Feminism | Posted by Sophie T.B. on 03/16/2011

The Hidden Difficulties of a Bisexual Teen

Ramona Flowers: one of the few representations of a bisexual girl in the media

Ramona Flowers: one of the few representations of a bisexual girl in the media

In my time as a semi-out bisexual teenager, I’ve encountered plenty of supportive, kind, loving people who have not cared about my sexuality or have been able to relate to me because of it. I’ve met plenty of people who don’t know much about bisexuality, but aren’t really against it either.

Those people I can deal with.

It’s the few people I’ve met who have prejudices against bisexual people, have huge misconceptions about us, or are very nervous around us because of above said misconceptions or prejudices that irk me greatly.

Its difficult being a bisexual teenager, and many straight individuals aren’t aware of or just don’t understand these difficulties. So, I’d like to let you into my world a little bit, so that the next time you encounter a bisexual individual, you’re a little more aware (if you’re not already). Here’s a list of difficulties that I face every day as a bisexual teen.

- If I go out with a girl, it’s assumed I’m a lesbian. If I go out with a guy, it’s assumed I’m straight.

- I’m not able to be honest with my very Catholic relatives.

- I’m not able to hold my girlfriend’s hand or kiss her in the hallway.

- I have to put up with catcalls, yells of “dyke” (my least favorite word), or taunting offers of three-ways.

- Straight people of both genders automatically assume that I am attracted to them because of my sexuality.

- Family or friends who don’t know about my sexuality question if I “have a boyfriend yet?”

- Similarly, people who I’ve known since before I was consciously aware of my sexuality assume that I’m straight.

- I’m unable to tell people, for example, in my gym class about my sexuality, as I am worried that it will cause them to be nervous around me in the locker room.

- I never see representations of myself in the media, besides girls making out for male attention or the very dismissive Ramona Flowers (God, she annoys me).

- I have a rational fear of hate crimes.

- I’m not sure which gender I’m going to end up with in the long run, and having the choice actually scares me a little.

Do straight readers out there face any of these difficulties, ever? Are there any difficulties I forgot or have been spared from? I’m honestly interested in the answers!

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  • Zoe @ at 12:33 pm, March 16th, 2011

    I (hetero/cis gendered) took a Gender and Sexuality class my last year of college. The teacher started talking about how bisexual persons are disrespected within their own LGBTQ community, to which I thought, “How could that be?” The teacher went on to explain what you first bulleted, that no matter who you choose, people are going to push you to pick a hetero or a homo sexuality; being bi is seen as a cop out from both sides. When you happen to be dating someone, you’re either straight or a lesbian, your bisexual identity is erased. I’ve seen this attitude pop up all over the place since that class.

    Oh, I imagine the offers for three-ways gets incredibly irritating.

  • Marta @ at 1:12 pm, March 16th, 2011

    I am bi (although no longer in my teens, alas!), and I can confirm what Zoe’s teacher said: there is a certain degree of biphobia from the gay (especially older lesbian) community too. “If you go with a man, you are a slave to the patriarchy” – and all that stuff, including the “bisexual = will get laid with anything that moves”, I guess from your list that you already know… This hurts me even more than the biphobia from the average heterosexual, since it strikes from what should be the “supportive LGBTQ community”.

    On the other hand, the younger generations seem more and more open-minded. Which gives me a lot of hope.

    As for the Catholic relatives: hang on in there. I can relate very well, being Italian… Remember that some of them already know, even if they don’t tell. Some others will never know, even if you will tell them, but it’s their loss.

  • Samuel F. @ at 2:14 pm, March 16th, 2011

    I’ve always been a fan of bisexuality, and I’m a mostly straight 15-year-old (almost 16) guitar playing guy. I’ve had thoughts about other guys and wouldn’t be unwilling to do stuff with one if the other guy was hot.

    Admittedly, like for a lot of other guys, I’ve got this porn-influenced thing for bi girls, but I think people who critique you are probably obsessed with ultra-traditional relationship models. Whether they know it or not.

    Don’t let them get you down; be with whomever you wish, be it a guy, a girl or even both at the same time. Why should you have to conform to some label according to someone else’s ideas?

  • Lee @ at 2:18 pm, March 16th, 2011

    As a bi teen, I know what you mean. I’ve been told to “pick a side” or to stop asking for attention- When all I want is to be left alone with my girlfriend or my boyfriend, and to not be told that I’m “wrong” about my sexuality.

  • Nicté @ at 7:42 pm, March 16th, 2011

    I always get the “when are you going to have a boyfriend” question everywhere and I’m straight..
    Don’t give and look for your happiness, ignore the stupidity that sometimes we all find ourselfs in.
    xo

  • Katherine C. @ at 9:00 pm, March 16th, 2011

    Oh, God, can I relate. Every single item on this list could be describing this list, from the Catholic relatives (sadly, in this case, my dad) to the shouts of “dyke!” in the hallway. It’s so repressive. It all makes me just want to shut up and crawl into a hole. Thank you so much for posting this.

  • lulux @ at 10:43 pm, March 16th, 2011

    Well, there’s always Glee. This series is making a nice job by portraying Santana’s bisexuality.

  • Bri @ at 11:23 pm, March 16th, 2011

    Yes! This is so my life! Biphobia sucks because even our own LGBTQA community turns against us.
    I get the threesome thing so much. Just because I like two different genders, doesn’t mean I want two partners. Bi does not equal threesome fodder.
    Plus my girlfriend doesn’t like me being with girl friends or guy friends, because she knows I can end up liking either. That, and she is a full lesbian and sometimes doesn’t believe in the validity of bisexuality and always expresses the concern that I will suddenly realize I’m straight. But I wonder, do you experience what I like to call ‘bisexual guilt’? I’m a home closet too and I’m always fighting with myself about coming out, because I don’t have to. I don’t have to break my Catholic mother’s heart. I can like guys and just ignore my attraction to girls, Why be selfish and hurt my family? It makes it harder.

  • Marisol @ at 11:39 am, March 17th, 2011

    A post I can relate to? YES.
    Well, as far as “if you go out with a guy, you’re straight/if you go out with a girl, you’re a lesbian” thing, I’ve learned to accept that no one can really tell your sexuality based on who you’re going out with, so you have to reassure them of your bisexuality.
    I can definitely relate to “friends still think you’re straight” issue. Most of my closest friends like to turn a blind eye if I date a girl and they later call it (me dating her) a “faze”.
    I can also relate to the “straight people of both genders assume I’m attracted to them”. I’ve always thought that that was completely out of ignorance and it’s also quite snobby if you think about it. After all, I’m not going to sleep with just ANYTHING that moves…

  • Marisol @ at 11:40 am, March 17th, 2011

    Oh and also another representation of bisexuals in the media is Brittany and Santana on Glee.

  • CC @ at 12:40 pm, March 17th, 2011

    As someone whose identity tends to change from time to time (queer, bi, mostly-gay), I understand completely. I came out as bisexual at age 14, and am now almost 27. I have always found it difficult to have to come out over and over again. I’ve been in a relationship with a woman for 3 years. People who did not know before this point assume I’m a lesbian, no matter how many times I tell them that I am also attracted to men (especially queer types, and trans men). I have dated men and have been assumed to be straight. It’s a cycle. I have hard a hard time accepting this as a fact of my life. I guess I’m just sick of coming out over and over again — you are not alone!!! Good luck to you, high school can be a rough place.

  • Jessica @ at 2:21 pm, March 17th, 2011

    I am a bisexual woman as well. When I was younger and fell in love with a woman I was terrified. I knew I could lose my family and some conservative friends.

    I’m ashamed to say I thought “at least I have a chance with a guy, I don’t have to lose everyone” It seemed like just the thing that the LGBT community thought I would do. I have a way out. I’m not a lesbian.

    Thankfully though I loved my partner and I grew up a bit and became more confident. We moved to a larger city and are still together. Most of my family do not speak with me or if they do it’s to tell me I can “come back to God”

    It was a very difficult period and still stings to think about. Today I still feel I am an outsider even to my lesbian friends.

    It’s very true that you can’t choose who you love, more so for bisexuals.

  • Me @ at 12:10 am, March 18th, 2011

    Why do you feel you will “end up with one sex” in the end? What is the point of being bi if you can’t keep your options open and have a fabulous poly situation? Marriage is over, people. I am against gay marriage not because I’m anti-gay, (i am not!), but because I’m anti-marriage! LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Period.

  • brain-picker @ at 4:14 pm, March 18th, 2011

    As a bisexual person, I agree with a lot of this article. However, I disagree with you on Ramona Flowers being a good representation of bisexual women in the media. I thought that scene with Roxy was bisexual erasure (“It was just a phase”). Then again, I haven’t read the comics, so I might be missing something.

  • Marta @ at 5:49 pm, March 19th, 2011

    @Bri: I like the phrase “bisexual guilt”, very much. And I can totally relate to what you mean with it.

    By the way: at my university (I am a PhD student) everybody knows I am married, so I think they assume I am straight. On the other hand, I volunteer for a LGB rights charity – where, I think most assume that I am lesbian. It can be quite complicated… as I once saw on a sticker: “your fence is sitting on me” ;-)

  • Sheridan @ at 7:51 pm, March 29th, 2011

    I know very few true bisexuals because so many teen girls have at least one “bicurious” hook-up that bisexuals are constantly dismissed and seen as part of that group.
    As a lesbian, I see it a lot in the community. Lesbians pressure bisexual girls to make up their minds and straight people can do the same. The B in LGBT carries a certain stigma that the other letters don’t and some lesbians can be outright rude about it.

    However, I’m going to have to disagree with you about Ramona Flowers, because there’s something really attractive about candy-colored hair that makes me want to defend her to infinity (and beyond!) XD

  • Sophie @ at 11:16 am, April 15th, 2011

    I feel exactly the same about Ramona in the movies. That’s why she annoys me.

  • alli @ at 1:57 am, May 11th, 2011

    must say i’m 24 and i have come to the realization that guess what, i’m bi! YAY! i use to not believe in it, i was taught that it was nasty and gross, mainly from the media where girls did it for male attention, and from my parents who ok with homosexuality, did not thing being bisexual was an alright thing to be. they were slutty and easy. i have not come out to my family because i havent been with a girl but then again i haven’t been with a guy either. i’ve felt this way since i was a teenager, and i thought it was a bi curious phase that i would just grow out of. but then i realized after ten years, that i have not. everything you listed is what i am going through right now. i’m scared to death of what my gay and straight friends are going to say as well as my family! i have nobody i can talk to so i feel incredibly alone right now. hopefully i can come out and but right now, that is just not an option!

  • alli @ at 2:00 am, May 11th, 2011

    @Me i’m miss monogamy and i’m bisexual so i know exactly what she is talking about. you feel if you choose one you are giving up the other and that can make you feel horrible. but i learned that this is not true. you will still have feelings for both sexes no matter which person you end up with, so its best not to worry about it. i also feel horrible for bisexual men, they probably have it worse than anybody out there!

  • EmilyK @ at 9:49 pm, May 15th, 2011

    A bit dated (and it has its flaws), but Chasing Amy is a decent portrayal of being bi. The character Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) has to deal with biphobia from both straight (who think they can ‘fix’ her) and lesbian circles (who think she’s passing by dating a guy), and has a nice speech on how love is so hard to find, why would reject it based on someone’s biological sex.

    Velvet Goldmine is just awesome and focuses on a bi glam rocker. Francois Ozon often has bi characters and themes in his films (nb: these are usually not really light, fun films; Potiche is out now, is fun and light, but doesn’t openly touch on bi-themes).

    I’ve heard good things about The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, but haven’t read the book or watched the film (the DVD is sitting by the couch though as a reward for me if I get off the internet and get some work done).

    Writing this, I realized a couple of things, most of the films and books that come to mind center on a male protagonist. I wonder if this is just a coincidence (I happened across films focused on male bisexuality), or if bi women a doubly obscured by their gender and sexuality?

  • Icefox @ at 7:48 pm, August 15th, 2011

    I love this article, but I disagree about Ramona. I really do think that you can just be “bicurious” at some point- It’s not always just dismissing bisexuality. Plus, there’s Glee- Brittney and Santana!

  • Jessica W. @ at 12:42 pm, August 25th, 2011

    I am too bisexual, and i never really knew how to put my difficulties in words. but yes, my friends that r also girls like me, start gettin all nervous or start showing off all sexy after i tell them im bi. i hate it, i feel like they think im a totally different person, but im not. can some1 b a penpal and tlk to me about thisss? my email is arttart2114@aol.com and i also hav aim so just type in arttart2114 if u wanna instant message.

  • Emma @ at 12:58 pm, October 3rd, 2011

    I’m a bi girl and im almost 16. i haven’t come out to anyone yet and its only been in the past week that ive decided that i want to came out although ive known for years that im bi. im reall y worried sabout whst to say to my parents, i know they’ll accept me but still, im scared! can someone help me? :/ xx

  • Georgia @ at 8:20 am, November 10th, 2011

    I don’t share some of your discrimination, because I am a lesbian but I am fully supportive of any bisexual and/or pansexual person and the bisexual and/or pansexual people already in my life. I think there is some confusion because a lot of people, on the way to discovering who they are in their teens, come out as bisexual at first, but then later on come out as a lesbian (like I did) or later decide they are straight. There is no problem with this, but people hate to admit the fact that sexuality is much more fluid then we think. And it’s hard to get anyone to take your queer sexuality seriously as a teenager. ‘you’re too young!’ ‘how could you possibly know, you’ve never slept with a man/woman!’. But as you get older, I think it gets easier. If only slightly.

  • Anna @ at 7:16 pm, August 30th, 2012

    tengo 16 a?os y hace poco descubri que soy una chava bisexual..lamentablemente tengo todos los problemas mencionados anteriormente..no hay como sentirse encerrado y tener miedo a salir..xque te miraran mal..yo tengo una novia y realmente me costo muxo encontrarla ..pero parecemos mas amigas que novias xque la gente al besarnos nos mira mal..y no tenemos el autoestima como para que eso no nos afecte!! algun consejo xfavor!!

  • Anna @ at 5:23 am, November 13th, 2012

    Hola. También hablo espanol y puedo entender lo que te esta pasando. Tengo 15 anos.

    Hi I am 15 and I am also bi. I don’t know how people will react.

  • Brother Dave @ at 8:07 am, December 19th, 2012

    Most people will assume you are their “norm” until you tell them otherwise. As difficult as this seems, it is natural behavior. “Everyone is like me” I worked in the LGBTQA world for 12+ years and can only speak from observation. The happiest people I have had the pleasure of knowing, were proud of who they were, and did not hide. They also did not go out of their way to force others to see the world through their eyes.
    The point I am trying to make is this: American society still has many prejudices ingrained in it, as stupid as this is, we still need to address it. Be yourself. You will find people that do not accept you, refrain from wasting much time with them. There will be plenty of people who do! This is the arena that will provide an outlet for all that positive energy.
    The world is not a perfect place. It is the job of us all to help it get there.
    Be tolerant, if tolerance is what you strive for. This does not mean losing self respect, or feeling shame for who you are!
    Be the amazing person that you are! If others do not see this… you have found places not to waste time.
    As far as the comments from people that do not understand, welcome to life. You will find that most people have something to say about ANYONE (black, gay, white, bi, etc.). Give a chuckle, and think of how miserable their life must be with that shallow view of the world. They exist in their own hell, you do not have too.
    -Smiles and Cheers!

  • Brother Dave @ at 8:14 am, December 19th, 2012

    One last thing, If people need an explanation, I heard a great one from an amazing friend. “Being bi is the best! I get to fall in love with the person! Not the equipment.”

  • Harley @ at 11:30 am, August 15th, 2013

    Hey, I am years late at replying to this but I figured that if I just found it for the first time then someone else might of also. I am a bi man, I have dated gay men and straight women and bi women and even 2 lesbians. I am 24 now but what I have come to find out is that I could never be open about telling someone I am bi right off the bat. The few people I have told right off the bat thought it was so disgusting or that I could not be faithful. I grew up with lesbian mothers and I know they would be so supportive but at the same time after my mom had us four kids and came out of the closet, the rest of the family started so much crap. My grandma took her on the Sally talk show and confronted her about it and how she shouldn’t be. They also ruined several of her relationships before she met the love of her life. I know if I came out to my family they would throw the blame on her. They don’t know how sexuality works or anything. I did however get drunk with my moms and found out that my aunts have a bet going on that I will turn out gay cause I have not fathered any kids yet. One of the harder parts about being bi man is that most bi men are not out and from what I have seen people think bisexuality a woman thing. One guy I was dating, I came out to him about it and he got super jealous when we were around women. He did come to terms after I sat him down and explained things to him. Sorry I am rambling right now haha but I just don’t get to express all my feelings cause people think I am searching for attention about my sexuality or I have to hide it from some so I can be seen as normal and they can get to know me as a person with out judging.

  • S @ at 6:27 pm, June 16th, 2014

    I’m a bi teen girl and honestly? My label is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it allows me to find the most amazing people without thinking about whether they have certain parts and a curse because of all the close-minded thoughts surrounding it.

    A lot of people think that because somebody is young they can’t make decisions like this. It’s fine for people to decide that they’re straight though?

  • S @ at 6:30 pm, June 16th, 2014

    Or should I say realise? Bad word choice, despite being ages behind everyone else XD

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