Pride, Love and the Power of Self-Acceptance

Bi-sexuality, Coming Out, Louise Clare Dalton

An ‘At What Point Do I Qualify: My Bisexual Experience’ Post

By Louise Clare Dalton

red and white wooden door

Forgive me, for this has been something of a love letter to myself, and to all you queer folk out there, no matter where you are on your journey. Here’s to the queer folk who never needed to ‘come out’, the queer folk who came out to immediate acceptance, the queer folk who came out with struggle, and the queer folk who are not safe to do so. We stand with you all.

Folks, today it’s something a little different. In honor of National Coming Out Day, and to celebrate pride and love, I’m taking a break from looking outside, in order to understand the inside a little better, while taking a moment to celebrate along the way.

So, the question today – why did it take me so long to be comfortably open with my sexuality, or to ‘come out’? Why did I struggle with this internal battle for years, as so many of us do? Why did I feel such confusion when trying to understand my bi identity, and where did my journey towards wholehearted self-love and unconditional self-acceptance lead me?

Let’s get into it.

Often, people can’t understand exactly what it was that made coming out so difficult for me, and honestly, for a long time I didn’t get it either. Even after I started telling people I was bi, I still had a shit ton of ‘stuff’to work through, because sadly, there were reasons I found it so hard to come out. The homophobia so deeply rooted within our society had brainwashed me in to thinking I had something to be ashamed of.

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For context, I’m about to turn twenty-five now (quarter of a century, baby!), but up until about a year ago, I told the world I was straight. I even convinced myself to some degree, that if I buried my queerness deeply enough beneath layers of outside validation, it would eventually go away.

But really, I was always aware of my queerness. Like many bi/pan people, for as long as I’ve had crushes on people of the opposite gender, I’ve had crushes on all other genders too. Looking back, my bisexual identity has always been clear, so why did I deny myself the opportunity to live my truth for so long?

Well, for a long time, I did find it confusing as hell.

Now, now, let’s not get it twisted, hons. I’m not suggesting I was confused in the way that biphobic rhetoric will have you believe – i.e., bi folk are all just eternally confused about which gender they’re attracted to.

For me, the confusion came from a learned idea that my sexuality had to fit into a binary. When I was a teenager, I thought I was gay for a long time, simply because I fancied women. I didn’t have a reference point to cling to, a version of myself to look up to, or any way to help me understand my place in the world as a bisexual woman attracted to all genders.

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It wasn’t until much later, when I started to see myself well represented, and make connections with other folk like me, that I began to love and understand myself a little more.

But it certainly took time.

Even after I came out last year, I was still so full of shame. Contrary to what people may believe, and what I subconsciously expected, coming out didn’t magically remove all the negative feeling I had surrounding my sexuality. It didn’t take away the shame over night, but it was a powerful step for me.

Yes, for almost twenty-four years I was ashamed, I denied myself queer love and the joy of living my truth, but I’m here now. How great is that? I’M HERE! And I’m so proud of my journey.

Of course, I know how fortunate I am to live in a country like the UK, and how my privilege in so many other areas as a white, non-disabled, cis-gender person has made the coming-out process (and my life in general) so much easier.

But if, even for me in my position of privilege, coming out felt so difficult that for nearly twenty-four years I couldn’t do it, how incredibly hard must it be for other people.

For this reason and countless others, we must keep fighting. For all of our LGBTQ+ community, especially our trans family, particularly those of color, who are still some of the most persecuted people in the world, we must continue to push.

blue green and red thread on persons palm

Today though, I raise a god damn glass to us all in celebration!

Forgive me, for this has been something of a love letter to myself, and to all you queer folk out there, no matter where you are on your journey. Here’s to the queer folk who never needed to ‘come out’, the queer folk who came out to immediate acceptance, the queer folk who came out with struggle, and the queer folk who are not safe to do so. We stand with you all.

Yes, for almost twenty-four years I was ashamed, I denied myself queer love and the joy of living my truth, but I’m here now. How great is that? I’M HERE! And I’m so proud of my journey. I’m proud of the struggle and the joy, the dark moments and the heady highs, the shame and the self-love. I celebrate it all and I celebrate loudly because if it helps me to write it, then reading it could help someone else.

So wherever you are on your own path, there’s a whole community of people waiting with open arms, ready to breathe through it with you and toast to your love, with a rainbow flag and a pint. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll be here.

Peace and rainbow love,

Lou x

Louise Clare Dalton is a feminist, bisexual writer and poet interested in sharing her personal experience. She aims to open up the dialogue about common misconceptions and the biphobic narratives they perpetuate. Louise writes her own blog at www.louiseclaredalton.com, which focuses on ethical consumerism and healthy life hacks. Finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam 19, her spoken-word poetry focuses on introspection and understanding how societal pressure affects human behaviour.

Lou was our featured poet in September 2020. Check out her performance of What They Told You

Read all of Lou’s At What Point Do I Qualify? posts

Find more Blogs by Incredible LGBTQ+ Women Like Us

Like, Comment and Share the Love!

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Women Are More Likely to be Bi, Right?

Bi-sexuality, Louise Clare Dalton

An ‘At What Point Do I Qualify: My Bi Experience’ Post

By Louise Clare Dalton

person holding black corded headphones

“Society (a male-dominated society, where men are predominantly in positions of power) will allow women to exist outside the binary because it suits the needs of men. Although this is undoubtedly a form of oppression, it can also make it easier for women to openly identify as bisexual.”

Hello rainbow lovers, and welcome back! Pull over a chair and grab yourself a coffee, because this one’s a head scratcher.

To those of you joining me for the first time, welcome to the party. This blog was created to break down the common misconceptions of bisexuality, and shine a light on the microaggressions us wonderful bi folk face on a regular basis.

Now, for the problematic catch of the day. A friend and I were chatting about sexuality and our wonderful queerness, when something tricky came up. ‘Women are just more likely to be bi, right?’. Wrong, but surprisingly (or unsurprisingly in this messy world) this is a really common point of view.

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Our attitudes towards sexuality can be pretty complex, and are often influenced by a multitude of factors we may not even be aware of. In case you hadn’t guessed, most of them ain’t so groovy.

So, why is it so common to think women are more likely to be bisexual, and why do we feel more need to box men into the binary? How is this myth problematic, and how can we debunk it? Let’s have a look.

Unfortunately, women who love women (whether they be lesbian, bi, pan, etc.) are routinely oversexualised. When I hear about a film or TV show with a lesbian protagonist (or any story following women who love women), I get pretty darn excited! Representation – yes, yes, bloody yes! But where there’s excitement, there’s also apprehension. Which is often justified when I switch on the latest lesbian love story, only to see sex dominating the storyboard.

Don’t get me wrong, sex is great, and including sex just as you would in a film about a straight couple is important! But so often the sex between women on screen has been filmed through an oh-so murky filter – the male gaze.

“As for queer women, it continues to enforce the idea that we are hypersexual objects, as oppose to real human beings, whose relationships deserve to hold the same weight that hetero relationships do.”   

The kind of performative sex we see between women in movies has often been created for and by men, and don’t even get me started on porn. This minimises our experiences as real queer women, and reduces us to objects. And so, the idea that queer women exist purely for the consumption of straight men is perpetuated. Honey, it’s a no from me.

So hold up. How does the oversexualisation of queer women contribute to the viewpoint in question: that women are more likely to be bi.

The answer, my friends, is that society (a male-dominated society, where men are predominantly in positions of power) will allow women to exist outside the binary because it suits the needs of men. Although this is undoubtedly a form of oppression, it can also make it easier for women to openly identify as bisexual. Make sense?

Check out this month’s featured artist Paola Rossi

So let’s talk about bi men, who by this same token, are apparently less likely to be bisexual. Let’s unpick.

For men, coming out as bisexual is notoriously difficult (this is changing, but the problem is very much still there). This is because the homophobia against men who love men is deeply rooted and manifests in lots of different ways.

An example. As a bisexual woman, expressing my bisexuality to a straight man has never been used as a reason for him not to date me. Yes, it certainly can be problematic in other ways – he may now see me as a hyper-sexual being, yawn – but it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker. So, I’m allowed to exist somewhere in the middle of the sexuality spectrum because I’m a woman, because women who love women are seen as sexual objects, there to satisfy straight men. This is what he’s most likely been taught through media, etc., the same as everyone else. Ugh.

However, for a bisexual man in a similar scenario, i.e., dating a straight woman, he could receive a very different reaction. Multiple times, I’ve heard straight women say they would never date a bi man. Often people say things like this without realising there’s any issue or taking a second to recognise that what they’re saying is likely influenced by biphobic, and ultimately homophobic, rhetoric. If you’re a straight woman who’s said or thought something along these lines, no hate, but take a second to understand the real reason you don’t want a relationship with a man who loves women and men.

This is just one example, but it’s enough. You can imagine for a man who truly identifies as bi or pan, it can be really difficult to express this, for fear of the way the world might perceive you.

And as for the statistics out there that back up this viewpoint, that there are more bi women than there are men, I believe that, almost certainly, these statistics are skewed by the societal pressure bi men are under to force themselves into the straight or gay boxes that don’t fit. So really, all genders are equally as likely to be bi, but the societal pressure stops these numbers seeming more equal.

Feel Good – Mae Martin's immaculate romcom will have you head over heels |  TV comedy | The Guardian
Feel Good by Mae Martin

So here is the two-sided problem.

Men are further forced into the binary, because the homophobia instilled in us towards gay men means we’re unable to think of men as being outside our straight/gay labels. This homophobia (often unconscious) needs to be unpicked, and it needs to go. Now.

And as for queer women, it continues to enforce the idea that we are hypersexual objects, as oppose to real human beings, whose relationships deserve to hold the same weight that hetero relationships do.   

So what’s the solution? Now we’re talking!

A better understanding can lead us to a better world. Understand that men and women are both likely to bi, but women are more able to express themselves because of less hate towards their queerness. But we must also understand that women face a different oppression, with our queerness being over-sexualised.

It’s all about good representation, open-mindedness and critical thinking. Work on being able to unpick your own prejudice, because we all have some lurking somewhere. Watch the good stuff, the things written by queer women‘Feel Good’ by Mae Martin, I am obsessed. Listen to bi folk talk about their experiences, and approach all conversations on sexuality with an open mind.

Onwards and upwards, you gorgeous bunch!

Peace and rainbow love,

Lou x

Louise Clare Dalton is a feminist, bisexual writer and poet interested in sharing her personal experience. She aims to open up the dialogue about common misconceptions and the biphobic narratives they perpetuate. Louise writes her own blog at www.louiseclaredalton.com, which focuses on ethical consumerism and healthy life hacks. Finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam 19, her spoken-word poetry focuses on introspection and understanding how societal pressure affects human behaviour.

Lou was our featured poet in September 2020. Check out her performance of What They Told You

Read all of Lou’s At What Point Do I Qualify? posts

Find more Blogs by Incredible LGBTQ+ Women Like Us

Like, Comment and Share the Love!

Follow Women Like Us …


Pride, Love and the Power of Self-Acceptance

By Louise Clare Dalton: “Yes, for almost twenty-four years I was ashamed, I denied myself queer love and the joy of living my truth, but I’m here now. How great is that? I’M HERE! And I’m so proud of my journey.”

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Chronically Fabulous: Coming Out All Over Again

Bi-sexuality, Disability, Josie Quinn

By Josie Quinn

I was a proud, confident, bisexual woman, with every future stage of my life and career meticulously planned. At that time I had no idea that a few years later I would have to come out all over again, as someone with disabilities.

In my early twenties I thought I was done with coming out: the long, awkward heart-to-hearts, the well-meaning friends who wanted to be supportive but weren’t quite sure what to say, the comebacks prepared and my skin thickened ready for the ignorant remarks and judging looks of strangers. I was a proud, confident, bisexual woman, with every future stage of my life and career meticulously planned. At that time I had no idea that a few years later I would have to come out all over again, as someone with disabilities.

Before I turned 30 I had moved back in with my parents, after Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as the associated pain and medications, brought my legal career to a halt. Due to worsening mobility and pain, I had also started having to use a walking stick or wheelchair at all times, and although these helped me get around, they also effectively outed me to the world as a disabled woman.

Anyone who saw me could also now see that there was something “wrong” with me, and although in general people try to be kind/helpful, I have lost count of times I have been asked, by total strangers: “What’s wrong with you then?” or “So what did you do to yourself?” or similar questions. People would talk to the person pushing my chair rather than to me, lean on the back of my wheelchair, and even push me out of their way without speaking to me at all!

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At first I thought the best way forward was to simply appear as able-bodied as possible; I tried to avoid taking my wheelchair places, and would force myself to walk with my cane despite excruciating pain. Eventually I nearly stopped going out altogether, and I remember how depressed I felt at the time, believing that my disabilities were stopping me from doing so much.

It took a few years, some hard work, and a fantastic support group to bring about the now obvious epiphany: it wasn’t my disabilities stopping me, it was just my anxiety about how the world views my disabilities.

So now I wear wristbands proclaiming Chronically Ill & Chronically Fabulous, and am so thankful for my wheelchair, which gives me the freedom to still go out and have fun. I’ve used my wheelchair on the dancefloor, I’ve even used it to see Pompeii! And most importantly, I now speak up when someone thinks it’s okay to treat a wheelchair-user like a piece of furniture!

Check out art to ease the mind by Nicola Copsey

Because I realised that my disabilities are just like my sexuality: I didn’t choose them, but I can choose to be proud of them.

Josie Quinn (she/her) is in her early thirties. She is a proud bisexual, disabled wheelchair-user and self-professed total geek! She worked as a Legal Executive before becoming too ‘Chronically Fabulous’ to continue, having been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, CFS, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. In her spare time she’s an avid reader (sci-fi, fantasy & graphic novels especially), amateur cosplayer and burgeoning tattoo addict. Twitter.com/Bendy_NotBroken … Instagram.com/BendyNotBroken

Read all of Josie’s Chronically Fabulous posts

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At What Point Do I Qualify? My Bi Experience …

Bi-sexuality, Louise Clare Dalton

But… How Do You Even Know You’re Bisexual?!

By Louise Clare Dalton

“It’s this same logic that leads some to think that bisexual people in heterosexual relationships have flipped on their straight switch, and are now no longer bi. Or that when a bi person enters into same-sex relationship, they are now gay. For some reason we’ve been conditioned to believe that the person we’re currently sleeping with is in direct correlation to our sexuality. Honeys, that ain’t it. I assure you.”

Since I first became comfortably open with my sexuality last year, I’ve been asked a lot of problematic questions. High ranking on the list is ye old classic, ‘Have you ever slept with a woman?Inevitably, intrusive questions like these are met with an awkward response – *cough* ‘no’ *cough*. Then comes the kicker: ‘So how do you even know you’re bisexual?’. As if bisexuality is some kind of badge you receive having met certain criteria. How do you know? How can you tell? Is this something I’ll have to continuously prove with statistics and a graph? Fill out a form, provide adequate evidence and we’ll send a certificate in the post.

I’d love to pretend I have some kick-ass, well-researched response to questions like these, but truthfully, I struggle with confrontation. Especially if the reality of my sexuality is being called into question. Really, this narrative is so deeply ingrained into society that to unpick it takes time, a lot of patience and the courage to speak your mind in the moment. The latter I struggle with. Challenging problematic questions and statements regarding your lived sexuality isn’t always easy. That’s why blogs like these are so valuable – if I may say so myself. To infiltrate the zeitgeist with more real bisexual experience is essential. Because my oh my, there’s still a huge lack of understanding, and we’ve spent enough time allowing ignorance to dominate here.

To briefly clarify: when I say I’m bisexual, I mean I’m romantically and sexually attracted to more than one gender. As with many sexual identities, people can be bisexual in a whole host of different ways. It’s still pretty common to assume bisexual exclusively means attracted to men and women – 50/50 banana split – but I, like many others, don’t mean it that way.

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So let’s chat. I’m here, safe behind my keyboard, ready to pull apart the common – and often well-intentioned – comments I receive on the regs.

How does this particular question contribute to the erasure of bisexuality, and how does it affect the individual. In this case, the individual is me! So welcome, thanks for joining me.

The core of the question is as follows – if you’ve never slept with a woman, or anyone who isn’t a man, how can you know you’re not straight? In other words, how can you be sure that how you feel is reality – don’t you need some proof? This constant dismissal of a person’s reality is damaging for many groups in the LGBTQ+ community.

If we follow this evidence-based approached to sexuality, we’d all be asexual until we lost our virginities. Which, of course, is not the conclusion of the general public, so why does the belief in my sexuality rest on who I’ve slept with? Sexuality is not an evidence-based assignment people!

It’s this same logic that leads some to think that bisexual people in heterosexual relationships have flipped on their straight switch, and are now no longer bi. Or that when a bi person enters into same-sex relationship, they are now gay. For some reason we’ve been conditioned to believe that the person we’re currently sleeping with is in direct correlation to our sexuality. Honeys, that ain’t it. I assure you.

This constant need to defend your sexuality can be affecting. It’s hurtful and leaves me feeling defensive. So the question is, how can we move forward?

One thing is for sure, we need a better understanding and more representation of bisexuality in the media we’re consuming. Representation that doesn’t continue to enforce damaging stereotypes is ever so sparse, even now.

I opened up to my mum about my sexuality on Pride 2020. Fortunately, she is a wonderful, kind, accepting parent, whom I am extremely grateful to have on my side, but even she doesn’t fully understand the bisexual experience. An analogy I used to try and help her understand the frustration I feel was the following:

‘You’re a mother. You’re a mother of your two children and that’s a huge part of who you are – a deep-rooted part of your identity. What if someone said: but are you a mother? How can you tell you’re a mother? And when you had another kid, what if I asked you, are you still my mother? What if I asked you to provide proof? It would seem like an attack, right?’.

In other words, for someone who has never had a major part of their identity questioned in this way, how would it feel? I’m aware it’s a flawed analogy – I’ll work on it – but it certainly helped her begin to understand.

So let’s wrap this up.

If someone tells you anything at all about their sexuality, believe them. It’s not your place to pull them apart and question their existence, and it doesn’t help anyone. Try to unpack the constant need to flatten sexuality into boxes, because this stuff is really complicated. And hey, the complexity of human existence is part of what makes us so fantastic.

Don’t interrogate, don’t question, and keep an open mind. And if someone chooses to open up to you about their experiences, listen to them – don’t underestimate the power of your words.

Peace and rainbow love,

Lou x

Louise Clare Dalton is a feminist, bisexual writer and poet interested in sharing her personal experience. She aims to open up the dialogue about common misconceptions and the biphobic narratives they perpetuate. Louise writes her own blog at www.louiseclaredalton.com, which focuses on ethical consumerism and healthy life hacks. Finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam 19, her spoken-word poetry focuses on introspection and understanding how societal pressure affects human behaviour.

Lou was our featured poet in September 2020. Check out her performance of What They Told You

Read all of Lou’s At What Point Do I Qualify? posts

Find more Blogs by Incredible LGBTQ+ Women Like Us


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What They Told You … Spoken Word Poetry by Louise Clare Dalton

Bi-sexuality, Louise Clare Dalton, poetry

For me, the journey towards self-acceptance and accepting my sexuality was a long and complicated one. I use writing to help me unpack all of that. I want to continue to tell bi stories in the future, and talk about pride too!

This month’s featured poet is Louise Clare Dalton. A finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam 19, her spoken word poetry is deeply rooted in introspection, often exploring uncomfortable topics in order to confront herself and the world. At the centre of her work is introspection and understanding how societal pressure affects human behaviour. 

About ‘What They Told You’

My experiences as a teenager shaped the relationship I had with my sexuality for a long time. I wrote this poem to unpack a specific experience, in order to move on and continue the journey towards loving myself completely. Looking at the internalised homophobia I carried from my school years for such a long time was a huge step forward in accepting and celebrating my sexuality. Writing it down takes away its power, and gives the power back to me.

 

What inspires you most as a poet?

I find nature really inspiring – the way everything connects and is constantly moving. I grew up in a rural area and I still draw a lot of inspiration from that!

Why do you write?

Writing has helped me process moments of trauma, pain and heartbreak. It gives me a space to respond to the world and find the light and joy in it too.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?

I started out writing songs when I was about fifteen, but I never shared them – the first one was about a fox! I started writing poetry much later.

Why performance poetry rather than written?

I love the way you can play with the poem each time, pull apart the rhythms, etc. – I just love to mess around with stuff!  Most importantly though, when you perform, you’re in conversation with the audience for those five minutes. That moment when you feel them in it with you – that’s special for me.

Where do you do your best thinking?

In my bedroom! I usually plug in some Arctic Monkeys and dance around like a fool for a bit, then sit down to write. After that I just like to have a bit of quiet and some coffee.

What poets inspire you?

Dizraeli, Tanaka Fuego, Debris Stevenson, Rakaya Fetuga, Kae Tempest, and loads of others. My first inspo was Bob Dylan.

How does being bi impact your work?

For me, the journey towards self-acceptance and accepting my sexuality was a long and complicated one. I use writing to help me unpack all of that. I want to continue to tell bi stories in the future, and talk about pride too!

Check out more of Louise Clare Dalton‘s work.

Read her Women Like Us Blog: At What Point Do I Qualify? My Bi Experience

Find more poetry by incredible LGBTQ+ Women Like Us

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