Woman thinks her bisexual boyfriend is secretly gay because he’s ‘flamboyant’ and it’s textbook bi erasure
Bi-erasure is a very real problem. Bisexual people too often are treated as if they don’t exist at all, whether that’s in real life or in arts and entertainment.
Sadly, the problem is not going away – and a recent letter to a therapist at The Atlantic seeking advice suggests that there is a lot of work to be done to show that being bisexual is not the same as being gay.
The letter was written by a Chicago woman who is extremely concerned that her boyfriend – who identifies as bisexual – might be secretly gay.
In the lengthy letter, the woman writes that she knew her boyfriend identified as bisexual from the get-go because he said so on the dating app where they met.
“However, what I am concerned about is that he is using me as a stepping stone to acknowledging to himself that he is gay, or that he wants to be in a heterosexual relationship in order to reap the social benefits (having kids, generally being accepted in society, etc.),” she writes.
The woman has become obsessed with the idea that her bisexual boyfriend is secretly gay.
She goes on to say that she is worried that her boyfriend may be secretly gay because his Southern religious family wouldn’t accept him if he came out.
The woman writes: “I once asked him when we first started dating if he was with me to appease his family, whom he’s very close with, and he said ‘Kind of’ but that he still found me attractive.”
She then says that she is worried they will spend years together and form a family only for him to “come to grips that he is in fact actually gay” or “that he’s transgender and going to get a sex change”.
What I am concerned about is that he is using me as a stepping stone to acknowledging to himself that he is gay.
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Her worries are, of course, compounded by the fact that he dresses “extremely flamboyantly” and “sometimes acts effeminate”.
The letter ends on a bizarre and a sad note as the woman asks the therapist if she should stay with her boyfriend “knowing full well that he could tell me one day that he’s actually gay and wants to be with a man, or that he wants to transition”.
Bi-erasure is a ‘pervasive problem’.
The therapist points out in her response that the woman is putting a great deal of “emotional energy” into guessing her boyfriend’s state of mind.
“The more you ruminate about his potential turmoil, the more turmoil you create for yourself,” she writes.
The therapist goes on to encourage the woman to discuss her concerns with her boyfriend – but the response fails to acknowledge the erasure bisexual people experience every day.
GLAAD says that bi-erasure is a “pervasive problem”. The organisation also suggests that bi-erasure may actually feed into higher rates of anxiety, depression and mood disorders in the bisexual community.
Letters like these only serve to push a tired and worn stereotype that all bisexual people are just waiting for their opportunity to come out as gay.