Words: Morgan Rees; pictures: Steve Ullathorne
There I was sitting in a bar, drenched in overpriced gin and tonic, trying to grab the attention of a member of staff to get some much-needed blue roll. I hate to disappoint, but alas I had not entered a wet t-shirt contest last minute.
I’d come by my new wetsuit by mentioning that I was bisexual on a first date. The woman I was with pushed herself from the table as if trying to outrun the words. “You’re attracted to men, that’s disgusting!” she shouted. I think the irony of what she said might have escaped her.
“I don’t date gay men,” and with that, she lifted her extortionately priced drink and poured it over my even more extortionately priced skin fade.
Bi-erasure – the act of ignoring or de-legitimatising the existence of bisexuality – comes in all forms, not just in acts as blunt as ‘GinGate’. Which now that I’m typing this, sounds like a pub I would 100 percent visit.
In a previous relationship with a man, I was repeatedly referred to as gay, with my corrections routinely ignored. While in a relationship with another woman, I was repeatedly referred to as gay and a liar. Fun.
In every relationship I’ve been in, my partners have viewed my bisexuality like an uninvited house guest, asking such questions as ‘how long I’ve known it’, ‘when will it be gone’, and ‘why does it keep asking for the Wi-Fi password.’
And my hat goes off to anyone that dates a bisexual man as they themselves are lampooned with questions of whether they’ll “be enough” or aspersions of possible cheating. I have no time for bi-erasure.
An issue that resonates viscerally with me is bi-invisibility, the consequential outcome of bi-erasure. As is well documented for the growth and acceptance of any marginalized group, visibility is vital. I was born in 1993 and from a very young I knew that I liked boys and girls.
I now know that I am attracted to all genders (thank you, Drag Queens of Summer ‘18).
In a time before the accessible internet, it felt like I grew up where there weren’t any prominent bi-male role models. David Bowie had gone back in the closet, Freddie Mercury was only labeled as gay despite having relationships with men and women, and Alan Cummings was just Fegan Floop from Spy Kids.
And nearly every mention of male-bisexuality was a gay celebrity describing how they previously identified. I knew my orientation wasn’t a stepping-stone, it was my destination, but it was frightening to think that no one else had made that same journey.
It’s a vicious cycle. Bi people carry the stigma that they’re confused, imposed on them by people that tell them they don’t exist, whether consciously or not. And that can cause us to doubt the validity of our identities, to question our reality – whether consciously or not. So, any attempt to break that is a massive victory to me.
I have a wonderful job, I used to just write one-liners, dick jokes, and review fried rice. But during lockdown, I retrained and I now work as a proud flag bearer for male bisexuality in the hope that someone as young as I was when I searched for representation sees me with that flag, sees me own that flag, and more importantly sees me keep that flag.
Not diminish it to some gateway flag keeping me from the truth. This is the truth: I am bisexual, and like my overdraft, that ain’t going anywhere.
Morgan Rees’ debut stand-up show ‘Bi and Large’ will be at the Pleasance Courtyard Bunker One at 6.10 pm for the month of August for tickets go to www.edfringe.com
The Attitude September/October issue is out now.