of myself, and have decided that I don't really identify as bi-sexual, but more as straight-with-bi-leanings, if that makes sense. :)
    I know your post was done over a year ago, but I really hope things have gone well for you in that respect, and I hope you someday get the opportunity to explore that side of you (if you haven't already).
    I think you seem like an awesome person to know, and I thank you for all the work you do to write these blog posts - especially the 50 Shades recaps!

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  27. Good point there! My high school BFF was pretty much a pansexual, though I don't think the term existed back when she told me, " I just don't think about a person's gender, I'm attracted to that person for who they are!" She has been in two relationships with women, but tends to favor men more often, and I totally get what she said. I've been attracted to men, women, and even a couple of transgenders. There is nothing wrong with just being into a person for who they are, regardless of their gender, so thanks for mentioning the pan orientation and getting the word out about it!

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  28. Hallo! Glad you're enjoying the blog (and I appreciate everyone who goes back and reads old posts). Useful note, though: 'transgender' is not a noun, and shouldn't be used as such.


    Do check out the bisexuality tag for a couple more posts on the subject if you're interested!

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  29. I don't really identify as bi-sexual, but more as straight-with-bi-leanings, if that makes sense.

    It does make sense--there are a lot of different names people have used to identify themselves, with possibly my favourite (just as a word) being 'heteroflexible'. The Kinsey Scale is also quite useful; maybe you're at Kinsey 1?

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  30. Well, I'm a little late for the party, but I just got to your blog a few weeks ago.
    I'm a recently-divorced 28 years old, mother of beautiful 4 years old boy, and I'm bissexual =)

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