So, here goes… I am bisexual. That’s still something I am afraid to say in certain circles including, unfortunately, LGBTQ+ ones. Despite having a really positive ‘coming out’ experience, it’s still the case that biphobia and bi-erasure exist… particularly, in my experience, in the ‘gay world’. Don’t get me wrong, I am very aware of my many privileges; white, middle class, ability to ‘pass’ as a straight woman, yet despite this I still have experienced a lot of negativity around my sexuality.

I officially came out quite late, not because I didn’t know I was Bi, just because it wasn’t something that I needed to worry about. After leaving school I was in a long-term relationship with a man and fitted very well in to the ‘hetero’ world. At the age of 23, that relationship ended and I first started seeing women and it was great to finally explore that part of me. However, I started to notice how people reacted now that I was ‘out’. Initially there was a lot of ‘Oh, so you’ve become a lesbian?’ and in public being clapped/whooped at; told how ‘hot’ it was when I would be out with my female partner. It was my first experience of this and I really didn’t know what to make of it.

When I moved to London I started dating, both men and women, and noticed even more alarming behaviours and comments. From the male population there was a lot of over-sexualisation and threesome requests; they seemed to think that because I’m Bi that means I’m automatically promiscuous. I previously dated a man who, upon talking to his mother about his feelings for me, was told ‘But she’s Bisexual… you can’t marry her!’ as though I was likely to run off with a woman at any second.

Even more upsetting for me, when really enjoying experiencing the vibrant LGBTQ+ scene in London for the first time, was the reaction I got from gay and lesbian people. I was often rejected by women because of my sexuality, told it was disgusting that I dated men and that I could never be trusted to be faithful. On lesbian dating apps/sites, seeing ‘No Bisexuals’ on people’s profiles was hurtful and pushed me to either lie and say I was a lesbian, or just avoid the lesbian/gay communities altogether.

In 2017 I was a victim of sexual assault. At the time I didn’t recognise that this had much to do with my sexual orientation; however through therapy I explored the situation and myself much further and came to realise how much my sexuality affects people’s views of me and, as a result, my own self-perception. The man who assaulted me saw me as a sexual object, something that only existed for the pleasure of others. So he took advantage. I later found out that I was not alone… 46% of bisexual woman have been raped (compared to 17% hetero women and 13% of lesbians), which is a truly horrifying statistic.

Fast forward a year and I’m now working with a charity called Bi Pride UK and am the Bisexuality Lead (and incoming Co-Chair) in the LGBT network at BAE Systems. It’s been amazing what it’s done for me in terms of the networks I now have, my profile at work and my own wellbeing. This year I have won two awards for my contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at BAE and have been shortlisted for a We are the City Rising Star Award alongside some absolutely incredible women.

I’m in a much more comfortable place than I have been in the last 10 years, but that’s not the case for a lot of bisexuals (you can probably see why). In the LGBTQ+ community we’ve all been the outsiders before so we know how it feels; we should be embracing and including Bisexuals, Pansexuals and others who identify outside of heterosexual or homosexual groups.

Samantha Neath

Business Consultant at BAE Systems and Trustee at Bi Pride UK

Author: admin