Bisexual Or Bust

Jo Bartosch
3 min readJul 6, 2019

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There are two groups who make me nervous to come out as bisexual. The first, are men who assume it means ‘threesome’ and the second are lesbian radical feminists who, for the most part, I respect. The opinion of men is irrelevant — most instinctively believe that the sexuality of all women revolves around their cock anyway. But I do care what my lesbian feminist sisters think, and so I have decided to explain why, despite being in a settled civil partnership I am not a lesbian.

For the most part in the UK people see me and my partner and assume that we’re both lesbian. That’s fine, and I don’t bother correcting people as it’s a bit of a conversation-killer. But unlike my partner, I am not repulsed by naked male bodies. I have had fulfilling sexual relationships with men in the past. Without wanting to get into the ‘born this way’ versus ‘political lesbian’ debate, my experience as a bisexual woman is different from that of most lesbians.

It would be disingenuous to pretend the switch to having an exclusively female relationship after only dating men went without a hitch. For me, it has taken a lot of work to undo caring about whether men find me attractive, and to unpick the conditioning of compulsory heterosexuality, to stop centring them. It has taken my partner a lot of patience. But living with another woman has taught me much, both emotionally and politically. Hypothetically, if I were single I would not date a man again, but neither would I call myself a lesbian.

My experiences as a girl and young woman were very different from those of most lesbians. I have always known that I was attracted to both sexes, though thanks to going through adolescence when Section 28 was in place I had no word for this. I assumed that either everyone felt like me but didn’t talk about it, or that I was the only one. To be honest it didn’t upset me, I was used to not fitting in and in comparison to the other ways I was an outsider, who I fancied seemed fairly minor.

Unlike lesbians and gay men, when I reached my mid-teens I was able to have what felt like authentic relationships without attracting hostility. Because there are more men who fancy women than same-sex attracted women, all of my relationships were with men. Living with men brought its own challenges, but homophobia was not one of them. This is the prime reason I refuse to call myself a lesbian; it would do a disservice to those who have either been forced into the closet through relationships with men, or those who came out as adolescents and suffered the social stigma and hostility.

I write a lot about sexuality, in particular the threats to lesbians from transgenderism. I do this because I can see how appealing the destructive ideology of body-hatred is to lesbian and bisexual young women. I have never claimed to be a lesbian, I have just tried to amplify the voices, history and stories of lesbians because I believe in sisterhood, and because we are fighting a common enemy.

There’s a pattern when women get published; we’re expected to divulge personal details to add weight to our words. I know this, and as a naturally private person, it sucks — but I’ll do it to get my message out. To get a piece out critiquing porn I had to add in that I masturbate, to get a piece out on Pride I have to justify myself by disclosing my relationship status, to critique transgenderism I had to reveal that I’ve dated men who liked to cross-dress. So yes, I mine my private life to make the points that matter to me, and I do so because I care.

I have chosen to ‘come out’ here because yet again I have been sneered at dismissed because of my sexual orientation, this time by a lesbian. Bisexual people are regularly smeared as disease-ridden, promiscuous and anti-feminist. I am tired of fighting on all fronts, and I will not be made ashamed of my sexual orientation. I don’t need anyone’s permission, and nor do I need them to agree with me in order to be broadly on the same side. Just working with women who see the world in exactly the same way as we do is to fall victim to the same divisive, thought-policing tactics of the transgender activists. Even if they don’t agree with my reasoning, I hope my lesbian feminist sisters will appreciate why I am proudly bisexual.

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