I’ve had my ethnicities erased, fetishized or insulted and my bisexuality has been erased, fetishized or insulted. Different parts of who I am are attacked with similar tactics.
When bisexuality isn’t being mischaracterized as being indecisive or greedy, it is being erased by cisgender, heterosexual folks which is partially why bisexual women face some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
As someone who has written thousands of words about sexual assault and been vocal about being the victim of rape, I am not going to describe my pain or how I was raped – I am not here for a voyeuristic lens focused on violence inflicted upon my body – I am here because I want to discuss being bisexual and multiracial and how those two parts of my identity are pushed against in similar ways.
Related: STOP WEAPONZING BIRACIAL CHILDREN
It’s 2017, so I shouldn’t have to say this but, being married to a cisgender, heterosexual man does not negate my bisexuality – it doesn’t change it, diminish it or erase it. Heterosexuality doesn’t have that kind of power, it isn’t more valid than any other kind of sexuality and people only think that it is because of the violence caused by a heteronormative society.
Similarly, being married to a white person does not diminish my identity as a woman of color. Our relationships and the choices we make are seen as being either an affirmation or invalidation of the more marginalized parts of our identities – but proximity to heterosexuality doesn’t make me heterosexual and choosing to be with a white person doesn’t diminish my Kenyan and Indian heritage. So why do people use erasure as a way to invalidate our experiences?
They take what they see as being a fracture within ourselves and exploit it to diminish our words. Sometimes, or oftentimes, this can bring up years of trauma. Multiracial or biracial identity and bisexuality are nuanced and complex, and can be difficult to navigate depending on how we are raised or what resources we have available to us.
My family never talked very much about race and racism, but there was a noticeable difference between how people acted around my Black mother versus how they interacted with us when we were with my white father. Sometimes, if he wasn’t there, people would assume she was the nanny and there were dozens of micro-aggressions that came along with us in both public and private spheres.
I never formally came out as bi to my family, I just knew I was but I didn’t feel like I was allowed to really say anything unless I had a girlfriend, which in retrospect is ridiculous, but we didn’t have the same online resources available to us in the early 2000s, so I just didn’t know any better. Up until five years ago, being bisexual was difficult and confusing to me because it wasn’t discussed in productive or honest ways in school or at home. Feminism allowed me to learn more about my identity as a woman of color who is bisexual.
Spending copious amounts of time online as a queer Black woman and being proud of my ethnicities and queerness means that those parts of my identity are up for debate amongst white supremacists, misogynists and bi-phobic folks. They use what they interpret as being weaknesses against us because they think it is the best way to discredit our work and make us retreat or flinch. I’ve had my ethnicities erased, fetishized or insulted and my bisexuality has been erased, fetishized or insulted. Different parts of who I am are attacked with similar tactics.
Loving ourselves is an act of resistance, this is why it is important to fully embrace queerness and embrace our blackness or brownness. There is nothing more validating than celebrating those aspects of ourselves in ways that are tender, authentic and exciting. Nobody can invalidate who we are, we aren’t half this and half that, we are complete people with our own unique experiences and no one can erase that.
Feature image: Ted Eytan, Creative Commons.