For a while now, I have been reading this book called Life Isn’t Binary. It was written by two psychologists to challenge binary thinking; on gender, sexuality, and so much more. It invites the reader to reflect on their own experiences and one of these reflection points was about “feeling alone vs. knowing we’re not the only one”. I decided to write out my thoughts on the subject.
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Life Isn’t Binary
by Meg-John Baker & Alex Iantaffi
Published May 2019
“Have you ever experienced thinking that you are the only one to feel a certain way or to want particular things, (…) especially with regards to your sexuality?”
Yes, the first thing that comes to mind is the long period of questioning my sexuality. I felt very alienated from the people around me during that time. I didn’t feel like I could talk to my straight friends, because they probably didn’t understand such doubts, but I also felt like I couldn’t talk to my queer friends, because they either had figured it out a long time ago or had gone through what I considered to be “real” struggles with their sexuality. I was afraid to take up space while questioning, especially in the queer community.
I felt a bit frightened when I first started seriously questioning my sexuality. I think I was a little shocked I was only picking up on it so late – I was about 21 years old, and I was terrified to put a label on myself that didn’t fit. I wondered if it even mattered, since I was only dating men at the time. I felt distanced from the people who, in my eyes, were “real” queer people. I had always felt like I could at some point fall in love with someone who was not a man, but I somehow hadn’t connected that to sexuality. Honestly, I think I was worried to speak about these things because it was a very confusing time for me and I didn’t want to confuse others as well.
Growing up, I didn’t know bisexuality existed. My first recollections of it were during my teens, when bisexuals were known as attention-seeking greedy people. Of course, I didn’t relate to that. Later, I did have friends who were bisexual, but I think I forgot that sexuality is very personal and different from person to person, so next to everyone else, I always felt like an imposter.
If you later found other people who felt the same way, how did that feel? Did it change anything in your thoughts and feelings?
I think coming out and being more open about it helped me a lot. That’s when other people would come out and say they felt the same way or they could relate to it in some way. I have also been reading more about sexuality and consuming more queer content online, which in a way helps me feel more confident. I have definitely taken on queer/bi as an identity more, rather than just a sexuality. I remember seeing jokes online about bi stereotypes – not the negative ones, just the random ones – and that made me feel so much more at ease with the term. I make a lot of jokes like that now, as well. I think doing so and adding that touch of humour to it helps as a coping mechanism and a way to work against the negative stereotypes. No, I am not greedy, but yes, I cannot sit straight even if my life depended on it. I like that as a community we’re all in on the jokes.
In the end, talking about it helps. I can go into long conversations with friends about the intricacies of our sexual identities and everything that comes with it, and it’s always really fun to have that conversation. We don’t even have to be on the same level for it, it’s just nice to dig in. I feel like things have fallen into place more for me now, and that makes me feel less shy about my sexuality. It also helps to think that, again, sexuality is personal, and it really only has to make sense to me.
Picture taken by my friend Nikki.
If you’re interested in Life Isn’t Binary, check out your local bookshop!