You Need Help: Am I Erasing Bisexuality?


Hello! I’m relatively young and for years I’ve imagined myself as bisexual because that was what seemed to fit me at the time. I’ve used the label among friends and LGBT peers for a long time, and I’ve always stressed it in conversations regarding sexuality and dating. However, recently I feel as though I wouldn’t actually be able to have a relationship, romantically or sexually, with a man in any capacity. I want to dip my toes into trying the lesbian label, but I am aware of the stigma surrounding bisexuality, especially of the idea that it’s a “phase” to “grow out of,” and I fear that if I were to proceed I would only support this harmful notion. I understand that human beings are not stereotypes in and of themselves and that individual experiences aren’t the be-all and end-all for an entire group, but for some reason for me specifically I can’t seem to shake the idea that I’m doing something bad by doing this. How can I figure out what the right path is? Is there a right path? Why can’t I treat myself with the same grace I give others when they’re also trying to figure themselves out?


There are many people who will try to be strict about the definition of “bisexual” and “lesbian.” At times, I have been that person. I have also been a person who identifies as both at different points in my life. I know you’re not asking about me and my journey, but I think that’s important context to start with while we’re getting to know each other.

I think the real reason I’m telling you this is to get at the final question you’ve asked, which I think is the crux of the issue: Why can’t you grant yourself the grace that, I assume, when reading the sentences above, you gave me? I think it’s hard to shake ourselves out of our own heads long enough to stop beating ourselves up about any multitude of things, but one way I’ve found works for me is to quite literally look at the things I’m beating myself up about as if a friend had brought them to me and asked my opinion. If I had a friend who had previously identified one way and, when given more time and space to understand themselves and their desires, realized that label may no longer fit, how would I react? Probably, mostly, with joy they were one step closer to feeling comfortable with themselves now.

Because really, I think that’s all we can be: comfortable with ourselves now. I don’t really want to spend too much time on whether you are “doing something bad” by getting closer to feeling comfortable with yourself, though I deeply understand.

Bisexuality is stigmatized, misunderstood, and often maligned, and I also will staunchly defend it, stress it in conversation, etc. But there were also times where I doubted whether it was the right label for me, where I decided it was not, and then where I returned to it again.

Do people think I am a phony or furthering stereotypes, or or or? Maybe! But people also think I am straight sometimes (I’m not), people also think I am white sometimes (I’m not), people also think I like mushrooms sometimes (I do not!). Another stereotype about bisexuality is that it’s actually just straight girls looking to ~fit in~ or attract the attention of men: Should that stop anyone who has previously identified as straight from coming out as bisexual once she knows that she is bi? What else are we supposed to do but try to wear what clothing fits us best every day.

People identify all sorts of ways for all different reasons, dating back as far as language has existed, probably. At the end of the day, our labels are a shorthand. You could start calling yourself a lesbian immediately, or start telling your friends you are moving away from dating men, or start using words more like “sapphic” or “queer” or just “gay,” or even continue to use the word bisexual without ever dating another man (that’s allowed! There are no rules that say who you have to date to be bisexual!). All of these, potentially, could encapsulate the way you see your sexuality playing out in the world, and only you can choose what feels good to you. Your life is yours, not a poster for bisexuality or lesbianism or any other label that feels like it might fit.

Now, if you started claiming bisexuality isn’t real, a different conversation might need to be had. Barring that, I say the right path is whichever one you choose, whether it’s dipping your toe, diving in head first, or any number of ways to behave at a pool, all of which, most importantly are supposed to be fun.

You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.

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Analyssa is a co-host of the To L and Back podcast: Gen Q edition. She lives in LA, works at a TV studio, and can often be found binge-watching an ABC drama from 2008. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or her social media of choice, Letterboxd.

Analyssa has written 58 articles for us.


  1. This was very compassionate and nuanced. Would love to also see an acknowledgment that aside from bisexuality not depending on always being interested in dating/relationships with both men and women, “men” and “women” are also not the only options for making up the multiple genders one might be attracted to or interested in as someone identifying with bisexuality.

  2. As someone who came out as bi only to realise they were a lesbian too, I was also in the same position. I felt guilty and that I “let down” the bi community by coming out as gay. What helped me, however, was remembering that in my whole life, I never wanted to be with a man and that was fine, and the rich shared history between bi and les folks; and feeling pride in our community.

  3. Aw LW, this resonated with me! Not trying to put anything on you, but I said almost the exact same thing about “never being able to see myself with a man” before coming out as a lesbian, which has been one of the best and brightest things I’ve ever experienced. The way I looked at it was that I honor the time I identified as bi as my entrance into my own queerness, but as I learned more about myself, I also learned it just didn’t fit anymore! While I am careful not to us the “it was a phase” language, I definitely don’t think there’s any shame in growing into ourselves and finding new language that fits us better. There are sooooo many queer people I know that find their labels changing and evolving as they learn themselves more. Wherever you land, I wish you the best and hope you find comfort within yourself!

    • Seconding what Elisabeth is saying here. I started out identifying simply as bi. As my understanding of myself and gender has evolved, I’ve grown into pan and queer. I still use bi, especially when I’m in a situation where I don’t have the energy to argue the nuances of gender and attraction, but the other two fit better. The point is, a healthy evolution of your relationship with yourself is great. You keep being you, I’ll still see you as my LGBTQ+ sibling. As one person who has continued to grow into the bi+ label, I don’t think you’re erasing or betraying any part of the community. You are just growing. That is fantastic. Learning to give yourself grace is also part of growing, so remember you are worthy of that grace. Sending love!

  4. I used to identify as lesbian, but I’m bi (and nonbinary in a way that is not compatible with lesbianism)! It’s not biphobic to not be bi. It’s a stereotype that bisexuality is a transitional identity, but the reality is that many people are going to guess wrong the first time and every identity’s going to be transitional for somebody. If you’re not out there acting like bisexuality is more transitional IN GENERAL, or like it’s more natural for someone to go from identifying as bi to identifying as lesbian than the reverse, or like lesbians who mistook themselves for bi are victims of homophobia while bisexuals who mistook themselves for lesbian are not, or shouting down content that’s relevant to bisexuals but not lesbians while being perfectly okay with content that’s relevant to lesbians but not bisexuals, you are not doing anything wrong by bisexuals.

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