The following is my submission in the upcoming USP Anthology: “Our Stories; Voices of the LGBT Experience”. Join us this Saturday night at the LGBT Community Center (1055 N Van Ness ave) for an open mic event that will feature other voices from the anthology as well as creative input from our community at large.
A Different Kind of Story
I am sitting in my living room, Cher is on the stereo. I am eating popcorn and trying to figure out what my experience as a bisexual person has been. People keep asking me, I guess they wonder how it compares.
Yes, I have faced discrimination. Yes, I have had adventures of bigotry, clashes of culture, loud moments of radical anger during protests, terrifying moments where my personal safety was at risk. Yes, I have felt the awkwardness of trying to figure out if a potential love interest played for the team that I do. Yes, I have felt alienated, alone, bereft of a role model.
But I have also felt welcomed into many different Queer communities; the Queer Straight Alliance in high school, the Diversity Now group in college, the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community in San Jose, the Rainbow Pride in Santa Cruz, and now Gay Central Valley.
I have felt the charge, almost electrical, of a shared moment of community with a person wearing a rainbow bracelet, sporting a rainbow flag sticker on their binder, or happily applying a bumper sticker that called for people to vote no on H8te. I have felt the awesome power of people who cared when news of Prop 8’s overturn came in and my office erupted into hugging, crying, and celebrating.
I’m lucky I guess. Being bi has been a part of my life, but it has never had to be the dominant part of my life. I can pass. I have always been able to. The default position for people is to label me as straight. I don’t even get asked unless I am participating, being active, or surrounded by my LGBT extended family.
So, I have been lucky. But with that comes guilt. I know I have no idea what many of my friends and loved ones have had to go through. Coming out for me was almost a nonevent. I have gay uncles. I have gay half brothers. Gay cousins, gay best friends, gay teachers. My dad’s best friends are gay. Being bi just didn’t even register.
And then I got married. To a man. Passing again… in the extreme.
Ultimately the marriage didn’t work out. For a lot of reasons, but I can honestly say I don’t think I was ever truly honest with him about who I was, about what mattered to me, about how I saw myself in the world.
I slipped back into the dating pool. I slept with and courted both men and women. Eventually, I fell in love again… and again it was with a man. I was back in the place of passing, the place of flying under the radar.
But this time I refuse to stay quiet. I flaunt my rainbow bracelet. I take a perverse pride in questioning people’s ideas about who and what I am. I delight in telling stories of past female loves to closed minded fools who sometimes can’t keep their jaws off the floor. I bring it up. I work it into conversations. I don’t look down or to the side. I am proud of who and what I am, and I make it known.
I feel a responsibility, a responsibility to challenge stereotypes, to push the envelope, to use my ability to pass to my advantage. I feel indebted to the past generations of my family who came out to an unforgiving and hostile world, who paved the way. I feel an unwavering respect for the LGBT youth who are struggling now, kids and young people who can’t pass, who are afraid, who feel alone. It is my responsibility, my privilege, to continue to make the world a better place for them through action, through understanding, through tireless efforts.
I had it easy, but I know I am in the minority. Now it is my turn to be there for others, to fight for our rights, to clear the way and to be supportive.
From the CD, Cher sings, “This is a song for the lonely/Can you hear me tonight?.For the broken hearted, battle scarred/I’ll be by your side/And this is a song for the lonely/When your dreams won’t come true/Can you hear this prayer?/Someone’s there for you“ and I nod along.
Dear world, I want to proclaim, I am Kaylia, I am bi, I am a fighter, and I am here for you!