I Get Bi with a Little Help from My Friends

Sometimes it feels like bisexuality is the biggest secret club in the world. We make up the largest percentage of the queer community and there are bi people of every race and gender, but sometimes it feels impossible to find each other. It’s one of my favorite things to whisper “I’m bisexual” to a relative stranger in a lesbian bar or a church pew or on Twitter and hear them say “me too.” These electric moments feel like a gift from the universe.

Because of the ways queer and straight communities erase bi folks, sometimes it feels like we have to shout just to hear each other, and that makes it all the more essential for us to create friendships with other bi people and build community.

“I freaking love having bisexual friends. If I wasn’t friends with y’all I never would’ve come out as bi,” said Trans Editor Mey Rude. “Bi friends are the best because they remind you that you’re just as queer and valid and cool as that lesbian over there. I still struggle a lot with internalized biphobia and it’s my bi friends that help shake me out of it.”

There are some things that my bi friends just get. I often feel self-conscious talking about my romantic and sexual history of mostly cis dudes because some lesbians (and straight people who assume I’m a lesbian) keep waiting for the punchline where I talk about how horrible it was. With my bi friends, I can tell all my stories without hesitation or editing, and it makes me feel like a whole person. On the other hand, I don’t have to talk about my past relationships in a floundering attempt to prove my identity is valid. I can just be a human who has dated and kissed and pined after some other humans and it’s not a big deal!

In general, my bi friends understand the alienation, erasure and self-doubt that comes with being bisexual in a “can’t you just pick one” world. By seeing and believing each other’s negative experiences, we help each other reduce the harm of those things.

While I was writing this, I asked my roommate Antonia what she thought and she said something incredibly true that I had never thought of: Being bi can mean the way we enter into platonic intimacy becomes more complex and freeing because a person’s gender is never the most obvious thing about our dynamic with them. In a way, the ostensibly broader range of romantic possibilities reduces the internalized pressure to filter every person of a specific gender through the lens of whether we want to date them.

Staff writer Raquel puts it this way: “It’s so helpful to just dish and vent about various partners and life experiences with people who share that experience. I mean, it’s so fun to rant, uncensored, about being asked for unwarranted threesomes or if I’m switching back to dick, to an understanding ear. (And one million eyerolls.) My bi friendships have been a safe space to just be myself and bitch, and that may not sound like much, but it’s everything. The understanding friendships you feel safe enough in to rant and to be vulnerable are the best.”

I’m lucky: I have a bisexual best friend, a bisexual roommate, and once a year I get to go to the Bisexual meet-up at A-Camp and hang out with a room full of people who ask each other questions and believe each other and are all very cute. But I know how hard it is to begin the journey of forging connections with other bi folks who will support you and teach you new crafts! There are a few easy ways to start:

  • Literally just tell people you’re bisexual all the time. I know not everyone feels safe or comfortable doing this but if you do, I highly recommend it as the most efficient option. It has the added benefit of weeding out biphobic people in your quest for friends! And maybe you don’t carry around a blue, pink and purple neon sign, but seriously, the risk of someone reacting badly when they find our you’re bi is far outweighed by the reward of making a life-affirming connection. Sorry for being a sap but it’s true!

  • Join online communities. As for any marginalized group or group with a relatively small population, the internet has changed the way we find and connect with each other. I recommend the BiNet USA group and the Autostraddle and A-Camp Bisexuals group on Facebook as a starting point.
  • Celebrate Bi Visibility Week! It’s your lucky day, because bi week is going on right now. Watch social media for people you didn’t even know were bi posting specially filtered photos on social media or using the #biweek hashtag. Also get into the comments on all the great bi week articles here on Autostraddle this week!

When it comes to making bisexual friends, here’s what Staff Writer Alaina has to say:

All of my friends are bisexual. The weird thing is that I’m only sort of kidding; I have a lot of bisexual friends. And I love them so much, and they’re so important to me because I can talk about attraction with them in a really easy way. I think I’ve been able to find so many bi friends through being open about who I am. I don’t use bi as an identifier typically, but I’m open about being attracted to people who are my gender and who aren’t, and like, if you tell someone you’re bisexual/bisexual adjacent, if they are too, they’ll let you know. Also, a lot of my bi friends are nonbinary, and that’s been awesome, because we’re able to talk about our genders and our sexualities and like, can you even really be straight or gay if you’re not a woman????? And it’s super low pressure, and funny, and not this serious and awkward conversation. The best part of making new bisexual friends is the Bi Meetup at A-Camp every year. It’s amazing to meet so many people with the same sexuality as you but who are defining it and dealing with it in a ton of different ways. Plus there are always cute craft ideas, and what better way to make friends than crafts?

While on your quest to create more beautiful bi friendships, I hope you will insist that all your variously-oriented friends treat you with respect and kindness and take your identity and relationships seriously. Only you know what that means to you, but whatever it is, you deserve it. I promise.

Adrian is a writer, a Texan and a sometimes-heretical Presbyterian. They write about bisexuality, gender, religion, politics, music and a whole lot of feelings at Autostraddle and wherever fine words are sold. They have a dog named after Alison Bechdel. Follow Adrian on Twitter @audreywhitetx.

Adrian has written 140 articles for us.

29 Comments

  1. i really needed this article today. the past few years, i’ve celebrated bi visibility week loud and proud, but this year it just hasn’t felt the same. partly it’s due to the fact that everything happens all at once and i’m juggling way too much, but also i feel disconnected from the bi community in a way i haven’t before. of my closest bi friends, one has since come out as gay, one as a lesbian, and two more have moved to different states. it’s hella lonely, y’all, but reading this made me feel that spark again. thank you, audrey <3

    • I don’t have anyone to celebrate with (non-bi partner aside), but I still plan on making a cake and throwing myself a party on Bi Visibility Day.

      I was going to do a big rose and violet flavoured sparkly bi unicorn thing, but then life got in the way and I ended up just buying a “just add liquid” raspberry mousse cake and some food colouring… but I’m still going to eat a damned bi pride cake, drink something sparkling and celebrate being bi! ?

  2. Such a good reminder. I’ve only been out as bi for 2 years and I gotta say that biphobia is hard to shake, even within yourself. I’ve had so many friends come out to me as bi when for months, years, etc I had assumed they were gay or straight based on their partners. I also find it hard to talk about my current romantic interests (I’m mainly crushing on girls and non-binary folks these days) without people assuming my orientation has changed.

  3. Thank you! I came out at bi and later realized I was pansexual. I loved the advice about just stating your sexuality when you can. Someday I hope to be seen as more than a fetish or an imaginary creature. Keep on beautiful bi and pan people <3

  4. This is lovely. I was really lucky to have several bi female friends when I came out in college – I probably wouldn’t have come out without them tbh. I didn’t know bi was something that an ordinary, non-David Bowie type being could be (it was rough being bi in 1990) until I met my friend Jean – who was open about dating men and women and who, um, flirted with me.

    But it’s been a long time since I’ve had local bi friends and I’ve been trying to change that recently. I started going to a BTQ book group a couple years ago and last month I attended my first Bi Support group – and it was ok but most people there were a lot younger than me and interested in different things. So far I haven’t really met any local bis that I’ve clicked with, although a couple of the people at last month’s thing seemed like potential kindred spirits.

    • I know an older bi woman (as in, older than 40 😛 ), and I think she’s had it pretty rough. Her lesbian friends kicked her out of the group when she left her girlfriend and starting dating a man, and then straight people thought she was straight. I wish she had some bi friends.

      Can this be a thing? Groups for bi women not in their 20’s?

      • Yes, please.

        I haven’t bothered with local groups because I’m told the only queer women who join them are lesbians looking for lesbian mum friends, and while I don’t mind children, as a childfree bisexual, I’m not likely to be the lesbian mum friend they want.

        I almost went to a pride week meet up, but only 20 year old party-obsessed single gay men signed up… and I’m a boring 30-something bisexual woman who’s been coupled-up for 14 years.

  5. this part really hit me, and i would love to hear more about what people think about it, if anybody has any thoughts:

    “Being bi can mean the way we enter into platonic intimacy becomes more complex and freeing because a person’s gender is never the most obvious thing about our dynamic with them.”

    … because it’s something i have always had strugglesome feelings about, envying the seemingly safe easy intimacy enjoyed by straight folks who can get real cozy, physically or emotionally, and never worry about making things weird by wanting to kiss their friends.

    perhaps it is not as simple for anybody… but i can’t help but wonder how experiencing intimacy differs for bi+ versus monosexual folks.

      • Yeah, I realized it can be a double edged sword! But for me it helps create balance between my friendships and allows me to have more authentic friendships, especially with men. I think realizing I was bi made me feel more empowered about my attraction so I didn’t feel like every boy I met had to be viewed as a potential romantic interest.

  6. I got so fed up with trying to signal my bi-ness that I got an artsy version of the bi pride flag tattooed on my forearm. Very hard to miss, queer folks know what it means, and straight folks tell me that i have a lovely abstract watercolor tattoo.

    Literally the laziest solution I could come up with to the problem of being told that I’m straight, having it assumed that I’m straight, or making serious eyes with a lady only to find out that she’s only into “real lesbians.”

  7. The importance of bi friends actually hit me last weekend when one of my straight friends directly asked me if I was into girls. And while I didn’t necessarily want to tell her I also didn’t want to lie about something that’s so important to me. So I told her.

    And while we were talking about it I realized that I really didn’t want to talk about my experience with her because she doesn’t understand. When I say “I’m bi” what she hears is “I think people of multiple genders are hot”, when really that’s just the tip of the ice berg.

    Being bi has shaped the way I see the world and the way I present myself in that world. And that is awesome. I love being bi and I wouldn’t want to change it for the world. I just don’t know how to package that so she’d understand and I don’t really want to either.

    So, yay for bi friends. I really have to get some of those.

  8. Bi community is so important! It’s easy in the “LGBT” community to feel like we’re defective or incomplete gay people and we’re not. Bi+ people deserve our own spaces along with the shared queer ones. Recently I’ve been looking for more bi+ men friends, because I think that often we share at least as much in common as I have with the lesbians that are in the queer women’s community. Bi+ culture doesn’t have to be just a subset of queer-women-and-nonbinary-land, it’s bigger and more expansive than that!

    Also I realized that thanks to bi+ men, I can give up on dating straight people without ruling out any gender as potential partners.

    • That’s a really good point. I’m not looking for dating partners but I am looking for more bi friends and they don’t have to be female / NB.

      There was one bi guy at the bi support network event I bravely went to last month and I was fascinated by his stories of attempting to date women after dating mostly men – I so related to that.

  9. My community is really depressing and lonely at times. Our local PRIDE and LGBT center refuse to include bisexual people and in a year of being involved and attending support meetings, I don’t think I’ve ever actually met a bisexual person face to face. Whether or not that’s due to the stigma or difficulty of coming out, I’m not sure. It sure would be nice to connect with someone I could at least do coffee with 🙁

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