Thursday, 15 February 2018

How do I know if I’m bisexual? My Self-Discovery Tale by Ana Duarte

I have asked myself that very same question so many times over the years. How do I know if I’m bisexual? Really, how?

Most things in life don’t come with a manual, so you need to figure it out for yourself. I’m in no way saying that there should be a manual on how to be bisexual, but heck, I sure could have used one. Or at least someone to very clearly tell me ‘Ana, stop this heterosexual bullshit. You know you are bisexual, right?’.

Looking back now, I realise that the signs were all there. I just choose to ignore them-it was easier that way.

The first time that I remember wondering if I was bisexual was when I was about 12 years old. I was flipping channels in my bedroom when this new TV show came on. I decided to give it a go and I was instantly hooked. Gilmore Girls was perfection but the thing is, I couldn’t take my eyes of the most gorgeous women I'd ever seen. To this day I still have the biggest celebrity crush on Lauren Graham, or Lorelai Gilmore as she is known in the show. That show not only made me question my sexuality, but also shaped me as a woman.

I wasn’t the only 12 year old in love with that show, a lot of my friends were too. However, while most of the girls were all giddy about their crushes on Dean and Jess, the two young teenage boys of the show, I wasn’t that bothered. I remember 12 year old me thinking that I must not be normal. All the other girls were obsessing over the boys, I should have been doing the same. So when they asked me who I thought was the hottest, I said ‘Jess’.

That was the first time I lied to myself.

How come I have come to be almost 30 years old and not know my own sexuality? I believe that for the most part it has to do with the fact that I have grown up in Portugal. I grew up with a lot of comments that made me question this. To top it all off I heard things like:

  •         ‘I don’t have anything against it but I really don’t understand it!’,
  •        ‘I’m okay with them getting married but now to adopt? I don’t think so.’
  •         ‘Well, I kinda understand being a Lesbian or Gay but what’s Bisexual? That’s just another word for greedy. Pick a side’.

or the other part I was 100% sure I was attracted to boys, so I did what it was asked of me, I picked a side.

‘Maybe I’m not bisexual! Maybe I’m just the type of person who can appreciate the same sex, doesn’t mean I’m attracted to them.

That’s what I kept saying to myself. Ignoring the fact I had the same amount of crushes on female wrestlers than male. Ignoring the fact that any red head female on TV just got my love instantly (looking at you Debra Messing).

It’s like I was trying to find excuses for my own sexuality.

When I was 16, I questioned things again. At that point I only had kissed boys so I thought that my doubts as a kid were a thing of the past.

However, on a night out clubbing those doubts come crumbling back in the shape of the softest strawberry lips ever, and the touch of a beautiful girl.

We are big on dancing in Portugal, that’s the main reason to go clubbing, so it's also very normal when you are a good dancer that other good dancers approach you. There aren't any intentions from it, apart from having some fun. (Not sure if things are still the same, for one the legal drinking age limit has gone up from 16 to 18 years old).

That night while I was dancing, this gorgeous girl - with beautiful long curly hair and who was maybe a year older than me - came up dancing next to me. She moved to the beat like the music was an extension of herself. I was in a trance, captivated by her movements. We danced together for a few songs, the club couldn’t get their eyes off us and I couldn’t get my eyes off her.

Later on that night I went outside for some fresh air, and there she was. She approached me ‘You are such a great dancer’ she said to me. I was still mesmerised when she gently grabbed me by the waist and kissed me. I’m sure that my reaction to such a surprise kiss should have been seen as sign (Oh yes, I kissed her back and don’t regret it one bit).

That kiss haunted me for years to come. Every time I put myself out there as a heterosexual my mind came knocking:

‘But what about that kiss? Remember how you enjoyed it?’

The thing is, it was much easier to repress that other side of my sexuality than having to deal with the storm of comments. Things were already hard as they were growing up, I really didn’t want to bring something else to the plate.

I believe I repressed that side of me, because I thought I was doing myself and my family a favour, but I realised now that not being true to myself did me no favours.

Growing up, I never talked with people about my doubts. I never actually stopped to have a proper conversation about it with a friend. Maybe if I had, things would've been different. I think in my mind, I thought if I didn’t said it out loud to anyone then it wouldn’t be real.

I know, stupid, right? Doesn’t really work like that. It’s always real, even if you don’t admit it to yourself.

Throughout all of these doubts in my life I've always known where I stand for LGBTQ+ rights. I've always made a stand for equality and to try and change people’s narrow mindedness. I always challenged my family’s views on it. Always defended anyone being bullied for being who they are. 

But what I don’t understand is how could I be so strong for others and be so weak for myself? I know now that I was living the life that was expected of me, and not what I wanted for myself.

Moving to England at 21 was when my self discovery as a woman started. I became who I was supposed to be. Still it took me until last year to actually make the first step to talking with someone about being bisexual.

In part I think it was because I thought, what was the point now? I have been in a loving relationship with the most amazing (and handsome, if I do say so myself) man for the past seven years. I found who I want to spend my retirement days with, so was there any need to figure out now, if I’m bisexual or not?

I realise that part of the struggle was the fact that I had never actually hung out with bisexual people before. I'd always hung out with people that were straight, lesbian or gay. It wasn’t until recently that I connected on Twitter with some freaking awesome girls, two of whom are bisexual, and who gave me a better understanding of myself.

I learned that bisexuality isn’t as black and white as it was made to be. It's more like a spectrum, and suddenly it all made sense to me.

This is what led to me asking my fellow bi-friend in the middle of a bookshop ‘How do I know if I’m bisexual?’ She looked at me and said ‘Well, if you saw yourself single would you consider dating a woman?’ I don’t think I even hesitated when I said that I think so.

‘Well, there you go then. Welcome to the club!’ she said.

Coming to terms with my own sexuality in the middle of a bookshop at 29 years old wasn’t how I saw things panning out. But hey, better later than never, and at least I was surrounded by the things that bring me the most joy. We then kept chatting away via group text that day and it was a relief to just let it all out.

That was the first time I talked out loud about my doubts. I came home that day and nervously talked with my boyfriend about it. I told him that I had been having these doubts for some time and that I thought I was bisexual. ‘I kinda always thought you may be a bit. Do you feel better knowing?’ Heck Yes I do! Especially, when you have someone so understanding like him by your side.

I now have talked about it with three of my best friends that know me for so long and everyone has been super supportive. One of my best friends being a Portuguese gay man, really understands the doubts.

For him there wasn’t a way for him to repress his feelings, he knew he was gay and he had to grow up in Portugal with the struggle of being gay man. I got the easiest escape, as the only person bullying me was myself.

I have come a long way, but I feel that I would never be able to be completely honest with everyone. I still struggle to see a reason to tell my family who I truly am. We've all gone through so much, and we still are. I’m never truly myself around them anyway. I love them more than anything in the world, but we are so very different.

Most won’t understand it, especially with me being in a relationship with a man and the fact that I've never had one with a woman. People find it hard to grasp that you don’t need to have a relationship with the same sex to be sure if you are bisexual. It pretty much goes the same way as falling in love with the opposite sex. It’s literally the same. I don’t need to go check out a vagina to know. Just sayin’.

For now this is the end of my tale, and there isn’t any better way to finish this than by saying:

Hi, I’m Ana, I’m bisexual and I’m proud! X

Bio: Ana Duarte is a Film and Book Blogger and aspiring author, currently working freelance on some of your favourite reality TV shows. She studied Film and Moving Image Production at the Norwich University of the Arts. Currently she is in the very early stages of writing her first book. Originally from Portugal but currently residing in London with her boyfriend, where they are drowning in books, DVDs and Harry Potter Merchandise.


Friday, 9 February 2018

The Importance of Platonic Love!

Ah February, the month of love.  (Or the month of waiting 15 days and buying all the cheap half price chocolate which I guess is the same thing really...)  Hearts are being revealed, soppy statuses are being shared and it really does seem like love is all around. 
With the exception of ‘Galentines Day’ this is a very romantic heavy month in every single way – from the adverts on TV to the inside of shops and yet media wise there is no clear difference between the material being released now than the films and shows that will air later in the year.  Now and later on a good 80% of them revolve around girl meets boy, they fall in love, end of story.  

Not only is this ridiculously heteronormative but it also doesn’t seem to represent anyone I know accurately – a lot of the times in these rom-coms the main characters best friend is a very present character for about half the film but slowly the love interest seems to take over and push the platonic relationship aside.  Yet in my own friendships this doesn’t happen; my best friends are still my best friends no matter what my relationship status is. Yes I am still young; the majority of my friends are only just starting relationships (or like me are still single) but even those friends are not suddenly a ‘background friend’ because of their new romantic status and I know of several other people for who this is also true; and for me personally at this point in my life I am much more invested in platonic relationships that I am in romantic ones. 

A quick scroll through any social media feed shows me half a dozen or more posts about friends; night out with the lads, night in with the girls, don’t know where I’d be without this one, etc. so I feel that I am not alone in my appreciation for friendships.
But why do we rarely see platonic love represented on screen?  Is it impossible to show both romantic and platonic love in the same media?  I don’t think so; there are many popular shows which revolve around platonic love.

Take Friends for instance, even as the group moved through relationships, jobs, marriages, babies and yet more marriages the focus still managed to stay on their friendship.  Too many times in the media we see amazing, healthy friendships suddenly vanish into the background when one of them finds a relationship. The show started with the six of them on screen and, despite several other main characters and significant relationships who could have been put into the final scene, it finished with only the six of them on screen.

Friends in the first episode and friends in the last; how many times does that happen?  I could list several shows off the cuff where it starts out with it’s a completely different story.  I mean ‘Friends’ is the title of the show so maybe I shouldn’t read too much into it but right now it is the only show I can think of that puts platonic relationships on exactly the same level as romantic ones and I think that’s a shame.  So much of what we see in the media feels like a representation of a ‘dream life’ – perfect hair, wonderful job, amazing partner, that when our actual lives (alright hair, okay job, non-existent partner) aren’t anything like that it can sometimes feel disheartening and like a bit of a let-down.  The shows that have a focus on platonic love on the other hand don’t feel like such a stretch, at least for me anyway, I already have wonderful friends so seeing that in the media doesn’t feel out of reach or untouchable, it feels realistic and like I actually want to keep watching.

Am I alone in this? Maybe.  Am I thinking too much into it? Definitely.  I don’t really know what the solution is – other than to put more friendships and platonic relationships into TV shows and films.  I want the ‘month of love’ to actually look different from the rest of the year in terms of content rather than just being a little pinker.  

Healthy, platonic love is one of the best things reality has to offer and I firmly believe that general forms of media would benefit so much from including it more, making it a focus and not side-lining the best friend off when the main character gets a boyfriend – we wouldn’t stand for that in our lives so why should it be the norm in fictional ones?

Love (platonically) 

Twitter: @eloisewrites
Instagram: @eloisewrites
Blog: @eloisewrites

Eloise is an up and coming writer who is a well established bloggers and runs one of the biggest blogging communities on Twitter. Eloise writes about an assortment of topics from the implications of being 'femme' the the lack of queer representation in YA literature. Her loves include tea, books, writing and dancing around to musical theatre
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