Giving Shame the Finger!

Growing Pains, Louise Clare Dalton, Queer

An ‘At What Point do I Qualify? My Queer Experience’ Post

By Louise Clare Dalton

Let’s talk about shame baby, let’s talk about it and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the – oh wait. Hon, let’s not kid ourselves, there isn’t much ‘good’ to speak of when it comes to the shame surrounding sexuality and queerness.

person with blue and red manicure

Shame is something that routinely appears in my writing, whether it be poetry, playwriting or as a part of this blog. For me, it’s really important to unpick both the conscious and unconscious shame I feel surrounding my sexuality in order to move on from it. The hope? If we can learn to feel shame, it’s possible to unlearn it too.

Since I came out to my mum around a year ago, she’s taken proactive steps towards becoming the best ally she can be. To give her an insight into my world (and because she’s great at correcting my spelling mistakes. Ta, Mum!) I send her a link to my blog every month. After last month’s piece in particular, it was interesting to hear her shock over the repeated mention of shame.

See, most of the time straight folks don’t have to deal with any shame surrounding their sexuality, so it’s never really been something for her to consider in regards to her own life. It’s likely that she’s never felt othered because of who she’s attracted to.

When people tell me that it took them longer than they would have liked to be comfortably open with their sexuality, it doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s no shock to hear that for many people, this shit still ain’t easy. But for some people I’ve spoken to (particularly straight, cis folk) this can come asa surprise. There’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about what could cause someone to feel ashamed of their queerness.

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So let’s dive into this a little more…

Like many others, before I knew what the word ‘gay’ actually meant I had heard it on the playground. From my earliest memories of primary school, until I left academia at the age of sixteen, I remember hearing the word gay thrown around as an insult. And although it pains me to say, I used it myself as a kid, before I really understood the gravity of what using the word in this way meant. But the worst part? None of us were pulled up on it by the adults around us that should have known better. Nobody sat us down and explained, so by the time we knew what the word gay actually meant, the damage was already done. The seeds of shame and self-hate were already planted.

And in case you think times have changed since I was at school, as recently as a couple of years ago, I had to have a difficult conversation with a thirty-year-old, straight, cis friend about why they shouldn’t use the word gay in this way. So, yeah … unfortunately we’re not out of the woods with that one.

This is just one example of how so many children will have their first introduction to gay and queer culture. They will falsely learn that ‘gay’ means lame, rubbish or bad before they learn the truth of it, and although it may seem small to some, things like this are massive. They slowly chip away at our sense of pride before we’re old enough to tie our shoelaces.

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Now, times are definitely changing and we’ve come a long way, but, honeys, we just ain’t there yet. Sadly, I still hear people speaking this way now. I still hear the slurs I heard as a kid, and a lot of ignorance among adults when it comes to queer people, queer sex, culture and expression.

I think it’s important for allies of the queer community (hello and welcome, you wonderful hons) to understand the shame that is thrust upon us queer folk, often from a very young age. To understand that although you may not feel you’re being overtly homophobic, the things you say can still have an effect. It’s important to understand that this shame surrounding sexuality hasn’t come out of thin air, or even just from the monumental things – the historical mistreatment of queer people, the injustice or the overt homophobia. It comes from the seemingly smaller things we see, hear and experience too.

For queer allies, it’s important to understand that these ‘small’ things can have a huge impact on how safe we feel to be ourselves, and how we understand ourselves within the wider context of the world. This is particularly important for those influencing the next generation, so let’s make this change now, and ensure that teachers, parents and guardians have the right tools, enabling them to deal with these situations effectively, with kindness, compassion and knowledge.

And, in the interest of healing, it’s important (for me at least) to name the demon. To understand some of the shit that induced shame within me, and to understand that it’s the fault of a homophobic world, and not of me or any other queer person.

And then, most importantly… TO LET IT ALL THE FUCK GO! Love yourself, hon. That shame ain’t for you, because you are bloody wonderful.

Peace and rainbow love,

Lou x

Louise Clare Dalton is a feminist, queer writer and poet interested in sharing her personal experience. She aims to open up the dialogue about common misconceptions and the queer-phobic 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

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Chronically Fabulous: The Critical Role of D&D in an Isolated World

By Josie Quinn: “In a year of isolation and fear, Dungeons & Dragons has not only kept me connected with the outside world, but given all of us the much needed chance to escape our current reality, even if only for a few hours.”

New Year, New Queer

Bi-sexuality, Coming Out, Louise Clare Dalton, Queer

An ‘At What Point do I Qualify? My Queer Experience’ Post

By Louise Clare Dalton

selective-focus of photography of Queer & Proud signage
Queer and Proud!

“‘Bisexual’ once fit perfectly – like an old shirt I could button myself into and show to the world. But now, the shirt doesn’t fit anymore – it just doesn’t feel right. So, why does it scare me to talk about that?”

Writing a blog about my sexuality so soon after coming out has been a really interesting journey for me. It’s given me space to find things, to interrogate my subconscious and to explore some very personal parts of my life with the support of an amazing queer community. Having a chance to say the things I want to say and to connect with other folk who’ve had similar experiences feels … well, pretty special. But it can also be exposing and somewhat vulnerable at times. Offering any piece of yourself to the world, especially when parts of that same world taught you to feel shame in the first place can be… scary.

And one thing in particular is scaring me at the moment. So, let me stare down the barrel of the gun and have a chat about it right here, in the blog. Today we discuss, under a slightly different title (props for noticing, if you did), what happens when the label you so proudly assigned yourself, that you wrote a blog about, doesn’t quite fit anymore. And why, for some of us, changing a label (or letting go of labels altogether, perhaps)feels like such a scary concept.

Well for me, giving myself and my sexuality a label was as much an act of resistance as it was an act of self acceptance. Labelling myself was my way of giving shame the finger, of saying, ‘Fuck the time I’ve spent being sorry for this and fuck anyone who has a problem with it.’ ‘Coming out’ and saying ‘here I am, hons’ was a completely necessary step for me as I learned to love myself.

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At that time (about 18 months ago) ‘bisexual’ fit perfectly – like an old shirt I could button myself into and show to the world. But now, the shirt doesn’t fit anymore – it just doesn’t feel right. So, why does it scare me to talk about that?

Now, I’ll be the first to say ‘fuck what people think’. But maybe, without even realising, there are parts of me that still do care about the way I’m seen. Maybe on some level, I fear that if I do change my label, I’ll align more with misinformed, ignorant ideas about how bi people are confused and indecisive. I know – it sounds mad, to still care in this way and to be influenced by these ideas. But if I don’t take the time to unpick these fears (that have been informed by our queer-phobic society) they could play a part in my decision making, and maybe even my life, without me even knowing it.

When people say things like ‘you shouldn’t need to come out’ or ‘we shouldn’t need labels’, I think damn. I really, truly agree. But sadly, most of us did need to come out, not just once but repeatedly. We’re pressured to categorise ourselves in order to gain some kind of acceptance and understanding from the people around us.

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So perhaps this need to categorise sexuality is also a part of why it feels so genuinely scary to say, ‘I know I really stuck myself inside this box but, hey. I reckon… maybe this other one fits best. Or really none of them quite fit; can I just play with the cardboard instead?’

yellow petaled flower in the stainless steel can
No Label Needed!

I do believe, for now at least, that ‘coming out’ and ‘labels’ still have to exist. While we do not have equality, we still need this language in order to continue our fight for it. We are not able to simply be, but I hope one day we will be.

What I can say for sure is that falling in love has made things clearer for me – experiencing first hand that love is just love, and sex is just sex, no matter your gender or anyone else’s. The cuddles on the sofa feel the same, the morning coffee brought to the bedside table feels the same, the farts left lingering under the covers smell just as spicy. We’re taught that same-sex relationships are this huge thing that holds so much weight, and if we’re not careful, we can end up believing that. But really, it’s just fucking love, hons! And I always thought I knew that, but now it feels concrete enough for me to say, I am who I am, I love who I love, and I don’t need to put myself in any boxes to be sure of anything.

So lemme round off, hons, let me introduce myself as who I am right now. I am Louise Clare Dalton, and I am queer. I also love cozy socks, my GF and wild water swimming. I drink too much coffee and Diet Coke. I believe wholeheartedly in the goodness of humanity but also that people can be fucking shite at times. I am straightforward and indecisive, happy and sad, right and wrong all at once. I am sure of myself and I am finding myself. All of these things are parts of who I am, but none of them define me. If ‘bisexual’ doesn’t feel right anymore, I don’t have to label myself with that. It’s cool, hon. Relax.

Peace and rainbow love,

Lou x

Louise Clare Dalton is a feminist, queer writer and poet interested in sharing her personal experience. She aims to open up the dialogue about common misconceptions and the queer-phobic 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

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Giving Shame the Finger!

Louise Clare Dalton. “Let’s talk about shame baby, let’s talk about it and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the … oh wait. Hon, let’s not kid ourselves, there isn’t much ‘good’ to speak of when it comes to the shame surrounding sexuality and queerness.

The Journey to Living a Queer Life

Bi-sexuality, Louise Clare Dalton, Motivational

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

By Louise Clare Dalton

“This year I’ve had a chance to be that kid again. To follow my instincts. I marched into a salon hungover and chopped my hair off just because I fucking wanted to. I came out to my mum over the phone on Pride, I even asked my now girlfriend (she’s fantastic btw) out on our first date …”

Last week, me and my wonderful pal were sat in the park, sipping off-brand lager and chatting all things love, sex and relationships, when we saw something totally majestic occur, followed by something very sweet and tentative. The two instances together inspired this month’s blog – so buckle up…

boy riding green kick scooter

Poised at the top of a small hill somewhat in the distance, were two tiny toddlers. The pair had their chubby fingers gripped around the plush, cushioned handlebars of two fun-sized scooters. With a hard kick, the first went zooming down the hill. It was superb – the fearlessness of it! Now, I know it was a small hill, but to a toddler? It must have been bloody massive. When they reached the bottom, the kid smiled, stuck out a T-bar clad toe, and strode off the moving vehicle onto the path.

Then came the second. After an encouraging nod from the child’s grownup, a teensy leg tiptoed out and lightly pushed off. Almost as soon as they’d started moving, the kid hit the brake and slowed to an eventual stop halfway down the hill. Of course, the first child had already forgotten their scooter. They’d swiftly moved on and were now playing with sticks in the mud, getting covered in muck in that way that quickly becomes unacceptable after childhood ends.

The two seemed to be siblings, and were very close in age, but their attitudes towards that hill (and possibly life in general) were starkly different. Bizarrely though, I saw shards of my own nature throughout the years reflected in both the boldness and tentative hesitation.

When I was a kid, following my instincts was easy. I didn’t think about consequences, I grabbed life and ran with it. I would have zoomed down that hill so fast back when I was small, but when I reached adolescence, a lot changed. The idea of consequence began to paralyse me slightly, and my ability to go with my gut. I became aware of how I was seen, how I was expected to behave, and how I should carve myself into a version that fit a predetermined mould of what the world would be willing to accept.

But about eighteen months ago, I started to think of who I would be if there had never been that pressure to conform. How much of me is who I am instinctually and authentically, and how much has been influenced by pressure from the outside world.

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As I write this, I look across at my own reflection, noticing the wispy tufts of hair framing my face. A few months ago, admittedly in a slightly hungover state, I chopped all my hair off. And just like that I’m reminded of a perfect example, of when I began following my instincts again.

Before I came to terms with my sexuality, the idea of cutting my hair short often entered my mind. But, back then, the thought of someone seeing my short hair and assuming I wasn’t straight because of it would have floored me. Because let’s face it, we’re still fed an idea of how straight people should look and how queer people should look. We live in a world that wants to wrap gender identity, gender expression and sexuality up in a neat bow, and one that sees short hair and boxy shirts (one of my best looks) as innately masculine, though really, hair and clothes don’t have to be gendered or related to our sexuality at all.

Us queer folk should be free to express in a way that aligns with these ideas, or one that rejects them, or (as most of us, including myself, will) a mixture of both. Because we’re complex, we’re layered and we don’t necessarily fit in to a neat package of how a person with our sexuality ‘should express’, though some people will, and that’s okay too.

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This year I’ve had a chance to be that first kid again. To follow my instincts. I marched into a salon hungover and chopped my hair off just because I fucking wanted to. I came out to my mum over the phone on Pride, I even asked my now girlfriend (she’s fantastic btw) out on our first date. But I know how lucky and privileged I am to simply be able to do these things safely and without too much resistance. To exist freely, be me, fuck up, live authentically, make mistakes, love without boundaries or expectations, and ultimately be a happier version of myself.

So how do we move forward to create a world where all people are totally free to follow their instincts, express as they choose, love freely and live their queer truth?

Well for a start, good representation really matters. Seeing whole, realised queer characters express themselves in mainstream media. Also, in depth education about the LGBTQ+ community at all levels, not just in our senior schools (which is a massive win), but in primary education, and for older generations too.

And for me, most important here is a willingness to unlearn. We’ve been taught that certain correlations between sexuality, gender expression and gender identity have to exist in order for the world to turn, when in fact they don’t. That certain ways of loving are ‘normal’ and the rest are not, that those of us who are ‘other’ should feel ashamed and not proud. These ideas are arbitrary not inherent. We all have learned ideas and prejudices, but in order to move forward and best protect our community, and to allow us all to follow our instincts and live freely, we need to break down these ideas of how all people (especially queer people) are allowed to exist in the world.

Basically, hons, we all deserve the freedom to express ourselves in whatever way we choose, whatever feels most natural and authentic to us. Whatever makes us fucking happy. So let’s keep educating, representing, opening our minds, our hearts, loving fully, accepting fully and living our god damn lives.

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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New Year, New Queer

Louise Clare Dalton on switching labels from Bi to Queer. But do we even need labels any more?

A Silent New Year’s Eve in a Field in the Middle of Nowhere

By Hayley Sherman: “At midnight, where fireworks exploded around the globe, just twelve hollow clangs of a cowbell sounded somewhere in the distance, then the disappointing toot of a depressed owl. Then more silence. Happy New Year to me!”

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!

Follow Women Like Us …


Small Steps: Teaching During Section 28 and Beyond

By Janine Norris: “Don’t get me wrong, the insults still come thick and fast. Most recently I have mainly been ‘a short-haired, lesbian bitch!’ My general response to this is something along the lines of ‘You can’t insult me with fact and I’m not always a bitch’.”

2020 Vision

By Josie Quinn: “This year, Christmas is going to look very different, and it’s going to be really difficult for a lot of people, but that just makes it all the more important to be grateful for whatever moments of cheer we can manage.”

The Journey to Living a Queer Life

By Louise Clare Dalton: “This year I’ve had a chance to be that kid again. To follow my instincts. I marched into a salon hungover and chopped my hair off just because I fucking wanted to. I came out to my mum over the phone on Pride, I even asked my now girlfriend (she’s fantastic btw) out on our first date …”

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

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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


Growing Up Hated … Shona’s Story

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BLOG POST: Is Life Still Going On?

“Gender dysphoria alert! Childhood equated to me: a boy. Yet, how can that be true?  I am a woman; those memories should be of a girl. What had gone wrong? What would my father think if he knew? Was I dishonouring my father by not being the son he knew? The truth of the past jarred and fought the truth of today.” Read More

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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