I've known that I was attracted to both men and women since my 20s. Actually… the crushes on a couple of truly awesome female teachers in my teens might mean I knew it before, but didn't realise what it meant. The first time I came out as bi to a lesbian friend, she told me that bisexuality is just a phase, and I should pick a side. Consequently, I didn't tell anyone else for a long time.
I married Paul at 24, which now seems impossibly young. Over a decade our marriage fell apart. Tim, who I'd known for many years, helped me through depression and a divorce, and we drifted from being very close friends to falling in love. While I spent this period of my life 'straight passing', I was still bisexual. Tim knew about my sexuality and loved me all the same. He died suddenly at 50, after we'd only been married nine years, and my life crumbled.
Some friends had known that I was bi, but I wasn't really out. Even before Tim died I'd been feeling that I was somehow living a lie, and betraying who I was. As I started to build another life, I became more open about what I was. And when I started seeing a woman, I couldn't really hide any more.
The responses to me coming out, as well as 'picking a side', ranged from total acceptance and 'when I met you, my gaydar pinged, but I assumed that I was wrong – I see now', to 'I don't understand – you used to be married to a man but he's dead' and 'does that mean you were sleeping with women when you were married to your husband?'
Now I am married to a woman, I guess I'm 'lesbian passing', and I suspect that many people think I have made a major lifestyle change, finally picked a team, or only just realised I'm gay. This isn't helped by bi erasure, and by the media and entertainment tropes about bisexuals showing them (us) as cheating, confused, greedy, promiscuous, villainous, unable to stay faithful, or just bi-curious. And that's just the women. The bisexual men are much less visible.
However – I am proudly and defiantly queer. I am bisexual, from the pink and purple in my hair down to my awesome Pride Converse. Have a wonderful Celebrate Bisexuality Day!
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.