“So, do you have any friends that would like to join us later?”
“Tell me about the first time you were with a girl.”
“You like girls? That’s so hot! Are you bringing one of your friends along next time?”
The answer to all of these irritating questions (that I get all too often) is no.
My experience dating heterosexual men has largely consisted of sexually charged questions or statements after I reveal my sexual orientation. But before we delve into the intricacies of that, let’s get one thing straight: I like men, and I like women, but my sexual orientation and preferences do not define my worth as a human being, indicate any sort of relationship history, or invite any kind of sexual advances whatsoever.
The perception of relationships between two women as erotic fantasies runs rampant in mainstream media and society, with portrayals of lesbianism in advertising, film, and pornography targeted to heterosexual men. The loving part of lesbian relationships — the romantic dates, the feeling you get just hanging out with your S.O., the genuine care you have for each other — is seldom shown. As a result, women who like women bear the brunt of an unfair stereotype.
No, it’s not all straight men who mess this up, but it’s enough to make it clear there is a social problem, a problem that needs fixing. Despite what you may have been taught, if I tell you about my relationship with a woman, I want you to ask me if my parents liked her and why we broke up, not if she can come along on our next date (because if you ask that, there most certainly won’t be a next date).
On my first date with Chad*, we talked about our past relationships and what we were looking for in a significant other. I had not, at that point, told him I was bi — I didn’t think it was necessary information to divulge before we even met. But he seemed genuine, so I decided to open up a bit. I told him about my last girlfriend, and I watched a smirk slowly spread across his face. I didn’t think much of it at first, but then he started asking very detailed questions about my ex. First it was “what did she look like?” and “can I see a picture?” Next it was “how far did you guys go?” I decided to let that one slide.The final straw was “is she close by? Could you like, invite her here?” At that point I stood up, paid the bill, and left.
It didn’t stop with Chad. It continued into the rest of my dating experience. After talking for a few days, one guy asked if I would come meet his wife because she was “bi-curious.” Another guy asked if I was in a current lesbian relationship and if he could watch us “get it on.” (Buddy, if I were, I wouldn’t be out with you.) To sum up my holistic experience with ignorant people, I often feel like only my body and sexual orientation matter. That’s not right.
I don’t want to hide my bisexuality. It has shaped a lot of my relationships, but it also doesn’t define me or reduce me to anything less than a human being. I want straight men to understand this, and the ones I have pursued relationships with do. They fully respect my interest in women and never strip away any or every other aspect of my personality to define me exclusively as a bisexual woman. So if you’re going to fetishize and hypersexualize me, I’d rather be with “that girl at the bar” anyway.
*Name has been changed.