What it’s like to… be a bisexual woman

“You get double the hate from the straight and gay community,” says 22-year-old Kitty Clucas, who identifies as bisexual. In a revealing interview, she describes the best and worst elements about her sexual orientation…

Kitty Clucas, 22, has just finished her masters in gender studies and is working as a mental health support worker.

On being a bisexual woman

“I started out heterosexual, like most people do; because heterosexuality is imposed and assumed for us. And I only started identifying as bisexual when I was 20. I didn’t have that whole ‘coming out’ thing that gay and lesbian people go through. I just started dating and having sex with women as well as men and most people I know didn’t think much of it perhaps because a lot of my friends are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer).

Also, I find a lot of lesbian and gay people talk about how they always knew they were gay or realised at a young age. I didn’t, I honestly never thought I was bisexual, I just assumed I was heterosexual then I slowly started to feel like I didn’t just want to just drunkenly kiss women too, I also wanted to have sex and relationships with them.

I think going to university and being surrounded by queer people and politics allowed me to realise my feelings for more than one gender were legitimate and not just a fetish/phase. Because before this I was always with heterosexual people in a heteronormative environment where there were gay people and straight people and nothing in between – so I didn’t realise that I could be in between. For me, my journey was more fluid than others.

Bisexual men are discredited as closet gays and bisexual women, like me, are described as straight girls trying out the latest queer fashion

I love being bisexual because you truly do get the best of both worlds and a wider pool of lovers! But whilst there are massive benefits to being bisexual there are also a whole host of prejudices that come with it. For the short time that I have identified with the label I have felt the full impact of these judgements.

You get double the hate from the straight and gay community. For example; I can experience all the homophobia and sexualisation from straight people (particularly men) yet at the same time you do not have the support of the gay and lesbian community because they mistrust you – bisexual men are discredited as closet gays and bisexual women, like me, are described as straight girls trying out the latest queer fashion.

I have had several conversations with lesbians who stress they would never date a bi girl because of this view. I find this issue particularly prevalent for me because I am femme. I went to a gay bar in New York and the bouncer asked my group which one of us was queer, I said I was and he took one look at me and laughed and said “no you’re not”.

I have also had a lot of experience with gay people ignoring the struggles of bisexual people. Because we have heterosexual relationships we are seen as privileged yet they discard the fact that our sexuality is rendered completely invisible. We have no representation in mainstream media and we have no representation at gay pride. We are not acknowledged anywhere. I have yet to find a wholly welcoming and accepting space for bisexuals and I live in Brighton, which is meant to be the queer capital of the UK.

It’s definitely not something I’d tell my extended family like my grandparents – they’re so old and frail now there’s no point giving them a heart attack

I am open with my parents about it. Well, I told my mum and she told my dad for me. They accept it to my face but I know deep down that they just think I’m trying to be edgy/cool and that I’m not actually a bisexual. Just because I’ve heard them express these views before. I think they’re expecting me to “end up” with a man and would be pretty shocked if I did spend most of my life with a woman despite me warning them that this may be a possibility.

I think they will fully accept it one day though if I keep on shoving enough bisexual propaganda down their throats. It’s definitely not something I’d tell my extended family like my grandparents – they’re so old and frail now there’s no point giving them a heart attack. Maybe if they were younger and I was closer to them I’d feel the need to tell them, but sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

I have many LGBT friends. It’s a blessing because being around them helped me to be more open about my own sexuality but I have also encountered some of the awkward biphobic views and arguments that are pretty endemic in the LGBT community from some of my gay friends that I talked about earlier. But I also have loads of bisexual friends and we often vent to one another.

On relationships…

I envisage a long-term relationship with any gender. I have not yet had a long-term relationship with anyone so I don’t quite know what that relationship would look like.

I have never been in a polygamous relationship, closest I have been is a lover of someone in an open relationship. I’m definitely someone who believes that polygamy can work really well. That sexual relationship I had with the person in the open relationship has lasted a really long time because talking about our other conquests has been part of a great sex life.

However, I’m not sure polygamy in the sense of having multiple emotional more long term attachments with several people is for me just because it sounds bloody exhausting. But I do believe that if I were to ever get married or settle down, a sexually open relationship would be key to keeping the spark alive and that does not mean you love the person any less.

I hate to say it and apologies to all the romantics out there, but suggesting people need to spend decades of their life with the same person and no one else is just not possible. Monogamy and the nuclear family is a bullshit construction built on capitalism because it is the most economically efficient in a neoliberalism society – the man works and the woman takes care of the kids for free; if a third person were involved it would mess up the precious social order.

I know some straight men who have sex with men but relationships with women and still identify as straight, yet one of my gay male friends just could not comprehend it

I love watching those trashy dating TV shows and they all say “ohh I want to find “the one” like my grandparents did – they’ve been happily married for 50 years blah blah”. It’s like, oh come on mate, they’re clearly only still married because divorce is still a taboo for the older generation and I guarantee they stopped having sex 30 years ago.

However, open relationships and polygamy are not for everyone. Firstly you have to possess a lot of self-confidence and self worth and a relationship built on trust to be able to make it work. I do think my bisexuality has influenced my views on this because naturally I’m very critical of the heterosexual social order anyway but I also don’t like the assumption that I want all my relationships to be open and I want threesomes all the time. Those kind of relationships only work with some people some of the time and just because I’m bisexual it shouldn’t mean otherwise.

I think the biggest challenge I have is the constant sexualisation and fetishization. For example, I was searching for a room on a housing website and on my profile I said I was bisexual because sometimes people want LGBT friendly housemates. I started messaging this one guy and his house sounded perfect, he lived with another girl who sounded really nice also. But as it turns out they wanted me to live with them as part of a sexual triad. I felt really offended – they had obviously targeted me because my profile said I was bisexual.

I mentioned it in a Facebook status and a lot of my straight friends commented saying how funny it was. But actually it is not funny at all, I have to deal with this every day, I am constantly getting approached by hetero couples to have threesomes with them.

Society barely has a grasp on homosexuality let alone something as complex as the attraction to more than one gender

And I hate revealing to straight men that I’m bisexual because it is often followed with some kind of inappropriate comment like “oh that’s hot” or that they wouldn’t mind if their girl cheated on them with another girl because they find it sexy (as if sex without a penis isn’t real sex). It’s as if we are nothing more than a sexual fantasy and my thoughts and feelings are just wank bank material for men and couples wanting an “open minded play mate”.

Society barely has a grasp on homosexuality let alone something as complex as the attraction to more than one gender. I think the kind of views that Christopher Biggins expresses in Celebrity Big Brother are one of our biggest obstacles – that we have to “pick a side”. In some ways, homosexuality can just about fit into the heterosexual narrative – you decide what gender of people you want to fuck at an early age and you stick to it and then you marry someone of that gender and you have babies or cats with them.

When you find someone who disrupts this social order; who despite dating men all their life, they fall in live with a woman at age 50 – people’s heads explode. Society try to describe it as the person being confused or closetted their whole life without actually considering that it might be that they can love people of more than one gender.

But also, we shouldn’t immediately assume that person is bisexual; when they could be queer or pansexual or even nothing – just a person that is more than any label. There are too many beautiful people in this world to constantly have love and sex described in such simplistic black and white terms.

I feel that I want to make my sexuality public because it influences who I’m friends with and who I vote for

We live in a society where our sexuality is seen to define everything we do, our tastes and our politics, which is a really Western phenomenon. There are many countries in the world where same sex relationships don’t actually equal homosexuality.

Homosexuality and bisexuality – the idea that our sexual preferences make up our personhood – is a Western import and it was imported when we bashed down our Bibles and said that having sex with the same gender made you immoral. But before we did this, there was no need to discuss our sexuality because sex with the same gender was not immoral.

I feel that I want to make my sexuality public because it influences who I’m friends with and who I vote for. But for others, we need to accept that this isn’t always necessary. For example, I know some straight men who have sex with men but relationships with women and still identify as straight, yet one of my gay male friends just could not comprehend it – that the man felt who he fucks did not define him, because obviously for my gay friend this was a huge part of his identity.

True, this could be rooted in homophobia, but the straight guy could also simply feel that who he fucks is no one else’s business. We need to allow people to own their sexuality in whatever way possible even if this means not owning it at all, because who gets to decide what we should and should not own?”

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