I’m Bi, I’m Valid, and I’m Allowed to Take up Space

I took a job working for Equality Federation because I believe it is everyone’s job to help make the world a better place. The fact that I can do that while working for a cause I so deeply believe in was a double win. I have always considered myself an ally. The LGBTQ community is deeply important to me. My best friend in the world Veronica is an amazing trans woman, one of our closest friends is gay, I have two cousins who are trans and non-binary. The reasons why I am an ally would take too long to name.

Only here’s the thing, I’m not just an ally. I’ve been with my husband for 10 years and we have an adorable (most of the time, let’s be real) little boy, but the truth is I am attracted to both men and women.

I’ve had significant, long term relationships throughout my life with both men and women. For the past 10 years or more I have identified as a straight woman because I’ve always felt I made a more conservative choice in my partner and my life. I felt I made a choice to be straight and I didn’t want to take up space where I didn’t belong. Lately, though, the more I think about it, the more my decision to identify as straight feels like I am being closeted.

Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them focuses on the “invisible majority” of the LGBT community.

Over time, I’ve learned that my reality is valid. There are more bisexual people than Lesbian and Gay people in the United States. Two-thirds of LGB parents are bisexual: approximately 59% of bisexual women have had children. Eighty-four percent of bisexual people in a committed relationship are involved with someone of the opposite sex. I am part of a large diverse group of people who can be attracted to individuals of more than one gender and that’s beautiful.

Current relationship status doesn’t define who anyone is. The fact that I chose my partner didn’t negate who I am fully and all the important parts of my life and my self. Being in a relationship with Abby in college didn’t make me a lesbian, and being married to my partner Dan, doesn’t make me straight. Bisexuality is real and sexuality involves so much more than just being attracted to one gender. I can appreciate and be attracted to men and women and don’t even get me started on the beauty of non-binary and genderqueer.

Still, there are lots of folks out there who would tell me that bisexuality isn’t a thing, that it’s just someone not committing to a “side”. A recent study of bias towards bisexual men and women revealed that 14% of Americans felt that bisexuality was not a legitimate sexual orientation. It’s so damaging to feel both not straight enough to be accepted and simultaneously be told you’re also not queer enough to be accepted.

My sexual orientation is not a choice. There is power in living your life and being your full, authentic self. It sounds illogical, but in order to be the best ally I can be I need to stop being just an ally. Today, I am going to stand inside the community I fully belong in. I am a cisgender woman, somewhere in my 40’s, I have a husband and a child. And I am proud to be bisexual. I am proud of my past and my present. I am excited about my out and proud future.

In the words of my friend Veronica, “Buttercup, you are valid and you are allowed to take up space.”

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Joellyn Wilken Weingourt

Joellyn is the Donor and Corporate Relations Officer at Equality Federation, the strategic partner to state-based organizations working to win equality in the communities we call home. In this role, she is responsible for the maintenance and expansion of our major donor portfolio and corporate giving program, bringing resources to increase the impact of our Leadership and Advocacy programs.

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