Guest blog post by Mieks Weijers, Co-organiser of the Brum Bi Group:
What does Bi Visibility Day mean to me?
Well firstly, I’ve been bisexual three times.
Once, when I was twelve. It was the first label I had, sexuality wise.
By thirteen I identified as a lesbian. I stayed that way until I couldn’t shift the discomfort I felt among my lesbian peers – I was an older student (not by many years but the difference was palpable). To this day, my friends call me the ‘biggest lesbian they know’ and yet now, I’m a transmasculine genderqueer person passing almost 100% as male. I used to love being a lesbian, it’s probably why my friends still joke that I am one. I have a Xena tattoo, my dissertation was on lesbianism in classic era Hollywood, I still watch episodes of Hospital Central on Youtube, my email address is a portmanteau of two Ani Difranco songs, and my mother still gives me coffee table books about lesbian pinups and pulp fiction. They’re stereotypes, yes. But they were, are, my stereotypes.
I loved being a woman loving women, once upon a time. But every night out I had whilst at uni, I’d find myself at certain times of the month peering more at the men than the women. I kept it quiet of course, stewing in my own biphobia and convincing myself that sexuality is static. I’d been a lesbian for 10+ years, why would I be anything but?
At times I would get drunk and let people know I was bi. I barely found men attractive, so why would I be bisexual? Surely I was just “mainly gay?” Little did I know that this was just ignorance rearing its head.
When I returned home from university, I embarrassingly found out my family had cleared out my old room; having obviously found various items I had hoped would stay hidden for a century, one being my adolescent diary.
The first line?
I am bisexual. That means I like women and men.
I was twelve. Thanks to the evil hold of Section 28, I discovered my sexuality through means of a dictionary at home, not at school. At the time I was blissfully unaware of the homophobic and biphobic world out there. It’s probably why I was so proud.
I look back on that little person as if they weren’t me, almost proud like a parent.
Coming out as bisexual sent some people close to me in a frenzy. It was harder than coming out as lesbian and trans combined. What if I got pregnant? What if my sexuality changed again? “But you love women!” a few said.
Yes, yes! Oh yes I do. But more importantly I love people, regardless of gender.
Once a hidden word that I despised and made sure nobody suspected me of it.
And now? I co-organise the Brum Bi Group, Birmingham’s Bi Group. In the past four years, I’ve gone from being a tentatively openly bi person, to wearing a bi coloured flag band around my arm at work. I work in an inner city primary school with a 97.9% Muslim majority. I am openly bisexual at work to both staff and pupils.
I’ll never forget the three children running up to me after their Educate and Celebrate lesson (that I partly helped plan) and gleefully telling me what bisexual means, which of their role models were bi and how cool it was.
This year, Bi Visibility Day falls on a Friday, and I am treating it like Christmas. My desk will be decorated in purple, blue and pink. My library displays will show children’s books with openly bisexual characters in them. I’ll be chatting to my author friends who will no doubt blow up my Twitter feed with tweets about our special day.
I’m still relatively new to the bi scene. I guess I’m still finding my feet despite having been thrown into the deep end of organising local meet ups and being 100% out at work.
Knowing that I’m a role model for those children, day in, day out is rather overwhelming but seeing the impact it makes is even more rewarding than I had ever imagined.
Would I have all this without Bi Visibility Day? Maybe not. Five years ago I came out to the online stratosphere that we so lovingly call Twitter. I thought what the hell? I can do this. First Twitter, then friends, then family. So I did, and while the road has not been smooth, I did it.
So thank you, Bi Visibility Day, the online bisexual community and the real life bisexuals I’ve met, for giving me a chance to be myself, loud and proud, and finally happy. This day introduced me to the joys of BiCon, new friends, new loves and activism that I would have never got involved in were it not for the 23rd September.
(Mieks Weijers is the co-organiser of the Brum Bi Group)