It was around the end of summer 2007 going into fall. I had moved out on my own at college and for the first time in my life I was able to explore my gender, my thoughts about my sexuality, everything. I had at last the freedom to explore my gender presentation. I started dressing more masculine, I dyed my hair flame red. I bought a pair of canvas slip on shoes that had red and black skulls and cross bones on them.
I really loved those shoes .They are the favorite shoes I ever owned I think. I started hanging out with new friends going out drinking . Being 22.
The statistics show that most people who are raped know their attacker. I knew mine. We had hung out several times before. He and I had tons of mutual friends. He joked that my boyish gender presentation would turn off my boyfriend. I joked ” but my girl friend she loved it”. After years of hiding away the truth, that I had a girlfriend once, someone I desperately loved but who had passed on I started to talk about her, about my bisexuality. Most of my new friends gave the general ” no you aren’t!” Or the three sums based questions.
We live in a culture where being bisexual signals sexual availability and combined with rape cultures insistence on the idea that women are objects those of us who are or are perceived as women can put us at even greater danger. We are not seen as intimidating as lesbians or as prudish as straight women. We are “more open”/”more fun” then they are my attacked said to much agreement. Not knowing what to say and not wanting to be “unfun” I smiled and agreed sipping my drink.
Then I was raped. In my own apartment. In my own bed. And yes during it he did mention how Bi girls are slutty so I should be OK with it.
That was the moment biphobia destroyed my life. I’ve seen many posts about how bisexuals have it so easy, how biphobia is relatively harmless, “sticks and stones but words will never hurt ” type things. How we shouldn’t complain when media portrays bisexuals as easy or confused or a million other wrong things. That ” hot sexy Bi babes!” Can never create things as bad as what we say they do.
We live in a world where bisexuality is seen as a performance for men.Where everything a woman does is a performance for men. With the expectation of Bi women being ” more open” and ” more fun” ( read sexually available) added on top of that is it any wonder that studies have found out this?
Half of all of us. But until now nobody spoke about it. Not the women’s shelter I went to for counseling and testing. Not the LGBTA ( a for “ally” here) center at my university. No one. We are so often invisible and so so many of us suffer in silence.
I had heard and seen what the queer community at large thought of bisexuals. Not queer enough, privilege grubbers. I had seen how lesbian friends reacted to the mention of sex with men, to bisexuals who had relationships with them. Disgusted. They would never date one. How would they react when I came to them for help? Would my mere contact with my attackers penis make them recoil and shun me? Would they ask me how much school I had missed? How much time I had wasted like my mother did? How did I even begin to talk about what had happened to me when it felt like the whole world hated me? For being Bi, for being dirtied by rape, for wasting time and money?
So I didn’t talk about it.
After that I shoved my bisexuality into the deepest darkest box I could find. I never spoke of my girlfriend again for years. I stopped exploring gender. I stopped trying or trusting.
I threw away the canvas skull and cross bones shoes, with their red that matched my now dingy faded red hair.
We need to talk about this. About WHY that stat is so high. And we need to be LOUD. So loud that our voices drown out the cries of “sit down!” Of ” stop being so angry!” Of ” wait till marriage equality passes!” We need to shriek and howl over them so that those out their in the darkness can hear us and know they are not alone and to warn those that would harm us that it will not be tolerated.
I know I will get hate mail for this. I know I will be told I deserved it. A million things I have heard before, that I believed before. But I will continue to shout and drown them in a sea of noise.
Aud Traher is a Bisexual-Trans Activist, local LGBT organizer, blogger, local craftperson and board member of BiNet USA living in working in a rural community in Western Central Pennsylvania.