I discovered my bisexuality at age 14, nearly two decades before I embraced the label. It began in a typical after-school moment. I sat on the couch eating Pizza Rolls while watching Carson Daly with his two black fingernails host TRL when, there they were: Lenny Kravitz and Gina Gershon in his music video for “Again.”
She wore a silver, snakeskin backless halter top with dark-washed bootcut jeans and a studded belt. He also wore dark-washed bootcut jeans and changed shirts throughout scenes, always rocking his signature aviator shades — even indoors. He also gave us a controversial-for-the-year-2000 male booty shot. Seeing Kravitz and Gershon on-screen together made me feel excited, awakened. I yearned for everything they had to offer, their lips, hair, and smooth skin. I wanted to wear his sunglasses with her halter top while kissing them both. This was the first time I found myself simultaneously attracted to different genders.
I wanted to wear his sunglasses with her halter top while kissing them both. This was the first time I found myself simultaneously attracted to different genders.
I was never ashamed of these feelings. Growing up with two gay family members and knowing their partners helped me see gay people as just… people. Though I hadn’t met anyone who was openly bisexual, on some level, I knew that that’s who I was. As I began to experiment with my sexuality, I talked openly about it. My friends knew that I liked and slept with men and women. It was a non-issue.
Though my attractions met the definition of bisexuality, something in me never felt “bisexual enough” since all of my long-term relationships were with men. I used words like straight-ish, heteroflexible, fluid, and down-for-whatever to describe my sexual orientation. While some folks don’t think labels are necessary, I yearned for one that fit perfectly. I wanted to take pride in my sexuality by waving a flag with a color scheme that represents me. I craved a community of fellow bisexuals who understood me.
I wanted to take pride in my sexuality by waving a flag with a color scheme that represents me. I craved a community of fellow bisexuals who understood me.
I finally found both the label and the community after three years of sobriety.
It’s no coincidence that age 14 was also when I began self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and sex to avoid my trauma-soaked teenage reality. This destructive lifestyle prevented me from having the headspace to deal with typical coming-of-age moments. Sexuality was one of the many topics I filed under “I’ll deal with that one day.”
That one day finally came when I was 33 years old, years after I got sober. Here are a few ways that sobriety gave me the mental clarity to finally embrace my sexuality:
Honesty is a significant part of getting sober. We have to stop lying to ourselves about the way we drink before we can ditch booze for good. Once I stopped comparing my relationship with alcohol to other peoples’ relationships with alcohol, I could finally see how damaging my drinking was. Embracing sexuality can be a similar experience.
Once I got over the imposter syndrome that told me I wasn’t “bi enough,” I could see what bisexuality meant to me instead of what it meant to society and how it was portrayed on screen. To me, bisexuality means acknowledging that I am absolutely enough — regardless of my relationship status or my sexual history or sexual future. We don’t need to “activate” our sexuality or keep having it validated like a parking ticket. That level of honesty, awareness, and self-love would have never been tapped if I was still drinking.
Sobriety lifted the fog, which helped me learn more about my bisexuality and the other fabulous letters in the colorful LGBTQ+ rainbow. Unfortunately, bisexuality was mocked in several ahead-of-their-time shows like Sex and the City and The L Word. In both TV shows, they talked about bi people as if we’re greedy or just couldn’t make up our minds. There was even an entire storyline of Sex and the City devoted to Carrie telling viewers that bisexuality is a phase, and how she can’t date a bisexual man because she’s “too old for games.”
Now there is finally accurate bisexual representation in shows like The Bold Type, Euphoria, High Fidelity, Broad City, The Politician, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, etc. The latter even offers us a killer theme song called “Gettin’ Bi.” This diverse representation gives nuance to bisexual folks. We’re not all the same, and we’re all pretty awesome.
As a party girl, I rarely went out of my way to educate myself on political issues (and yes, sexuality is a profoundly political issue). I was too drunk or hungover to make an effort to learn about something that wasn’t “FUN!!!!!!”. Sobriety got me in the habit of following sober folks to learn the nuances of recovery, so I applied the same practice to bisexuality.
Following Bicons (Bisexual folks who frequently post/write about their sexuality) helped me understand that my bisexuality is valid AF. Seeing celebrities represent my sexuality was cool and all, but Instagram let me see real bisexual people’s lives. Powerful posts from Zachary Zane, Gabrielle Alexa Noel, Daniel Saynt, Gabrielle Kassel, Gigi Engle, and Anna Broges all helped me lovingly embrace who I am. Now my IG feed is full of all forms of empowerment.
Before I quit drinking, I frequently Googled “Do I have a drinking problem?”. I now know that type of research usually means that, on some level, the researcher most likely needs to change their relationship with alcohol.
Discovering my bisexuality was very similar for me. I spent so much time Googling “Am I bisexual?” that I now can only look back and laugh while nodding YES, YOU ARE! I waited for some mystical sign to make everything crystal clear for me when I knew the truth all along: Life is better without booze, and I’m extremely happy waving the pink/purple/blue bi pride flag.