“Remember when you were a lesbian for five minutes?”
This was the response from some of my friends after breaking up with my first long-term girlfriend.
A queer friend of mine asked me this, as everyone in the room burst into laughter. He handed me a glass of wine and as I nervously sipped it, another gay friend commented he'd known “I would eventually go back to men.”
Fast-forward a month to a picnic where - as the sun began to dip after countless ciders - people began throwing questions at me about my sexuality.
“What percentage into boys/girls would you say you are?”
“You’ll marry a guy though, right?”
“But don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“That’s cool. I made out with my best friend in high school once!”
The invalidation and erasure of bisexual, pansexual or any non-monosexual identities can occur from any direction. I’ve begrudgingly had to get used to the broad biphobia in society; comments about how I’m probably ‘easy’, questions about how often I have threesomes, or the occasion queer person who believes bisexuality is a 'stepping stone' to being A Real Gay™.
However, the performative allyship and microaggressions from even the most well-intentioned queer and straight people can just reinforce the more explicit biphobia.
It’s important that all allies, queers, and even ourselves, check that we’re not making off-handed remarks that can invalidate queerness.
A ‘queerer than thou’ attitude I’ve witnessed in monosexual queer people is an exhausting example. It feeds into the oft-mentioned anxiety of being 'too straight' for the queer community but 'too queer' for the straight community.
Years ago, I met a girl on a dating app, and she invited me to come to a gay club with her friends, and I was thrilled at the prospect of finally finding like-minded queer friends.
Sipping a terrible ratio of vodka and pineapple juice, I briefly mentioned an ex-boyfriend.
“Ohh, DANI! We’re all Gold Star Lesbians here. Ya gotta get out,” one person loudly yelled before my sentence was finished. Beneath the giggles, she announced she was joking, but the sentiment still stung.
Having slept with my first boyfriend at 16, in this case, made me a B-grade queer.
Yes, I’ve slept with cis men, but sorry, I’m still queer as heck, and the concept of ‘Gold Star Gays’ (people who have only slept with people of the same gender) enforces the gaytriarchal view that bi = bad.
Coming from the other direction, the occasional cisgender straight person who proudly label themselves allies can also make comments that are erasing or microaggresions.
Straight women who attempt to bond with me by mentioning their celebrity 'girl crush', or sharing with me that one time they kissed their best friend in high school, can come across as undermining. The intermittent “I’m definitely straight, but I’d kiss a girl at party!” response to me disclosing my sexuality is slightly irrelevant and a little puzzling.
You’re obsessed with Cara Delevingne, and you’re straight.
I’m obsessed with her – but I’m still queer as heck. Sorry, we’re not really that similar.
And seriously, please don’t ask me if I “miss” the other gender when I’m in a monogamous relationship. As my eyes roll to the back of my head, I can confirm that yes, I’m able to monogamously commit to one gender at a time. Still queer as heck.
In occasions like these, the impact is far more important that the intent. Even for people who feel they’re supportive and accepting, personal, questions that are intimate or cliché can impact the comfort of queer people.
I often wonder how straight women would react if I asked them a thousand questions about how they have sex with their boyfriends because I was “just curious.”
Some straight men have been in the mindset that because I’m attracted to women, I’ll bond over sexualising women with them. Seeing as I’m essentially on ‘their team’ now, I'm expected to comment on women’s bodies without their consent, or connect with men over tits and ass. If I can’t chat about hot babes in a borderline derogatory way, how can I even be into women?
Sorry, but I’m definitely still a feminist. And I’m definitely still queer.
Accepting someone’s bisexuality or queer identity is one thing, but fully respecting it is another. That is the allyship and support we need. Microaggressions - even when attempting to come from a good place - invalidate us and add to biphobic rhetoric.
Your queer siblings deserve nothing but kindness and respect. We’re still here, we’re still queer.
Queer as heck.