By Alex Neufeldt
Growing up, I always believed monosexuality (the romantic or sexual attraction to members of one sex or gender only) to be the norm. Heterosexuality was always assumed to be the default, of course, though the notion of homosexuality has also been within my realm of consciousness as long as I can remember, despite the fact that it felt like a distant concept that I would never have to grapple with. However, I never could have imagined any expression of sexual orientation outside of the straight/gay binary as a child. My first real exposure to the ideal of bisexuality was when one of my best childhood friends came out as bi in the 6th or 7th grade. Her coming out bewildered me somewhat; I hadn’t really started having “crushes” on anyone of any gender yet, and my interpretation of her sexual identity led me to believe that she had a crush on everybody! It wasn’t until several years later, in high school, when I began questioning my own sexual orientation. However, as I was still a believer in compulsory monosexuality, I never considered that I might be bisexual. I had to be either straight or a lesbian, I thought. I dated several boys throughout high school, and I had very strong feelings for all of them, so I concluded that I couldn’t possibly be anything but 100% straight. Consequently, I disregarded my feelings of attraction toward other women, chalking them up to regular teenage angst, or jealousy over how pretty they were. It wasn’t until my first year of university that I finally realized that I was bisexual. I think that the turning point for me was meeting a great group of queer folks at uOttawa, who taught me that being bisexual is not only possible, but wonderful! I also discovered the following definition of bisexuality, which was instrumental for me in establishing my identity and feeling:
The attraction to genders similar to your own and to genders different than your own.
The attraction to two or more genders.
Not always to the same degree, not always with the same intensity, not always in precisely the same ways, or with identical appreciation of the same traits, but in a fluid, fulfilling, and valid way all the same. (Author unknown.)
Coming to terms with my bisexuality was scary at first, and I didn’t want to come out to anyone. I was worried that I would be shamed for my same-sex attraction (homophobia), accused of being selfish or going through a phase (biphobia), or not have my sexual identity taken seriously (a symptom of biphobia and misogyny- bisexual women’s identities are often invalidated because men are seen as the ones who legitimize relationships in our society). My coming out bubble was subsequently burst at a board games night hosted by a bisexual friend of mine. To my great astonishment, said friend casually mentioned to another friend that I was queer, even though I had never explicitly come out to anyone! At that moment, I decided to embrace my queerness, and slowly began coming out to close friends. However, by far the biggest catalyst in my coming out journey (and one of my strongest supporters, I might add), was the long-time pastor of my home church, Pieter, who came out publicly as gay this past year. When I found out that Pieter was gay, I was first shocked, but the shock was quickly replaced by indescribable elation. I was so overjoyed that I ran to sing and dance outside, despite the fact that it was quite cold and rainy that day! Pieter’s coming out opened a new world to me: I never imagined that I could be out as a queer Mennonite before he courageously paved the way. Subsequently, other Mennonites from my community have come out to me, and it has been a beautiful experience to walk the “queer menno” path with them. I am incredibly blessed to have such a supportive community of queer and non-queer family, friends, and church members who have shown me an incredible outpouring of love throughout my coming out journey! I am especially thankful to God for creating me the way I am, bisexuality and all, as a testament of the beautiful diversity of creation.